Tips for Photographing Toddlers and Other Uncooperative Children…

This time of year most people are getting a little nostalgic as they pull out cherished Christmas ornaments, stockings, and other decorations.  Naturally the minute you pull out the Christmas lights you’ll begin cursing the holiday with fervor but for the most part you want to treasure the moments.  Many families find that the holidays are the only time when everyone is actually in the same room and the only opportunity for a multi-generational photo shoot.  A friend recently commented that she appreciated my patience so much more after attempting to capture her own toddler with his young cousins.  Children have a short attention span and generally find that even quick snapshots take up too much play time.  Here’s what works for me:

1.  Recruit as much help as possible.  With young children try to have one adult or older child not being photographed per child in the picture.  The primary goal here is to have the children boxed into the area in which they will be photographed.  It’s also helpful to have several people to monitor for things like drool and clothing that needs to be adjusted.

2. Candy or toys.  M&M’s work well as would another small candy that would melt quickly (for safety!).  Toys should be clean and fit the theme of your photo, like a stuffed teddy bear for a Christmas picture or a stuffed rabbit for Easter.  Toys that jingle or make other noises are perfect for these situations as well.  This method works well with children under 6 as a means to get them to sit still for a moment.  It usually produces grins as well and this where you want to be quick with the camera.

3. DON’T SAY CHEESE! For the love of great family moments everywhere say almost anything but cheese.  Words like “peaches” and “stinky feet” ,which also produces grins, make much more natural looking mouths.  Go for real grins and giggles if you can.  Ask who has the stinkiest feet.  For boys switch up peaches for boogers and watch them get a kick out of being able to talk about it!

4. For formal pictures of everyone think about making a triangle or diamond shape out of the group silhouette.   Don’t be limited to super posed pictures.  If the kids are getting along then pull out the camera and have them lay down next to each other and get a group shot.  If you have a stair case line them up behind each other and let them pose themselves!

5. Don’t pose anyone!  Snapshots of the holidays are just plain old tradition and a great way to cherish your family.  Get down to eye level with your kids and just capture them being themselves.  Go for details instead of sweeping panoramas.  Little hands holding christmas ribbon or babies surrounded by piles of tissue and wrapping paper are more likely to be framed, scrapbooked or shared than everyone just sitting around watching the baby.

6. If you are planning on capturing snow memories then turn on your flash.  White reflects a lot of light back to your camera which can result in dim pictures.  Even in broad daylight a flash can eliminate odd shadows.  Use your judgement however.  If you look at your digital camera‘s display and the picture is obviously too bright then turn it off!  Many point and shoot cameras these days have automatic settings for shooting in snow and sand that counteract the reflected light.


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