Newborn photography is challenging enough… throw in a toddler and that’s next level! You could just pop that toddler in the frame at the absolute last second and crazily fire off a round of high speed continuous shots. Bam, done!
But what if you want good photos, with an engaged toddler, who wants to be there, and let’s you take more than one shot?
We asked a few pro photographers who do it well to give us their professional toddler wrangling secrets. We will give you some tricks to bring a reluctant toddler into the frame. We’ll share easy prompts to encourage the toddler to interact with the baby in ways that are natural and candid…
…and very much like real life.
Whether you want to capture your own wee ones, or a family not your own, read on and learn how to nail this tricky subject combo…
Expectations and the pressure we place on ourselves can make or break this experience.
You can plan for these sessions, but be prepared to throw it away and follow the toddler’s lead if need be!
Don’t go in expecting to come away with a gallery full of images of baby and toddler, dutifully laying down together, and engaging with one another or your lens. With smiles.
If this is what you’re anticipating… you’re setting yourself up for a very frustrating experience and ultimately a feeling of failure.
You have a newborn. And a toddler. Let’s be realistic.
If you do manage to get both of them laying there sweetly, staring at your camera and smiling, even once… go you!
But don’t let that be your goal for every shot. Think beyond posed photos, be flexible, and as a bonus you’ll end up with a lot more variety. Also, kids (even babies) can smell stress at a thousand paces. Chill out, and you might just get more than one of those shots, organically.
If you’re photographing children other than your own, have a chat with the parents in the lead up. Ask them not to worry if their children take the lead, or about their mood. The more the parents stress, the more likely it is to lead to meltdowns.
Keep reassuring them throughout that their kids are doing really well, you’re getting great shots, it’s going great.
Bribery is ok! However, always ask for permission to bring treats, especially in light of potential allergies.
Everyone agrees on one key tip for a successful session with a toddler – work on bonding with them at the very beginning, and make it the session all about them.
There are many ways you can do this:
Toddlers grow bored quickly, so try to get the key shots quickly and let them go.
Watch for their tired or bored cues… the moment they start to resist, give them a break. Send mum or dad off to spend quality time with them and take turns getting photos with each parent and the newborn.
At this time you could also sneak in to photograph the moments between the toddler and their parents.
Alana, Claire and Kailey approach their sessions in a lifestyle manner, aiming to capture candid moments.
So whilst they don’t strictly pose, they will set their subjects up in comfortable positions and locations designed to help them all relax. Then they’ll use prompts to draw out authentic moments and interactions.
You’ll want to get shots of the whole family regardless. However, if you have a shy or reluctant toddler, break the ice by getting hose family shots first. It will give him a little extra time to sus you out.
Try these with the whole family:
Whether you’re posing them or capturing them as you find them, keep them engaged. Try these prompts to encourage interactions and candid moments, and to keep the toddler interested.
Above all, give loads of praise. If the toddler kisses the baby, exclaim about how amazing that was, and maybe ask him to do it again and to see if he can kiss for longer this time (so you can get the shot!).
If they’re in a good mood and want to be involved from the start, awesome. Jump on it straight away… they have a small window, you don’t want to miss it!
But sometimes, no matter how big your bag of tricks, toddlers don’t want any part of the session. Don’t force it… you just have to go with it.
However, there are ways to include the toddler in photos without causing a meltdown:
Expect lots of pauses during this kind of session as baby’s needs are attended to, and the toddler takes his breaks. Rather than waiting around, photograph it all!
Involve the toddler in the routine of attending to baby’s needs. Encourage him to peek into baby’s bed, to help with bathing, changing, dressing and feeding if possible.
We hope you found our tips helpful! Let us know in the comments if you have any questions!
A warm shoutout to our fabulous contributors!
Alana, is another talented Click Love Grow graduate and photographer of families, maternity, newborns and Fresh 48 sessions. She’s based in Perth, in Western Australia, and you can find her here Alana Prosper Photography, at Facebook and of course over on Instagram.
Claire is also a Click Love Grow graduate and photographs families, maternity, newborns and Fresh 48 sessions. She works in and around Bendigo, in regional Victoria. For inspiration or to book a session, you’ll find her at Claire Eastman Photography, Facebook and Instagram.
Download your FREE Toddler & Newborn Posing & Prompt Cheat Sheet for a summary of tips you can print out and take with you when photographing a newborn and toddler.
Grab our Newborn & Toddler Download our handy cheatsheet for a summary of tips you can print out and use when photographing newborns and toddlers together
Posing & Prompts Cheatsheet
Grab our Newborn & Toddler
Download our handy cheatsheet for a summary of tips you can print out and use when photographing newborns and toddlers together
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