Photographing Busy Toddlers

So, I just realized summer is just around the corner! I’m getting closer to the release of Camera Moms! I can’t wait! And thanks to everyone who has sent me such supportive messages and emails, I’m overjoyed to hear you are excited about the release just as much as I am. And I can’t believe that the limited pre-order special is almost sold out already! I think there are only 7 copies left, so hurry grab it now if you want to save $30! You can read about it and order by clicking the “shop” tab above.

When I asked readers what they wanted to read about next, a popular request was photography super busy toddlers. So, here it is! My best tips on how to photograph the most active little ones.

1) Give them a distraction. The absolute best way to get a child to stay still for a few seconds and look in your direction is to give them something to do or interact with them. This could be playing music (never underestimate the effect music can have on a child!), a toy, a cupcake, grandma, anything! WARNING: You’ll want to ensure that everything else is just right before introducing any distractions. Check your background by looking through your lens. Tidy up the area you’ll be shooting in if needed. If you are using props, get them set first, also checking through your lens that they are right where you want them. Children have a short attention span so you will want to be ready to snap away right as the distraction starts because that moment might only last for a few minutes in some cases.

My favorite distraction: I am known to burst out in song and dance between shots when photographing any children between the ages of 6 months to 8 years old. My favorite is the hot dog song from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse! Nearly ever child recognizes the song and dance routine. Now, I do feel sorry for all the parents who have had to witness such a horrible sight, but hey, it works! The younger children might only glance at me, but often times it results in a smile. For the older ones, I usually get a hysterical laugh. The more I look like a fool, the better their response is. haha.

Another distraction suggestion: My little girl LOVES stuffed animals and I have a bear that hides in my closet and only comes out when it is time for portraits. He sits on my head and says the silliest things in the silliest voice while I capture natural smiles and laughs. I do have to remind her that she can hold him after she takes a few pictures. After she is done playing, he sneaks back to my closet until next time. ; )

2) Don’t even try to pose them. It is impossible. Seriously. And it sometimes just upsets them to be confined to a certain spot. Some little ones do have the patience to sit still for a short period of time for portraits, but very rarely does it look natural. I suggest letting them move around and explore. I also take *lots* of pics when they are at this stage because they move so much and I don’t want to miss the shot. Having something for the child to sit on, usually results in what looks like a “posed” image, but be ready! They’ll get up and down and up and down. If they are exploring a prop and naturally posing themselves, sometimes all you need to do is get them to look up. A short unusual sound can do just that. I usually try to imitate a bird call. Notice that I said try. lol

3) Put the camera down. You can’t avoid it. They will get upset. In that case, they just need a break and you should try not to get frustrated. If you do, the next time you bring out the camera it will trigger the same reaction. I learned this the hard way and while I’ve tried to for a long time to fix that, it still happens from time to time. If they pout because you have the camera, take a couple (because every mom needs cry/pouting pics too!) and put the camera down. Get out and play for a few minutes, be happy and silly with them, that is all it takes often times. Then you can sneak back over to the camera and snap a couple more before they notice again. Every mom knows how moody children can be and if you picked the wrong time, it won’t be long before their happy mood is right back.

4) Action shot. So you’ve done everything you can and they just won’t stop moving for ONE picture. Just embrace it. Treat them like the little athletes they are, take them outdoors, use your sports mode (the little man running) and let ’em run. Let dad toss them in the air or swing them around. The extra light outdoors will allow your camera to use the fastest shutter speed possible. Faster shutter speed = less blur. You can stay in the shade if you like, but picking a time of day not too close to sunset will allow for more light.


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