5 Easy Tips for Better Toddler Photos with any camera

This is one of the topics I get asked about a lot! There is no more challenging photo subject than a fast moving toddler with their own ideas of what they want to do -which are usually the exact opposite of what you want them to do! So unlike other types of photography that allow you time to set up properly and then retake a photo several times until you get it right, there is no such grace in toddler photography. Much like my other inexpert guides, I am still very much a student in this subject but it seemed worthwhile to share my tips just the same.

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These tips are specifically for the photographer who is alone with her children, is not in a perfect photoshoot setting and has limited time. So in other words, most parents every single day.  When I am using one hand for keeping my child from falling down the steps and the other to keep her from eating the brown thing she found on the floor, it doesn't leave much in the way for artful styling and steady camera holds.  That doesn't mean I don't want to capture some of those these moments as best as I can. So here are my best tips at doing so beautifully.  Added bonus they apply to every kind of camera – dslr, point & shoot or iphone included.<br />
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1. Focus on the Eyes. 
 So maybe you are thinking, ‘No duh! Of course I’m focusing on the face.’ But I often find that when Agatha is moving at what feels like the speed of light, I can’t quite get her whole face in focus. If I can just get sharp focus on her eyes, the photo is still good. Of course there are compositions when you don’t want to focus on the eyes but just remembering this little tip has saved many a photo from the electronic trash bin for me. Iphone shooters – don’t rely on the auto focus – tap on the screen to get the right spot.

2. Get in close. 
 Especially useful when the house is a mess, the baby’s hair isn’t combed and she is wearing something less than photogenic, getting in tight will crop out lots of the distractions that can ruin an otherwise good photo.

3. Get near the light. 
 Unless you are outside, there is never enough light when a toddler is in full roadrunner mode. Without going into the mechanics of how a camera works, I’ll simply say that the more light you have, the faster any camera will be able to capture the shot. So that means you need light – generally more than you think you’ll need. The easiest option is to move your child near a sunny window. Short of that, turn on the lights, open the drapes, open the front door and do whatever you have to do to add more ambient light into the frame.

4. Be ready. 
 If anything is for certain, it’s that you will have half of a microsecond to get that shot of your toddler doing {insert cute thing of the day here}. Simply put: Don’t put your camera away! As much as possible, leave it within arm’s reach so you are ready when the magic happens.

5. Go low, look up. 
 I’ve seen the tip to get down low often so this one is a no brainer but there is a second important part of this tip and that’s to make sure your toddler is looking either straight into the lens or up. I find that when I do get down low to take a shot, my daughter naturally tends to look down which doesn’t make for the best photos. So be sure to do what you need to do – jangle keys, tape a favorite toy to the top of your camera – to get those peepers looking at you and not at your feet.

That’s it. I hope you find these tips helpful in improving your own little munchkin snapshots. Have any other tips you’d like to add? Please share.


  1. Great tips and reminders! These little ones are tricky but way too funny to miss getting pictures!

  2. And tip number 6: Don't train them to say "cheese". It's not cute and the smile it produces is terrible!. Don't even ask them to smile. Talk to them about their favorite ... or do a little dance instead.

    1. Thats a great one! I never even thought about that since I never ask her to smile but I imagine its something I would do as she gets older.

  3. These are really good tips-- and I totally agree with Katja, as a professional photographer the last thing I want to see is a kid whose been coached to make fake smiles. The kids that make you work for a good smile are always the photos that come out the best.

    1. I was hoping you would comment. I'd love hear more tips from you and other professionals. I would imagine not knowing the kids, its even more difficult to get the best of them.


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