Between being a mom and a family portrait photographer, I happen to know a trick or two when it comes to freezing a wily little kid in your frame. There are also times when I don’t feel like bringing my camera along with us, but I wanted to share something that applies to any camera, even cell phones. So here are three tips that will help you instantly get better toddler photos:

  1. Don’t expect a perfect smile


Just don’t. Set your expectations incredibly low on this one.
The more you ask a toddler to look at the camera and smile, the less they will care about what is going on- it’s just what they do. The best way to get a smile out of a toddler is to lay out a few toys for them to play with and let them be in their element. Sure, you can have someone behind you pull out a cookie as a bribing gift, but you only have .000002 seconds to get that smile before it turns into a fit. Try having them sing their favorite song or say their newest favorite word. Whatever you do- just don’t force it… you will be tempting fate with a meltdown.

If it is important that you get a photo with a smile…

  1. Find someone to assist you

Most of my photos of smiling toddlers include someone behind me making silly noises/faces, acting like a total goofball. This is especially true if you are shooting in a studio. Toddlers love to explore, and their attention span is already spent by the time they walk into the studio.


Bubbles are a great smile-bringer, and while you can blow a few yourself and snap photos in-between, it is much easier to have someone else entertain so that you can focus (literally) on capturing the right moment!

  1. Get on their level

We often take photos of people at eye-level, so it makes sense to get down when taking photos of toddlers (and small children.) Sit on the floor or kneel to gain a new perspective.

Take part in activities with your toddler. Color with them, play in the sandbox, or help them with their blocks. Not only are you getting better at multitasking 😉 but you are putting them at ease for better photos.


Enjoy these tips? Come check out our Tog Loft classes! Every class is taught by professional photogs with a passion for what they shoot. First session of classes start Sept 26, and you can register here 🙂