How to have a stress free photo session with a toddler. Yes, it is possible.

I was talking to a friend the other day about how I loved working with toddlers. Yes, toddlers. Ever since college I’ve always loved the challenge of encouraging tiny, cute, emotional, rambunctious, and innocent little ones. Let’s just say she looked at me as if I had three heads.

Neither of us are strangers to the exhaustion and frustrations that can accompany parenting a miniature, free spirited version of yourself.

But having a toddler or two doesn’t mean you need to miss out on capturing all of those special family moments. Years from now you will be so glad that you spent an afternoon in front of the camera despite the struggles.

Below are a few of my tips for preparing your toddler (or anyone really) for a stress-free photo session.

1. Food is your friend!

Let’s face it, no one wants to deal with a hangry (hungry-angry) toddler! Heck, I don’t even want to deal with a hangry husband or friend. It’s better to avoid the situation when possible by simply packing every snack you can cram into your purse or bag. This isn’t the time to be stingy because let’s face it, the second you pull out of the driveway your toddler will sense it and tummies will begin to rumble.

Above is an image of my daughter – cute right?! She looks happy and relaxed but what you don’t see are all of the raisins my husband was sneaking to her between images. Trust me, it works.

PS: I often keep an emergency stash of goodies in my camera bag just in case. Feel free to ask for some.

2. Keep it simple.

Make sure that their clothing is comfortable. I can’t stress this enough to my clients.

It is so tempting to pick out the “perfect” photo-ready outfit for your little one. But trust me, if they are uncomfortable it will show. That tiny tag you forgot to cut out of their new shirt will become infinitely annoying or the new tutu will be itchier than a swarm of ants. It seems to be some sort of Murphy’s Law of Photography. That perfect outfit won’t matter if your child is frowning or constantly tugging at their clothes.

If you must have the “perfect” outfit that is uncomfortable bring backups! This lovely Mama was prepared with a bathing suit! She knew her girl would want to play in the water at the end of their session and I was able to capture all of her smiles.

3. Location, Location.

Things don’t always go as planned. Take this lovely girl for example:

During our consultation we had decided that their session would take place at a local beach. However, the morning of the session I received a call from the family that they didn’t think traveling would go over too well with their 4 year old and 6 month old daughters so we decided to go for a safer option- their backyard.

While it may not have been such a scenic view, the girls both enjoyed playing somewhere familiar. I was able to capture relaxed, smiling images versus the grumps we may have gotten after a long drive in South Florida traffic. We all know the traffic here is enough to make anyone grumpy.

Don’t be afraid to choose a location that is more relaxed or familiar. You know your children best and pushing them into something too unfamiliar may not always go well for a photo session.

If your mini me loves the beach, by all means, let’s go there! If they love running around in the grass, let’s find a beautiful park in your neighborhood.

During your pre-consultation we cover all of the local options and create a backup plan. So don’t ever worry if things don’t always go perfectly. In the end, you will still have great memories to share.

4. Preparation

While a family photo session may be a new experience for your little one(s) you can help prepare them beforehand.

Give them an idea of what is going to happen during your session: “we are going to the beach and a nice friend is going to help take some special photos for our home,” you get the idea. Let them know that I will be there but feel free to make it into a fun and exciting event. If you are excited they will be excited. Feel free to make it into a game – I will be sure to play along, I promise 😉

I also have a few tricks up my sleeve and a few “photographer secrets” to tell them when we meet.

Also, feel free to bring them along to our pre-consultation. They may feel more at ease the day of your session if they have met me before.

 And please, please don’t skip naptime.

5. Give them choices

Giving your toddler a little power can go a long way. If you’re like me, you’re looking for any way to avoid the constant struggle known as “strong willed toddler.”

Give them a few options and let them choose something about their outfit- Grey shoes or black, pink or green hairbows? You get the idea. It doesn’t have to be something big, and if you plan it right, it can still go along perfectly with the color scheme of the your family’s attire.

If your children has a favorite stuffed animal or a favorite dinosaur or sunglasses bring those along. You can even give them the option of choosing one thing to take with them on their “special day.”

These items can be comforting to them in a new situation (ie. someone always pointing a big camera in their face) and it is an opportunity to showcase their unique personality.

If all else fails, and the “Murphy’s Law of Photography” occurs, don’t worry. Things happen, children get tired, food gets spilled on their perfect outfit. We always make it work on your special day and before you know it, you may be one of those parents shedding tears over your beautiful images during your reveal session.

Want more tips on preparing for your photo session? Be sure to check out my blog for more tips and inspiration.

Want to experience a full-service photography session personalized for your family? Let’s chat and make a plan for your unique day!

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