Sparkle, sunshine and smiles.  Those three words not only sum up the styling for this shoot, but Miss Jolene’s personality as well!  This spunky little lady has always been a favorite to photograph with those stunning blue eyes of hers, but now that she’s growing up and developing her own personality, she’s even more fun!
The thing I love about three-year-olds is that you never know who you’re going to get.  It could be a “NO!” day, or you could get lucky and get a “yes” day.  Either way, the trick to photographing a toddler is to just let them be themselves. You would be surprised how many parents think that saying “Sit down and smile at the camera!” actually works.  Trust me, the last thing a three-year-old wants to do is sit still!  Plus, telling a toddler to smile will guarantee you some very funny looking, very forced smiles that you probably won’t even like.

That’s exactly why we shoot in teams around here.  There’s always 2-4 of us in the studio helping out on any given shoot.  We’ve got endless amounts of tricks and we know exactly what works for every age and personality type.  For Jolene, it was a combination of letting her just be her sweet little contemplative self, tickles, and making games out of things.  Some go-to games we use are:

  • Stickers in the place we want them to sit or stand.  Sometimes they are a “magic button” for bubbles!
  • Playing catch.  Ask them “do you think you can catch this ball?”  The answer is almost guaranteed a very proud, “yes!”  Don’t throw it right away- the anticipation of being able to catch it produces very excited smiles.  But definitely be prepared for the big “I did it!” smile.
  • Tickles.  Our go-to tickle/smile maker combo is the ever so popular, Sophie The Giraffe.
  • Ask silly questions.  For a child this age, ask them about things they are learning.  “What sound does a cow make?  Does a cow say… meow?”  cracks them up.
  • Say things that just don’t even make sense.  Turkey Toes, Frog Spaghetti, Banana Pants… anything works.
  • Singing their favorite songs and dancing
  • Ask funny questions about mom and dad or their siblings.  “Does daddy have stinky toes!?”  “Do YOU have stinky toes!?”
  • And our favorite, “Whoosh!” works on just about anybody.  Just grab a big piece of whiteboard and do a little peek-a-boo fan on them.  Little boys can get a little crazy with it and “let the wind knock ’em down!” so take caution 🙂

For Jolene, she fell for just about every one of those tricks.  Not that she needed much help- she was such a little ham and loved being in front of the camera.  But now you know what to do to get those little wiggle worms to sit still, have fun, and just be themselves!