Behind the Scenes Family Session

Creating a Portrait With a Smile & Run Toddler

Ever try to take photos of a two-year-old? The set up is perfect, but then baby wants to move! This little lady kept trying to run off. What do I do? Let me take you behind the scenes to show you one way I solve this problem.

What I Have Learned Over the Years

You might not know this, but every fall, I take outdoor boutique-style school photos for a large local preschool. I’ve worked with this preschool for eight years. And from my experience photographing hundreds of little ones, more times than not, they will smile for at least one click. And with family sessions, while most family members are preoccupied with fixing hair or smoothing their clothes, the littlest one will shoot me a smile. Since they did their job, they take off. And no amount of begging, pleading, bribing is going to get them back. Done and gone, or as I call it, “smile and run.”

How Simple Edits Can Create a Great Image

In this case, the mom wanted a photo of her girls for the grandparents. Here you might notice the baby sister sat for quite a few frames but wasn’t smiling for most. After she did smile, she was off to something else. In the large photo below, she’s giving me a little smile. You can see her departure below in the small frames to the left. A minute later, I took a shot of the big sister smiling alone after her little sis left. I need to combine the two.

First, I start by selecting the best images for the portrait I’m creating. Next, I open up a program called Adobe Camera Raw (ACR), choose the photos I want to work with, and make overall adjustments to both images. I’ll tweak the color, increase the brightness, contrast, and sharpen to give them some pop.

To continue, I’ll open both images up in Photoshop. Photoshop has this feature where I can layer photos on top of each other. I’ll stack one on top of the other. Below I’m isolating the image of the smiling big sister and softening the edges so that when I paste it on top of the first image, it will blend.

Now both images are flattened together. Grandma will never know 😉

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