I’ve had quite a few toddler sessions recently and have discovered a few things: They actually love being sent to the corner.
1. Put them in the corner. I’ve found that a great corner (I love bricks) can be very useful when photographing little ones on the run. They really have nowhere to go! Of course, that won’t stop them from running right between your legs, but it always buys me enough time for a few great shots and when they run away, we just go back to the corner again!
2. Ground them. Getting their little feet off the ground will give you time to get the shot. And by time, I mean 20 seconds tops. And that’s a lot of time for a toddler to not be moving so get ready before you set up the shot. For this shot, we sat him on an old tire which got his feet off the ground and satisfied the grubby boy in him for a moment. He didn’t sit still on the chair, but boy that tire was fun!
3. Bring a chaperone. They’ll hate you for it when they’re teenagers, but a partner in crime is much appreciated during a toddler photo session. They get sick of the whole idea pretty fast, but if you’ve got on-hand entertainment via a super bubbly (and kid friendly) ‘baby wrangler’, then you’re in business.
4. Include their parents without ruining their street cred. I rarely photograph families. My sessions are entirely focused on the little person. Have you ever noticed in cartoons like Muppet Babies (from the 80s) the parents were present, but never shown above the knee? The premise was to stay down low in baby world. I love bringing this idea into my sessions with something as simple as a mother’s guiding hand.
5. Shout at them. I love this spot on the farm where I shoot. The fence on the left, the trees on the right. Not much space to escape. So I have them run away but at the right time, I shout their name and wait for them to look back. Let them do what they want and when you feel the moment, shout their name. But don’t waste your shouts because if you just keep shouting, they’ll drown you out pretty fast. I find that I get one chance – two if I’m lucky – to get a true reflex-reaction out of shouting their name.
I love toddlers. They’re so honest. They don’t know how to fake it yet and I feel like when I get ‘the shot’, I’ve really earned it.