Tips for Smooth Family Photo Session with Toddlers & Preschoolers

March 04, 2022 Estimated reading time: 6 min

My kids don't behave. My kid never stays in a place for a second. My kids give fake and forced smiles when I asked them to smile. I better wait until my kids are older to book a family session. It's a lost cause, my kids are just wild. I hear these comments ALL the time and I smile. Kids are kids and that's what life with toddlers and preschoolers is all about. That unpredictability and candidness are what steal my heart. Today, I'll share some tips for a stress-free family photo session with toddlers and preschoolers. For me, that's THE best age for family photos ❤️

Estimated Reading Time: 7 min

What you call misbehaving is what drives the true essence of a family photo session. Why? because your toddler & preschooler will call the shots. How? we'll follow their lead, there are shy kids, energetic kids, calmed kids, and every range in between. The photographer's job is to read your kid and ADAPT. We'll build a relationship with your kids based on trust. For that to happen, we will let them BE. When kids feel in control, heard, cared for, and not rushed... magic happens. 

What YOU as a parent see as a red flag (you might even apologize for X behavior), we see as an opportunity to explore your little one's personality.  

Lifestyle photo sessions are all about capturing in-between moments.

Family photo sessions are supposed to be FUN. If you embrace the chaos, the battle is won. There WILL be chaos. But you know what? there is an endless raw beauty in that chaos. 

Today, I'll share my vision and tips for family photo sessions with:

  • Toddlers
  • Preschoolers
  • Kindergartners

Are toddlers too difficult to photograph in family sessions?

Nop. Well, it depends ❤️

It depends on what your expectations are. Toddlers LOVE their parents are attached to them at the beginning of the photo session. This makes it THE perfect opportunity to capture that RAW relationship and bond. After a while, the kids open up and the fun begins.  

Don't force your toddler to go an 'play' or go and 'pose' for photos. It takes time to warm up. Chances are, your kid has NEVER seen the photographer before. It's a new person. We'll win your kid over (I promise), taking it very slow is key. I LOVE this age. Tender love.

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Tips for family photos with toddlers

Good, so now you know that it's doable! You CAN hire a professional photographer and have breathtaking memories of your toddler!

Let's get into the details of HOW to make it happen!

How do I get the 2-year-old toddlers to pose for pictures?

At this age is all about starting SLOW and getting into a faster pace. There is literally NO posing involved. Why? because if you're outdoors there is no fixed studio. No space limits. Exploring is what we'll do.

If your adored toddler is shy, we go usually go in this flow (give or take, every session IS unique, no script):

  • Parents get to snuggle their little ones while we chat. They feel SO safe in YOUR arms. Embrace that hug. Snuggler with your toddler and make him feel safe. If he/she sees YOU enjoying your conversation with me, you signal to your toddler that everything is OK.
  • Let him explore by himself/herself or with siblings. If your toddler has older siblings, chances are THEY are already exploring and having fun. After a while, your little one will be craving THAT fun. THIS IS MY FAVORITE PART. The places they'll go, the adventures they'll invent, the games they'll play ❤️
  • Group hug with a touch of tickle war! who doesn't like to be snuggling with the family? Real laughter takes place at that moment.
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How do I keep toddlers still in pictures?

Great question! In a blink... haha if I'm lucky! 

My trick for those adorable calmed moments is to make it SUPER fun.

I will never ask a kid to sit down and smile at me. This little one for example was playing a game with me, I asked her to 'hike' those tiny rocks to see how the 'view' was from there! Can you spot that bird at the top of the branch from your new rock chair? 

She probably stayed there for 30 seconds if at ALL! But that's ALL I need. You're hiring a professional for a reason? we're ALWAYS ready. We can predict what could happen when we prompt your kid with a game. It's so fun!

If you're looking for sitting photos, then a studio photographer is what I recommend. If you're craving candid memories as they unfold with some unexpected sitting portraits, wohoooo. You'll LOVE and lifestyle outdoors session! It's all about exploring and playing games!

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How do I photograph toddlers outside?

It's all about embracing Mother Nature. Every season has its charm. In summer, wildflowers are a thing! 

Reading the family's dynamics and embracing them is the key to enjoying our time outdoors. It's a combination of letting them play alone and having parents participate. There is little guidance, just prompts 'can you give this flower to mom', 'do you want to go an explore that trail with mom', 'tickle war!'... HOW they do it and WHEN they do it, is 100% decided by your kids. They bring the magic! 

Sometimes, no prompts are needed! Once you're ALL IN embracing your kids, moments just happen. I'm there documenting what my heart feels. I get to capture how LOVE feels in YOUR family!


How can I get toddlers to smile for pictures?

I would change the word SMILE for LAUGH. How can I get my toddler to laugh with that adorable face that melts my heart?

When you play and match his/her energy, your kid gets happy. If your kid is happy, chances are that laughter follows. What does your kid like to do? You know him/her best! Embrace your little's personality and let the happiness overflow! 

Good laughter will give THE MOST authentic smiles!

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Learn More about our FAMILY Sessions! Are preschoolers too difficult to photograph in family sessions?

Nop. Well, it depends 💛

Again, it's a matter of expectations vs. reality. Chances are your preschooler will want to explore the place as soon as you arrive. Independence is key. They want to feel in control of their environment and decisions. Let them take you places, exploring a location with a preschooler is as fun as it can be! 

This age is all about candid moments. We (photographers) have literally NO IDEA what's going to happen. No script. We go with the flow and we embrace your kid. It's fascinating!!! I absolutely love this age.

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How do I get the 4 years old preschoolers to pose for pictures?

At this age, the pace is usually in the FAST lane. Again, no posing (you wanted outdoor family photos, right?). 

It's all about PLAYING and following your kid around. Once you let it GO and embrace that your little person will call the shots (and not YOU like at home 😜) then the fun officially begins!!! The kids feel SO HAPPY when parents engage with them.

Every family has a unique relationship. YOUR family's essence is part of YOUR story. Some families dance, others compete running, others play, others tickle, others tell jokes that make you teary with laughter, others just sit quietly while talking to each other.

Preschooler Beach Summer Collage-2

Learn More about our FAMILY Sessions!

Are kindergarteners too difficult to photograph in family sessions?

Nop. Well, it depends 💜

You're getting the theme... it's all about expectations. A kindergartener is exploring the world with a new lens. They go to school, they are learning letters, starting to read, starting to feel like a big kid! Treating them like a 'big' kid is so important. 

At this age, it's all about having fun and not compromising for 'static' moments. It's WILD and it's SO BEAUTIFUL.

Dancing, playing, running, hugging, and everything in between. Talking about school, their teacher, their BEST FRIEND, their favorite class. Kids engage in conversation like no other. Parents get surprised at how much kids open up and TALK TALK TALK sharing their greatest life!

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How do you plan a successful outdoor family photoshoot with little kids?

This is such a great question. I wrote a couple of blogs exploring the different sides of this question. I hope it helps get you ready for your session! From expectations to best season, to the best time of the day, to styling... 💛

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But wait, before we go, will I get a photo of EVERYONE looking at the camera?

Of course. That will be the easy part. At some point during the session, mostly in the very beginning, we'll have you posing for the 'classic shot'. After that... GAME ON! Let the kids go wild. Let it GO and enjoy the (wild) journey!
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If you have to remember one thing is to get a toddler or preschooler to cooperate for family pictures... LET IT GO and have FUN! Embrace your kid's personality and let them drive the mood and pace. Don't get discouraged with chaos, there WILL be and in THAT chaos the most unexpected and beautiful moments take place.
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With Love,


Andre Toro is an award-winning family photographer based in Lexington, MA. She calls her style Real Art Photography, which she defines as Fine Art inspired by candid moments. Andre is a passionate soul, obsessed with human connection, and emotive storytelling. She believes love is raw, messy, and beautiful. To inquiry about booking a photo session, please contact her at 


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About Andre Toro Photography

Andre Toro is an award-winning family and published photographer based in Boston, MA. She calls her style Real Art Photography, which she defines as Fine Art inspired by candid moments. Andre is a passionate soul, obsessed with human connection, and emotive storytelling. She believes love is raw, messy, and beautiful. To inquiry about booking a photo session, please contact her at

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