• Emily Wilkerson

Toddlers and photos: 5 tips

This past week I spent time with Sam, Samantha, and Adeline in a local park. Samantha and I had already kicked it off and had tons of conversations about all kinds of random things- Nicaragua, the cherry blossom season, moving from Tennesee, and how her husband's name is Samuel and hers is Samantha. How adorable is that?!?


I felt more like I was working with preexisting friends than clients when we all met up at the park to hang out and play! Things went so well and I love the challenge/joy of shooting with toddlers. Here are my 5 tips for you moms who want to book sessions but you're worried your kid might not have fun and the photos might show a grumpy little one.


Baby sister will be here in approximately 6 weeks and the Adeline has a very important new role. She and little sis already have a very cool relationship because if the baby hears Addy's voice, it's the one thing that makes her start moving and kicking if she's been very still all day. How cool is that?


Tip 1: FUN. "Getting a toddler to cooperate during a photo session" is not the way to go about this. Do something your toddler likes. Be in a kid-friendly setting. If taking photos is the only activity going on, that's really boring for most kids. We took plenty of play breaks at the park so we didn't burn her out and make her get frustrated and cry. We played plenty of games to keep her brain engaged and her personality showed up so beautifully in so many photos!


Tip 2: SUGAR. Big nope. Don't get your kid hyped on sugar as a bribe. By all means, bribe away, but giving kids sugary treats throughout the session often backfires.


Tip 3: OUTFIT. Little girls often want to pick their own outfit- sometimes little boys do as well. Let them pick one of their own outfits toward the end of the session! It's not worth the fight and crankiness. Their favorite outfit is special to them and they deserve to influence the session because it's their session too. Adeline chose this princess dress!


Tip 4: TICKLES AND WRESTLES: It's not about being sterile and looking pretty for the photographer. It's about being a family, parenting when you need to, cracking jokes when someone sets it up and you can't resist the bait, and conversing about what you want for dinner in the middle of the session if you suddenly realized what you want to eat afterwards. So play with your kids like normal. You're not performing for a photographer. You're spending time as a family so do family things when you need to do family things!


Tip 5: LOCATION. Move around a lot. Wander. Let your kid lead the way and cultivate their natural interest of exploring during the photoshoot. Keeping the mind of a toddler busy during a photoshoot is a MUST. Moms of 2 year olds- you already know 2 year olds are the most active humans on the planet. Gotta keep them engaged to keep them happy.


A good photographer doesn't need your child to behave for an entire hour straight to do good work. Brilliant shots happen in the in-betweens. In the down-times. In the transitions and in the moments where you're not trying to impress because you're busy parenting your little one and making sure they also enjoy the photo experience.


Little baby sister, next time you'll be joining us on the outside and I can't wait to see how you resemble big sister!

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© 2018 by Emily Wilkerson because she is too fussy to let someone else do this. Proudly created with Wix.com

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Lifestyle photography, documentary videography. Authentic, unposed storytelling.