Updated: Mar 17
We all know that toddlers aren't the easiest to photograph! They tend to be spontaneous and want to do their own things. We will give you 14 of our best tips to get the best photos of your little one, whether you are taking the photos or a photographer.
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1. Have your toddler wear clothing they are comfortable in. They can dress up a little or down, depending on the look you are going for. But a toddler will not be happy in clothing that is scratchy or shoes that are pinching their feet. Or just go shoeless! Add fun accessories to their wardrobe, consider a fun hat or a cool pair of shades. And always bring a backup outfit or two, just in case they get dirty. Toddlers are notoriously messy.
2. Make sure your toddler is well rested on the day of the photoshoot. The night before is not the night to stay up extra late for family time. Do not let them nap in the car on the way to the car. Toddlers need time to wake up (just like us adults). If they were asleep just a few minutes before the pictures, they will not have time to adjust. Think about the time of day your child is the happiest. If they are most playful and smiley at 10 A.M. That would be the time to schedule a shoot. A happy toddler is well-rested (and well fed-see the next tip!).
3. Make sure that your child has been fed before you begin pictures. Nobody wants pictures taken of their hangry toddler! Bring along a small snack and water for your child. Think about the snacks you will be bringing. Do not bring chocolate (unless you want brown stains on their face, hands, and clothing). Suckers are hard to hide during pictures unless you want to use the sucker as a prop. Small candies that your toddler can hold in their hands, and hide during the photoshoot work the best(small fruit snacks and Smarties work well!).
4. Don't say cheese! When a child says "cheese," they lack the authentic smile that we are looking for. Their smile becomes forced and unnatural, and you want to see genuine happiness. Instead, find a way to make them laugh or smile. Play a game of peek-a-boo, put a stuffed animal on your head and sneeze... Anything that you can think of to get a real smile.
5. Don't rush getting ready! Have the photo session planned out the night before. Nobody is happy when they get rushed. Especially Mom, and then the toddler becomes stressed out as well. Plan out all the outfits, get treats ready, find favorite toys and any props that you will be bringing. Have everything bagged up and ready to head out the door.
6. Let them have fun! Avoid telling your child no during a photo session. Let them explore their surroundings, and your toddler will be more willing to participate. Learn to embrace the chaos, expect the unexpected! It may not go according to your plans, but your child will be having fun. If an idea doesn't work out, that's okay, just move on and try something else. Children are unpredictable, and you may find some amazing photo opportunities that you would never have thought of. You will get the best pictures when your child is having a good time. Let your toddler lead the session. Playtime is important during a photo session, it leads to real emotions. Play a game of Simon Says. Let your child explore their surroundings, and you are more likely to get photos of them enjoying their childhood.
7. Although it is nice to get some photos of their beautiful smiles while they look at the camera, not every picture needs to capture them smiling. You can get some amazing photos of children looking off into the distance, or playing with a toy. The possibilities are endless, with a little creativity.
8. Let their personalities come out. Bring favorite toys or an activity that they like to do. You want to capture your child's real personality. Do they love dinosaurs? Bring a toy dinosaur. Have a little diva? Bring a pair of mom's high heel shoes. Remember it may not go the way you want (well, because they are toddlers!), but there will be the opportunity for some awesome photos.
9. Give them somewhere to sit or something to hang on to. Bring a chair or stool for younger children to sit on/hold on to. Younger toddlers can be unstable and need assistance sitting or standing. A chair may help them stay still a few seconds longer. Also, consider giving them something to hold in their hands. If you are outside at a park give your toddler a flower or leaf. It will create an interesting photo, and it may keep them still a few moments longer. You can always edit out any of these items later.
10. Your child may be nervous at the beginning of their photoshoot. To ease their fears, take a few quick photos of them. Then allow them to see themselves in your camera. They will probably be more willing to cooperate if they can see the results. They may even ask to see themselves throughout the photo session.
11. If you get to the day of the photos, and you realize it is not going well. Don't be afraid to reschedule. Things happen, maybe your child wouldn't go to bed or they aren't feeling well. It is not worth making you or your child miserable. Simply choose another day or time that would work better.