We've all been there. It's a beautiful day, we have beautiful children, so why not grab our cameras and get some beautiful pictures of our little ones? They do, after all, grow up in the blink of an eye. Sounds simple enough, right? Well... those of you who have children under the age of 4 know that this is no easy task. In fact, one might argue that you'd have a better chance of mastering quantum physics, than getting your little one to sit still long enough for you to take a picture. And don't even think about trying to get them to sit still AND actually smile. This, my friends, is a task that can only be performed by that rare and fortunate breed of parent that we seasoned mothers like to refer to as, "the lucky ones."
So mom gets frustrated, kids start to cry, and before you know it, that beautiful shot you had in your head, has suddenly turned into a nightmarish episode of Super Nanny. Becoming paranoid, you swear that at any minute now, Jo Frost is going to come flying around the corner and ask you why you insist on torturing your poor children. So, out of frustration you wave your white flag, hang your head low and claim defeat. Kids -216, Mom-0.
Taking pictures of your kids doesn't have to be that complicated and stressful. While I can't guarantee that you'll end up with a shot that will grace the cover of Parents Magazine, I can give you a few tips that I've found useful over my 11+ years of being a parent with children, who I can only assume would much rather have teeth pulled then look at my camera and say cheese.
Work from behind
Children are always on the go. Photographing them doing just that, is a great way to keep everyone happy. Kids get to run around and explore, and parents get a great shot of their little one being themselves. What's not too love about a perfect view of those chubby little legs and bouncy curls. My only suggestion with this, is to keep these pictures to a minimum. While behind shots are adorable, if you take too many, people may start to wonder why little Johnny doesn't have a face.
Third Party to the Rescue!
Bring along another person who can gain the child's attention. Entertainment is a perfect way to distract them from that thing my family likes to refer to as, "The Black Cyclops"...aka, my camera lens. In the picture above, we brought a friend of my oldest daughter along.(Of course sometimes older kids require a bit of bribery too. This photo shoot ended up with a trip to the ice cream shop.) She was a fresh face and my 2 year old adored her. She thought everything about her was hilarious. Bringing a new face around can help because sometimes, to a 2 year old, mommy is a big dull dud who is about as entertaining as leaf. So grab a sibling, aunt, grandparent or friend and let them do the entertaining while you snap away!
In my opinion, the best photographs of a toddler are taken when they are in their own environment doing just what they like to do. Candid, action shots are among my favorites. Not only are they relatively easy to take, but they really capture who your little one is. Get down on your child's level and just let them play. Don't interrupt them. Just allow them to do their thing. Whether it's checking out a garden hose, finger painting, exploring nature, or relaxing on the beach; action shots are a great way to capture real moments and create lasting memories.
Photographing your child shouldn't be a stressful situation that will eventually require years of therapy for both parent and child. If all else fails, just photograph your little one doing whatever it is they feel like doing. Some of my favorite shots are the ones of Lauren being just who she is...Lauren.