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Toddler Portraits: Let them Play

March 9, 2012

Taking photos of toddlers is very difficult.  It’s no surprise that many of us have fewer photos of our children in these difficult photo years (at least good ones).  Meet my daughter Sarah, she is almost four and full of energy.  Sometimes it feels impossible to get her to look at the camera when asked.  The other day the sun was shining so I took her outside for a few minutes to snap some photos.  She didn’t even let me brush her hair, so this is a natural looking set of photos.  Oh the joys of toddlers.

I’ve learned that saying, “stand there, look at me and smile” doesn’t work at all.  She’ll either do it and give me a ridiculous look or she’ll have a fit and run away.  I’ve found that a much better approach is letting her play and following her around with my camera as she does.  I took these photos in 5-10 minutes.  In total I probably took about 40 images.  I would say about 10 of them are worth keeping.  Sometimes I’ll just get one.  If it isn’t working at all, don’t get frustrated.  Put the camera away and try again another time.

These photos are by no means amazing.  However I like how they capture Sarah’s joy, energy and “natural” beauty.  Many of my favourite photos of our kids are when they aren’t even looking at me (at least not intentionally).  Forget the cheese, let them play and see what you can get along the way.

These shots were taken at our little play house.  Sarah would open a window shutter and I would say peek a boo.  This became a game as she ran back and forth to different windows.  I ended up getting a few good photos from the experience and best of all, we had fun.

Another suggestion I have for photographing toddlers is using a prop.  A small chair, crate, etc gives them something to sit on, play with, etc.  Just remember that the prop will likely be in all your pics, therefore Little Tykes (as much as we love you) probably isn’t your best bet.  Try a vintage chair or even a loved stuffed toy or blanket.

Photos were taken with my Canon 50D, 50 mm lens.  Most photos are in the shade or partial shade at least.  All photos were edited with the Florabella Timeless action for Photoshop.

Shari (MWAC Host)

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