We've all been there, you finally have everyone in the family together, and you are just trying to capture that perfect moment because time and patience is running out. You just want to get everyone's attention and you automatically say, "everyone say cheese!"
I get it! I have caught myself doing the exact same thing, more out of frustration and feeling short on time, than anything else. Now after being behind the camera, shooting others and my own family, let me tell you it's not all about the cheese.
The majority of images I take, very rarely have everyone looking at the camera. That just isn't real-life, it's not authentic. Looking in your children's eyes, even closing your eyes and resting your head on your spouse's shoulder, or giving your child a tickle in just the right spot, do not lend themselves looking straight at the camera. However, by doing these more natural responses, you just captured real moments. You made connetion with the people around you, not the camera lens.
Now, do I believe that you should never look at the camera and give that toothy smile? Nope! There is a time and a place for all images. Every session I conduct, at least every other pose begins with, "everyone look at me." I believe that a more posed look also shows physical growth and change over the years.
So, how do you get those more authentic smiles? Rather than saying"cheese"...how about saying "who can make the silliest sounding laugh?", "who makes the bathroom smell the worst?", " what sound does a snake say?" and other funny animal sounds. Another great option is for a parent to whisper silly sayings in their child's ear, or start singing a song everyone knows from school or church.
Be patient, be creative, there is more to capture than just "the cheese."