Many parents might shy away from a family session with unpredictable toddler behavior, but they shouldn't. Those photos are just as important as baby photos or any other professional family sessions and should not be missed.
Here are the 10 Tips to Make your Photography Session with a Toddler a Success
Tip Number One : Research
Do your research and make sure your photographer has an ample amount of experience photographing toddlers. Also, if a photographer whom you are considering has a portfolio of perfectly posed toddlers, I would suggest for you to pass on him or her. Why, you might ask. Well, it's simply not a real portrayal of how your two or three year old really is. For example, the perfect smile when it comes to such a young age would be an automatic reaction to words such as "cheese" or "show me your teeth". It does not in any way show his/her true personality.
Tip Number Two: Natural Light
It is also important to choose a natural light photographer and to avoid studio photography. Lets face it, our toddlers are on the move. They are tiny explorers and constraining them to a certain space is not a task you can easily accomplish. Trust me, there will be tears and screams. From time to time I arrive to a popular outdoor photo location and I see a fellow photographer setting up lights on stands to create a perfectly lit scene. All that equipment certainly makes one look super professional, but it's not realistic with toddlers in tow. Also, as a natural light photographer, I firmly believe that there is no reason to use artificial light outside at a beautiful location during a beautiful day.
Tip Number Three: Schedule Accordingly
When picking a perfect time for the photo shoot with your toddler do not interfere with the toddler's daily routine. For example, you should not skip naps in order to fit in the photography session. As someone who had a toddler, I learned that naps are crucial to the child’s mental disposition. It literally could be the difference between a perfect angel and a whiny zombie child.
Tip Number Four: Proper Clothing
Dress your toddler properly prior to the session. This one seems like common sense, but you’d be surprised how many times my little clients showed up in a beautiful summer dress and shiny shoes that they’ve never worn, two sizes too big, on a very cold day. The Bay Area is full of micro-climates and dressing accordingly with layers is so important. Also, comfortable clothes for running and playing is absolutely necessary. We want your child to be happy, and assuring proper clothing is a first step that is fairly easy to accomplish. Breaking in a new pair of shoes is not recommended during the photo session.
Tip Number Five: Eat!!!
A full stomach prior to the session makes everyone happy. This doesn't only apply to the toddler. As a parent I am often very busy and I tend to forget to eat, especially when preparing for a family outing. Taking care of yourself is a priority too.
Tip Number Six: If sick, reschedule!
Reschedule the session at the first sign of sickness. Toddlers pick up germs easily and can be sick at random times during the year. They could be slightly more irritable than usual and their noses may be running like a faucet. As a family phtoographer, I am always ready to accomodate such instances. I want great photos as much as the client, so it's better for everyone to find a perfect time.
Tip Number Seven: Mini Session is Not a Good Idea
Don’t do mini sessions if you have a toddler. Fitting a session into such a small window of time puts even more stress on parents. There is a lot of expectations and so little time. You are really gambling with the outcome and the odds are not in your favor. Allowing one to two hours for your session is very important. With my photography session, I give a two hour window. As a result, I take a lot of shots and provide a beautiful gallery.
Tip Number Eight: Bribe, If You must.
I am not a fan of bribery in general, but a little bribe goes a long way. I use M&M’s with my boy and you would be surprised how much happiness one can radiate when thinking about that little colorful M&M candy. But, seriously, it could be any candy or toy (even a healthy snack), which can be very motivational.
Tip Number Nine: Location, Location, Location!
When it comes to choosing a location for your session think about a somewhat flat area with the least amount of obstacles. Toddlers trip and fall easily. For example, having a shoot near a cliff is a very bad idea. An equally bad idea is to photograph at a park with a playground in open view. Your child will be so focused on other kids and he/she will want to spend the entire time playing there. Some time during the session at the playground itself can be great if it’s empty and with perfect natural light, but in most cases this type of situation is a perfect recipe for a full blown tantrum. If you are running out of ideas or you are unsure of where to bring your family for a session you can always ask your photographer to give suggestions or advice on where to have your outdoor session.
Tip Number Ten: Expectations: None!
Let go of your expectations. Natural and candid photos are often the most beautiful. In fact, the beauty of toddler photography is that posed is almost impossible. True and honest is what you will get.
BOJANA KORACH IS A PUBLISHED LIFESTYLE PHOTOGRAPHER SPECIALIZING IN NEWBORN, FAMILY & CHILD PHOTOGRAPHY IN THE SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA. CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR PHOTOGRAPHY SERVICES.