If you can photograph a toddler, you can photograph ANYTHING! It’s true, I swear. Toddlers are unpredictable little bundles of energy that keep moms, dads and photographers everywhere busy. I’m sharing my 7 best photography prompts for toddlers.
With some flexibility, an open mind and a stash of creative prompts (aka tricks), you will be able to capture genuine and adorable photos of any wiggly toddler.
Tips for Photographing Toddlers
- Connect with them down on their level. I always open a session with little ones by getting down on their level and talking to them. A great conversation starter is complimenting them. I then tell them what I’m going to be doing and show them my camera. If they are shy, no need to push it.
- Stay flexible and patient. Not every child is the same so what works for one isn’t guaranteed to work for another. You need to keep an open mind and read the situation when pulling out your bag of tricks (prompts).
- Enlist them as a helper. Asking for their help along the way is a great way to boost their confidence. You can ask them to help you find the best spot or help test out the light for an area. It also leads to a great opportunity for positive praise. “You were such a great help with those photos!”
- Keep your shutter speed high. No matter how the session goes, I can guarantee it will be high energy and you will have to seize the moments as they come. Be sure to keep your shutter speed high. I’ll never let mine drop below 1/200 but typically aim for something closer to 1/400 in most instances.
7 Best Photography Prompts for Toddlers
Want to get some cute, genuine photos of little ones at your next family photo session? Check out these 7 best photography prompts for toddlers:
#1 The Sandwich Squeeze
Have mom or dad pick up the little one. Tell the parents “It’s time to make a _____ sandwich” while prompting them to squish the little one with love. Remind them they do not need to look at you for this.
Why it works? It’s like one great big hug from the two people they love the most, plus it’s kinda silly.
#2 Big Kid Airplane
Toddlers, or little ones between the ages of 12 – 36 months, love playing airplane. We take a different approach so we can capture everyone’s expressions. Have mom and dad face each other and have the little one lay across both of their arms. Once settled, have them swing them back and forth. Sometimes I have them stop at the top after a few times to a get a nice still shot.
Why it works? This angle allows you, the photographer, to capture the excitement but also see mom and dad’s reactions as well.
#3 Stop to Smell The Flowers
Giving toddlers something to do is the best way to slow them down, even if for a second. Explore the space around you and see what you can have the little one do — smell a flower, show me that leaf…etc.
Why it works? You have to be quick to photograph toddlers but anything that can slow them down for a second is helpful.
#4 Run Towards Me
Toddlers love to run. When you can tell they are over the session and ready to get some wiggles out, let them free a bit. When I have the whole family all cozy and seated, I will usually borrow the little one. I invite them to run towards me while I snap away. Once they get to me, I ask them to run back to mom and dad and tackle them.
Why it works? It’s what they do best! Let them be themselves and let loose. Just be sure to keep your AI Servo or Eye AF locked and shutter speed high.
#5 Throw Leaves
Fall is nature’s playground. Don’t forget to enjoy some fun leaf play. This is a great way to warm up kids and change their focus to play. You will get some amazing action shots and genuine emotions.
Why it works? Throwing leaves is fun for all ages. I bet mom and dad will be smiling too.
#6 “Tickle on the count of….”
Tickle sessions are a go-to for family photographers everywhere. Sometimes the fun is really in the anticipation. When the family is all snuggled together, tell them “On the count of three, everyone should tickle ____.” But when you start counting, do it ever so slowly! This will let the anticipation and fun build!
Why it works? The build of anticipation along with the parents excitement will usually lead to some cute smiles. If the build doesn’t get them, the tickles that follow will.
#7 Swing While Walking
1-2-3 Swing!!! Swinging between mom and dad is so fun for little kids. I always like to get a walking scene during my photo sessions and once we get a few normal ones, I ask them to swing the little one. This almost always guarantees some great smiles.
Why it works? Because kids love to swing! Making your photo session into a fun play time with mom and dad will keep kids in a great mood.
I hope you some of these inspired you with new ideas for photographing toddlers at your next session. Make the most of this post by:
- Try these prompts. Try any one of these 7 best photography prompts for toddlers at your next session and let me know which one works for you in the comment below or please suggest any other ones that work well for you!
- Save this post for reference! Tuck away this URL to revisit when you need some new ideas before a session.
- Share this post. If you belong to any photographer groups, please share in the group if allowed.
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