We all know how on-the-go toddlers can be! And when they’re not, they can be grumpy and unresponsive. To get children to smile those big, toothy grins we all love isn't always easy when you've got a camera in your hands. So how do you do it? Remember to keep your camera ready — your phone, SLR, or DSLR — and try a few of the suggestions below.
First, be goofy! Especially if they’re younger. You know them the best, and what they like and respond to, use that to your advantage. Do they have a favorite character or voice? Use that! Find a princess hat, a crown, rabbit ears, and keep asking them how they got there, where they went. This will have the added bonus of getting them to look at you while you shoot.
If you’re using your phone, they may be a little bit more comfortable in front of it than a camera, simply for the fact that they might understand it more. They’ve seen it, they’ve most likely used it in some capacity, so it may seem less scary or intimidating than an actual camera.
On the other hand, if you want to get something on your digital camera, let them examine it! As long as you keep your eyes on them, and make sure they don’t drop or mishandle it, they can see that the camera records them and other people, too! Knowing that they can see themselves after the photo is taken, they may be more likely to indulge in posing for the photos.
Suggest a couple of really silly poses to start out with, and then do those poses as well as you can while still keeping your hands steady. Make a game out of it for them! See who can come up with the funniest pose, who can pose the longest, anything! It’s always fun to be goofy, and it should be fun for both of you. Besides, while you’re being goofy, you might be lucky enough to snap a couple of pictures of their happy smiles outside of their posing.
Do you like candids? I do; it’s always nice to capture the joy in the moment, if you can manage it. Like I said above, ensure you have your camera ready to go — this can help your child become comfortable being in front of one anyway. Try to make sure you have a fast shutter speed and lots of light when attempting to get candid photos, since you don’t want them coming out blurry. Once you’re ready, do something fun! Paint, bake, go to the park. Anything that makes them joyous is worth capturing.
Keep in mind, some of these work better for certain children, and at certain ages, than others, but you’re the one who knows your child best, and know what they might best like to do. I hope these little suggestions have inspired you to get the best possible image of your toddler, and can help you make a few fun memories with them as well!