Let me introduce you to the lovely little boys that are going to help me walk you through these tips. Up there on the bench the little one is named Dalton. He's a gem. His favorite tv show is Paw Patrol and his eyes got as wide as the moon when he heard a fire truck siren during our session. The little drama queen over on my right is Parker. Don't worry, he's not always that dramatic, he's actually quite the little model baby.
The thing they don't tell you about photographing toddlers is that it is going to be a workout. You are going to be squatted like 90% of the time. You're going to run, you're going to dance, and for sure you're going to be all over the place trying to keep their attention. I especially love when the parents, or siblings in Dalton's case, go along with it and don't give me strange looks for rolling in the grass or making faces behind my camera or doing the weird foot stomp thing that tots think is dancing. They're the best. So let me give awesome parents like you some tips on how to get the most out of your session!
1) Don't expect your kid to be perfect. Toddlers cry, throw fits, run around, they LOVE snapchat yet for some reason HATE my camera and being told what to do. It's okay. You don't have to lie to me and tell me that never ever act like this. I know they do, and that's okay. I'm super flexible and we'll get photos, don't worry! I know that you really want those perfect posed portraits and we'll do our very best to get those, but these candids of them throwing a fit and being completely real with me are priceless. You'll cherish those too. I mean come on, if it wasn't for pouts we wouldn't get pictures like this.
2) If you come, come dressed to be in a picture. You don't have to look perfect. You don't have to have make-up on, or your hair done or anything like that. Just know that you might have to be in a picture so that neon green t-shirt might not be the best option. 2 year olds love their mommy and they may want to be held for a bit, if you're wearing something neutral than I can still sneak in some portraits of just them while you're doing that. And who knows, maybe just randomly they'll give you the most adorable snuggle and if I'm lucky I may just catch that. Like here, this session was for Parker and his dad, not his mom at all, but we caught some snuggles and a BA handshake and luckily she came in neutral clothes so it didn't distract from the beautiful moments.
3) I'm going to let the toddler make some decisions. Crazy right? Yeah I know. Here's what I've learned so far. If a 2 year old doesn't want to do something, they aren't going to do it. However, if they want to do it, you're going to get the most genuine and passionate reactions from them that you could ever imagine. Have you ever noticed how 2 year olds always seem to LOVE something? Whether it be dinosaurs or Elmo or princesses, they almost always have something that they are obsessed with. Hey Dalton you wanna throw some leaves? Heck yeah he did.
And then Parker wanted to smell the flowers and look at the water, so we let him. They have some pretty great ideas those tots, and honestly even if the idea isn't super great letting them have some fun for a second is worth the good mood that often time comes from it. Dalton posed some pictures for us, they didn't turn out too great but he thought it was cool that he was telling his big brother where to sit so guess what? We did it. I'll work them back to the posed stuff, but if we try and force them to sit and smile they aren't going to have any fun and they're just going to shut down. I prefer my tots giggly and happy.
4) Don't be in a rush. Even mini sessions have plenty of time to get the pictures we need. I'll let you in on a little secret. That "atleast 10(or whatever number) images" promised with your session? That's a big cushion for me. I have never had to give a client that few images but things happen and I can't control everything so that's why you're promised so few. A lot of photographers promise fewer images and charge for extras after that, I don't do that. I will never withhold good images for more money. So breathe, and be ready to have fun. We'll have plenty of time I promise.
5) If they have a "lovey" bring it! Don't give it to them right away, but it's a great thing to have on hand. This not only gives them something to love and cuddle on but also let's us get a nice picture of something that's probably been or will be a big part of their childhood.
6) If you're going to help get their attention, do so behind me! I appreciate the help, I really do but when mom is over to the left shouting little Timmy's name while I'm trying to get a straight on shot, who do you think he's going to look at? Standing behind me and helping call out names or making weird faces can be super helpful to get them looking in the right direction.
7) Be ready to have fun! I may bring bubbles, confetti, little things to make it fun for them (and okay, me too). I may ask you to do things like toss them up in the air or spin in circles or get tickled or tackled by your tot. Your willingness to go along with this sort of thing helps tremendously. It's okay to be goofy! Chances are that I've already embarrassed myself way worse during the session. Have I danced yet? Yep, in that case there's nothing you can do that's worse. And it's okay if it fails! Sometimes the fail is even better!
Those are some of my tips for how to get the most out of your toddler session. This is not an exhaustive list and I'm learning more every day so be on the lookout for tidbits in other blog posts as well! I look forward to working with you and your little one soon!