5 Tips for Photographing Babies & Toddlers

toni elmer photography urban photo studio 1I spend a fair amount of time perusing photography websites and blogs for ideas and inspiration. I love browsing through the portfolios of first-rate photographers in hopes of gleaning some small morsel of ingenuity from their artistic prowess. 

As I scanned Toni Elmer's gorgeous photos again this afternoon, I couldn't help but notice "trends" in her photographs of babies and toddlers. Here's what I learned from looking through her stunning, crisp, and brilliant photos:

1. Go outside. Indoor photos are overwhelmingly ugly. Unless you have just the right lighting AND a clutter-free space AND a nice backdrop. Those three things are hard to come by in most homes with small children. So walk to the park, go downtown, head out to the forest - anywhere but in the dark corner of your tot's toy-filled room.

toni elmer photography urban photo studio2. Turn off the flash. Natural lighting is best, but try to avoid taking photos at the brightest (10am-2pm) and darkest (before sunrise or after sunset) times of day. Instead, choose early morning or late afternoon (4-7pm - especially one hour before sunset). And, if the day is overcast, that's even better. 

toni elmer photography urban photo studio3. Don't say cheese. Posing is overrated. Capture your little one in his/her element...sleeping, blowing bubbles, examining bugs, swinging on the playground, etc.

4. Choose simple clothing in bright colors. Children don't need to be "made up" or dressed up for photos. They'll stand out just because they're cute. Don't ruin the moment by putting your kid in uncomfortable, scratchy, lacy, branded, or heavily patterned attire. 

toni elmer photography urban photo studio5. Select funky/meaningful accessories and props. If you want your pictures to be modern, edgy, and different than the status quo, use one or two cool props. It's ideal if the prop is something that your child will be enamored by. But consider your little one's age. If you have a snoozing newborn, why not set him in a red wagon or on top of a pile of colorful bath towels? Or try outfitting your toddler in a tutu, a pair of pink cowgirl boots, or a superhero cape. Or give your 2-year-old a cupcake, an ice cream cone, a bubble wand, or an umbrella. Let his/her personality shine.

Finally, don't forget to take lots of photos! That's the beauty of digital cameras. You can just keep "clicking." You may get one extraordinary photo out of twenty (or out of one hundred), but I bet you'll treasure the "out takes" one day too... 

***All photos displayed in this post were taken by Toni Elmer of Urban Photo Studio. If you live in or around Dallas...or if you're rich and famous and can afford to fly a photographer directly to you...you should definitely consider Toni. Her photos are anything but the usual. I am completely smitten.

YOUR TURN: What is your best tip for photographing babies/toddlers?

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19 comments on “5 Tips for Photographing Babies & Toddlers”

  1. These are great tips! I used to take my children to get photographed but now I do it on my own and it is so much more fun & special. These tips will really help me!!! Thank you!

  2. Great tips, Steph. I especially appreciate #3 because my oldest has adopted the fake "Cheese" smile that looks so unnatural but that he cant help doing!

  3. Wow, you have so many great giveaways and tips on your blog! I'll be checking back for sure.

    Here's a question-- at nighttime, is it better to take a too dark no-flash picture or just use the flash? I usually end up taking some really dark pictures because the flash kind of strips away some of the charm of the moment. Sometimes I think I should just use the flash and get a good picture and cut my losses. Oh, and the photo of my son in the teepee, he is NOT actually sleeping. Just pretending. :) And it's a perfect example of one of my
    latenighttoodarknoflash photos.

    Erin from it's your movie

  4. A local professional photographer who started out as a mom wanting to work from home built her business on family photography, focusing on kids. I think you'll see those same trends in her work. When you made your observations, I thought, "That's exactly what Carrie said on her website!" http://www.rhemaphoto.com/ Stuff like the natural environment, no posing, outdoors, etc. She has a knack for drawing out the kids, too, but a parent could develop that with her own kids, I think.

    You've got my wheels turning. I'm about to grab my camera and see what I can draw out of my four! (came here via Twittering Scribbit who linked to this)

  5. What great tips! I'm guilty in the don't say cheese dept. I'm always trying to get my girls to smile...something about their eyes, I think. I totally agree with the previous commenter--getting them still long enough is hard!

  6. Wonderful tips and I couldn't agree more. Kiddos are always in motion so I think the hardest time I have is just getting them still long enough to photograph them :)

  7. I love taking pictures of my kiddos when they are playing. Outside is my favorite...you can't beat the light that glows and highlights their faces:) I just recently took pictures of my son and my husband changing the oil in our truck...they turned out REALLY cool. Let's get together soon to do a photo shoot!!

  8. I am pretty terrible at taking photos most of the time. I desperately need these tips... and a better camera! Your pictures are always so cute, I want to steal them and say they're my own! :)

  9. Outside is definitely the best! If outside isnt' and option though, find a window in your home that lets in good light, create a backdrop with either a sheet or blanket, and you can create your own little photo studio. This works well when you have a winter baby that you don't want to take outside, but you don't want to sacrifice photo quality.
    These aren't professional or anything, but here are some I took of my youngest when he was just a couple weeks old inside (cause he was a little preemie guy and I didn't want him out in November in UT..=))

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