Toddler Photography Tips

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say cheeeese!

I know it all to well. Ida has the sweetest, cheesiest little grin she flashes at me when I ask her to smile, or she requests me to, "take Piture, mama!" Doesn't every toddler have a signature cheesy grin? While it is the go-to face for some of our most treasured moments and photos, it may not be the grin we are looking for sometimes. You know those times. The moments we want to capture that actually feel in the moment. For me, its that mischievous quirky grin Ida has when dumping out her toy basket each morning, or the bellowing laughter when she is being tickled by daddy; that curious lip pucker when she discovers something new or interesting, when her eyes sparkle while she twirls like a ballerina, the way she clasps her hands together in excitement and sporatically kicks her feet when sitting down. Ida in her full personality who God created her to be.  and    her unabashed joyful smile when she is living life to the full and enjoying every minute of it! In the photography world, we often call those "candid" shots. The real moments. Even if they are staged a little, with a pretty location and clothes (because lets be real mamas, my child is typically wearing crusty food from lunch or has a booger in her nose.)

My favorite thing about this age, is that it is still possible to capture these moments without them even noticing.Somehow, when we get older we are aware people are watching us, and it is difficult to be who we are-especially on camera. (I may not speak for all people-but definitely for me! I am queen of the awkward smile! My mouth gets dry and my lips stick together...and I never know what to do with my hands)  A toddler is focused on play.

While this post doesn't go into the teachnicalities of photography-such as how to use your DSLR camera, lighting, composition, yada-yada-yada. These are all important thigns. But in this post I will talk about some of the most important things I've learned from my own experience photographing my little Ida Frances as well as other families with small children. My hope for this post, is that is can help a mama interested in photography, or a photographer venturing into photographing families with small children.

Action Prompts

Instead of asking your toddler to say "cheese" and smile, or sticking him/her in one particular spot,prompt  him/her with action words. For example, from our own shoot below.

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Get eye level

For the sweetest, most personal photos-get eye level with your toddler. I'm not very tall myself, but I forget how Ida sees the world until I get down on my knees and look at the big world around me. Getting at their level also makes the photograph feel as if you having a fun little conversation with your tot.

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Ooooo Ida! What do you see in that tree? 

There were berries on it-I had to be sure she wouldn't eat them (haha! A plus if they are edible!) but she loved picking them off the tree, and this allowed me to take some profile stationary shots.

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Ida! Let's pretend this is a maze-can you run through the maze & fly like a birdie?!

Creating impromtu games can get a toddler moving and dancing and get ready for some action shots!

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Location, Location

The first step is to find a versatile location; somewhere that is safe from traffic with plenty of room to run around and have fun! Also, its a plus to have several lovely locations nearby without having to go from lcoation to location (a toddler can grow weary of this REALLy fast.)

Really think  about how you can interact in your setting and how your toddler can interact with his/her surroundings! This is key to creating images that feel candid and natural, and let your toddlers personality shine through.

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How many licks?! 1....2......3

Want to really get a toddler to smile? Heres a secret...bring a sweet treat! It doesn't have to be a bribe; its a suprise! I'll admit...I actually spoiled the suprise and let Fran have a lollipop before the photoshoot so we could get her dressed...that was indeed, a bribe. 

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