10 Tips for Photographing Your Toddler

I used to post monthly photos of this little guy. That was back when he pretty much stayed in one spot and wasn’t much too busy for the likes of me and my camera. That was also back in the days when he didn’t ignore me when I screamed his name only 2 feet away from his ears.  He’s at that difficult age in more ways than one. He is 2 and a half now, and here I am just getting around to posting the 2 year old photos I took of him on his birthday.

He’s a little spit fire this kid. I have to watch him closely all the time because he can get into trouble in the blink of an eye. He climbs to get anything he wants no matter how dangerous. I think I say, “You’re going to crack your head!” at least a dozen times a day. Then there are his tantrums. I’ve already said that if throwing tantrums was an Olympic sport he would be a gold medalist. His competitors would not have a chance. When he isn’t climbing or screaming he’s saying something that cracks us all up. He loves being the center of attention in our family of 6. He truly does believe the world revolves around him. As is typical of most youngest children he’s spoiled, but we can’t help it.

When I’m upset he says in his high pitched little 2 year old voice, “Don worwy mommy. Evry ting gonna be OK.” He grabs my face with his 2 hands on each side of my face and gives me a kiss. When I tell him I love him he answers back with an “I wuv you more.” Of course I tell him I love him more, and his response is, “I wuv you mostest mostest mostest mostest!” That, my fellow readers is why I signed up for motherhood. It’s payment for all the poopy diapers, long sleepless nights, and the countless other tortures we endure for our little ones.

Here are a few tips for photographing your toddler:

1. First and foremost do not ever try to force them to smile for the camera. The results are never what you’re looking for. That scared forced smile is not the smile that makes your heart melt in everyday life. You’ll always look at the photo and remember it was forced.

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2. Try to set up a situation where they get to do something they want to do. This makes them happy, and their facial expressions will be pleasant and what you are used to seeing in real life. In this situation Noah was exploring a trail and looking for bugs and leaves. He was happy as a clam. You might even want to try to let them do something they don’t usually get to do, like jumping on the bed or sitting on the table.

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3. Try to get eye contact in a natural way. Don’t yell at your child and say, “Look at me and smile!”  or “Say cheese!” Talk to him. Ask him questions. Sing him his favorite song. Tell him a joke. Do a dance. Make a funny noise. Try everything you can to get their attention.

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4. Get down on their level. 2 year olds are much shorter than you are. Bend down and meet them eye to eye. Get up close, and remember to capture the details you love most of all about your child. Maybe it’s his chubby little hands, or funny little walk, or their long eye lashes.

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5. Use a chair or a basket or something to get him to stay in one spot for longer than a few seconds. The blue chair came with us to the field for this very reason. You’ll notice every picture with him on it he is getting off of it. Sometimes it doesn’t work. If I had a big basket to put him in it would have taken longer for him to get out. I could have made a game out of it too to keep him their longer. For example, challenge him to sit still until you count to 5.

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6. Don’t shy away from the photos where he/she doesn’t have a big smile. The above left photo reminds me of how Noah looks at me all day long when I’m telling him something. That’s the expression I see most. I don’t want to forget it.

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7. Pull back and capture their environment. Don’t be afraid to have some of their favorite toys in the background. If you’re at home don’t clean up for every photo. It is fun to look back at old photographs and see the toys you played with at the time.

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8. Toddlers are unpredictable. You never know what will make them laugh. Relax and have fun with them. Enjoy the little person that they are. Embrace their goofy side. Try to capture them being who they are, not just a smile for the camera.

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9. Bribery does not work at this age. They have no concept of doing something now for a treat later. They hear about a treat and they want it NOW. Maybe some of you have more advanced children than I do (especially the girls), but my 2 year old does not understand delayed gratification.

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10.  MOVE! You will have to get up, move in front of, behind, to the side, and everywhere you can to get the photos of your toddler. They have a never ending supply of energy, and they will not sit still for longer than a second or two. This is normal.

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