Toddler Photography-8 Ideas to Capture those Early Years

8 Tips to Capture Your Toddler
I hope everyone enjoyed 10 tips for photographing your baby by Jennifer last week. Wasn’t it fabulous? I’ve got that one tucked away for when we decide to have our second child. Now let’s talk about those later years of your child – toddler photography.

Toddler Photography

We all know that toddler photography can be a hard. They never want to sit still, meltdowns can happen in an instant and they can scream at the sight of your camera. That sentence is my two year old in a nut shell. Toddler photography is all about capturing them in their element. Lifestyle photography is going to be your go to unless you have a rare toddler that loves to sit and smile for you. I want to teach you some tricks I’ve learned about getting that perfect shot and some ideas of fun shots to capture.

Capturing the milestones.

I know what you’re thinking, those big milestones are done. What about the little ones? I remember the day my daughter got the movements for the Itsy Bitsy Spider. It was so exciting and the cutest thing. I didn’t have my camera on me but I made a note that I need to get a shot of her doing it. When getting the shot, don’t expect her to sit there and do it with a smile on their face. I went just for the hands. I didn’t need to see her face, the hands said it all.

Don’t push them. Instead work with them.

Raise your hand if taking photos of your child looks like this photo on the left?

That was the first time in a year I attempted to pull out the backdrop for this exact reason. Getting my daughter to sit still and smile pretty is pretty much out the window. The beginning of this little shoot was no different. So I just worked with what she gave me and made it more of a game. I put a masking tape X on the floor decorated with stickers and she loved it. (photo right) She thought it was a fun game to sit on it. She also wouldn’t let go of her lovie, so I didn’t push it. Instead I just made the shoot about it. I was so happy with the end result even though it wasn’t my initial plan.

Set up activites for them to do.

Plan an art project for them to do and then photograph them doing it. Yes, it’s not natural since its set up but their reactions are. My favorite thing to do is take photos of my daughter painting. The light in my dining room is gorgeous so it is my favorite place to photograph, so arts and crafts are always done there. Make sure to shoot your subject from different vantage points to create more interest.

Get the details.

We are all obsessed with getting the little details with newborns, well why not toddlers? I love, love, LOVE to photograph my daughter’s lashes, her mouth, pretty much anything. They won’t have those soft features forever, so make sure to get them while you can. My favorite time to photograph this is when she’s watching Dora or a movie. I know she’ll sit still and for the most part can get in her face, as long as I’m not blocking her view. lol

Just let them run!

When we go outside to play for the day I always grab my zoom. I then sit in one spot and wait. Let them do their thing and wait for the perfect moment. Whether it’s capturing them in their element or if they have a treasure they want to show you. I used to chase her around the yard and sometimes I still do but for the most part, I hang back and shoot from afar. She likes that she can be free to play and I love that I get to capture these precious moments of play.

Photograph a year’s difference.

At the beginning of the year, I was in a rut. I had no idea what to take photos of. I started going through photos of the previous year for inspiration of what I shot in the winter months. Then I found the photo of my daughter at the first of the year staring out our back door at our first snowfall. Luck was in my favor and we had our first snowfall in our forecast. I was prepared. The day the snow fell I got the same shot. It is crazy how much they change in over the year and it is fun to have a then and now shot. Might be something I do every year.


We all know about the shots we want to get when we go on vacations. The places we visit and the attractions, but what about the hotel room? The light in most hotel rooms are amazing, those big beautiful windows. It’s probably one of my favorite places to shoot when we go on trips. Also, that first airplane ride, or 3rd, or 4th. I loved that I got those shots of my daughter on the plane. I didn’t think to do this on her first flight, but I definitely knew to do it on her second.

Hey Mom, get in the photo too!

Jennifer talked about this in her post and I’m going to do it as well. Don’t worry, I struggle on this. I wanted a photo a month of me and my daughter but it doesn’t always happen. I at least do it every other month.

Have your husband, friend, parent, or whoever get that shot for you. This is what I do. I have whoever is going to take the picture do a stand in for me. I set everything up and then hand the camera over. I will tell you the first few times my husband did it, it wasn’t the best, but now he’s pretty good. Just remember capturing the two of you at this stage in life is more important than the quality of the photo. Just do it!

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Melissa Noste - Contributor

My photography started 10 years ago in high school with film and the darkroom. Through the years I’ve studied, taken classes, and upgraded cameras and lens. Photography has become my biggest passion, outside of my family of course. My beautiful baby girl pushed me to learn more when she was born in 2010 so I could capture her growing up. | More Posts | Website | Facebook My Camera Bag: Nikon D700 | 50mm f/1.4G

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  1. avatar Alicia Maloy :

    Great post! Thank you :)

  2. Loved this- wonderful suggestions!

  3. I’ve always loved Melissa’s pictures! Great post!
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  4. avatar Debbie Panton :

    Great post. My youngest used to be great for pics.. he would pose and everything, still will sometimes…. but a lot less often ( he’ll be 3 in July). Now it’s really a hit or miss whether I can get him or not ( usually hides his head under a pillow on the couch). Frustration levels usually mount pretty quickly, on both our parts. Lots of great ideas here though to think about. Still need a zoom lens to get some of the outdoor shots. I’m so looking forward to getting outside and getting outdoors pics again… the weather is finally starting to warm up. Thanks!!!

  5. I just took pictures of my grandson today. I could have used some of this advice. I’ll get him next time!
    Cynthia M recently posted..Easter Sunday for Wordless Wednesday!

  6. Great tips, especially the last one!!! :)
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  7. This is exactly what I needed to hear! Thank you so much for sharing! Photographing little kids is such astruggle and full of frustrations! ^^

  8. Great post! I found you on Pinterest and always forget to put myself into the pictures. Took a ton of great ones at Easter and not a single one of me. *sighs* I’ve got a tripod I never use… once a month I’ll try it!
    Suzanne Bastien recently posted..Wordless Wednesday – Baseball Season has begun!

  9. Thanks for sharing. Great post! I love to capture my toddlers as they sleep. I have many beautiful images of them sleeping peacefully on my bed, where they crashed late afternoon following a busy morning.

  10. Really helpful post on photographing little ones! Thank you!

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  11. These are all great tips; thanks for sharing!
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  12. Thank you for a great post! I have a five month old and will look forward to photographing her in the toddler years. So true about getting yourself in photos with them! Just the other day, I looked at my husband and said, “Margot is going to look back through pictures and say, why didn’t you ever hold me, mom?”, because I’m always BEHIND the camera! That is something we’re going to make an effort to work on. Thanks again!

  13. Thanks girl!! I love the tape with stickers idea. My son would def. love that idea.
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  14. Always love the lighting in your photos. Do you have any tutorials on your website about it? That’s the biggest thing I need to work on.

  15. Great post, Melissa! Thank you for the ideas!

  16. What a great post, I feel so inspired! I just had my second baby and I have a son already, and more than anything I want to capture them in beautiful photographs that I can have forever :)
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  17. LOVE LOVE LOVE the last pic!!! I always worry about my chins being in the pic but need to get over it!

  18. Thanks so much for sharing! Great information and I love your photos .

  19. great tips! Thanks for sharing.
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  20. Loving this. My 17 month old is the only one of my children (I have 4 ranging from 17 months to nearly 15 yrs) who will let me take photos whenever I want. I have so many photos of her because of this, so this gives me a few more ideas as I am getting a bit bored but am very new to learning my way around a DSLR so very keen to take lots of photos (and am not that into landscape stuff, love photos of people!!).
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  21. Thank you! Great inspirations. Can you share your camera settings,and lens used? I love the itsy bitsy pic, and the mouth!! What a treasure for later!

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  33. Great tips. I will keep these for the future. Also, I’m glad I’m not the only one whose husband can’t seem to take a decent photo. And I’m not professional photographer either! Haha

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  35. I love the “details” shots. I’m just starting to do more of them, and they are some of my favorite pictures. Thanks for your thoughts & tips.

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