Photographer among monochrome flora and fauna illustrations.

Capturing the perfect portrait is not just about technical skill; it’s also about creating the right atmosphere. A genuine smile or laugh can transform a good portrait into a great one. As a photographer, one of your roles is to help your subjects feel at ease and enjoy the moment. Here are 20 creative ideas to make your subjects laugh and bring out their most natural, joyful expressions.

1. Tickle Their Funny Bone with Jokes

Keep a repertoire of light, friendly jokes handy. A good laugh can break the ice and lighten the mood.

2. Share Relatable, Funny Anecdotes

A humorous personal story can create a connection and bring a smile to their face.

3. Props for a Giggle

Use amusing props like funny hats or oversized glasses to induce laughter.

4. Challenge with Silly Faces

Ask your subjects to make a goofy face before switching to a natural smile. This can relax facial muscles and lead to a more genuine smile.

5. Unexpected Phrases

Instead of the cliché “say cheese,” try something quirky like “say fuzzy pickles!”

6. Contagious Laughter

Your own genuine laughter can be infectious and encourage your subject to laugh along.

7. Compliments that Warm the Heart

A kind, humorous compliment can make someone feel good and smile naturally.

8. Photographer’s Funny Faces

Make a silly face to catch your subject off guard and elicit a laugh.

9. Mimic for a Chuckle

Exaggerate their pose or expression in a playful way to make them laugh.

10. Absurd Questions

Pose an unexpected, funny question to provoke a spontaneous reaction.

11. Musical Mood Booster

Play a lighthearted or silly song in the background to create a fun atmosphere.

12. Goofy Sounds

Animal noises or silly sounds, especially for kids, can lead to laughter.

13. Tickle with Tools

Use a feather or soft toy to gently tickle, particularly effective with children.

14. Puppetry and Toys

A brief puppet show or a playful toy display can amuse and relax.

15. Improv Fun

Engage your subject in a light-hearted, simple improvisation game.

16. Quirky Compliments

Give an unusual compliment, like praising their earlobe shape, to prompt a smile.

17. Recall Funny Memories

Ask them about the funniest thing that’s happened to them recently.

18. Tech-Assisted Humor

Show a funny video clip or GIF on your phone for a quick laugh.

19. Magic Moments

Perform a simple magic trick to amuse and distract.

20. Gentle Teasing

Friendly, light teasing about a known topic can work, but tread carefully.


Remember, the secret to eliciting genuine laughter lies in understanding your subject and making them feel comfortable. Use these ideas to bring out the natural joy and personality in your portraits, ensuring that each photo tells a story of genuine emotion and connection. Happy shooting!

About the author

At the helm of Remote Expeditions, Tristan adeptly combines exploration, photography, tour design, web development, and tour leadership, encapsulating the essence of a versatile travel entrepreneur. His mission is to offer a limited number of high-quality tours each year, ensuring an unparalleled travel experience steering clear of mass tourism. He aims to guide you towards the true essence of each destination, facilitating a deep connection with both nature and yourself.