Client Tips

Tips for a Stress-Free Family Photo Session with Toddlers

October 12, 2019

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I'm Helena!

A sunny gal from Cali living in the south of France. I adore slow living, magic, and celebrating the simple joys of daily life. I’m a self-proclaimed Disney nerd (as is my husband!), obsessed with cats and cocoa, and you can often find me swimming with the fishies in the salty sea. Come along and enjoy the magic, the simple joys of life with me...



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If you have a family photo session booked with our studio, and you have toddlers, here are some tips to best you prepare for our time together! 

Tips For Your Family Photo Session with Toddlers

girl surrounded by golden natural light in field photographed by Helena Woods Photography

Have Your Outfits and Accessories Picked Out 

Please don’t stress yourself out by going shopping on the day of your family photo session. As soon as you book your session with our studio, start planning what to wear.

Instead of matching, let’s mix it up! Plan each outfit with “dominant colors” and “accent colors” in mind. A dominant color is the color that you see the most in an outfit, while an accent has a smaller piece of visual real estate. When you’re planning each family member’s outfit, if you can aim for each person to have a different dominant color, and then tie in and vary the accent colors, it’s going to look great all together. Check out our full outfit guide blog post here and throughout this post.

Soft, Neutral Colors Look Best on Camera

Any bright colors or bold patterns that distract are best to avoid for a family portrait session.

I always love checking out the baby and kids section of Janie and Jack, Zara, Beaufort Bonnet, Mini Boden for a classic, modern look for the kids. 

Pinterest Ideas

We have plenty of photo session outfit inspiration for moms, dads, toddlers and family combos for your pursual here! 

mother and child hugging photographed by Darien Connecticut family photographer Helena Woods

Bring Your Toddlers Favorite Items to Your Family Photo Shoot

When our studio sends you your family Q+A questionnaire, be sure to write in your toddler’s favorite songs, television characters, interests so I can best prepare and connect with your child. A great tip for your photo session is to have your toddler’s favorite song playing on repeat during your toddler’s solo portraits!

Bring along a favorite toy, beloved lovey or a family heirloom that makes them smile.  I’ll be able to use it above the camera to help them to smile.

For tips on how to help your toddlers relax and smile during your family photo session, click here!

Keep Your Toddlers Active and Happy 

I always start my family photo sessions with the family all together walking, hugs and cuddles and that must-have classic “holiday card” portrait to get any sweet photos that we can before any potential meltdowns. 

Toddlers have a quick attention span, so getting any must-have family photos will be my main priority in the first ten minutes.

We all know that toddlers love to run around and play, so asking them to sit still and pose during your photo session maybe not be an option for us. That is totally okay! Let them be little. Let them explore and play!

Chances are if mom and dad are stressed, your toddlers will pick up on that energy during the photoshoot and everyone will look stressed in your family portraits. Not the goal of the session, right?

Active Ideas for Your Toddlers Photo Shoot

Notice what your toddler loves. Maybe they love when daddy throws them high in the air or gives them loud kisses on their belly or maybe your toddler likes to swing between your arms while you walk together. We’ll focus on those activities during your family photo session to make the most of our time together. 

family holding toddler laughing photography by Helena Woods Photography

Bring Snacks for Your Toddler

An important tip for preparing for your photo session with your toddler: make sure they are well-fed.

Snacks are always a good way to prevent meltdowns and water is just necessary for all that running around during the session.

Please make sure your toddlers are rested ahead of time. A mini nap before meeting your photographer is always a plus. 

Lastly, bribes work well with toddlers. Whether it’s a few gummy bears or a cookie, letting your toddler know that an easy session will lead to a treat helps immensely. There is nothing that a post-photoshoot ice-cream won’t help! 

Scheduling the Best Time for Your Toddler

Typically, I schedule my family fall photos at golden hour. The vast majority of my clients want outdoor photos with that beautiful, flattering golden sunlight. During the Fall months, that sunlight falls earlier rather than those late summer evenings…which are not the happiest time for toddlers.

However, if your toddler goes to bed at 6:30 or earlier, I’d recommend waiting until after daylight saving in November.

The sunset is closer to 5:30 in November and December so you’ll still be able to get those glowing sunset photos without risking total meltdown mode.

Relax and Have Fun Connecting with Your Toddlers

I saved the most important tip for last: relax and enjoy this time of connecting with your family.

Remember that your toddlers will never be this young, goofy and silly again, so enjoy this playful period of their lives!

A family photo session is not an everyday occurrence, so treat this as a special moment.

Relax and play with them, tickle them, cuddle them with love and let me do the work and document the precious memories of this chapter of your life. 

Your toddler might not sit still and smile perfectly looking at my camera. They may want to be active and move around and look at the wildflowers. And that’s perfectly wonderful. That’s real life. 

Children are highly intuitive and feed off their parent’s energy.

The more relaxed you are, the more relaxed they’ll be. I write more about this here!


golden hour sunlight motherhood toddler laughing photographed by Connecticut family photographer Helena Woods

I hope these quick tips to a stress-free photo session with your toddlers helped and prepared you for your time with me! I truly cannot wait to meet and connect with you and your family. 



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If you are a client of mine or plan to be in the future and you want to be the very first to know my availability in 2020 and beyond, so that you can reserve your session spot before anyone else, please subscribe to our studio’s updates using the form below. I only send booking details when you sign up to our studio’s exclusive client newsletter.

I don’t share my future session dates and destinations to the public on social media unless there is a last-minute availability. 🙂 

fall family session with toddler tips with darien greenwich connecticut photographer helena woods

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I'm Helena, your new kindred spirit.

Sunny free-spirit, writer and creator in love with documenting the simple joys of life. I am passionate about noticing light and truth around me and reflecting it back to others.

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