Small Miricles: How to ge a three year old boy to smile for the camera.
I think most people can agree it is tough to get a nice picture of your toddler. Starting from the time kids can walk until about four, it is the "tough zone" for getting a good shot. At first they are just to on the move. Then they start to exert their independence by refusing and/or they develop the forced "cheesy smile." As a parent I have my fair share of terrible toddler shots. I even have more moments than I care to admit that I just kept trying and trying until we were both mad. I actually have a much easier time taking pictures of other people's toddlers. Just recently before a shoot, I asked a mom, "Any tips you use to get them to smile?" Her response was, "No, they never take pictures. Good luck. Whatever you can get will be fine." Fifteen minutes later I have a 110 smiling pictures of her two kids. So parents, do not take it personally. We all struggle getting shots of our own kids. However, I have a few strategies specifically for toddlers to help you get a couple of keepers along the way.
1) Read the child's mood. They should already be in a good mood. If they wake up rough from naps then do not try this then.
2) Have they recently snacked? It is amazing how blood sugar levels can make or break your attempt. Make sure they are not almost in need of a snack or give them a snack before the shoot.
3) Have your set up ready to go. Do not ask them to sit still and then realize you need to open the blinds or clear some clutter.
4) Have them sit! Toddlers this age are constantly moving and you will buy yourself some more time. Ask them to sit for a picture rather than stand still.
5) Make it a game. There are lots of ways to do this. One of my favorites is "crazy face/nice face." Have them make a silly face and take a picture then ask them to smile nicely, then ask for a surprised face, then a nice face, then an angry face...you get the idea. My kids love this and always ask to see the pictures afterward. If their smile is forced, show them the photos and ask them for their real smile. It works quite often for me.
6) Use props... preferably not something brand new but something they have played with before but not in a while. In the session I just did with my son, our prop was 3D glasses. I did take several with the glasses but obviously that was not my final goal.
7) Know when to give up and try another day. If it becomes stressful, table it and try tomorrow. If you always get angry or disappointed when you take their picture of course they will not want to do this activity with you.
So enjoy my keepers and outtakes with my three year old.
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