How to photograph toddlers: advice by South London child photographer

10th November 2016
As a professional child photographer in London, parents often say to me "My toddler is so difficult to photograph. He never sits still and when I ask him to smile he makes a terrible face". So I thought I would share with you my top tips for photographing children between the ages of 2-5.

1. Make taking photos fun. Most toddlers will refuse to sit in one place for long and hate being told to smile, especially when they know it's something you really want! My approach is to throw a blanket over a bed for a plain background and let them play on it. Telling them to jump while you count to 3 and then landing on their bottom will get natural smiles every time!!

Child on tummy in London photography session Child laughing under blanket Photo of happy child laughing

2. Take photos in a place they are going to be relaxed in. This is the reason why I have my child photography sessions at your home rather than at a studio where kids aren't as relaxed.

3. Never ask your child to say cheese. This results in that weird grimacey smile toddlers are so good at! The best thing to do is make them laugh. This works better if you have someone behind you making silly faces or telling jokes. But make sure that person is right by your shoulder or your child will be looking slightly off-centre.

Portrait of child laughing on bed Black and white toddler at photography shoot London child with hands in air

4. Put your camera into continuous shooting mode. As toddlers move so quickly you will need to take a lot of photos to capture one where you get the perfect smile and pose.

5. Go to a local park. Taking photos on swings or slides slows down your toddler and makes capturing portraits of them much easier. You can also photograph them running as your shutter speed can be a lot faster outside when you don't need to use a flash.

6. Take photos of them just playing or being themselves. Great pictures don't need to be posed or have your child looking directly at the camera.

Child on playground in London park Photo of toddler playing football Photography of little boy in Clapham

7. Ideas for siblings include sitting one inside the others legs, putting one on top of the other, getting them to hug each other. Have a smiling competition. Alternate between smiling and pulling faces (because that moment after they pull the face you will get natural smiles). Above all, have fun with it and don't be afraid to be silly yourself!!

Siblings on top of each other in London park Child photographer: black and white photo of brothers Sisters cuddle at professional photography session

And if you need to, use bribes. Stickers and chocolate always work well :-)

To book a child photography session in London or Surrey please call Sara-Jane on 07958 734184 or email