"The fastest land mammal is a toddler who's been asked 'what's in your mouth'".
Taking photos of toddlers who never stop moving can be tricky for sure! It's best to keep it simple when it comes to child photography. These are my top 5 tips and tricks when it comes to photographing toddlers or just children in general.
1.Be Fast! "You gotta be quicker than that!" is always a phrase that comes to mind when photographing toddlers. They are quick. They love to explore. The world is truly their playground. That last part, may just be the best part. It's important to remember that your toddler has probably never been placed in tall grass and asked to stand there and smile, so it's almost impossible to comprehend what that delusional photographer is wanting them to do at this moment in time. Their first instinct is to flee and explore which always makes for a great photo op, as long as you are fast enough to catch those little moments where their eyes meet your lens. That's when the magic happens!
2.Grab a seat! Anything that can be a chair, should be a chair. Kids love to sit on things they've never sat on. They think its silly and so do I. I don't know if you've ever watched a toddler sit down in a chair but they are so dang proud of themselves after they sit down, it's a tried and true way to capture their most genuine smile with the least amount of effort! If it's low enough to the ground, you can watch as they climb onto the chair and grab some cute full body shots. If the so called "chair" is higher up off the ground, make sure to have someone on standby so they don't try to jump down without support. My favorite chairs are things that really aren't chairs at all. I look for downed trees, steps, and sometimes surrounding objects like a brick structure, etc.
3.Suprise! This is one of my favorite things to pull out of my bag of tricks, but I ONLY use this tip if I'm truly desperate. If I'm struggling to grab authentic attentive eyes, I'll pull out my favorite little friend, a PEZ dispenser. I probably own 15 different characters, from Minions to Princesses and everything in between, PEZ are truly my favorite little candy. They melt quick in your mouth, are easy to edit out if you catch a smile with a PEZ inside, and they are fully loaded to keep handing out the treats for as many smiles as you can grab. The best part, if you cut down the sides of the PEZ dispenser, it fits right into the hot shoe of your camera. This tip is perfect for all ages of kids. Tell them "Minions give candy to kids who smile" and watch the magic happen! Use this tip towards the end of your session so it's not a distraction - or you better come fully loaded with extra PEZ because these things are a hot commodity.
4.Puppets! Another fun way to grab children's focus is to have a few hand puppets! My favorite puppet is a frog with long legs. His mouth opens to "eat" my lens and the kids just eat this up! I have many puppets from frogs to dinosaurs, to puppies and more! It's a fun way to get kids to smile and be youthful. Be over-the-top when you're the puppet master. My frog hops all over the place and sometimes tickles the kids if they've warmed up to me!
5.Pay Attention! Keep your focus on the child and try to understand what they are wanting to do. Are they just wanting to explore? Find a cool stick to show them. Are they wanting to play and be crazy? Keep up with their pace and entertain them. Toddlers love to interact with you and be silly. Show them new ways to explore and grab a few magical shots along the way. Remember to get silly, run around with your kids, pick them up, spin them around, match their energy! Or just let them explore and capture the magic in the mundane.