Call me crazy, but I love taking pictures of toddlers.
Sticky faces, the “terrible twos,” the giggles, the mood swings, the fast pace, I love it all. No matter what your parenting style is, I think we can all agree on one thing. Toddler’s are unpredictable. They are like ticking time bombs waiting to go off. One minute as sweet as honey and the next they are pounding their little fists on the floor. They are each growing into their own little independent personalities and their emotions are ever changing. I love that about them! But when it comes to photos, they can be a fun little challenge.
So, you decide to book the photoshoot you’ve been dreaming of to capture them while they are little. You spend hundreds of dollars booking, find the perfect outfits, and pick a day with perfect weather. How do you know your toddler will even cooperate for the photos? Here are a few tips on how to have a successful photoshoot with your little one.
- Trust your photographer
Choose a photographer that specializes in families with young kids. This is crucial! If your photographer is not used to being around crazy toddlers, they will feel uncomfortable with the chaos and the session will not go well. Photographers that specialize in this area will take control of the session and have so many tips and tricks to get your little one to cooperate from past experiences. You can research this by looking at their website and social media. What are they posting photos of? If there’s not a toddler in site, they may not be the right photographer for you.
- Don’t scold
As hard as it may be, parenting needs to be thrown out the window during the photo session. This one is especially hard for Dads. Your child may have the sweetest little personality in the world but then turn crazy in the middle of the session. As much as you may want to scold them for their bad behavior, it will only hurt the mood of session. Kids are very receptive to your feelings and if you’re frustrated, they will be too. So take a deep breath and exhale. And don’t worry, you will have plenty of other discipline opportunities in the future!
This is a tricky one! I always tell my clients that there will be no parenting judgement and bribes are welcome. However, bribes can be a complete disaster if you use them in the wrong way. A lot of this depends on the age of the child. If they are old enough to understand reasoning, bribing them with a fun activity or going to get ice cream after the session is a great idea. If they are not old enough to understand and you say the word “ice cream” in their session, they may cry and beg to get in the car or cry until they get their actual ice cream. Make sure you do not reward them in the middle of the session. If you hand them a sucker, ipad, or snack in the middle of the session it will probably be in the rest of your photos! There will be an inevitable melt down when we try to take it away for more pictures, so use bribes wisely! Also…try to stay away from chocolate during photos. We can all guess how that mess goes!
- Forget the “Cheese”
Unless you have a rare model child, forget the word “cheese.” This word usually results in a forced smile. Try making them laugh instead! Your photographer should have a bag of tricks when it comes to making them laugh. My go to is a fake sneeze or telling them funny secrets like “Daddy has stinky feet.”
- Reverse Psychology
With toddlers, this is my go to and works 90% of the time with independent little ones! If you tell them in a funny tone NOT to sit on the couch, sure enough they will sit on the couch like a little professional. I apologize in advance if I’m teaching them bad habits, but anything for a great picture, right?!
- Book a Full Session
Sometimes toddlers take awhile to warm up. A stranger with a giant black camera in their face can be overstimulating and sometimes even scary. If I have the time, I love to spend the first few minutes of the session playing with your child and just letting them know that I’m fun and nice. This can make all the difference! Mini sessions are affordable and quick, but they do not allow this luxury. If all else fails and your little one is just having a bad day, I will ALWAYS reschedule a full session to make sure we get great photos. Unfortunately I am not able to do this for discounted and mini sessions as much as I wish I had the time!
- Forget Perfection
Last but not least, just embrace the imperfections of your session. We will work hard to get the photos of your dreams, but your pictures will not be perfect because life isn’t perfect, and isn’t that the beauty of it? Capturing life as it comes with it’s ups and downs are what make it so sweet. In ten years you will cherish the photo with drool on your shirt. Maybe your little one is being clingy and wants to be held for the entire session. You’ll miss that someday! Embrace the messiness of life. It’s what I love capturing most!