How to Photograph a Toddler

Great day today! Got to photograph my good friend, Anndae’s daughter. She is certainly the tiny life of the party. Her antics the whole time absolutely cracked me up and hopefully will entertain you, my beloved reader.

At some point, most photographers will be asked to photograph a toddler. Whether you regularly do this or it is only the occasional session, the experience is never dull.

Toddlers are just getting to finding their independence and sense of will. Rarely is sitting still in one spot smiling sweetly straight down the barrel of your camera part of their will. One way to counteract this, is to give them something interesting to investigate. It may be as simple as a chair to sit on, or a box to dig around in. You can also encourage playful exploration or their favorite song to dance to!

Savannah sits on a low tree branch with mommy close by.
Toys don’t always work. This is her favorite doll and the theme for her birthday party. Oh well…
Jamming to her favorite song helped her to loosen up a bit.

“Stranger Danger” is God’s wonderful protective internal guidance system that tends to work very much against a well-intentioned photographer. Give them some space. Pressure will only work against you and mom.

Sometimes you just have to let them leave you and wander off on their own. The strategic framing of the shot captured her exploring her world and took some of the pressure off of her. Sometimes you gotta give’em a break and chill a bit.
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No one, adults included, like to see someone cover their face. To see another human cover up conveys a sense that something underhand or untrustworthy is taking place. We may not always be conscious of why we dislike a person, or thing, often times it is because of the perception that something has been concealed from our view. Think clowns. ‘Nuff said?

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Toddlers and small children in general are very uneasy the moment you cover your face by hiding behind a wall, blanket, mask, clown makeup, or in our case, a camera with a weird creepy eyeball staring back at them.

Finally, remember the key to happiness: Lowered expectations. Good grief don’t admit this one to the mom of said toddler. But the truth is, if you have ever been around these tiny people, nothing goes as planned or staged or posed. Stop thinking that they will pose like tiny porcelain dolls. They won’t. Creating those beautiful portraits happens not by staging the toddler in the composition. Rather it happens by staging an alluring setting for them and allowing them to move into it on their own terms. And then roll with it. Get what unfolds in front of you.

She finally sat down in the exact spot we originally wanted and we got the “posed” shot we were hoping to get all along.

Long story short, you can’t force the moments to happen with a toddler. You must let them unfold organically. But you can coax the moment into play by giving the child something alluring to capture their attention. While it won’t always work out the way you may have hoped, it will always be something fun and unexpected.

I hope you have enjoyed this updated version of my shoot with little Savannah, she was a hoot to play with and I really enjoyed the long, sweaty process. If you enjoyed this post, I’m so glad and I ask that you hit the “Like” button. If you would like more tips on how to photograph portraits, follow me and leave a comment below.

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Published by Sharon Brown Photo

Private Photographer finding my style and way in the photography world

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