Set expectations ....... then dramatically lower them
Toddlers are totally unpredictable. Full of energy and an attitude the size of the universe. Set your expectations based on your little one's abilities. If your child is shy around strangers, be willing to embrace that. Children under one can be very unpredictable, and that’s okay! I will capture beautiful images no matter what your child is doing at the time.
...... well let's be real .... you are dealing with mini feisty versions of yourself!
They don’t care if you are promising a cookie for a smile (they know it’s an empty threat, amiright?). Half the time, they have no clue what you are trying to communicate to them (they just hear chaos). Walk into the session with zero expectations of specific shots (let’s face it, they likely won’t be as co-operative as we would like). Be okay with them being themselves. I will work with their lead, and if something doesn’t work, it's ok to move on.
Don’t be embarrassed or apologetic, I’ve rarely had a toddler session that was “easy.” They are best if we let them just be themselves and explore what's around them . (After all, that’s their life…exploring EVERYTHING).
Make sure the session isn't around nap time (and don't make nap time a car ride)
A good nights sleep and a good nap! As we all know our sweet little ones can quickly will turn into a grumpy bear around nap time. If we are unable to book around nap time, please adjust their nap to work better with the session. If possible stay home most of the day of the session. Leaving an adjusted nap schedule for a caregiver or babysitter to deal with will likely not work. Squeezing in car ride nap is unrelaxed and rushed. Unlike babies, toddlers need some time to wake up and get used to their surroundings. Taking a sleeping toddler from a car to go into a photo shoot will likely result in disaster (or 30 minutes of them warming up to the idea of the strange lady with the camera even talking to them)
Start Preparing a few days before your session
Iron or steam for a wrinkle free look. Avoid shoving everything into the diaper bag. I recommend ironing or steaming the outfits your are thinking of bringing to the session. use child size hanger to store the clothing and hang them in the car or lay them flat. Once in the studio you can put them up on the hooks I have for safekeeping and selection.I have started building up a milestone wardrobe .... if you are interested in what I have in the studio, it is important we chat before your session!
There are outfit options in the studio available to you .. if you are interested in what I have, it is important we chat before your session
Moisturize skin and lips. Start a few days before the session and apply moisturizing cream to face and body in evenings and mornings. (super important in the dry winter months we have) I recommend a good hydrating cream like baby aveeno - just make sure to test it out first to avoid potential allergic reactions.
Pretend play at home Play photographer at home for about a week leading up to your session. This will get them used to the idea and think that the actual session is play time. If a toddler is having fun at the session, they will be much happier and we can capture them at their best. Talk about the session and tell them about the photographer "Michele" (not lady or photographer lady) and what to expect at the session.
Pack the diaper bag the night before Having the diaper bag ready to go the night before guarantees you can make it out the door without rushing or stressing. It's so easy to forget important items when your trying to pack everything at the last minute.
Remove socks before the session If you want adorable bare-footed photos, be sure to remove socks at least 30 mins before your session - otherwise they will leave marks on the skin. It's these little details that often make the biggest difference in a photo!
Bribes Let's face it .... we would be lost without bribes for toddlers! Their favourite song or little treat work a charm, but we need to be careful of yanking them out too soon into the session - or this can backfire. I have had sessions where the toddler got a taste of candy and refused to sit without a mouthful. When choosing treats to bring along, look for discreet, light colored and small enough for little fingers. Things like small fruit snacks, yogurt melts or cheerios. Avoid chocolate, suckers and goldfish (can we say ORANGE fingers), or large crackers.
Get involved We are going to get a workout in during this session!!!! Dancing, signing and goofing around gets real smiles. Just remember to stand right behind me to get them looking at the camera and not off to the side.
Authentic smiles It is hard to sit back and watch your toddler not smile. Choosing one person to give the direction to smile or say cheese is best. If we are all saying it at the same time from all different directions this will over stimulate and confuse a toddler and end up in a melt down.
Best of all ....... Have fun!!! Dance, sing and be goofy like no one is watching!