6 Tips for Photographing your Toddler

Hey! Did you miss me? It feels good to get back to writing after my little “summer break”. Sometimes I just have to take a step back from everything that I am doing and focus on the most important thing in my life; my relationship with God, my husband, and my son. As much as I love blogging, I refuse to let it get in the way of those relationships.

Today, I want to share with you a few tips on how to photograph your toddler! If you don’t know, I am also a photographer. I began teaching myself how to really use a camera about 5 years ago and in 2015 I finished my course on photography from New York Institute of Photography. I am happy to say that I have come a long way from where I was when I bought a camera about 5 years ago, and I love that I have the ability to capture those moments I never want to forget with my son. And it is my wish to help you capture some of those precious moments with a few of my tired and true tricks for photographing your toddler.

Don't be afraid to bribe them:

The first and honestly most helpful tip is to not be afraid to bribe your toddler to take a photo. I was one of those parents who said I would never bribe my child (ha!) then entered his resistance with pictures, potty training, not wanting to eat something on his plate, etc. (if you’re a parent, I’m sure you know exactly what I’m talking about…if not, well count yourself lucky!) I will usually just grab my sons favorite snack and tell him if he takes the picture he can have the snack. Or I’ve even given him a snack and taken the picture while he’s eating it.

You can see the cheddar bunny I gave him in this photo. I try not to take pictures of his face if he is eating, but it's great for capturing those chubby hands. :)

I adore this shot! This was only achieved by telling my son he could sit and play a game on mommy's phone. He has it in the photo, but you probably had no idea ;)

Do not pose them:

The second tip is to not actually pose your toddler. I will admit, sometimes you totally have to pose one of those adorable “candid” shots you see on Pinterest. Everyone knows those perfect moments are very rare so they usually require some amount of posing. However, you can get some really cute pictures by just letting your kid be himself. I have quite a few adorable photos of my son running around the location we were shooting pictures at! Or my favorite way to get some adorable unposed shots is to pull out the bubbles and have a helper blow bubbles while you capture your child’s amazement of those bubbles.

He was just running around and exploring all the flowers when we got this adorable picture!

Let them play:

Tip number three somewhat goes along with the second tip, let them play! Some of my favorite pictures of my son are of him when he is just sitting and playing with his favorite toys or reading a book. It’s little things like the concentrated look on his face as he drives his truck across the coffee table that I don’t want to forget.

Some of my favorite photos I've taken are of my son playing.

Get on their level:

Get on their level! This tip is so important! Getting down at your toddler’s level to take the photo (as opposed to standing and taking it looking down; although those are super cute as well!) allows you to capture photos in a way that lets you see things the way your child does. You could just snap a photo of your child with a bunch of dinosaurs lying around and look back and think, “wow, my living room was messy with toys”; or you could get down on the floor and see the dinosaur army about to invade the construction zone where all the tractors are parked and see your child’s sly smile as he crashes the dinosaurs through the “construction zone”. ;)

I love this over the shoulder shot of my son playing with his little car. It would not have looked the same if I was just standing and shooting down at him playing.

Use a fast shutter speed:

Make sure your camera is on a FAST shutter speed! Most cameras have an option to control the speed. If you don't have much control over your camera settings then use the “sports” mode. It speeds up the shutter speed so you can capture your toddlers movements and freeze it in the frame instead of having photo after photo of a blurry object running across the screen. Also, because you are using a fast shutter speed, you need to be sure you have a lot of good natural lighting! This is important even if you were using slower speed, but when you speed up the shutter, it has less time to open and “look” for the light, so you need to make sure there is a lot! I love taking photos next to our sliding glass door because of all the beautiful light that pours into the house.

This was captured while my son was mid "fall and roll" around the bed. Because of the fast shutter speed and lots of natural lighting, I was able to freeze that moment instead of it being blurry with movement.

Autofocus is your best friend:

I am not ashamed to admit that I use autofocus when I am photographing my toddler. (Say what?!) I do use autofocus because I would simply miss so many adorable moments if I felt like I was “too professional” or “too good” of a photographer to use autofocus. I honestly, don’t even think about that. I just want to quickly catch a moment of my non-stop moving toddler and I actually want it to be focused. So I let my camera do that for me when I am photographing my son.

This is a great example of why I use autofocus. This picture is not actually perfectly focused (he's a little blurry) but I had my camera around my neck and threw it up to snap this photo as he took off toward the puddle. I know I wouldn't have gotten this shot if I was trying to manually focus.

Have fun!

And my last “freebie” tip is to have fun. If taking the pictures is stressing you out or even worse stressing out your toddler, take a break. You can always come back and take more pictures in an hour or a day or a week. ;) Also, remember to put the camera down every once in a while and actually sit and play with your child. It doesn’t count as capturing memories with your child if all you remember is trying to get that perfect photo. ;)

Well, that's all. Happy photographing!


  1. Great tips! I've been trying to teach myself how to shoot in manual and it stresses me out! I love autofocus. I have to bribe my 2 year old every time we take photos. Fruit snacks and goldfish usually work!

  2. Bribery is a must LOL. Love these tips. Thanks for sharing!

  3. These are great tips!! I've struggled with the focus too, so it makes sense to go auto for it!

  4. Great tips! I've definitely bribed a few times and love just letting them do their own thing for photos.

  5. These are great tips! Sometimes I struggles with getting the pictures I want of my toddler so I love finding out what works for others!