You are My Sunshine

Getting a Toddler to Cooperate for Photography Session

When a toddler comes into my studio, I try to remember that they are visiting a new place. They don’t know me. This is not a like a visit to Grandma’s house. I spend a little time getting to know each and every little person before I begin their session. By the same token, mom and dad cannot expect a toddler who is generally apprehensive to hop right onto one of my props and smile at the camera for an hour!

What can mom and dad do?

What can mom and dad do to make the session go more smoothly? Take their hand and stay close by while they become adjusted. Slowly move back physically as you pick up cues that they are comfortable with the photographer and the set. Stay positive. In between sets when giving them a wardrobe change, tell them how great they did, clap your hands. Have a smile on your face. It helps if one parent stays close to the child and repositions them quickly when they need to be. If there is another parent at the session, I have them come back to where I am shooting and stay very close if I need help getting a kiddos attention. If I have a short lens and am getting some close-ups, little ones smile back and me. When I am getting a “dreamy” like image from 10 feet away, sometimes I need a little parent help. If mom or dad is right above the camera we still get that eye contact. It’s a team effort!

Another tactic that works with toddlers is having mom and dad bring their favorite snack. If the child is old enough understand a reward system, this goes a long way. This shouldn’t be something that takes a long time to chew, but rather simple Cheerios or baby puffs. I do not provide snacks for babies or toddlers because of food allergies.

Things I do to encourage cooperation:

I have lots of patience, and try to keep sense of humor for toddler sessions. It is very rare that things don’t work out that day and a client may need to come back to finish their session. I usually end up getting a little ridiculous. Toddlers appreciate ridiculous.

I like to find out my tiny client’s favorite song and do a little singing with them. I have a variety of children’s music on my phone and have a speaker so we can really feel the music.

This little sweetie had a great session. We sang “You Are My Sunshine”,  just like her dad sings to her.  So sweet!
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