How to prepare toddlers for photo sessions

As a mom of two toddlers, I understand the worry and stress you might be feeling before your photo session. Thoughts like “Will my child cooperate?” “Will we even get any good photos?!” etc. are probably crossing your mind (same!). I’m here to help ease those worries and give us the best chance for success! Here are some things you can do ahead of time to prepare your child and yourself for our photo session!


1. Clearly communicate with your child


Even if your little child gives no indication that they understand a word you are saying to them, I highly encourage you to clearly tell them what is going to happen ahead of time and hype it up so they look forward to it.

Here is an idea of what you could say to a toddler of any age:

  • We’re going to have so much fun! We’re going to go to (our session location!) and there’s going to be someone named Melissa who is going to have a big black camera that takes pictures of us. It’s like when I take pictures of you on my phone! Only instead of me taking the pictures, it will be Melissa with her camera. We’re going to have a lot of fun playing with Melissa, and we will probably pick you up and we’ll all look at Melissa and smile.

2. Show your child a video of me


Having your child see some photos or even better some videos of me ahead of time can be really helpful. This way I’m a familiar face and they will hopefully feel a little more comfortable around me. It also goes hand-in-hand with my first suggestion, that way when you’re referring to “Melissa” they know exactly who you mean.


3. Role play


After explaining to your child what is going to happen at our session, you can have them pretend they are a photographer. This gives you a perfect opportunity to show them how to smile for the camera (ideally a laughing smile!) and exactly how you want them to act. You can use your phone as a camera, buy a toy camera, use a wooden block, or really anything!


4. I hate this word, but bring a bribe


When all else fails, it can be helpful to have a treat available for your child. Whether that means bringing small (non-messy) candy during the session, or promising them ice cream afterwards, this tactic can be helpful for certain children when everything else fails.



All of these ideas increase your child’s chances of cooperating, but they aren’t make or break. Even if you just do one of them, great! My goal is to make things easier and less stressful for you. So if doing these things will be more stress-inducing for you, then don’t worry about it! If you do one of these, all of them, or none, I always keep my sessions child-led; I fully expect your child to want to run around and sometimes not cooperate (even with preparing them ahead of time). I want you to know that this is perfectly NORMAL and nothing is wrong with you or your child. I am used to chasing toddlers, and I enjoy capturing their authenticity!



I'm a local Philadelphia family photographer with a light and airy style. For more information on booking a session with me, click the button below. I look forward to serving you!



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