Get down low and go! go! go!
A different perspective can make a so-so photo into an amazing photo. Try and get down at the same level as your child, so if they’re playing in the floor, sit or lay down on the floor. If they’re running around outside, sit in the grass. However, you can also try the opposite and be high above them. Lay them down on a bed, the floor, or the grass and photograph them from above looking down, either leaning over them or up on a stool or ladder. You may need to get up quite high to do this, so be careful!
Confine and contain!
There’s nothing trickier than photographing a toddler who
just doesn’t want to sit still or look in the general direction of anything camera shaped. One of my tricks for “runners” is to put them on a “special” chair, which isn’t actually special, but a small toddler chair or even an arm chair that will hold
them for at least three to five seconds. And then just be ready. Having a helping hand can help with this. My toddler is probably one of the worst children I’ve ever had to photograph, partly because I don’t usually have an extra
helping hand to keep her in place so I can be in position to photograph. For her first twelve months, I was taking photographs of her every month on her birthday on the same sheepskin and the same teddy bear, with me up on a stool.
That worked until she was eleven months, where she would have escaped and ran away by the time I had climbed up on my stool. For her twelve months photo, I gave up and sat her on a chair...There isn’t really any magic trick to photographing children that don’t want to sit or stand still to be photographed, and it can be disheartening to not be able to capture them how you imagined. Persistence, be prepared, and take a lot of photos. Use the burst mode if you have it on your smartphone! Just quietly, I also heartily endorse bribery!
Don't ruin the memories!
One of our sons went through a phase when he was five where he would make silly faces whenever we took photos. Prior to an overseas trip, we had a very serious chat about how photographs are part of our memories, and so could he
please do us a solid and not ruin the photographs on our holiday. It resonated with him, and while we got a few silly faces, a gentle and joking reminder of “don’t ruin our memories” helped, but sometimes we just leaned into his
silliness and took a photo where everyone had silly faces. I love those silly face photos from our trip as much as the “nice” photos. My favourite photos are the ones that are natural and unposed, that capture a moment and memory. The most perfect photograph of your child is one that you will look back on when your child is all grown up, and there will be a memory or an emotion attached to it. Hopefully that memory won’t be tinged with memories of yelling — “okay, can everyone just sit still and look at the camera!” — over and over, or any other childhood trauma that requires future therapy for your children. Photograph them being the gorgeous little humans that they are, and that will
be more important than anything else you do to take beautiful photographs of your children.