How to Get Eye Contact From a Toddler

How to Get Eye Contact From a Toddler

Getting eye contact from a toddler can be extremely difficult. I want to say one thing first: getting eye contact from a toddler/baby is not my priority. But I do absolutely love eye contact. And they have such sweet expressions when they’re this age. As of the date of this post, my son is 21 months and has started to hate the camera. So much that he’ll purposefully not look at it. These tricks have helped me get some pictures with eye contact.

Are you new to my blog? Welcome! I talk a lot about photographing my toddler, self portraits, how to get better photographs of your kids, and also some blogging tips from a mom to moms. One of my favorite posts I’ve created is Photographing a Toddler 101, if you’re struggling with getting better pictures of your toddler, this is the post for you!

Let’s get started!

Aly Dawn Photography | How to Get Eye Contact From a Toddler

how to get eye contact from a toddler

When I’m photographing my toddler (or any toddler) I keep one very important thing in mind: the toddler is in charge. Haha! Isn’t this how it is in real life? That toddler has a mind of their own, and they will let you know their opinion. Which leads me to my first tip:

Aly Dawn Photography | How to Get Eye Contact From a Toddler

play with them first

If you are wanting to get eye contact from that toddler, you need to make sure that you don’t immediately start pointing a giant camera in their face. Of course that will make them feel uncomfortable and unsure. What I like to do is to play with them first. I won’t even get the camera out at first. (This is especially important if the child is not your own child). With my son, I will set him up in pretty light and start playing with him. Tickles work, peek-a-boo works, something that grabs their attention. Then I’ll pull out my camera. If they are still unsure about me, I will let them see the camera. I’ll take a picture at them and say, ‘Look! It’s you!’ when I show them the picture I just took.

Aly Dawn Photography | How to Get Eye Contact From a Toddler

play peek-a-boo with your camera

I have to say, as an adult I don’t really like a big black thing in my face. So can you really blame a cute little toddler not liking it as well? I like to play peek-a-boo with my camera, meaning I will get my settings all set up, focus my shot, and then pop out from behind the camera yelling peek-a-boo and capture their response. Unfortunately this doesn’t work anymore for my son (he’s learned all my tricks!) but I think you’d definitely be able to get one or two shots from this! You have to be quick and ready, though.

Peek-a-boo will also work with other things, too. I like to use a door sometimes to play peek-a-boo. It gets a good laugh out of the toddler. 🙂

Aly Dawn Photography | How to Get Eye Contact From a Toddler

ask them if they can see something in your camera

That was a long title haha. But ask the sweet toddler if they can see…a bunny, a frog, a rainbow, themselves, in your camera lens. This trick works better for older toddlers (my son doesn’t quite get it yet). But you should get some awesome eye contact (be sure to talk to the toddler a little bit before this and find out what their favorite animal). I did this with my cousin in the above image. I asked her if she could see a rainbow, and that was the image I got. This worked well for her age group (which is three). Younger toddlers might not do this and you’ll have to try something else.

use live view mode

I often switch my camera to the live view mode. This allows me to not need my face right up against the camera the whole time. And remember how having a big black thing in your face isn’t fun? This might help ease the toddler a bit.

Aly Dawn Photography | Cute Toddler in Woods

get someone to help you

It’s always a lot easier to get my son to look towards me (if not at the camera) when his daddy is right behind me talking to me! Like in the image above, my husband was behind me talking to him and got him to look his direction. If I have the camera in my hands, my son will not look at me. I sometimes settle for ‘looking near my camera’. Just as long as I can see those sweet blue eyes. So get some help! If you are a photographer taking pictures for clients, get the mom and dad to help. Or even an older sibling! They may even make the toddler laugh (which is WAY better than a fake smile!!). Having a helper always makes it easier.

Do you need some more help learning photography? Join ClickinMoms forums to get loads of tutorials everyday!

don’t say ‘cheese’

DO not under any circumstance, ask your child to say ‘cheese’. What this teaches your child is to fake smile at you. Which is not what you want. If you’re wanting smile images, think outside the box. Don’t say, ‘*Insert name* look at me! Say cheese! Smile!” instead, you could be a tickle monster and tickle them and then jump back and grab a shot. You could say I see a booger! Or did you just fart!? I mean, seriously. Just because you have a camera in your hand doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have any fun! Make it fun and you are sure to get genuine smiles, and awesome eye contact. Have them run around and chase you and capture them running after you.

Aly Dawn Photography | How to get a toddler to look at the camera

use reverse psychology

Use reverse psychology to get the eye contact you want! Instead of saying, ‘look at me! Look at the camera!’ you could say, ‘don’t you dare look at me! Don’t look! Don’t look at the camera! Don’t do it!!’. It might only work once and then they might get smart…but one shot is ALL you need! This only works with my son every once in a while, but I think he’s still a little too young to understand. I think it would work great for kids around three years of age!

Photographing toddlers can be so much fun! Be sure to check out my other blog posts related to toddlers. I hope they help you in your quest to capture cute pictures of your kids and clients!

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Compositions to Consider When Photographing Toddlers

Compositions to Consider When Photographing Toddlers

I’ve decided to do a series of blog posts pertaining to toddlers, this one is about compositions to consider. As most of your visiting my blog are probably aspiring momtographers (that’s a word, I promise), I figured you ladies wouldn’t mind some toddler tips and tricks. The first post I would recommend reading is Photographing a Toddler 101 – it gives you the basics to capturing great images of your toddler!

I wanted to reinforce that the most important thing to consider when photographing toddlers is patience. They do what they want, no matter how badly you want them to sit still and smile! Maybe that’s just not my style – I really love to have candid photos. The sit still and smile at the camera just doesn’t capture the emotion I crave. So if you stick around with me, you’ll learn more about how to photograph toddlers.

If you haven’t already learned about manual mode, it’s essential! Especially when photographing in tricky light and photographing those fast toddlers! I have a new class –  LEARN MANUAL: how to take control of your camera (by clicking on this link and signing up, you’ll get updates on anything new to this course). It’s not complete yet, but by signing up for updates you’ll be the first to know when it is ready! Plus some early bird pricing (yes, please!).

check out my 5 Tips to Getting Better Pictures of Your Infant post

Compositions to consider when photographing toddlers

This post contains affiliate links.  Thank you in advance for supporting Aly Dawn Photography!

what is composition

I will briefly introduce you to composition.

Composition in any type of art, is the ingredients that make up something. For music, this is the notes that make up the song. For images, this is the subjects, objects, that make up an image.

There’s a ton of different ways to use compositional elements to make your image stronger and better. I’ll go into more details about all the different types of compositions below and why you should consider using them when photographing a toddler – they definitely add to the image.

  • rule of thirds
  • framing (one of my favorite)
  • scale
  • looking down
  • center
  • faceless

There are even more out there, but these are my favorites for toddlers. Now that we learned a little bit more about what composition is, let’s move on to how and why you should use these compositional elements and what exactly they mean.

compositions to consider when photographing toddlers

Mom Photography tips

1. rule of thirds

For this compositional tool, you have to picture your image split into 9 squares and placing your subject on one of the intersecting lines in the image. Take the image above, for example. My son is place on one of the intersecting lines. This composition is pleasing to the eye. It’s a rule that can be broken, though. Keep that in mind. Knowing the rule, using the rule, and breaking the rule are all important in composition.

Compositions to Consider when photographing your toddler

For this image, since my son isn’t centered between my fridge and my dryer, a center composition wouldn’t have looked as please. With him being frame the way he is, the rule of thirds lends a better composition. It pulls the eye right to your subject, and it doesn’t look awkward.

When I take a picture, I practice with different compositions to see which one would work the best. Rule of thirds is one I use quite a lot of! However, one of my favorite ways to compose an image is ‘framing’ which we’ll talk about next!

Mom Photography tips

2. framing

The compositional rule of framing is exactly what it sounds like: you frame your subject with other objects in the frame. I use this technique a lot. I love it! Once you start looking for frames, you’ll see them everywhere. Trust me. In the image above, my son is framed by not only the door, but the window, as well as the light! Yes, light can be used as ‘framing’. Frames can literally be anything and everything. You can use other people. The side of the frame, doorways, colors, the list goes on. Below my son is ‘framed’ between the door and the wall. I would also say he’s framed by light, as well.

Mom Photography tipsdler

Framing is a great way to compose images of your toddler. It adds interest to your already cute photo. It draws the viewer in. It makes the viewer linger just a little bit. Framing an object is also so easy. Doorways are great, parks have a ton of framing tools to practice with. Architecture is full of frames, too! But there’s even frames in nature. You could frame your child with branches from the tree!

Framing can also appear to be a ‘peaking’ in type of scene. It’s great for sleeping images like the one below!

Compositions to Consider when photographing your toddler

There are many many ways you can frame an object. Go try it out! You could even practice on something that doesn’t move as much as a toddler. In fact, I highly recommend practicing on stuff animals before making your way to your toddler. It’s easier to practice when the subject doesn’t move!!

Compositions to Consider when photographing your toddler

3. scale

This one is great. What I mean by scale, is you take an image to show just how tiny your toddler really is. Like in the image above, you can plainly see just how tiny he is against that wall (he is also framed very nicely by the paneling and bricks!).

Looking at this image you realize just how little and precious this boy is. He’s tiny! The best way to do this is to back it WAY up. (I would recommend having a helper to help in case the baby makes a run for it!). Include the environment in your image. This would be great to do at a beach, show just how tiny they are compared to the big ocean. You could do this at the park, the carnival, showing how little they are compared to the rides. This is a great composition to use on toddlers, because they are in fact, very little.

Compositions to Consider when photographing your toddler

4. looking down

Looking down on your subject is a great way to photograph them. It helps with eye contact and getting beautiful catchlights. It also makes them seem larger than they are (so basically the opposite of scale!) I love using this technique when shooting toddlers. I think it’s very flattering on them. It’s an easy one to do, too! Especially if they aren’t walking yet. Just sit them down and stand (or kneel) slightly above them. Get their attention to have some eye contact and snap away! It’s really that easy. 🙂

This is great to get that eye contact and to also get a little bit closer. Details are so important to capture!

Compositions to Consider when photographing your toddler

5. center

A center composition is a good choice for when there is symmetry. In the image above, my son and husband are ‘framed’ (another composition choice!) between the hallway walls. This pulls the attention straight to the center. Center compositions are probably the easiest composition to pull off, and one you’re probably already doing. Go a step further and really concentrate on what could make a center composition more interesting.

Center composition can be good for when you want to simplify your frame. It also can be a good choice for detail shots. Using leading lines to center your subject can also help strengthen your composition.

Be deliberate when you use center composition. Don’t always have center compositions. And when you do use center compositions, be confidant in your decision!

Mom Photography tips

6. faceless

I think faceless images are perfect for any genre of portraits! But I think it adds a level of mysteriousness to toddler images. Plus toddlers have cute everything (I wish I had cute everything) and those details deserve to be the center of attention, as well.

In conclusion, your toddler is cute so any image you take of them is going to be adorable. But by keeping these compositions in mind while taking images of your toddler (or anything!!) it will help strengthen your photography instantly.

Thanks for stopping by.

Photographing a Toddler 101

Photographing a Toddler 101

Whether you’re a new mom or an experienced mom, you probably know what I mean when I say: photographing toddlers is hard. Let’s get real for just a second, toddlers are constantly on the move! They never sit still! You can’t tell them to smile, either, they don’t understand it. #beentheredonethat I’m hoping that I can give you some tips to practice with and get better at photographing your toddler. Some of these tips might come in handy for the older ones, but for the most part these tips are strictly for those of you with toddlers.

Don’t forget about my new course coming up: LEARN MANUAL: how to take control of your camera (by clicking on this link and signing up, you’ll get updates on anything new to this course).

gear you’ll need

Technically speaking, you don’t need any special gear to take better pictures of your kids. Your trusty smart phone will do just fine. But if you’re curious about the type of gear I use to photograph my toddler, than I will fill you in!

My camera is the Nikon D610 – which is a full frame camera and I absolutely love it! My starting camera was the Nikon D5100 (linked is the Nikon D5300 which is really similar, just a newer version) and I would recommend that camera to anyone! I loved it so much. That is the perfect first camera.

My go to lens is the Sigma 24mm 1.4 ART lens. This lens is super sharp and one of my favorites because it allows you to get in close and get details shots, as well as getting environmental shots without being a thousand miles away. Since it’s so wide, my shots might make it look like I am far away from my son, but in reality, I am right next to him, making sure he is safe. I love this lens! I also love just how different each of my shots are when I use it. This lens is also great for indoor, documentary photography (which is great when photographing toddlers!). I really could use just this lens and be 100% ok with my photography.

I just recently got the Sigma 85mm 1.4 lens. This lens is great when you want a nice creamy background. I have yet to really give this lens a good review, but it’s growing on me! The downside to this lens and photographing children is that you have to be pretty far away from the child. When I use this lens, I always make sure I have a helper. One that can be fairly close to the child, but out of my frame, just in case. It’s very important to make sure the child is safe. Safety first, mamas!

And that’s pretty much it for my gear list. I like to keep it somewhat simple. Again, I could literally just use my Nikon D610 paired with the Sigma 24 all day everyday and be 100% ok with that. Find a lens that works for you and rock it! And also, smart phones work just as well. Iphones have great cameras! If I had an iphone I’m sure I’d be using it wayyyyy more. Just practice, practice, practice! That goes for any camera!

check out my Compositions to Consider When Photographing a Toddler post

Photographing a Toddler 101

This post contains affiliate links.  Thank you in advance for supporting Aly Dawn Photography!

photographing toddlers is easy peasy

Ok, kind of.

I feel like when you follow these tips, photographing toddlers is easy peasy. But, for me, it hasn’t always been easy!

I’m a mom to a one year old (as of this post date!) so photographing toddlers is fairly new to me. It took me a while to understand how to photograph a toddler. And I will be honest with you, it took a lot of patience and practice. And even now, I am no expert. But I now enjoy the images I get of my son.

The number one thing I can offer you is patience. You have to be patient with your child. Don’t get mad at them! Don’t get discouraged! They are, after all, only toddlers. 😉

my tips to photographing toddlers

Mom photography tips

1. plans change, you can’t expect to get that perfect shot

If you’re like me at all, you probably plan out your photos a little. You probably have some sort of ‘vision’ that you want to capture. When photographing toddlers, it’s ok to have a vision, but remember, anything can change. You might have a vision of capturing a smiling toddler running towards you, when what you get is a cranky, crying mess who won’t move a muscle. Or who just wants you to hold them. Plans change. And that’s ok. The toddler is ‘in charge’ so to speak, when it comes to photography plans. Just remember to be patient!

Mom Photography Tips

2. make it fun

Toddlers love fun. It’s like it’s a part of them. And they’re so cute about it, too! So, remember to make taking pictures of them fun. Don’t always make them sit and be still to get a beautiful portrait of them. They love to move and run – so let them. Pull out some bubbles and photograph the magic that happens (trust me, it’s magic). Let them run around the yard and run around with them. You’ll have fun, and they’ll have fun. Win-win in my book!

Also, making funny noises is probably my favorite trick for photographing toddlers. My son loves it when I make silly noises at him! He’ll make them right back and give me some really funny smiles!

Photographing a Toddler 101

3. capture the everyday moments

Yes, getting pictures where your subject is looking at the camera is fun and important, but try to take a picture with some part of the environment in it. Take a picture of something your toddler does everyday.

Maybe nap time – try to take a picture of them sleeping! Do they always eat breakfast in their high chair? Photograph it (plus they are confined, high chairs are PERFECT for getting some of those portraits you really want…as are swings!). The everyday moments can really be quite beautiful, if you let them!

Capturing images with any older siblings is also a fun way to capture the everyday moments. I only have one child, but maybe in a few years I can come back and update this post to include a picture with siblings. 😉

Mom photography tips

4. look for light – but don’t let it hinder you

You should look for beautiful light in all of your images, but remember one thing: life doesn’t always happen in beautiful light. There have been countless times where my son has done something extremely funny and cute when it’s dark and there’s not good light. I take the picture anyways. Because down the road, the moment will mean more to me than the light.

That being said, you should look for the light whenever you can! Photography is all about the light. Remember that! When there’s good light, there’s usually a good photograph waiting to be made.

Try to persuade your child to play in the pretty light. And then wait for that special moment to happen.

Photographing a Toddler 101

5. have a helper

When you are photographing your toddler and you might need to be far away (for example, in the image above I was pretty far away because I had my Sigma 85 lens on) be sure you have a helper who will stay near the baby, just in case something were to go amiss.

In almost all of my outdoor images, I always have my trusty helper, my husband! He’s always there to keep my son in a safe place (my son loves to wander off). Plus having a helper will help you not lose your cool when the little one doesn’t behave. Because they very rarely actually behave!!

Photographing a toddler

6. put the camera down

Get your shots in, have your fun, then put the camera away and enjoy the fun with your family! Your toddler doesn’t always want to remember a camera in their face. And your husband probably doesn’t want to be the only one providing entertainment to your toddler! So, remember to put that camera down and enjoy family time! You won’t regret it. It will be worth it (just make sure you get the shots you want before you put the camera down!).

photographing toddlers 101

Would you be interested in a full on course of photographing toddlers/children? Let me know in the comments below! I am trying to think of some new class ideas. 🙂

Thanks for stopping by.