Photographing An Active Toddler | Metro-West Family Photographer

An Active Toddler Can Present A Challenge To Family Photographers

Entering into my fifth year in business as a family photographer in Metro-West Boston, I can confidently say that some ages of kids are more challenging than others. While you might guess that a moody two year old would be the hardest, I disagree! I find the most challenging age to be the newly walking toddler. Between 12 months and 24 months presents a unique challenge. The newly walking active toddler wants nothing to do with pictures. They want to run, walk, and run some more. They are too young to be bribed and usually too young to engage in most games. What’s a photographer to do? Here are 5 tips to have a more successful session.

woman nuzzles toddler in beautiful light during photo session

1. Embrace The Active Toddler Chaos

Trust me on this, the more you embrace the chaos, the more successful your family session will be. The more you fight to keep an active toddler still, the more grumpy and stubborn they become. Because they do tend to be a bit hesitant and apprehensive at the beginning, I would grab posed family shots at the very beginning. Have mom or dad hold that toddler close and get that image done before they’ve warmed up enough to run away!

tips to photograph an active toddler family

2. Use Movement to Quickly Capture Smiles

If the active toddler you’re trying to photograph is not feeling being held by mom and dad, incorporate movement! One of my favorite tricks is to have a parent throw the toddler in the air (or gently raise, depending on age) and then pull them close when they come down. The smile/shriek of delight will last for a millisecond after the toss is over…just enough time to grab a frame!

dad tossing little girl in the air at golden hour photo session
black and white portrait of father and daughter

3. Move Around, A Lot.

family of three walking in front of old stone church

This may seem obvious, but truly, changing scenery is essential for keeping the 1-2 year old engaged. Sit, stand, walk, swing them, throw them in the air. Move to one side of your location, then the other. Let them explore and stay excited. The more positive momentum to carry you through the session, the better! In the evening/sunset timeframe it can be hard to pull these littles out of a grumpy/whiny mood, so try not to let one start.

4. Shoot With A Wide Angle Lens

overhead shot of little girl on blanket with parents

While a wide angle lens doesn’t give you the beautiful compression that a longer lens offers, it is essential (in my opinion) for this age group. It’s very challenging to keep the active toddler engaged and being up close and personal to make funny noises and faces helps me immensely. Playing peek-a-boo from 10 feet away is not as effective as playing peek-a-boo from 18 inches away! I use a combination of a 35mm lens and an 85mm lens for every session so that I can get a great mix of compression and up close shots. With a super wiggly/active toddler, I lean heavily on my 35. Older kiddos, you’ll see more from my 85!

family sits by old stone church in boylston for pictures

5. Mom And Dad Know Their Toddler Best!

This might seem obvious, but it is important to remember that these kiddos are not one-size-fits-all. Engage mom and dad by asking them what entertains their child. Some kids LOVE being tossed in the air or riding high on a parent’s shoulders. Others hate that and prefer being tickled or sung their favorite song. This is a great question to ask before your session if you send a pre-session questionnaire, but also talked about on the spot!

parents tickling active toddler girl during photo session
family laughing together during photo session

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