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Tips For Photographing Toddlers | Lizzy Hannaford

Oh, if I had a dollar for every time someone said to me that their toddler refuses to have their photo taken!! I could retire now, and sail off into the sunset! That’s why today I’m sharing my tips for photographing toddlers.

Now, trust me when I say, it is a million times easier to photograph someone else’s child than it is your own!

However, I know you are taking photos of your own little ones on your phones daily, and just need some tips on how to get a few natural photos for your albums.

Toddlers. Ahh toddlers. You generally need a psychology degree to understand how their minds work ūüėČ And a whole lotta patience! So here we go.

    1. Take them outside! Toddlers love being outside, where they can run off all that energy. They love to explore, climb, jump, run, swim, skip, search for shells or rocks or leaves or sticks! The possibilities for outdoor activities with toddlers are endless. Take your toddler to a safe place (i.e. not near a road), where they can just roam around. You will feel more relaxed because you aren’t worried of them coming to any harm and children can sense that. As soon as you try to force a toddler to do anything they don’t want to do, they are going to resist it. If they are outside having fun, they will forget you are even there. Have your phone (or your camera) ready, and just encourage FUN! Say something like ‘Hey Charlotte, why don’t you show me how you can jump off that rock/run as fast as you can/spin around in your pretty dress’. They will be so focused on the task they are doing, they won’t be focusing on you taking photos, and you will capture images of your child doing something they LOVE! Those are the best photos. When you are looking back at them in years to come, you will remember the fun you had taking it. ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†¬†tips for photographing toddlers by cairns family photographer Lizzy Hannaford
    2. If you are at home, keep your phone/camera somewhere you can easily grab it during a sweet moment. I do take photos of my kids on my phone, especially to send instantly to my Husband when he’s away, however, I of course use my camera daily with them. I leave it out with a charged battery somewhere central in my house, so that when a sweet moment arises, I can quickly grab it and snap away. I take a few shots, then I put it away again to make sure I’m also being present in the moment. toddler photography tips by cairns family photographer Lizzy Hannaford
    3. Use the self timer. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve heard a Mum say that she is always taking photos of her Husband with the kids, but he never returns the favour. If you wait for him to do it, YOU’LL NEVER BE IN ANY PHOTOS!! (Sorry Dads!) My advice here is to set up the self timer on your phone. Generally, your phone will only take one shot with the self timer, but you can download apps that will enable you to take multiple shots. (I will share these on a later post ūüėČ ) Yes, it will be slightly more forced than if someone else took it for you, but done is better than perfect, right? (And if you do want some more natural photos of you with your babies, contact me and I’ll sort you out!) family beach session with cairns family photographer Lizzy Hannaford
    4. ¬†TICKLE! Trust me, it works every time! You’ll build up a bit of a sweat with this one! It’ll be a lot of running in to tickle them, then running out to take the photo, but at least you will get genuine smiles.cairns beaches family session by Lizzy Hannaford photography at Clifton beach
    5. DO NOT BRIBE. Yes, this may work, but an M&M quickly becomes 5 which quickly becomes a pack, and before you know it, you’re buying your child a car to get them to cooperate! In all seriousness, I’m not really a fan of bribery. I don’t believe it teaches children the right to say no if they don’t want to do something and so I won’t do it. If my children don’t want to have their picture taken, I have to respect that. Which leads me to my next tip. ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†¬†cairns family photographer
    6. Get them involved. We are so lucky these days to have instant viewings of our photos. Toddlers love to see the photo of themselves. You could take a funny picture of yourself, show your toddler and say ‘Oh look how funny Mummy looks here’. It won’t be long before your toddler wants to join in and have their picture taken too. ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†¬†cairns family photographer
    7. Be patient. I know how hard this is. Trust me, I’ve dragged everyone out to take family pictures before and my toddler wasn’t into it. I was heartbroken. I just wanted some nice photos of my kids with their Daddy for Fathers Day. But kids sense your emotions. As soon as you start getting stressed, it will just make the situation worse. Take five minutes, let them play a bit more and try again. newborn session at home by cairns newborn photographer Lizzy Hannaford
    8. Have zero expectations. I think this one is self explanatory haha!     an overcast creek family photography session in Cairns
    9. Choose a time when they are at their happiest. If your child is most cooperative first thing in the morning, my advice is to take your photo then. If that means them being in their pyjamas, then so be it. Done is better than perfect ;).                                                                                              
    10. Never tell them to say cheese! If you’re looking for your childs most unnatural facial expression, this is a sure fire way to do that! My final tip is to just make them laugh, make it fun and remember WHY you want the photo of them. Generally, parents want to capture milestones. Think about what your toddler is currently doing that you want to remember. Have they just learnt to hop? Are they having 3 million tantrums per day? (Probably!) Do they give the sweetest kisses? Focus on those thing, and I can assure you, those will be the photos you cherish the most ūüôā ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†¬†cairns beaches family session by Lizzy Hannaford photography at Clifton beach

I hope those tips for photographing toddlers have been helpful to you! If you would like to chat further, feel free to reach out to me on Facebook or Instagram. I’m always happy to share any advice I can.

If letting someone else do the hard work seems more appealing, you can contact me to book your session, and let me capture how much your family loves each other for you. Then I promise you will be in the frame! (And I’m pretty good at reminding Dads to take the photos of you too!)

Lizzy x

P.s Did you find this post helpful? If so, this post may be of interest to you! And don’t forget to sign up to my newsletter for my FREE guide on organising and printing your photos.

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meet the photographer lizzy

I’m a Family Photographer based in Far North Queensland, for the Mum who cherishes the everyday moments and wants to be shown, in photos, how much her family adore her. 

I specialise in maternity, newborn, baby and family photography.  My all white, home studio is located in Trinity Park, where I focus on natural, timeless family portraits. 

It is easily accessible from Cairns, Port Douglas, the Atherton Tablelands and of course, Cairns’ beautiful Northern Beaches. 

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