So you have a toddler maybe two toddlers and you scheduled a photography session. You just booked it, and you look over to see the little one staring back at you with marker all over his face because you looked away for 3 seconds to write the date down in your calendar. A few expletives run through your head as you wonder how that session is really going to go. You just hope for one good photo – just one. Sound familiar? Well I am here to help!
Session after session with wonderful families I have worked with in and around Seattle, I can say with confidence these tips have worked great with my clients, and I would like to share them with you!
1. This is the most important so I am going to list it first! According to a new study published in the journal of Psychological Science (finding published November 5th) humans can smell fear and disgust, and the emotions are contagious. Furthermore, we communicate via smell; SO if you are stressed, they get stressed. Keep it cool, keep it calm and keep it fun. There is a vast difference in the final outcome and quality of photography of a family that came to a session stressed, and a family that came to just have a good time.
2. You need to prepare this little one! Smart little buggers they are. They can smell fear and stress AND they don’t like surprises. Prepare. Prepare. If the session is at a place other than your home, arrive early. No really, arrive early. Thirty minutes is about perfect. I have kids arrive – SQUIRREL! – late or right on time; then are so timid or curious about their surroundings that they are NOT into photography or even curious about the camera because there is … SQUIRREL! or bright green trash can! And the harder you or the photographer -SQUIRREL- try to get their attention the worse it can get.. because now we are all stressed. Arrive early, and get the wiggles out and curiosity over with. If the session is in your home, prepare them. Tell them what is about to happen. “There is a really nice person coming over to take pictures.” Show them what a camera looks like. How does it sound? You wouldn’t want someone showing up at your house with a camera without you knowing about it beforehand. They don’t either.
3. Bring a toy they love (but hide it). This is your secret weapon. It’s your happy maker. Even better, it’s a wonderful sign of the times. You can look back at these photos and say “Awww… that was your favorite stuffed animal. You carried him everywhere!” I am nostalgic, so I am a sucker for stuff like this. Use this when all else fails, because a sweet photo of a toddler with their favorite toy will never turn out bad.
4. Don’t be afraid of on-location photography. I know you just had a baby. I know you have a toddler. And no – in no way do I think your house should look like you have 5 maids working around the clock full time. I expect your house to look like your home. That you live in. Live…. in. That said – on location can be really stunning even in a “messy” house. Again I am seeing this through the lens of a nostalgic Martha Stewart wanna be. It’s okay to have a photo in your home, that is where their memories are. That is where they cuddled you when they were sick. That is where you sat scared watching them sleep when they got their first fever. This is their home. A creative and experienced photographer can tastefully capture it.
I have really found that these simple steps can go really far in creating lasting wonderful photography sessions!