How to Take Great Fall Photos of Your Toddler

No Photographer? No Problem.

Fall is here! When temperatures drop and the leaves start to turn vibrant reds and yellows, many families hire a professional photographer and head to the neighborhood park to take annual family photos to use for social sharing, framing and holiday cards.

But it’s not just family portraits. Fall photo ops are everywhere — pumpkin patches, apple picking, fall foliage, hayrides and Halloween all present must-capture moments. Since few (read: none) of us travel with a personal photographer, upping our photo game is a must. And it’s easier than you think.

For Tots, Timing Matters.

La Fée

There’s a reason photographers love the golden hour, the hour just after sunrise and just before sunset. The diffused, soft light creates perfect conditions for flattering and flawless photos.

But for little kids, timing matters. To avoid tantrums and general crabbiness, stick to a toddler’s schedule as much as possible. If that means delaying a photo shoot in order to stick to normal nap times, the pay off in good behavior and cooperation is worth missing the day’s the best light.

Do your best to avoid taking pictures at noon on a clear day when the sun is strongest. The harsh light will wash out vibrant colors.

Find a Great Setting.

Shareable fall photos require a fabulous fall setting. Take time to scout locations – think local parks, arboretums, lakes or forests. You can even take your toddler a few times before you start snapping photos -- this will help your little one feel comfortable in the space and give you a good idea of any pitfalls you may encounter. 

Meet Toddlers at Their Level

Andrew Rich

Taking pictures of toddlers who are constantly on the go presents a special challenge. If you photograph young kids from above, you’re likely only getting the tops of their heads in the photos. Instead, for more interesting shots, capture the action by crouching down toward the ground and photographing children at their level.

Get Flashy.

It might sound counterintuitive, but if you want to capture brilliant colors, turn your flash on, even during the day. The flash also will fill shadows if you are trying to photograph a subject in the foreground, like a toddler, as well as something in the background, like a pumpkin patch.  

Composition Counts.

Oleksiy Maksymenko

Amateur photographers often will position subjects in the middle of a frame, but if you want to set up a shot like a pro, use the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds divides a frame into a grid consisting of three vertical and three horizontal sections. If you can, position your subject to the right or left of center along the grid lines.

The rule of thirds works for most shots, but not if you want to capture a large group of people, like a big family. Instead, position the group in the center of the frame with the shortest people in front so everyone can be seen. In addition, setting up a group shot around a bench or steps with some people standing and others sitting will make a photo more interesting.

When in Doubt, Bribe.

It may not be a great strategy for parenting in general, but if you have a limited amount of time to get cute shots of your toddler for your holiday card, bribing may be the best way to go. A small toy or promise of a treat – particularly for older toddlers who understand incentive, can make your attempt go much smoother.

Don’t Force Smiles.

The best shots aren’t always the ones where toddlers are looking straight on at the camera with a toothy grin. Instead of demanding smiles and yelling, “Look at mommy,” let little kids interact with their environment. You could even bring a few favorite toys to get your toddler engaged in an activity. The less aware he is of the camera, the more likely you’ll get some fun pictures.

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