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How to get your toddler ready for a photo shoot

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Having your photos taken by a professional is an exciting experience, however, some parents worry that their children will misbehave or have a meltdown, especially toddlers!

Here are some tips that you can use to help you prepare your toddler for your photo shoot. Implementing these tips will hopefully make the photo shoot experience more enjoyable for everyone and you’ll end up with great images too!

1. Lower your expectations

Toddlers are very unpredictable. They don’t really care about doing what they are told half the time and just want to do their own thing.

Go into your photo shoot with low expectations.

Don’t go into your session with lots of specific ideas of what photos you want. Don’t go into your session thinking they will angels 100% of the time.

Instead, let them be toddlers and be themselves. If they want to go off exploring or want to play for a couple of minutes that’s fine. A good photographer will take their cues from your toddler. Go with the flow and don’t feel like you need to apologise if things don’t go to plan (I’m used to it and fully expect it!).

2. Time that works for them

Choose the time of your photo shoot around when your toddler is generally happiest. If you can, try to avoid scheduling the shoot when they would normally nap. If this is not possible, start to adjust nap times leading up to the photo shoot.

If you’re driving to your photo shoot it’s also best to not let them nap in the car. When toddlers wake up, they need some time to adjust to their new surroundings and can be a little grouchy.

3. Make it exciting

Tell your toddler that a friend is coming over to take photos of everyone and that it will fun and exciting. Hype them up for it and tell them a few times what is going to happen leading up to the session.

I also recommend you tell them my name and even show them my photo. This way they know who to expect on the day and I won’t be a complete stranger to them.

4. Feed them beforehand

Make sure they are fed and have had a drink before the session. We all get grouchy when we are hungry, and this couldn’t be more true toddlers.

During the session, it can be handy to have little snacks and drinks ready just in case they get peckish halfway through. These can also be used as bribes. Snacks that aren’t too messy will be great. Small treats like little sweets or mini chocolates work well.

5. Let your toddler lead

During a photo shoot with me, I get families to play little games or ask them questions. This helps the family to interact with one another and for the toddler, it becomes more like playtime which helps keep toddlers on our side.

However, during the session, I will let the toddlers lead. This means if they are being cooperative, we keep going to quickly get the shots we need before they lose interest. When they lose interest, we let them go off and do their own thing for a little bit. We can always try a little bit later to get them involved again.

6. Bribery and treats

If you want to offer bribes or treats, I recommend not to tell little ones before the session. Sometimes they can get so focused on the reward that they have no interest in going along with what we’re doing in the photo shoot. It’s also good to not give them the bribes too early on in the photo shoot for the same reason.

7. Relax

If at your session your toddler does decide to throw a tantrum or does not want to get involved, try to just relax. I know this can be tricky! If you decide to shout at them they will likely get either further tantrums or forced smiles. But if you stay calm and relaxed, your toddler will pick up on this and more likely re-engage with the session. So just relax, leave it to the photographer and enjoy this time!

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