Camera Mama’s Top 5 Tips for Photographing Your Toddler:
1. Manage your own photography expectations.If you get ONE usable photo, that’s a total win! Don’t focus on the 129 photos that didn’t work out, focus on the one that DID! I believe that that life is 50/50. Half full of good stuff, half full of other stuff– on a good day! Some days are 80/20 and some days are 25/75. You win some, you lose some! If you use the 50/50 rule to apply to photography, photographing your OWN child who is a TODDLER would be more like 20/80! If you go into the situation thinking, hey, I’m just going to try this and have fun with it; if it works out how you envisioned, major bonus!
2. Begin photo sessions with the end in mind.
This sage wisdom hails from the late author Stephen Covey and it applies to photography in a BIG way! Ask yourself, what you want to DO with the photos you take? Are you going to print a huge canvas for your home? Print dozens of 4X6’s and send them to the grandparents? Create a yearly album? Create a custom birthday thank you note? Make a calendar? The possibilities are endless! Whatever you do, remember to PRINT some of your images! If you have a plan for what you want to do with your photos, that helps create some parameters for yourself. When my kids were toddlers, my big yearly photo goal was to create a calendar. That meant I needed 4 solo photos of each of my two kids and 4 photos with both of them in it that I absolutely loved. Twelve photos. Boom! That seems pretty doable right? Sometimes even that number of photos seemed like a stretch! Ultimately, having a goal for what I was going to DO with my photos helped me focus on creating something meaningful to me and not worry about if EVERY photo I took was ‘calendar-worthy’ because that, my friends, is a recipe for discouragement!
3. Best lighting happens close to a window.This simple and practical piece of advice is something I wish someone would have told me back in the day! Actually, I probably did know this, my brain was probably just too sleep deprived to remember it in the moment! Can you relate? For daytime, indoor photos, turn off the lights in your home and get right next to the window. This will help with white balance, depth, focus, and maybe even provide a temporary distraction for you toddler so he or she will stay still for a few seconds!
4. Plan photo opts in advance.
If you really want to capture the photo magic of a certain daily routine or tradition, write down your idea, and plan it out in advance. For example, if you wanted to capture your toddler helping you decorate cookies, don’t do it when you are in a rush to go somewhere, have extra kids over, or if you had a particularly sleepless night. And, this is important, remember that it’s most likely that things won’t go as planned! Decide to have fun no matter what, and if your photos don’t turn out how you were hoping, not to worry, you will still be creating a beautiful memory, and you can always give it a go another time! There will also be lots of times you will reach for your camera or phone to spontaneously capture a moment, but planning ahead, especially for photos of toddlers, can sometimes be just the ticket to making your vision come to life!
5. Don’t compare yourself to other photographers.
Do you live in a magical woodland on the beach with majestic mountains in your backyard? Me neither. Is your house perfectly decorated and clean? Ummmm, if you answer yes to this and have a toddler, that might be a bit worrisome! I don’t have any toddlers and my house NEVER falls in that category! I know you already know this, but if you’re like me, I need frequent reminders to guard against the comparison trap! Notice I said to ‘guard against’. It is human nature to compare ourselves to others. Start by trying to become aware of when you start having negative self-talk as a result of comparing yourself to others. Can you identify any patterns? A few years ago I noticed that me looking at photos from people with minimalist photos in white houses with white clothes with everything in the frame perfectly on trend, were the precursors to negative dialogue in my head. So, I unfollowed a bunch of accounts! You really do have to GUARD against comparison, because once you’re stuck in the spiral it’s a pretty tough war to wage. If you do find yourself in the spiral of comparison, just having that awareness is the first step to avoiding it next time. It’s a constant battle for us humans! Give yourself permission to take a social media break when you need one and SEEK OUT photographers who embrace the messy and magical reality of REAL LIFE!
Mom’s in the Picture: Photo Challenge
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- Feedback on photos
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Rebecca Franson, Camera Mama Founder