Two-year-olds are adorably cute, but aren't exactly known for being especially cooperative when you stick them in front of a camera. With a bit of planning, however, you can increase your odds of getting a portrait that you'll be proud to display in your home. Even if you're not an experienced photographer, simply following some basic portrait tips will drastically improve the quality of your shots.
The best portraits are those that reflect a toddler's unique personality. To keep your child comfortable, schedule a portrait session in familiar surroundings. Instead of a forced smile, you'll get a natural grin if you photograph your child playing on the swings or digging in the sandbox at his favorite park. Outdoor portraits also tend to be more flattering because the abundance of natural light creates a pleasing glow instead of the harsh shadows that can sometimes occur when taking portraits indoors.
Traditionally, photographers recommend choosing either solid or subtly patterned clothing for a portrait session to allow the focus to remain on the subject's face. With a toddler, comfort is key as well. If your little girl is cranky because her shoes are too tight and the fabric on her dress makes her neck itch, she won't be in the mood to smile for the camera. Dress comfortably for the best results.
Experimenting with a variety of different poses will ensure that you get at least one picture that you truly love. For a shy toddler, have him look down or off to the distance instead of directly at the camera for a natural-looking portrait that captures his innocence. If you're working with an active, athletic child, get down on the ground and shoot up so the toddler appears tall, resulting in a memorable portrait. If you're photographing a child with his older siblings, place the tallest child in the center with the shorter children on each side for a unique perspective.
Props add interest to a shot and help calm nervous tots by giving them something to focus on besides the camera. A football, a toy tractor or a little red wagon are excellent choices for photo props when it comes to a young boy's portrait. For a little girl, try snapping shots with a doll, a princess wand or a tiny tea set. Vintage children's books and stuffed Teddy bears are ideal photo props for children of either sex. For holiday portraits, colorfully wrapped presents or large Christmas tree ornaments can make for a pretty picture that you'll be proud to send out with your family's Christmas card.