One of the most frequent comments that I used to get back when I used to photograph weddings was, "everyone always looks like they are having so much fun!" which was usually then followed by the question, "How do you get people to laugh?"
Well now ... that's a good question!
Laughing and goofing around with others comes very naturally to me, so some times I forget that it might not come very naturally to other photographers.
It's extremely important to be able to make the people you're photographing comfortable enough to laugh, so here's 5 tips on how you can get genuine laughter in your photos!
(And no I am not a comedian ... I'm just a goofy and awkward adult who usually says silly things that probably don't even make sense half the time!)
Ehem. So, here are 5 ways that you can get (and photograph!) genuine laughter!
1. Engage with the people you are shooting.
If you don't like the people you are shooting and/or don't enjoy engaging with people, then you're probably going to have a hard time with this. When I'm shooting people, I am constantly engaging with them the entire time. Asking them questions, talking, being silly and just keeping things really low key.
2. Establish trust.
It's much easier for most people to laugh when they feel relaxed and comfortable- both of which are hard things to do if you don't trust the person you are working with! I like to get to know the people I'm shooting before the session/wedding so that it feels more like a friendship rather than me just being "the photographer."
3. Laugh with them.
I think it would feel pretty awkward for the person(s) you are shooting to be laughing alone while you are just silently snapping away, don't you think? Plus, laughing is totally contagious. I like laughing with people because it only makes me laugh harder to hear OTHER people laughing!!!
4. Don't tell lame jokes.
I'm sorry but ... when some one tells me a corny joke it neeeever makes me laugh.
The only laughter that MIGHT come out would be a bit of awkward fake laughter because I might feel obligated to laugh a little.
Also, when some one tells me to "smile" or say "cheese" it pretty much makes me want to do the opposite- and then the smile is totally fake.
So my advice? Be yourself!
If you're not naturally very funny (I don't think I'm super funny but some people think I am- who knows!) just joke about the situation. I mean ... come on ... nuzzling together in a field of weeds as you're getting poked in the butt by sharp pieces of grass?
That's KINDA funny. :P
5. Fake laugh.
Yes, fake laughter looks FAKE. However, when you get people to do a little fake laughing, they usually feel so ridiculous that they almost ALWAYS start laughing for real. It's an excellent way to jumpstart laughter if it is not coming naturally!
Speaking of capturing genuine laughter in your photos ...
Wanna learn how the heck to make people comfortable in front of the camera?
The more comfortable the person is, the easier the laughter will come. :-)
And there you have it!
My favorite ways to create an environment that is ripe for laughter.