My 365: Taking Pictures of Toddlers

I know several of my posts have been Leo-centric over the past few days … sorry about that.  It’s just that he’s available, he’s cute, and he can usually be cajoled into getting his picture taken (not easily, mind you — he is a toddler, after all.  More on this subject below).

Right after I took the following picture, a nearby mom said, “I wish MY kid would pose for the camera like that!”

In all honesty, I have to work VERY HARD to get good shots of Leo.  There is lots of storytelling involved, as well as singing songs, telling him that Elmo is inside of the camera, and just generally making a fool of myself.  And I also have to be very quick (he usually cooperates better if he knows that Mommy is going to put the camera away and play with him within 5 minutes or less).

So, to sum up, here are some tips for getting good pictures of your toddler:

1.  Know your camera inside and out.  Toddlers will NOT sit still while you are fumbling to find the aperture adjustment knob.  If you’re still figuring out Manual mode, try Aperture Priority.

2.  Act quickly, in every way.  Set the shutter speed high (at least 1/100).  Use continuous focus (or “sports mode”).  If necessary, use a flash to freeze the action (not ideal, but better than nothing).

3.  Play games with the camera.  I have found Peek-A-Boo to work well with some toddlers (not mine).  Sometimes it helps to tell a story or sing a song, so they forget about the camera and just interact with you.  Also, sometimes it helps to make weird noises to get them to look at you (this doesn’t work with Leo …  he just assumes his Mom is crazy and avoids looking at me altogether.  But it works with some kids).

4.  Take frequent “play breaks.”

5.  Give them something to do.

6.  Set them on a chair/in a wagon/etc.  This may slow them down long enough for you to actually get their picture!

7.  Remember that photographing even the most well-behaved toddler is like trying to catch Sasquatch.


One thought on “My 365: Taking Pictures of Toddlers

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  1. I love tip #7! Very good post. I do find with my own kids that if they think they are “playing” with me, I am more likely to get better images of them. Do you feel this is the case with most kids? Personally, I find I’m most successful (in getting good images) if I don’t focus on the poses, but on the play and interactions. Leo is so handsome what a nice post.

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