Capture the Perfect Picture of Your Toddler

by Platt Devost

perfect pictureYou'd like to document your toddler's adorable expressions, magical discoveries and amazing brilliance.

Your tot might have other ideas. Kids this age want to explore and can never seem to sit still. The best times to go exploring are especially during your photo sessions.

If you're like most photographers, you capture more pictures of your child's backside as they check out their surroundings.

With prior planning and a few sneaky tricks, you can get perfect pictures that capture these precious moments. You'll probably need to go buy more scrapbooks and photo albums!

Plan Your Shoot

Kids move fast, so get ready to click!

  • Have your camera ready and the exposure set.
  • Act like a child and get on your knees.
  • Allow your child to explore.
  • Expect the unexpected. Then get a picture of it!
  • Take a lot of shots. Toddlers are always on-the-go!
  • Watch for signs that your tiny subject is "done with this game."

Tricks and Tips

Toddlers don't mind being sent to the corner. They're happy to stomp for you. They just move faster with their feet on the ground. It's fair to use these facts to get good pictures!

Keep them sitting: Getting a toddler's feet off the ground gives you as much as 20 seconds shooting time. Get set up and then try a chair, a stump or an old tire.

Using props: Put your child in a corner or in a basket. My favorite shot shows my toddler in a hole at the beach. Your child might enjoy showing off while climbing a chair or peering out of playground equipment.

Put toddlers to work: Place a tape "X" or a sticker where your tot should stand. Ask them to find it, to stomp on it, sit on it or "hide" the "X." When they wander off, make a game of it and keep bringing them back -- all the time taking pictures.

Run and shout: "Allow" your child to run away, perhaps up a lane or along a fence. At just the right time, shout their name. Once they look back, snap. Follow up with a romp in the grass and a snack.

Use visual cues: Stick a piece of tape or a sticker on a finger or on your child's palm. While they focus their hand, you can set your focus. Distract them and click.

Look at Me!

Can you get smiles and amazing expressions until your face disappears behind the lens? Then your child's attention and body wander off? Try one of this tricks to keep your toddler engaged.

Peek-a-boo: Take advantage of this age-old and much-loved game. Pop out from behind the lens and dip back to snap.

Bag full of fun: Engage your toddler with silly, noise making toys, puppets and silly faces. Have your helper stand behind you and hold the toy so that your toddler's gaze is aimed at the camera.

Critter on the lens: "Sometimes a puppy or lamb plays on my lens." Turn away for a second, stick a tiny plastic animal on your lens. "Oh, look! Here they are!" Then snap.

Fairy in the camera: Does your toddler love to pretend? They might be ready to look for the fairy that lives in your camera. "Look in circle. What color is the fairy?"

Action Shots

Sidewalk chalk: Get an action picture of your toddler creating a chalk masterpiece. Use additional props if you're able.

Light it up: Plug in a string of LED lights. Test that they're cool to the touch before sharing with your child.

Costumes: Bring out the dress-up clothes. What could be cuter than your tiny tot in dad's big shoes?

Exploring: Toddlers examine things -- sprinklers, dandelions, bugs. Be ready and catch this natural curiosity.

I see you! Frame your child peeking out at you from around a corner or through a toy or peeking at that "other child" in the mirror.

Fingers and toes: Zoom in on the hands and feet. Those chubby little fingers and toes make wonderful reminders of the toddler years.

What's been your best or worst experience photographing your toddler?