Photo Tips

Recipe for the Family Photo with Toddlers!

Me Ra Koh

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Today, let’s work through a Photo-Recipe for getting the Family Photo with Toddlers when you are outdoors!

If you LOVE taking pictures of Toddlers and have success left and right, raise your hand!  No hands?  Thank you for being honest readers.  🙂  I love toddlers, but wow, they are tough to photograph.  If you have toddlers of your own or plan to shoot a family photo with toddlers as your subject, come prepared with a serious Game Plan.  Toddlers may be small, but they are oh-so smart.  They know you want a great photo(s), and when those little busy bodies know what you want they LOVE to play hard to get.  It’s a game that takes you being pro-active and staying a step ahead.  And in the end, not only will your family photo with toddlers session be exhausting, it will also be super rewarding!

There are a few elements to this family shoot in New York’s Central Park.  Let’s start with the Game Plan of capturing the family all together in a way that doesn’t stress out the toddler and at the same time shows off the beautiful Setting of Central Park!

1. Start Wide to Develop Rapport

Start wide (zoomed out) giving your little one a sense of freedom…that is also controlled at the same time.  I love to have the mom and dad walk with their little one in the middle.  The little one gets to walk, but he stays in the control of mom and dad (because we know that otherwise he may take off running, right?!).  If they walk away from me, the toddler doesn’t see me and forgets about the camera.  It gets a  family photo with toddlers session off to a great start.

Found the perfect Photo-Recipe for the Family Photo with Toddlers from Me Ra Koh

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  1. Michele says:

    Another great tip MeRa! I also find it extremely helpful to ask the client to let go of preconceived notions of the “family photograph” where all eyes are on my (the photographer) and instead enjoy the photographers ability to capture what a family really is at this age (which usually = wild, free and very candid!). You captured this notion beautifully in your photo shoot! I often have to remind my clients with toddlers that the more relaxed they are during the shoot, the more relaxed the toddler/kids will be and the better the portraits will be!

  2. Kristy says:

    Thanks Mera..your timing on this post was PERFECT! I have a shoot like this next week! If only I could fast-forward to your next post about interacting with the toddler 🙂 It’s good to get the freedom to “photo coach”, that’s usually what I’m afraid of doing, so now I feel a lot more confident.

  3. GayleV says:

    My favorite photographs are definitely the ones that tell a story or capture a moment and not just photographs of everyone looking my way.

  4. thanks so much, Me Ra! i really appreciate you sharing all of these gems! i have a shoot coming up very similar to the one you described coming up on the Nate Berkus show…3 toddlers, 2 of which are twins =) wish me luck!

  5. Rhonda says:

    Love this. I wish I’d have had this advice last week. I did do lots of pausing though 🙂

    I’ve been waiting for the announcement of when the next NB episode would be. I’ll be watching!!!

  6. Kim G. says:

    this is awesome! Thanks Can’t wait to see the show.

  7. Andrea j says:

    Thanks for the great tips!! I love trying out your photo tips/recipes.

  8. Diane says:

    Thanks for your tips!!! They are always awesome!! Quick question how do you deal with the parents interjecting to have the child look at you. I am good at getting the little one to listen to me until they start telling the little one to look and get more active with the directions…

  9. Me Ra Koh says:

    Diane, great question! I’ve had that situation a number of times. And I totally get it because as a mom, I know what it’s like to “want” to make sure all the kids are cooperating for this moment. But then I’m the one who can end up looking stressed in every shot if I’m not careful. 🙂 We’ve got to help moms and dads from this fatal error.

    If the parents are being a little overbearing, I’ll tell the parents that from my experience the little one will get overwhelmed fast if multiple people are giving him directions. So I’ll ask them to stay focused on me, while I work to engage their little one. That way, when the little one looks up and smiles, the parents are all in place. I also blanket this request by telling them that this may take a few minutes, that’s normal, and I know we’ll get the shot they are hoping for.

    By speaking confidence into the situation, the parents can be more at ease and let me guide the interaction. But it takes me speaking out in a firm but kind confidence to get their attention. Hope that helps!

    And Michele, I LOVE your ideas! Thank yo for chiming in girl!

    So glad you are all liking the Photo-Recipe! You’ll get a kick out of Friday’s segments on the Nate Berkus Show, and Kristy, I’ll try to get the next part up earlier in the week than later for you. 🙂


  10. ajira says:

    Great advice Me Ra! You too Michelle! I also think it’s important to remember that it’s not just their little faces and smiles that are memorable at this age. Especially since they’re usually running away from you!! So I also focus on reminding the parents to go for being playful and relaxed with each other. I get loads of pictures of their kids playing. I show them a quick shot of the ‘classic’ frame so they can just relax and have fun instead of worrying about it. Thanks for the tip about dealing with the parents interjecting. That can be a tough one since it’s almost impossible to look relaxed when someone’s telling you to! LOL

  11. Those pictures are amazing! Which lens were you using?

  12. Natalie Johnson says:

    Love the photos, and I always love knowing EXACTLY what the recipe was. It helps as I get more comfortable with manual and active toddlers. I have had my share of 2 year olds lately. Oh my gosh, just looking at those three little ones that you had to do on the NB show makes my head swim, and to add to the distraction the audience sitting there watching. Can’t wait to see how you handled this one. The family in the pictures above look a little familiar to me:)

  13. Cyndi says:

    Merah, beautiful job! Can you share what lens you used too?

  14. Me Ra says:

    Hi ladies!

    I shot all the photos above with one of my FAVORITE lenses for portraits. It’s the Sony/Carl Zeiss glass, 24-70mm, f/2.8 Zoom. Here is a direct link so you can see it!


  15. Cyndi says:

    Thanks Me ra!
    Also what kind of post processing did you do on these pics? I love the look- the contrast is beautiful!!!

  16. Me Ra says:

    Hi again Cyndi!
    For post process, I use Adobe’s Lightroom. I may take out a little of the saturation and up the contrast a smidge, but that’s about it. The color processing chip is so exact in the Sony cameras that I don’t have to do much at all!

  17. alicia says:

    Love the photo recipe! Thanks for sharing.

  18. Ania says:

    Very useful tips! Thanks for that!