If you want to be miserable, try posing a toddler for a photograph for more than 15 seconds. It just goes against some deep law of nature for them to stop exploring and being their real life selves. I actually love that. Kids are so good at being themselves all the time. Sometimes that means lots of screaming, meltdown style emotions, other times it's all the snuggles and sweetness that turn your heart to mush. Whatever they're feeling or want to do, you know about it.
So, to avoid breaking any natural laws, I don't pose little ones. I give them jobs to do like "Go give mommy a hug!" or "Grab a bunch of leaves and throw them!" Or I just start playing with them, hide and go seek style, or tell them to look for the dinosaur hiding in my camera lens. When you're doing a photoshoot, things go a LOT more smoothly if you let the toddler call the shots. No meltdowns or stressed parents. Just let life happen.
This does mean that your family photos won't look like the mommy bloggers or the very styled studio sessions. But those kinds of pictures are always missing something for me. You can see it in their eyes, the stress, the forcing themselves to fit into poses or situations that aren't natural for their family. It can be scary to not know exactly what kind of pictures you're going to get, but there's no way to beat the light and joy you find in photos where people are truly themselves.
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