How To Photograph Teens (without asking them to smile!)



I live with 4 teenagers. It’s great fun watching their personalities really grow through this time but can also be a challenge working out when to leave them in their room and when to coax them down to join the all important ‘family time’. I get it wrong daily!


Mine are growing up with a love of photography (mostly due to Instagram – I can’t take the credit!) and with an interest in how to get some great shots for themselves.


They have spent hours with me over the years while I have learnt my art, they have been patient (sometimes!), paid (lots of times!) and grumpy (most of the time!).


The one thing I never say is ‘SMILE’. All they do is roll their eyes!


The great thing about photographing teens is the rawness of the emotion you can capture. It’s very different to the gorgeous little pickle in a field of daisies with a pretty dress on. It needs to be much more atmospheric and edgy.


Look for funky locations…. Grafitti, Tunnels. Brickwork, Derelict houses or offices (these ones you will know in your community)


Grafitti  (Click here for ideas) 








Tunnels  (click here for ideas)


Derelict Houses (look here for more ideas) 


Don’t criticise their outfits, embrace them! (even if you hate them!) These are the memories you want! 

Encourage them – it will be music to their ears. There are so many people ready to put them down and make life hard for them when they feel insecure anyway. Be the voice of positivity! 

Let them hold their phones – they can be a great prop to keep their hands busy – a bit like the cigarettes were in the 50’s. 

Catch them off guard. (here are some fun ideas for photos with teens)



Don’t expect them to look at you unless they are comfortable to – tell them to focus on a point in the distance if that’s easier. 

Explain to them why its important to you to get a few great photos of them – I’m guessing because you love them a huge amount and think they’re gorgeous! 

Another handy tip for you is to always focus on their eyes in the photograph – if this is on your iphone then tap the screen on their face and a little focusing box comes up – that way you know you have focused on the correct area.



Now you should be good to go – just make sure you have some serious bribes ready as they probably won’t do it for free! 

If you still don’t feel confident to capture this inspiring age group yourself the get in touch with me here…