how to photograph a toddler child, baby pictures, infant portrait photography Tips, techniques, and setups, toddlers, children,

Toddler portrait tips
This page is part of the Living Pictures online photo magazine
Tips, techniques, and setups
This page is being expanded slowly.  Keep checking back.
Photography portrait tips are divided into separate pages for
infants, toddlers, older children, teens, adults, and pets

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setting up the shoot    equipment    portrait photography tips

children have such sweet expressions

Posing and behavior
Toddlers from about 9 months to 4 years are very challenging to photograph.
In fact, sometimes they can be exasperating.

Children learn to walk around 9 to 12 months and are constantly exploring their environment.
Toddlers move around a lot, so you have to work fast and very confidently.

Another very important thing:  You can never FORCE anyone to make a natural smile,
especially not a child.
If you want a smile, either make a joke or catch the subject off-guard.
In school photography, many children simply don't want to smile.
In that case, have them say a word like "happy", or "turkey", or some other word
that forces the mouth into a smile shape.   The word "chicken" works, too,
but act fast.   You have to catch the expression with a quick finger on the shutter.

kids this age can make great expressions, but they have to trust the photographer

Don't ever try to FORCE a toddler to pose!
They usually react by becoming defiant. 
Having the mothers or other relatives around can be very distracting sometimes.
Sometimes a toddler will respond to a sincere request, or help from an older sibling.
Candid photos require great patience, lots of shots, and a certain amount of pure luck. 
Before trying to place them in a pose, be sure your equipment is ready,
because they probably won't stay in position very long.  
You must work fast as an active toddler will get bored quickly.
Get some basic shots before you try to experiment with poses. 
Work in small bursts, if necessary, with a comfort break between series of shots.

The photographer is supposed to be a director.
Stay in control of the situation or forget it.
Some enjoy being the center of attention, and will act up to please the photographer. 
Others are very shy of strangers.  
They may even react by getting hysterical.
They are subject to wild mood swings, so work fast. 
Use interesting sounds to provoke responses.
Using a ball, balloon, or bubbles, can get a great response.
( Don't let the bubbles get on your lens.)
Take a break
If behavior becomes a problem, just stop the shoot.  
Try getting away from the camera and playing with the child.

cameras don't have to be expensive.  I buy many used cameras that work well.

Cameras
You will waste your time and money with a bad camera or bad lens.  
The good news is that a good camera can be very inexpensive,
if you know what to look for. 
To make the shoot easier, standardize the setup if you can. 
You have enough to deal with besides setting shutter speeds and apertures. 
You need to focus mentally on the child and its mood.
Test your lights and camera before shooting
Learn how to use the camera. 
Even a  great camera is a waste in the wrong hands.

boys will be boys

Lighting
Natural daylight is the best possible light for capturing the human personality.
The infinite variety of outdoor lighting conditions
allows unlimited opportunities for expression. 
Excellent effects can also be produced simply by sitting near a window.  
Natural light has one big drawback; 
it's not consistently the same.  
Because of this, all portrait photographers must sometimes use artificial light.   
To produce high volume with consistent results, studio flash units are a must.
camera reviews     see the photo setups page

use good film, it's worth it.

Film
Buy good film  
It's very cheap if you buy it in quantity, and stick to something you get good results with. 
I often use Fuji, but also professional Konica for portraits, and many Kodak films.   
Use the right rating of film.  
At low light levels, for fast motion, or long lenses,
you are wasting money if your film speed is too low.  
Kodak 800 makes great prints under trying conditions.
Get it developed promptly.

a book makes a great prop for a toddler.

Props   
Toddlers love toys, but don't give them too many. 
It's confusing to the child and gives the photo a cluttered look. 
Sounds can be appealing, too, especially familiar voices and very strange sounds. 
Good luck trying to change outfits because you may lose the mood.  
Use simple colors and patterns, with an uncluttered background.  
Make use of interesting textures, and add a small object for color and personality.
Backgrounds
A bad background can ruin a picture.
When framing your shot, pay attention to what's behind your subject. 
Use outdoor backgrounds to advantage, such as colorful leaves,
or broad expanses of color such as the sky or distant scenery.
Using a long lens and/or wide aperture can reduce the impact of a distracting background. 
Often you can shift your position or your subject's slightly to greatly improve your composition. 
Sometimes, however, you do not have much choice. 
You must seize the opportunity or you will lose it.  There's always Photoshop....
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