I get a lot of questions about how I get pictures with both of my boys paying attention to the camera at the same time. Here are a few things that have worked for me. Let me start off by saying this: I’m not above bribery! It’s no easy task getting the picture I envision if Walt is having a “toddler” day, but with a lot of trial and error, I’ve figured out a few things that work amazingly (most of the time).
Setup Ahead of Time
The first tip that I think is absolutely crucial is to have EVERYTHING set up exactly how you want it with props and camera settings before you bring your babes into the shot. I did not always do this, and searching for props and adjusting settings with a waiting child with a short fuse was making each session a lot more stressful than it needed to be. I’m a perfectionist about how I like things set up in a picture. Everything has to be right, including the angle I’m shooting from, where I want the kids placed, and natural lighting/camera settings. I’m always thinking about these things, and it can be a bit overwhelming if you’re trying to do all this AND wrangle your babes at the same time.
Well Rested Kids Take Better Pictures
Secondly, make sure your babes are well rested and wide awake! Walt will be three this weekend (WHAT) so he does listen a little bit better these days, but when he was younger, if I told him to do something he was likely to do the opposite just for fun. Whew, it was a bit challenging at times, but I’m so glad we’ve moved past that. His emotions were always escalated when he was tired, and taking pictures was the last thing he would want to do. Walt and Oliver always do the best when they are fully rested. Plan your photo shoot when your babes are fully awake. Don’t do it around nap time or it’s more than likely going to go downhill…quickly.
Props Help Keep the Littles Happy
Whether it be a rattle, a small snack that’s easily hidden, or some kind of small prop that they can focus on, having something to keep them preoccupied/happy in between takes or even during the shoot can make all the difference in the world. Davis even stands behind me pretty often making funny faces. His go-to is acting like a monkey. Works like a charm! A lot of people ask me specifically how I get both of our boys to look at the camera in our family photos, and that one is actually quite easy. We put Mickey Mouse on Davis’ phone and put it right underneath my camera/phone. That was all Davis’ idea and I’m SO glad he thought of it!
Let Kids Be Kids
This took me a little while to start realizing, but it’s so important: LET THEM BE KIDS! Don’t always try to have them pose in a specific position or make a certain face. Sometimes they are going to get upset and so will you. They are kids/babies and really anything they are doing in the shot is going to be cute. People like to see more real life/candid photos and not ones that are overly staged and look too perfect, so just shoot real life!
Be Patient but Work Quickly
If you’re not patient with them and get stressed out, they are likely to pick up on that and get stressed out too. Keep the shoot fun, encourage them, and tell them how great they are doing and it will go much more smoothly!