How to get your child to look at the camera

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We all do it. Shout at our little ones, calling their name over and over in the hope, that after the 15th time of saying it, they will magically look up at the camera with a perfect smile! Who are we kidding?!

My poor boys, life can sometimes seem like one long photo shoot. But I always say "you can't get these times back you know"!

Here are some tips I use, to try and get my two and the lovely others I have photographed, to look at the camera.

Finger Puppets

Cheap and cheerful, everyone will have one lying around somewhere. It gives you the ability to hold the camera whilst playing peek a boo above the shutter button! It draws their eye directly to the lens! I prefer the rubbery ones as they stay on your finger better whilst juggling holding a camera at the same time!

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A whistle

Toddlers love noise and babies react to noise by turning their heads to something new. Party bag filler ones are the best as they are small easy to hold in your mouth and come in a pack of 10 for about £1, so as an extra incentive, you can offer one to your toddler for a good performance! With any noisy distractors use it sparingly as their attention spans are so short, you need to preserve that element of surprise.

A lens pet

Ever thought of dressing up your camera?! I bought one of these fantastic lens pets from mandefranee but you could easily make your own with a hair scrunchie and a few wiggly stick on eyes! Get your child to help you make it and they will be even more inclined to look at it proudly, once it's wrapped around the camera!

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Photo face sticks

Print off a photo of their favourite family member on A4 and stick it to a piece of cardboard. Cut around the face and attach a stick to make a hand held mask. Wooden spoons work well if the cardboard is a bit flimsy. Then you can play the "where's Granny?" game for example! Works well with pets too, if they have a particular fondness for your family furry friend!

Let there be light

I found these light up butterflies for about 99p in a newsagents. They are pretty and the wings light up, glowing in a constantly changing set of colours. They are also small enough for me to hold whilst hiding behind the camera. Anything that lights up is interesting to a toddler's eye but try not to use something that flashes as you might get a rabbit in the head lights look!

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Hats

For you! Children love it when adults are silly so try wearing a ridiculous hat or head piece, raid their dressing up, and they won't be able to help themselves and laugh at you!

My favourite is a particularly attractive purple octopus I bought in the local joke shop!

Keep them contained

If they are big enough, pop them in a seat like a Bumbo. Then they can't roll over or fall backwards, like they can when sat up with cushions on the floor. Remember to go down to their level too or they will have to work harder to not only look in the right direction but hold their head up too. For older ones put a towel or sheet over their highchair and pop them in. If they can't get out they are more likely to look at you! This is one of my favourite photos of Ollie, I got whilst he was sat in the swinging chair. I love that the background is busy as it's not meant to be a formal photo.

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Extra help 

If you are lucky enough to have someone else to help you capture that magic moment, make sure they don't stand like a fool to the side of you, shouting and flapping their arms like a dodo. You need your "assistant" to stand behind you, and peek over your shoulder. If you are sat on the floor at your child's level, then they need to crouch behind you. Sounds simple, but you wouldn't believe how many people can't help but stand up, even after I've said you need to be just over my shoulder!

Of course some of the very best photos are those that capture a child's expression or emotion and they absolutely do not have to be looking down the lens, but for me these 2 pairs of eyes have it!

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P.S I wouldn't recommend using bubbles. Although kids love them, they are the worst thing for getting your child to look at the camera as they will always want to look at the bubbles! But they are perfect for more natural shots of happy children! 

P.P.S If you like the "filter look" I have applied my favourite Colourcross filter over these photographs which gives a creamy sheen over the skin tone, using Camerabag 2.

Happy snapping!