Toddlers are famous for doing what we ask them to do immediately-right?

Ha! Oh, don't we wish! If your sweet toddlers are anything like mine. we need all the tips to keep them in one place long enough to capture their sweet smiles. As a family photographer in Southern Pines, NC most of the families I photograph have at least one kid under 5, so today I am sharing ALLL my favorite tricks to getting the best toothy grins from those babes!

1.Call them the wrong name.

Kiddos laugh at the unexpected, right? So when you are asking your kid to smile, try calling them a silly name. They will likely stop whatever they are doing and look at you and laugh. You'll get a genuine smile at the moment-click! You've got your photo!

toddler at playground

2. Ask them to look into your camera lens to tell you what colors they see.

If you've shot a session with me in Pinehurst or Southern Pines, you certainly have seen me use this trick! My favorite trick in the book, this one is GUARNATEED to catch their attention. Simply ask your child to look into your lens (or camera) and tell you what colors they see. Oftentimes lenses will catch the light and produce a nice color on the lens. Sometimes, we aren't that lucky but the trick works either way in getting your child to stop all their action and strike some intense camera eye contact.

toddler girl smiling

3.Give them something to hold!

In the Sandhills, we are so lucky to have fantastic greenery and long grass in the summer, spring, and fall! In Southern Pines we are blessed with some gorgeous fields of long grass, Pinehurst has fantastic garden areas, and Whispering Pines and Aberdeen feature similar handy landscapes for grabbing something on the fly! When we give the kids something to do, we can oftentimes slow their fast moving bodies down to get some great up close images.

4.Make it a game!

As a mom and self described kid at heart, I LOVE playing games during our sessions. I want to make the session enjoyable for the entire family, but to be honest, that really starts with winning over that smallest kiddo in your family. You'll see me play Red Light Green Light, or Simon Says to get the child engaged and laughing. These are also a great way to get your child to do what you need them to do for that family photo you desire!

girl in superhero costume

5.Don't bribe them...surprise them!

My last tip is an important one! I think sessions work best when the kiddos have an item or a "prize" that they win at the end of the session. The anticipation of not know what that is actually makes them behave more than if we tell them "We can have candy at the end." If we say, "At the end of the session, we will find the treasure!" they are MUCH more likely to play along during the session because they don't know what that prize will be!