Tips and tricks to surviving photoshoots with the tiny teenagers

Toddlers & Photos

It was a warm sunny (& windy) Spring day. The apple blossoms were blooming and I was meeting up with an old friend, Jenna, to complete her pregnancy announcement and an update family photoshoot with herself, hubby, and their daughter, Cara.

We were all getting ready to go when we heard Chris yell, "help!" When we got over to the truck, we looked at Cara in her beautiful yellow dress...covered in red raspberry puke. Jenna looked at me on the brink of tears and repeated "I'm not going to cry, I'm not going to cry" as she was Mom of the year and cleaned up her babe and got her ready for our shoot.

Luckily as it was an announcement shoot, there was an alternative outfit packed and we gave Cara a quick baby wipe bath and trucked onward. After the shoot, I could see the nerves in Jenna and her Mom's face worried that they spent time and money for pictures that weren't going to turn out. Cara was rightfully a little fussy due to not feeling well but as a social worker, I always adore watching parents navigate their children's moods and behaviours so gracefully and lovingly, which is exactly what Jenna and Chris did.

9/10 times parents plead for my forgiveness that their toddler is not cooperating for the photos and to which I reply every time that kids are not meant to cooperate for photos. They are little explorers, adventurers, and busy body extrodinares. 10/10 times, you trying to soothe your toddler or redirect them makes for the best photos, not them sitting still and smiling. It's not real and that's what I am always craving for my photos and what I want to deliver to you. Raw, real, and people's everyday realities.

As you can see, the photos turned out absolutely great (they're a great looking bunch that are not able to take bad photos) and we had a great story at the end of it. However, from this day on I have found that when people are inquiring about photos, there's a few tips I have regarding toddlers and photoshoots that I have learned while photographing families with toddlers. I would say out of all the photos I have done, a family with a toddler is one of my most popular shoots. If you're interested in some tips to help you get through your shoot with a toddler, please keep reading.

Take a Breath

This is my biggest and most important tip. I've had Mom's in tears a number of times before a shoot. Pictures are an investment and of course you want to love them. The easiest way to like them is to have fun with it. There is nothing that makes a picture better than genuine smiles and laughs. Often people ask me, "what do you want me to do?" to which I'll reply "you're doing it." If children (especially tods) are involved treat our shoot like a fun outing. Play, laugh, joke around, point out cool things in nature, talk about what they're seeing and the list goes on. I can tell you that from experience, my best photos are of families engaging in play and talking about what's going on and "pretending I'm not there."

Come Prepared for Anything

I don't mean bring every favourite toy, snack, and blanket for naps. I mean learn from my mistake and something I should have told poor Jenna. If you have a toddler, anything can happen. Pack an extra outfit and if you're dead set on a specific outfit, maybe change them into it when they get out of the car. Small stains and marks can be edited out so don't worry if there's something on their shirt, but for example (Jenna lol) they throw up all over themselves on the car ride over, we're in for a whole other ball game.

Let Them Be Little

We've all seen those Pinterest perfect images where you ask yourself how the heck that happened and after doing this for a while, I have an idea of how it did happen. LET THEM BE LITTLE AND EXPLORE. Let them pick up the sticks and rocks and run away from you. Let them point at the water or look at a big leaf. Let them sing and dance and any other ridiculous thing they do. I can't emphasize how much of a difference this will make your photos. The days of traditional photos of kids and smiling looking directly into the camera are over. When booking a session with me, one of the first things I say is let me know if you want a traditional photo of you looking at the camera because I get very minimum.

You know what my favourite pictures are? When they have a snack in their hand and get excited over a rock they found. Or when Dad tickles until they get that perfect belly laugh out. When we're done our shoot, I want you to be like "wow, that was a lot of fun" rather than stressing if your two year old is being cooperative because 9/10 times they're not going to cooperate . It's my job to work around what obstacles occur during a shoot, not yours. I want you to have fun, make not only photos but memories. Find those rocks and sticks and go on an adventure with your little!

Act Like There's No One Watching

I know, I know. I hate using the prompt "forget I'm here." But seriously, forget I'm here. I have found it takes about ten to fifteen minutes to hit that sweet spot where it's not as awkward for people to be in front of the camera. Carry on and play like no one is watching, it's amazing the smiles and laughs that people love. Give smooches, hugs, and snuggle up together!

Not trying at all is often what gives the best photos and makes them more enjoyable for you.

Bring a Snack, Food is Life

It's true what they say, time is money. However, I really am not going to care if we go five minutes over because your little needs a snack. I can tell you I have a number of photos that I've had to edit out a gold fish package and that gold fish package has been a meltdown saviour. Toddlers are little teenagers who are trapped in small bodies and can get upset over the silliest things. A snack is a good distraction and can give them the little push they need to finish the session. And referring back to number one, breathe. I'd rather take the five minutes and get the shot for you so you love your photos then rush to get our session done :).

Be Flexible

As I've said above, we've all seen those Pinterest photos and scoped out a place in our living room where we want the blown up version of that photo of our own family. However you want photos that are going to capture your own family. I'll pose it this way: would you rather have a photo that you know your toddler was forced into the position and was angry the whole time or make a photo your own with the memory of it being a good day. Don't get me wrong, we can usually snap it, but being flexible with toddlers and letting them lead is the key to what makes photoshoots go successfully with your littles.

There you have it! Six easy tips to assist you in getting through shoots with toddlers. Feel free to check out my portfolio where I have tons of stuff with the little dudes.