The Creative Mama » inspiring art, encouraging women

Photographing 2-year olds … eeek!

I have joked numerous times that I am going to charge more when I do photo shoots of 2-year olds. They’re too old to be amused by your camera, more likely to be scared of strangers (i.e. you) and are not old enough to be bribed.

It took me dozens of shoots with 2-year olds, but I have finally learned what to do. It doesn’t solve all the difficulties, but it definitely helps.

Arm yourself with props.

Props give them stuff to do (meaning they’ll quit running for at least 5-seconds to allow you to adjust your settings) and also make for adorable photos.

This past fall I did a shoot of a little girl I just adore. It was her 2-year old photos and I knew I had to be prepared. I talked to mom beforehand to find out some things she’s interested in.

Mom: “Yellow … she loves yellow. She loves her piano and she loves balloons.”  Me: “Perfect! I’ll bring a few items of my own as well!

Apart from the balloons that she only wanted to see fly away in the air ..


… all of the props that we brought along proved to work wonders. Z had plenty to keep her entertained in a specific area (this is so important when trying to work with natural light!) and I was able to bounce around from “prop” to “prop”and document this child’s age in a way that was true to who she is today.


(the fabric is simply a vintage curtain I found at an antique store. I secured it to the brick wall with duct tape. At first she thought it’d be funny to hide behind, but then later walked past it, turning to look at me at just the right moment. The wire basket I filled with wild flowers before she arrived and then encouraged her to add her own. )

So, if you have one of those crazy 2-year olds yourself or ever plan to photograph one, my best advice to you is to:

  • prepare (find a unique location, safe for a toddler and pick a time of day when the light is at its best.)
  • plan with the mom to incorporate props that help show who the child is at this stage.
  • still be prepared to run in circles, sweat the shoot away, but return to your office knowing you got beautiful photos!

About Jessica

Jessica is a full-time lifestyle photographer mainly focusing on families and children. In her free time she loves a good memoir, is a sucker for reality TV, loves DIY projects and is addicted to traveling the world. Find her at 503 Photography and browse through her blog to get a peek into the girl behind the lens!

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  • jasmine johnson

    these are awesome tips jessica! i think i\’ve twisted my ankle twice trying to chase down enthusiastic 2 year olds :)

  • marta

    As a photographer handling any child from the walking stage to about 3 is a challenge. These are great tips! I love the rock candy instead of a lolly!

  • stacey woods

    Such great tips, Jessica! I love that fabric ~ and I never would have thought of tape. How simple! Fantastic images.

  • Nikky

    Awesome tips! :) With a soon to be two year old (gah!) and the fact I’ve taken most of his milestone pics… except a few… I was starting to sweat at how I was going to accomplish this feat! Thanks So much!!! :)


    Terrific advice!! Gorgeous pics. I use many of those tips myself! What a cutie.

  • Rachel

    There are some awesome tips here! Thanks so much! I will try some of these out soon. Such need to find a model :)

  • Jill

    Great ideas!

  • julia

    thanks for the wonderful ideas….I love how the props you used still look so natural.

    how do you deal with a whole family that looks at you and just stands there??? I never feel like I can get people to loosen up.

  • Kirsty-Abu Dhabi

    Great article – I swear I was about to give up photographing 2 year olds altogether – my own included!!! They are such a contrast – so exhausting, but when they go well, so rewarding!

  • AmyC

    That\’s fantastic Jessica!!! Great ideas and you got some wonderful shots!!!! You are amazing! :)