Toddlers and Photography | Make Your Next Session a Success!
Make Your Photography Session a Breeze!
You just booked your first photography session since your beautiful, sweet, angel of a baby turned into a toddler. You dreamily peruse the gallery of all the well-behaved children laughing in front of the camera until you look over to see your child covered head to toe in marker. A few expletives enter your mind, and you wonder if you just threw money down the drain on a session that will end in the photographer getting toddlered. But all you really want is one good photo. That one perfect shot. Yet you wonder if that’s even possible some days. Sound familiar? Don’t worry; I’m here to alleviate your fears.
I have had the great fortune of working with many wonderful families in and around Seattle. I have shared tips on how to have a successful photography session with toddlers with my clients, and now I’m sharing them with you.
KEEP CALM and PHOTOGRAPH ON
This is the single most important piece of advice about toddler photography I can give you: keep calm. According to a study published in the Journal of Psychological Science, humans can smell fear and disgust. We communicate through our senses, including smell, which means those negative emotions will become airborne, acting as contagions and infecting everyone around us. The moral of the story is if you are stressed, your child will be stressed. Stay calm, keep your cool, and have fun. The final outcome and quality of your photographs is directly correlated to your level of stress. The family that arrives agitated and concerned will end up with a lesser product than their counterpart who arrives ready to have a good time. So let’s party and enjoy your children together!
ARRIVE EARLY and PREPARE YOUR KID!
An ounce of prevention goes a very long way with children so be sure to prepare your little one. Sometimes they’re smarter than we give them credit for. Apparently, they can smell our fear and generally dislike surprises so let’s try to remove those obstacles for them. Your mantra is prepare, prepare, prepare. If the session is away from home, arrive early. Thirty minutes beforehand is just right. When kids arrive late or even on time-Squirrel! When children enter new surroundings, they are often curious or intimidated by all the new stimulus. The last thing they are interested in is photography because- Squirrel! The harder you or the photographer- Squirrel!– try to get their attention, the worse their attention span gets. So, prevent this from happening entirely by arriving early to get the wiggles out and curiosity sated. If your child is timid or shy, it is all the more important to come early. Give them the chance to warm up by watching me work and becoming acquainted with the surroundings.
If the session is in your home or away, prepare your child by telling them what will happen. “There is a really nice person coming over to take pictures.” Show them what a camera looks like and how it sounds. You wouldn’t want someone showing up at your house with a camera without advanced notice. They don’t either. They are people who like to know what is going to happen and what is expected of them.
HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS
Don’t be afraid of on-location photography. I know you just had a baby. I know you have a toddler. And I in no way think your house should look like you have five maids working around the clock full-time. I expect your house to look like your home. The one you live in day in and day out. On-location can be really stunning even in a “messy” house. I am seeing this through the lens of a nostalgic Martha Stewart wanna be. A photo in your home is meaningful. It’s where memories come to life for you. That is where I cuddled you when you broke your arm. That is where I sat-scared-watching you sleep when you had your first fever. This is their home. A creative and experienced photographer can tastefully capture it, mess and all.
Bring a toy they love, but hide it. This is your secret weapon. If things get rough, hand it to your photographer. It’s your happy maker. Even better, it’s a wonderful sign of the times. You can look back at these photos and say, “Aww! That was your favorite stuffed animal. You carried him everywhere!” I am a nostalgic sucker for moments like this. Use this trick when all else fails because a sweet photo of a toddler with their favorite toy will never turn out poorly.
FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHY FACT
Parents are not in charge of children’s smiles. Photographers are.
If the kid is present, prepared and listening, it is the photographer’s job to capture that half attentive gaze. In fact, photos turn out better if you (yes, you, mom and dad!) are relaxed and turn your parenting buttons off. It is the photographer’s job to get smiles that will make your shoot special. It is the photographer’s job to create a relaxing and fun atmosphere.
However, photographers are not responsible for running after kiddos who are not interested or listening. If your child does not want to have their photo taken, I can’t force them. So please prepare them.
Experienced photographers will have many tricks up their sleeve to capture fun, love, joy and connection.
A good (family) photographer will do this. A great family photographer will become your kid’s new best friend.
I am confident that these simple steps will help you and your children collaborate with your photographer to create lasting, wonderful photographs to cherish for years to come.