Why is it that our kids do the cutest, funniest things … until we pull out the camera?

Kinda like when you’re pregnant and you see your belly moving around like the baby is somersaults . Then you pull out your phone to record…and they suddenly stop!

Let me share with you some of my tricks I use during sessions with toddlers (and sometimes the big kids too lol). The BEST photos are those filled with genuine smiles and laughter, especially when toddlers are involved. 

Engage Your Toddler

Play Their Favorite Tunes: This is my #1 go-to! Music works like magic. Play your kiddo’s favorite songs and watch them light up. Dance, sing, and be silly together. It's a great way to capture natural smiles and laughter. 

Incorporate Their Favorite Toy: Bring along their favorite toy or stuffed animal. It can be a comfort item and also a great prop for candid shots.

Use Funny Faces and Sounds: Never underestimate the power of a funny face or a silly sound. Peek-a-boo, funny animal noises, or even a playful 'I’m going to get you' can lead to the cutest expressions.

Tantrum? Do something they recognize: Sometimes if you sing a song they love or ask them to say their ABCs it changes their mood really quickly. Or…which leads to the next point…

Take Breaks: Toddlers have short attention spans. Don't push for continuous shooting. Take breaks, let them play, and then come back for more snaps. It’s also a great opportunity for fun, candid shots!!

Use prompts: I have a handful of silly prompts or questions to ask toddlers that can get real smiles and fun candid shots! Try some of these:

  • Do you know who lives in my camera? *insert favorite character*! Look really close – can you see him? He jumps out when I take a photo! *Snaps photo* Did you see him???

  • *Point to your ear* Is this my nose? This is my nose, right? This is how I smell flowers? *Stick a pretend flower up to your ear* Mmmmm smells good! 

  • Let’s play a game of “who can laugh the loudest?” Ready 1-2-3 laugh!! (Pro tip – the REAL laugh will come a few seconds after the loud laugh)

  • Does a cat say “woof woof??” A cat goes “woof woof” right?? No?? Are you sure? I’m pretty sure a cat says “woof woof!” How about a cow? What does a cow say? “Meowwwww?”

  • Ask them to tell mommy or their sibling their favorite (animal, toy, tv show, etc). They might not laugh but it’ll get cute “whispering” shots and you might get a giggle or two! 
Mom and son making Christmas cookies in New Gloucester Maine.
Family making Christmas cookies at home in New Gloucester Maine.
Family fun during Christmas cooking photo session in New Gloucester Maine.

How YOU can help your toddler take more genuine photos and have more fun!

Lower expectations: Whether your photo session is an impromptu one with your phone or you’re hiring a photographer, the best way to be pleasantly surprised is to lower your expectations. 

We run on the kiddos time at a session. They are naturally curious and full of energy, which means they may not always cooperate with our vision.


Instead of aiming for perfect poses, embrace the candid and unscripted moments!

These unfiltered shots often turn out to be the most authentic and heartwarming – and you get to see more of your child’s personality! 

Don’t Stress: I know this can be incredibly difficult...but hear me out. Toddlers are incredibly perceptive, and they can pick up on your anxiety. 

If you're relaxed and happy, they're more likely to be the same! 

When you're having fun together, those genuine smiles and expressions will naturally emerge, resulting in photos that truly reflect the joy of the moment.

Whether you’re headed to a professional photoshoot or you’re taking photos at home with your cell phone, the key to capturing those priceless, spontaneous moments with your little ones isn't about the perfect pose or smile.

It’s about using some tricks to get real laughs & candid moments and have fun with it! Those are the moments we cherish as parents, right? 

Do you want to book a family session? Click here to fill out my contact form and let’s chat!