5 Tips for Taking Photos of Toddlers

Every phase of life the children in your life go through presents different sets of challenges. For example, take a look at this photo of Scarlett’s first Easter:

Scarlett's First Easter
Scarlett’s First Easter

She couldn’t sit up and she didn’t have the slightest clue of what was happening. We could try to get her to look at her mom, but it didn’t hold her attention for long and she might start crying on a dime. Now, take a look at her as a toddler:

Scarlett's Second Easter
Scarlett’s Second Easter

What a difference, right? She’s engage with the camera, she’s actually smiling, and she’s sitting up on her own. But, as I said, each stage presents challenges. The biggest challenge in this particular shoot was keeping her there.  She kept getting up and walking around and leaving the area the lights were focused on.  We kept thinking – if only we could combine the immobility of her baby self with focus of her toddler self. So I figured I’d share my top 5 tips for taking photos of toddlers.

5. Keep Your Camera Close at Hand

Toddlers are exploring their world for the first time and you never know what they’re going to do. You don’t want to miss photos, so keep your camera nearby. There have been dozens of times where we had the camera upstairs because I’d been transferring photos the night before and we missed taking photos or videos of fun things she was doing because by the time we got the camera, she was bored of doing that.

Scarlett eating stolen bread on the countertop
Scarlett eating stolen bread on the countertop

I wouldn’t have been able to catch the photo of Scarlett stealing Danielle’s bread out of the toaster if I hadn’t had my camera nearby. We usually keep it near us on a surface that’s just out of her reach.

4. Take Photos Often

You don’t want photo time to be something novel to the child or he or she will act unnaturally when you bring it out. They might get scared or interested and distracted from what they were doing. Between Danielle and I we take photos so often that Scarlett doesn’t really pay too much attention when we’re taking photos. That allows me to get photos like this one:

Scarlett discovering bubbles
Scarlett discovering bubbles

3. Focus on the Candids

One big mistake I see with a lot of people trying to photograph toddlers is focusing too much on posed shots. Those are very important, especially as milestone markers like Christmas, Easter, or Graduation.  But kids, especially toddlers often do not look very cute when they’re posed. Often it’s unnatural for them to stay still and they can’t really smile on command. The candid shots also help with remembering life’s moments as they actually happened.  A great example is this shot where I captured how crazy Scarlett’s hair looks in the morning:

Scarlett's Morning Hair
Scarlett’s Morning Hair

2. Don’t Forget the Relatives

When taking photos of the children it’s often easy to forget about others. But capturing those relationships can yield some pretty magical moments.After all, while children often seem to be in their own worlds, they have some pretty great moments when interacting with others.

Dad and Anthony at the Park
Dad and Anthony at the Park

1. Don’t Forget Yourself

If it’s easy to forget about the kids and others, it’s even easier to forget about yourself.  Danielle has taken 75-85% of the photos of Scarlett but there are very few photos of Scarlett and her. (And the same with me) So don’t forget those, because it’s all too easy to be the photographer that has a million photos of everyone else and no photos of yourself.


Danielle and Scarlett
Danielle and Scarlett


Scarlett and I in San Francisco
Scarlett and I in San Francisco


Published by Eric Mesa

To find out a little more about me, see About Me

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