Last time, I explained how to get babies to smile for the camera. But toddlers? Toddlers are an entirely different game! All my strategies for getting my baby to smile went out the window as she got older and began walking (usually away from me, right when I wanted to take her picture).
Individual personalities are definitely a factor, but today I wanted to share tips and tricks that help my toddler (and my photography clients' toddlers) smile for the camera.
HAVE YOUR CAMERA READY
A lot of great photo opps have been missed because my camera was all the way on the other side of the house, or not charged! I started keeping my camera charged, with a memory card, and in the same central location in my house. That way, when my toddler suddenly thinks plugging her own nose is the most hilarious thing on the planet, I have time to capture the giggles before she moves on. If I'm really in a pinch, I know I can at least capture the moment on my phone camera, which I almost alway have with me.
PRIME THE CONDITIONS
Toddlers won't smile if they're not in a good mood! (I actually love this about toddlers, because you know when they do smile, it's a totally genuine and real grin.) It's also hard for a two-year-old to understand that you'll have dinner soon, if they can just smile and be happy for ten minutes beforehand. I always try to avoid photoshoots right before bedtime, or when they're super hungry.
RELATED: HOW TO GET YOUR BABY TO SMILE FOR THE CAMERA
LET THEM KNOW
The great thing about photographing a toddler instead of a baby is a toddler can actually understand you. When I need to take photos of my daughter for a sponsored blog post, for example, I'll tell her what to expect before it happens. "When we get to the park, you get to take a few pictures with mommy, and then I'll push you on the swing." When you set expectations with your toddler, they feel in control, happy and are much more likely to oblige and give you that cute grin for your family Christmas card.
GET IN THE PICTURE
This is my trump card and number one tip! The easiest way to get a toddler to smile is to have one of their parents or a sibling play with them. Twirl around with them, tickle them, or chase them. This is also a great way to capture toddlers interacting with their favorite people, and makes for really sweet and memorable photos.
FOLLOW THEM AROUND
Gone are the days where good pictures have to be formal, posed, and with a perfect studio backdrop. I've had huge success following toddlers around, being silly with them, and becoming interested in what they like. When they're in a natural environment, real smiles will come easily! Plus, you get a more authentic snapshot of what your toddler loved at that age.
RELATED: FINDING BEAUTIFUL INDOOR LIGHT
Self-respect and dignity? Yeah, you don't have that when you're trying to get a toddler to smile. Play peek-a-boo from behind the camera (great for younger toddlers), whack yourself in the head with a soft toy, or make a big show of trying to losing and finding your own thumb (great for older toddlers). Guaranteed to make them laugh!
THE BEST SHOTS AREN'T ALWAYS CLASSICAL SMILING PICTURES
Many of my favorite pictures of toddlers don't involve a smile. I love following toddlers around and capturing the little details and candid shots that show their personality. If you don't get a good smiling shot right when you want it, that's okay!
RELATED: 30-SECOND EDITING FOR BEAUTIFUL PICTURES
PIN FOR LATER:
What would you add?
Tips and tricks to get your toddler to smile?