Being a photographer for four years and hosting over 400 mini sessions has definitely taught me some valuable tips and tricks on how to handle little ones during a mini session, and I'm going to share them with you!
Probably the number one concern most parents have when booking a mini session with a toddler is the length of time. My mini sessions range from around 15-20 minutes long, and for a reason. Most toddlers, and even children all the way up to teens only have enough focus or only want to focus on posing for portraits for about 20 minutes. The amount of time for the session isn't going to stop you from having amazing portraits and a gallery of about 30-40 images.
My biggest recommendation, among a few others, is to plan around your child's schedule. My summer mini sessions run between 6:00 pm and 8:00 pm for lighting purposes. If you have a child that is usually cranky at night between those times then I would suggest waiting on booking a Cape May mini session for a year two. You also have the option to book a morning mini session where it's a different package and slightly increased price. Day time on the beach is not recommended only because of individuals squinting from the sunlight.
Another suggestion would be to make sure the child does not nap directly before the session. Planning ahead of schedule to arrive 15 minute prior to your booking time will help to get your child to wake up prior to the session if your child is unable to nap prior to the car ride. Also bringing your child's favorite snack or two for a little bribe in between poses helps as well!
Sometimes all fails, and even though every trick was tried, we still have a cranky one in the group. When this happens I try my normal techniques like weird noises, acting overly excited and happy. I or my assistant usually carry a toy that squeaks or I try to help with some music. If every trick has been attempted then we try for candid. This means you and your family will be instructed to just act natural with each other. A lot of smiling and just looking at each other and trying to cheer up your little one.
I typically favor lifestyle posing over formal posing. Check out my new blog coming soon on why I prefer it, and the difference between. You'll also learn some of my posing prompts so you and your family are fully prepared prior to your mini session.