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Toddlers

Whether shy or rowdy, all toddlers are cute


This happy toddler's expression shows curiosity at first
This happy toddler's expression shows curiosity at first

A child becomes a toddler when he or she takes his first steps. This usually occurs around one year of age (ten to fourteen-months). Keep your camera loaded with film and fresh batteries to be sure to capture the milestone moment in your baby’s development. When you see baby first shakily stand, don’t just grab your camera and snap off a picture. Kneel down a few feet away so that baby will walk towards you. Take several pictures to be sure that you capture the smile, the look of determination or the feeling of accomplishment that your baby will show.

Toddlers are more aware of things and may be quite shy. Around strangers, they may cling to mother and hide their faces in her skirts.


SHYNESS

You can get endearing photos of a shy toddler by going along with the shyness. Don't try to coax the little one to smile, pose or even move away from mom. Take pictures of both together at first. A child cuddled in a mother’s or father’s arms with one wary eye looking at the camera can be quite appealing.

Don’t rush things. As the toddler becomes more used to your presence, he or she will usually loosen up a bit. The toddler may still be unwilling to leave mommy’s side, so ask mom to whisper a secret into his or her ear. Take advantage of the child’s natural curiosity. Ask dad to place his keys in a shirt pocket for the child to fish out, or have the toddler look in mom’s purse.

With one parent holding the child, have the other stand behind you. A new or favorite toy suddenly produced at this time can achieve outstretched hands and an appealing expression. Once the toy is handed over, there may be another photo opportunity as the toddler hugs it or studies it. The offer of a cookie or milk can sometimes achieve a toddler’s cooperation.

A few funny faces and sounds from the photographer bring on the start of a smile
A few funny faces and sounds from the photographer bring on the start of a smile


"Hey, I like this photographer," he seems to be thinking. "This is fun."

Patience, a gentle voice and reassuring words can achieve a good deal with children at this age. Trying to coax a smile or movement from a clinging toddler, and showing exasperation and displeasure, will only make things worse and sometimes brings on the tears.

If you are using a normal lens, change to a portrait or medium telephoto lens. You will be able to move away from the child and still fill the viewfinder frame while giving him or her space. If you are not too close, the toddler may leave mommy’s side (especially if there is a nearby toy box or an object that has captured the child’s attention) and provide you with picture opportunities.

GOTTA GET DOWN

If the child leaves mom’s side and begins to move around, whether crawling, standing unsteadily or even walking, take pictures from his or her level. Change position to avoid clutter in the background. Focus on the eyes and face, and be sure to fill the viewfinder frame.


HEY, WAIT UP

Many toddlers are very active and it’s hard to keep up with them to take a decent candid picture. By the time you depress the shutter, the toddler has moved and is onto something else. You may need to forego the candid shots and control the situation by keeping the child restricted to one place for picture-taking.

You can do this creatively while engaging the child’s interest. For instance, place something new to play with on a small table and seat your toddler on a chair. Step back, kneel down to the child’s level, compose your picture and shoot quickly during the period of maximum interest in the new toy. If you placed the table near a window that lets in indirect natural light, you can avoid the use of flash.

A fast film (ISO 400) will bring up your shutter speed. Try to place the table in front of a plain background, or if it is cluttered, drape or tack a sheet or tablecloth on the wall or bookcase before you are ready to take pictures.

You can also place your active little one in a high chair that will keep him or her in one place. Outdoors, find a child’s swing that has safety bars. Pick one that is in open shade, not direct sunlight. Use a fast shutter speed to stop action if the swing is moving. This may require a fast film speed. ISO 400 should be more than adequate for most daylight shots.

You know you have a good picture when a toddler begins to laugh
You know you have a good picture when a toddler begins to laugh

A large appliance carton with cut-out doors and windows is hard for any toddler to resist.
A large appliance carton with cut-out doors and windows is hard for any toddler to resist.

Move around for different angles, and to ensure sharp focus as your child moves back and forth, read our tip on hyperfocal distance, - a simple but effective lens setting technique that allows you to shoot sharp pictures within a certain distance range without having to refocus.

Whenever you bring home a new toy or object that your child will enjoy, remember to have your camera ready. Your little one’s intense interest in the present will keep him or her in one place for enough time to compose and shoot appealing pictures.

A popular device for great pictures that works with most toddlers is a large empty cardboard box, the kind a dishwasher would come in. By cutting a few holes in it for a doorway and windows, you create a new playhouse that is hard for any toddler to resist. When your child pokes his head out the “window” or goes in and out the door, shoot quickly for memorable pictures.

Bath time is a good time to capture an active toddler on film. And afterwards, wrap your child in a big bath towel for an endearing picture.


A QUICK WAY TO PUT YOUR CHILD IN A GOOD MOOD

Sometimes, you may need a distraction to change a toddler's mood before taking her or his picture.

StOoArt, the super-talented artist who provided the illustrations throughout PhotographyTips.com, has published a warm and wonderful children's book that will cheer up any child.

Soccer Sami and the Big Meanie Coach” is the story of an enthusiastic little hippo named Sami, who loves to play soccer. She joins her friends on a young girls soccer team. The team’s coach only cares about winning, and never plays Sami until the championship game, when he has to. Sami wins the day in more ways than one.

This heart-warming tale has a few laughs, a few tears and even a bit of soccer. It’s a beautifully-illustrated, charming kids’ book about sportsmanship, teamwork and compassion for everyone.

You can purchase this charming kids story directly from StOoArt at http://www.stooart.com/ in either e-Book or paperback format. And, it's not expensive.

An entertaining and heartwarming tale well told and well illustrated for kids of all ages.
An entertaining and heartwarming tale well told and well illustrated for kids of all ages.