What can I expect from my toddler at a photo shoot?

I know as well as anyone that every child is different, it is incredibly clique to even say it.  But it must be said because it’s true.  Any given day, any given hour, your toddler is a different person than they were just moments before.  Since starting this business in 2008, it feels like I have seen every variety there is.

The Ham.  Best case scenario.  They quickly realize this is an opportunity for attention and they like it.  They get great reactions when they smile or laugh, so they do lots of that.  Cross your fingers and toes and hope this version of your child shows up on photo day!

The Cuddler.  Some little ones start out very shy and clingy, at least while they are figuring me out.  I aim to capture those moments of uncertainty because guess what?  They will not be the same the next time I see this family.  Heck, this cuddly kid won’t likely be this way over the course of the photoshoot.

The Scientist.  They have seen smart phones before but this big camera body and lens throws them off.  They stare at it, turn their head and study it and even want to see the photos on the screen.  They still don’t get it but the faces they make while trying to figure it out are just adorable.

The Runner.  This happens a bunch.  As quickly as I can, I shoot as many poses where you are holding your child before the itch to move takes over.  Then, away they go and controlled candids here we come.  Happy, busy kids photograph well if done in a controlled way.  You can swing them, chase them towards me, airplane their little bodies overhead, flip them upside down.  Anything that keeps them guessing, and moving, should work.  I direct the chaos and away we go.

The Boss.  They realize they control this whole thing and take on the role of boss, or dictator?  Too much?  Probably.  Ok then.   Although they are not even communicating in full sentences, this little one often points, grunts and pulls on their people to get everyone just where they want them.  Backgrounds and lighting be darned, this moment is not about that.  It is about who runs this crew.

The Undercover detective.  They only want to smile when they are peaking out around someone or something.  Under mom’s skirt?  Great spot.  Buried in Dad’s chest?  Of course that works.  Peek-a-Boo!  Once we make a game of it we can find those hidden smiles.

The Student.  They understand what is supposed to happen and they are going to do what they have been practicing at home.  Say cheese?  They know how to do that.  They say it over and over and over again at the session.  I ask them to say MONKEY and their face falls, they did not study that!  What can you do?  Practice having them say simple words of things they can picture, like their favorite animal or favorite food.  Practice fake laughs, you do it really convincingly and they will often follow.

The Copycat.  Sister has her hands on her hips?  So will I.  Mom is sitting on the rock?  I should join her and do that as well.

The Deviant.  It the pose is to cuddle together, they stand to the side.  If the group is walking together, they trot out ahead.  Smiling?  Nope, they are going to show their best grumpy face.  If society tells you one thing, they do the other.  I know this can frustrate some parents but, especially at a mini shoot.  BUT, from a photographer’s standpoint, if you embrace it in the photos, they can shine and someday reflect the stand out kid they become.  That and the images are often funny.

The Sad Panda.  They arrive and they cry, sometimes it just happens.  Not sure why?  Neither am I.  We will try everything.  Change places, positions, play games, cuddle, tickle, whatever.  Sometimes kids just cry.  Your smiling happy faces will make this juxtaposition an entertaining photo.

The Time Bomb.  Ok, this is a little harsh.  But, it happens and you know you have felt it with your own child (or husband?).  They arrives tired, or irritated, or sick.  They might give the session a few minutes try before things start to decline.  If I shoot fast we can usually get a good spread regardless.  What can you do?  Rest them up, feed them well.  Do everything you can to talk this moment up and make it special.  Do nothing other than the photo shoot that day.

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