Toddlers (and all ages of children) are in the process of learning how to interact with the world around them, which involves smiling patience, repetition, and flexibility, from parents and the photographer! Chances are, coming into the session you won't know exactly what type of session you'll be working with. And much depends on :
- if Baby had a good nap...or not.
- if Little Tyke enjoys the outdoors/studio space...or is he clingy today?
- if Small Darling had a great week...until today, when teething kicked in.
- if Kidlet wants to run free...and not be picked up. At. All. Ever.
That's a short list, and if one thing applies to the Small Child in your session, know it can change at any time to something else. ;)
You can be prepared by studying and keeping in mind how boys and girls generally act at various ages, and have a few game plans up your sleeve. Chat with the parents and find out if it's best to start with staged poses before candids, or vice versa. Let them know you don't expect Kidlet to do anything but be himself/herself and their job is to simply interact with and love on their little one.
1. Go (mostly) Candid
Be ready to take a photo when everyone is looking at you, and in between those pictures, keep shooting! Candids truly are your best friend. And don't be shy to encourage the child to do all their "tricks". In rotation. Repeatedly.
In this session, we did lots of kisses and "what does (animal) say?" to keep Girlie's attention.
2. Get Moving
Walking is a great activity for parents and children to do together, especially when Toddler still needs to hold hands.
Swinging is also highly encouraged :)
One of the poses on my list was to have Daddy hold Girlie on his shoulders while Mommy stood real close to him. I've done it with a couple families before, but this time?
Oh, we tried (a couple times!), but you have to understand the lure of nature on small children. All-of-a-sudden, in the child's mind, this trip to the park where they usually play with abandon is different. So, it's understandable that they don't sit still and smile at the camera! This is where we get to be flexible :)
To ward off crying, Daddy took Girlie for a shoulder ride...
We never did get the pose on my list, but these? ^^ You can't plan such pure delight!
Someday, she won't fit on his shoulders, eat his hair, or hold on to his chin for dear life...but we won't go there...
3. Look for Details
Even if posing doesn't work one bit, and your fastest lens can't catch the blur of a busy toddler, there's still scope for lots of photos which will delight the parents' hearts and be cherished for years to come. Having a zoom lens allows you to capture details while the toddler is completely captivated with, say, sticks or rocks :)
Big hands holding little hands.
Smiles that take up the whole face of a teething (and obviously drooling) honey-bunch.
I collected these tips after the session pictured in this post, because I was working with a little girl who (a) had a great nap before the session (b) loved the outdoors (c) and did not want to be picked up. At all. Ever.
Her parents loved their girl so very well that day! Quietly calmed her crying, gave countless kisses, and made her giggle...even though the grass, rocks, sand, and sticks claimed the rest of her attention (chuckle). And as a cherry atop a sundae, Girlie and I bonded over my french fries at dinner.
We had a lot of fun, and I'm looking forward to doing more pictures with them when 3 becomes 4!
I'd love to add more tips if y'all have any!! Leave a comment with what's helped you in family sessions!