Pro Family Photography Tip: How to Capture a Toddler with a Genuine Smile

Miss Skye is at the age where capturing a decent picture of her is nearly impossible.  Place a two-and-a-half-year-old in front of the camera and you’ll either get a blur of activity or a fake “CHEESE!” smile:

As genuine as a Kardashian wedding

So when my mother requested copies of pictures I’d recently taken of our smiley six-month-old and asked, “Do you have any good ones of Skylar?” I became determined to coax a genuine smile out of our daughter for the camera and my mom’s refrigerator.

My first effort was not exactly successful:

Unless she was doing her best Gilbert Gottfried impression, in which case:  SUCCESS.

But then… wait, what have we here?

A real smile?  With eyes looking in the direction of the camera?  Yes!  And all it took was suggesting that I take a picture of her…

… wearing her dad’s shoes.

A pro photography tip from me to you.  (Mr. Candy’s old, smelly sneakers not included.)

Candy Kirby is the founder of The Laughing Stork and a professional fun-maker who will never stop chasing her lifelong dream: to find the Pomeranian or porn star after whom her parents must have named her. She also used to be a staff writer for the soap opera, The Bold and the Beautiful, where she penned many scripts featuring prolonged heated stares and countless “Who’s the Daddy?” story lines. Candy lives in Los Angeles with her husband, two young kids and three rescue Persian cats who enjoy blanketing every inch of the house in kitty fur.


  1. Julie

    Dec 18, 2011 at 11:27 pm

    Oh my god! How beautiful is she?! Mr Candy better makes himself comfortable on the front porch in his rocking chair with his squirt gun on hand because this one is going to be a stunner! 🙂

    • Mr.Candy

      Dec 19, 2011 at 8:41 am


      I am thinking more stun gun than squirt gun.

  2. J-Force

    Dec 19, 2011 at 5:11 am

    She is precious and that dress looks stunning on her! No wonder she’s smiling… she’s already thinking about all the headaches she will cause you when she’s 16.

    • Candy

      Dec 19, 2011 at 12:06 pm

      We’re already investing in a bulk supply of aspirin!

  3. Heather (Laptops to Lullabies)

    Dec 19, 2011 at 5:14 am

    I struggle with the same thing when taking photos of my toddler. I usually resort to mini M&Ms, but shoes is a great idea!

    Had to tell you that I dreamed about you last night, Candy! You were working in a gas station and I told you how much I love your blog, and then suddenly we were at a recording of your talk show, which took place in an all-blue boardroom. Very strange!

    • Candy

      Dec 19, 2011 at 12:03 pm

      Strange — or premonition? I’m pretty sure that’s how Oprah started out: gas station attendant by day, talk show host by night!

  4. Mette

    Dec 19, 2011 at 11:23 am

    Too precious!!!

  5. Mrs. Harrison Ford

    Dec 19, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    She is too cute and you are a photography genius! Thanks to Mr. Candy for the use of his shoes (notice I left out old and smelly!).

  6. stormpoopers

    Oct 19, 2012 at 8:44 am

    I usually make fart noises.

    Always worked for me with my Glamour Shots.