Picture Perfect: Photographing a Toddler

A month of hints for happy holiday photos

This is the in a series called "Picture Perfect" about how to take great holiday photos.

Aren't happy toddler photos are holiday mainstay? I mean, what can compare with a picture of a little one surrounded by wrapping paper and presents?

For this tutorial, I studied my favorite resource: "How to Photograph Your Family," by Nick Kelsh. I loaded fresh batteries into my flash and cleared my smartcard. Finally I arranged a photo shoot with my neighbor's great-nephew, Jackson Shorr.

Kelsh gives great tips, but he misses some important points. After an hour with Jackson, I came up with my own suggestions for getting a great shot. Try them out and post your photos here at Patch.

  1. Get Fit. Stretch and warm up. Load up on carbs. If your toddler is like Jackson, that photography session will quickly morph into a cardio-workout. My charming subject is a budding rock star. He dances and sings to his own music. He's a man on the move, which meant I was too. Most importantly, I photographed from his level, not mine.
  2. Aim for a shutter speed of 1/60 to 1/125 of a second. You'll stop the action, but you won't have to use a tripod to steady the camera. If your camera is fully automatic, experiment with the sport preset. I also shot in continous mode, so I could get a sequence of photos.
  3. Have a helper and props.  If you're shooting on the holiday, helpers and props will probaby be in abundance. My assistant was Stacy Salit Straub, Jackson's great-aunt. She played with him and distracted him while I crawled around on the floor and took the photos. Because his aunt was in the room, Jackson was comfortable with a stranger taking his photo.
  4. Take lots of photos. Yes, you'll only love one or two. But you don't know which ones they'll be.

Please post your photos, and share techniques and questions in the comments.

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Afi-Odelia Scruggs December 19, 2011 at 07:38 PM
Thanks Susan. Don't forget to share.
Afi-Odelia Scruggs December 22, 2011 at 03:33 AM
@Brian, that is a beautiful photo. What did she use for the holiday card?
Brian D'Antonio December 22, 2011 at 12:21 PM
@Afi-Odelia, I will have to ask her for a copy and post. Similar picture but eyes open.
Amanda Harnocz December 22, 2011 at 12:53 PM
Brian, I'm so glad you shared that picture. I'll say it again: I think it's the most perfect Christmas photo I've ever seen!
Brian D'Antonio December 23, 2011 at 12:27 PM
Thanks Amanda, it does make me smile! I am currently using it as my background on my work computer, makes me smile every morning.


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