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5 Tricks for Getting Babies & Toddlers to Look at the Camera

Fess up, Mama: You used to take artsy shots of sunsets, award-winning dishes at Michelin-star restaurants and candidly staged shots from vacations to exotic hot spots around the world. These days? You get that “storage full” message from your iPhone weekly thanks to your paparazzi-style method of documenting Baby’s every movement.

No matter how old your children become, how far away they roam or how annoyed they are when you take another photo of them, you’ll forever treasure images of your little ones. The only downfall of being an amateur photographer is figuring out how to get your tot to actually look at the camera, a skill that’s mastered by lifestyle photographers. Award-winning family and wedding photo master Victoria Grace has let us in on the secrets of capturing that frame-worthy shot.

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1. Have a conversation about something they like

If you have a toddler, it’s often those perfectly timed moments that make for the best images. Unfortunately, even if the lighting is killer and your tot has yet to mess up their pigtails, if they’re not engaging with the camera, your image might not live up to your expectations. To get kids to connect with her, Grace gets the scoop on the child’s favorite things before starting the shoot. “I’m usually pretty good at catching a genuine smile when I ask kids engaging questions. I might say something like ‘Who is your favorite Paw Patrol puppy?’ which gets them excited,” she shares.

2. Invite Grandma over

Drooling over the idea of photos from your upcoming family getaway? If you want to be in the sweet photos with your kids or you’re trying to capture a family photo, it might be tough to have a stranger capture your seaside dinner night. Budget permitting, consider taking your mom or mother-in-law along for the vacation. Having a grandparent take the photos could be helpful because the kids recognize — and love — this person, says Grace, making them more likely to maintain eye contact.

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3. Challenge them to “see themselves”

Once your toddler is old enough to be defiant, you might struggle even more to get them to look in your general direction, especially when you have your iPhone in hand. (In fact, they might ignore you just out of spite.) Instead of saying “smile for the photo!” Grace suggests challenging your children to take advantage of their competitive nature. “When all else fails, I’ll tell kids if they look into the camera, they can see themselves. A lot of them will really try, making for plenty of eye contact photos,” she reveals.

4. Have a wiggle break

Trying your best to get a photo of your firstborn holding your newborn, and they just won’t sit still? Grace says to encourage them to dance it out by making it fun and interactive. “I never shoot more than a few minutes without walking to a new location, taking a wiggle break or letting the kiddo move around a bit. It helps ward off the cranky that comes from sitting still for too long when they’d rather be anywhere else,” she says. Once they’ve moved and grooved, she suggests saying something along the lines of ‘OK, just a few more photos and we’ll dance it out again!’

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5. Read their favorite book

Have a younger babe that prefers to sleep rather than pose for the camera? Grace says with babies who are under a year old, reading a book can help create beautiful images. While you’re facing your baby, have your partner or an older sibling read their favorite book out loud. They’ll smile as they hear the various parts of the story, giving you time to click away.

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