Stealing the Show

Meet tomorrow’s next member of the Maryland House of Delegates. I photographed this little girl on an assignment for the Baltimore Business Journal. She wasn’t the focus of my assignment, it was getting photos of folks like her dad, a Montgomery County delegate and his colleagues.

But, she caught my attention and I captured a lighter moment of the General Assembly’s opening day. Like most opening days (baseball and political) ceremony and ritual rule the day. Legislators bring their family decked out in their Sunday best and give them the opportunity to see what it’s like to sit behind their desk on the house or senate floor. Kids in attendance range in age from infants to college students.

At first, this little girl was shy. She eventually began to enjoy the attention not just from me but from a gaggle of press photographers. Indeed, she started to play to the camera.

When I’m at an event these are the photos I seek. Images that show spontaneity and emotion. Images that make you feel like you are there.

Taking photographs of toddlers, whether at events or for family portraits can either be a gift or a challenge.

They can ham it up for the camera, or determinedly hide behind a parent to stay as far away from your lens as possible. Time is at premium because their attention spans are limited.

If it’s a family portrait, my strategy is to talk to the children separately. Make them feel like they are your partners in crime. You are going to play a game with them and part of that will mean responding to your stage directions.

I’ve found it helps to have their toys and bribes such as cookies or other snack food handy. Toddlers will focus on a toy or stuffed animal. When their patience wears thin cookies and other snacks may help eke a few more minutes of their time in front of the camera.

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