Do you ever look at other people’s professional photos and think that you could never have such lovely images because your toddler will not sit still and smile for the camera?
Does the thought of wrangling your toddler into a smart outfit and persuading them to listen to a photographer for an hour or so make you reach for a G&T?
I get it. Toddlers can be hard work. They are constantly testing you with their newfound independence, and they do not like being told what to do. But don’t worry. It’s my job to get great images of your toddler and I have lots of tricks up my sleeve. The children you see in my images are not models. They are normal toddlers just like yours, and you can have beautiful images just like my previous clients.
Despite the difficulties, I actually love toddler photography sessions. I love their energy and their spontaneity and I love how naturally they behave in front of the camera. I don’t plan what images I want from a toddler session, but I always get images that I and the parents love.
Here are my top ten tips to have a great toddler photography session:
1. Prepare them for the session
A few days before the session, talk to your child about what will happen, toddlers love to be included in the plans. Tell them about the photographer they will meet. Tell them the photographer is a friend they can have fun with, rather than someone who is going to tell them what to do. Make sure to talk about the session as something exciting to look forward to.
2. Prepare the photographer
Before your toddler photography session, tell the photographer about your child. Tell them how your child reacts to new people so your photographer can match their energy. Also tell the photographer about your child’s favourite books/tv shows etc so the photographer can build a rapport with your child.
3. Let your child get used to the situation
When you first arrive at the session, let your child play and explore. The best images happen when a child is happy and relaxed, so give them time to get used to the photographer and their surroundings. At the start of my sessions I don’t get my camera out immediately. I spend some time chatting to everyone first.
4. Cheese is for Crackers
Around the 2-3 years mark, children begin to develop a “camera smile”. This “smile” is usually nothing like the beautiful smile they get when they are genuinely happy. To avoid the fake smile, don’t ask children to smile. Instead, talk to them about their favourite things, or fun things that have done recently. Ask them to tell the photographer about a trip they recently took so that they engage with the camera.
5. Bring some Entertainment
A favourite toy will keep your child entertained during the session and will also provide a bit of comfort in a new situation if they are feeling a little shy. It’s also lovely to have favorite toys in the images. You may not be sure of having a threadbare teddy in your photographs now, but when they are grown up it will be a lovely reminder of the time teddy was part of the family. Also a few little treats always go down well. Choose something that’s not too messy, such as white chocolate or apple slices. Hand a few out during the session to keep everyone happy. If you withhold them as a bribe until the end of the session the children will be too preoccupied with their reward to focus on the session.
6. Schedule the Session Around Your Child
Most photographers like to arrange sessions at the end of the day when the sun is low in the sky, but for toddler photography, that can be too late. If you know your child will be OK with a late night on this one occasion then that’s great, but if they are likely to get grumpy then it’s best to arrange another time. Mornings are great, but if you really want a sunset session, try arranging your session for Spring or Autumn, when sunset is earlier.
7. Let them help
Toddlers love to help, so I always carry a little brush around with me and I have children be my assistant and clean my camera with it. I also let children take some picture of mum and dad if they show an interest in my camera. It’s good to get them involved in the session by asking them where they would like to go next or what sort of face they want to pull for the camera.
8. Get in the Frame
Family photographs with toddlers are my favourite. At this age they are so playful and free with their affection and I can get really fun images. Play ring and ring a rosy, throw them in the air or have a tickle fight to get images with great connection.
9. Remember who is in charge (hint: it’s not the photographer)
A lot of the stress during a toddler photography session comes from unrealistic expectations, Pinterest has a lot to answer for! During your session, don’t worry about your toddler sitting still or smiling at the camera. The best images often happen when children are relaxed and doing their own thing. I’m used to following toddlers around and waiting for the smile, so don’t worry if it doesn’t happen straight away.
Relax and have fun during the session. Toddlers can pick up on how their parents are feeling. Don’t worry about your child misbehaving as long as they are safe. Remember, you have chosen a professional family photographer to give you beautiful images, so trust the photographer to do a good job. Your job is to enjoy spending some time with your children.
Are you ready to have a stress free toddler photography session? Contact me now to plan your session.