Photographing Toddlers: Capturing Everyday Moments

With a toddler at home, you can most likely find me discovering new spots to baby proof throughout the home. From outlets to cords, corners to steps, you name it, my son is all about discovering what, why, and how it works. His curious nature keeps him on the move and on-the-go at all times. After setting him by his toy box, he’s across the room (and maybe in the other side of the house) within seconds.

Thankfully, when it comes to photography, I’m all about the perfectly imperfect. A photo album full of toothy grins is definitely cute. However, there are so many other sides, emotions, and characteristics of a toddler that should be captured on film and cherished forever. These moments go by so quickly. It truly is amazing to see and experience how fast a child grows, learns, adapts, and experiments.

Instead of waiting for the moments when your toddler is full of smiles, I want to encourage you to embrace the everyday moments. Those moments are full of your toddler’s personality. Those moments are full of your home life. Those moments are full of the emotions and memories that you never want to forget.

Take for example the photo above. My husband loves to hoist our son into the air. My son will kneel on my husband’s chest and bounce up and down until my husband grabs him on his sides and throws him up in the air. The laughter that comes out of my son is priceless. To see my husband interact with our son makes me fall in love with him all over again. One morning, while they were doing this activity, I grabbed my camera and captured the moment on film.

When my son plays, he plays hard. From building blocks to puzzle pieces to books, his days are occupied with building, creating, reading, discovering, crawling, and walking. One of his favorite toys is a handheld mirror. He is fascinated by seeing his reflection. While I was on the ground playing with him one day, I grabbed my camera and captured the moment above. His blocks are surrounding him as he looks at his reflection in a mirror. Oh, and you cannot miss the crossed feet. To me, this photo tells so much about this part of our story of life.
And then there are the chunks. Oh, the chunks … and the rolls … and the dimples. Need I say more? This photo was taken when my son was learning how to stand on his own. From his chunky thighs to the tilt of the head, this photo captures a quiet, curious moment in his life.
From the walker to the hammer to all of the toys in the background, this photo helps tell the story of his age, development, and interests.
So, what is the moral of the story? 

5 Tips for Photographing Toddlers

1.) Have a camera ready.

I almost always have my phone and/or camera ready to capture a moment. You’ll want to make sure that your battery is charged. There’s nothing worse than witnessing a moment but not having enough battery life to capture the moment.

2.) Embrace the perfectly imperfect moments. 

Your toddler is going to have good days. Your toddler is going to have fussy days. Your toddler is going to have stained clothes. Your toddler is going to be on the move. Your toddler is going to be your toddler … so embrace the perfectly imperfect moments. Take a deep breath and embrace the fussiness, cries, tantrums, stains, movements, etc. via your shutterbutton. For, it’s those moments that help tell the story and share information and details about your toddler’s life.

3.) Stop waiting for a smile.

Look at the photos above. Is my toddler looking at the camera? No. Is my toddler smiling? No. Do the photos tell a story? Yes. To me, photography is telling a story via a camera. Blame it on my photojournalism background. Capturing true moments instead of staged moments help tell the story of everyday moments.

4.) Capture the everyday moments.

From eating to playing, crawling to walking, sleeping to sneezing, if you capture the everyday moments, I can guarantee that you will be so thankful for those photos months and even years later. Also, be sure to capture habits, special moments (like the one above of my husband and son), and discoveries. Those everyday moments help tell a story … the best story of your life.

5.) Enjoy the everyday moments.

Don’t live your life behind the camera. Nobody wants to look back and think, gee, it would’ve been nice to be a part of the moment. The great thing about everyday photography is that all it takes is a quick snap of the shutterbutton. That’s it. You don’t need to make sure your toddler is wearing the cutest clothes. You don’t have to setup a photography setting. You don’t have to make sure everything is perfect in your home. Everyday photography is all about telling a story. So, push the button, set down your camera or phone, and get back to enjoying time spent with your toddler.

What’s your favorite tip for capturing everyday toddler moments?

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