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How to Grab Your Child's Attention for Family Photos: Tips and Tricks

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Kay is a young mother, amateur photographer and full-time working Canadian with many tricks and words of advice up her fleecy plaid sleeves.

Candid birthday smiles from one sweet pea!

Candid birthday smiles from one sweet pea!

How to Capture Your Child's Attention for a Photo Shoot

Not only is it hard to manage to get your child fully dressed every day, let alone out the door, but it is even harder to get them to pay attention to a complete stranger who is taking photos of them. Here is the first tip for captivating that wild child's attention.

Pack Snacks

Firstly, make sure you pack lots of snacks. Children love snacks and not only are these snacks going to make them have more energy, but they are going to keep them motivated for the time it may take to complete the photos (yes, I know bribery is bad, but sometimes we must go there).

Parents, by taking this advice you are one step closer to grabbing your child's attention to capture more memorable photos. All it takes is fully stocking those travel containers and sippy cups to make sure your child is well fed because we all know a full belly is a happy belly and a happy belly is one step closer to a smiling, energetic and focused child.

Try Bribery

Now for the on-the-go, no-time-to-spare parents, I would suggest bribery. Yes, I realize this is frowned upon, but you do know how costly photo shoots can be? Do you honestly want to pay that session fee again? Promising their favourite treat or meal after the shoot isn't such a crime, is it? You will thank me later.

Promising their favourite treat for after the photo shoot isn't such a crime, is it?

Promising their favourite treat for after the photo shoot isn't such a crime, is it?

10 Tips to Capture a Young Child's Attention During a Photo Shoot

Stand slightly behind and to the side of the photographer and perform some of the following antics to get those big smiles for the camera.

  • Play peek-a-boo
  • Pretend to fall
  • Make silly sounds
  • Put on bunny ears
  • Play patty cake
  • Make funny faces
  • Play "Simon Says"
  • Clap happily
  • Sing and dance the hokey pokey
  • Be silly and play with their favourite toy

Even if you managed to catch your child's attention for just a quick glance, five seconds is all your photographer needs to get a couple of quick shots in the same pose.

How to Use Toys to Capture Your Child's Attention for Photos

Snacks, check!

Now onto the toys. Yes, some toys are distracting, but they are also eye-catching to your child! Use them to your advantage and bring some of your child's favourite toys to the photo shoot. The toys can be used to persuade your child; if they would like to play with their toys after the photos are finished, they need to do what you ask for the photographer (believe it or not, bribery can do wonders).

You can also use the toy(s) to be silly with behind the photographer to catch your child's attention.

Now be warned though, if your child is very attached to a certain toy, that particular toy may just end up in your photos. Keep this in mind while choosing the toys as to which ones wouldn't be so noticeable in your photos. Maybe leave the 30" plush stuffed animal back at home, just in case.

10 Toy Suggestions for Your Photos

Eye-pleasing toys that won't ruin your photos:

  • Stuffed animal
  • Dinky car
  • Dolly
  • Toy instrument
  • Blocks
  • Puppet
  • Favourite book
  • Toy phone
  • Rubber ball
  • Toy tools (hammer, screwdriver, etc)

Don't Feel Defeated!

As a mother and an amateur photographer myself, I have seen many parents beat up themselves or apologize profusely for their child's behaviour during a photo shoot.

Remember, there is only so much you can do to help, and some days nothing will help, it really just depends on how your child is feeling in that moment. Children are emotional little humans, who are very unpredictable. They are discovering a new world, feeling and experience, each and every day.

All you can do is bring a positive attitude and never let your child see any kind of look of defeat or feeling of negativity.

Just take a deep breath and remind yourself that most of us have all been there.

One day you will look back on these moments and laugh . . . no matter how the photos came out, you got this!

Don't fret if your child isn't smiling. Look how adorable this little lion is!

Don't fret if your child isn't smiling. Look how adorable this little lion is!

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