Episode 039: Capturing Childhood Memories


Capturing childhood memories starting with toddler photography

You’ve survived the baby days, and now the busyness of toddlerhood is upon you. In this episode, I talk through some ideas on capturing those memories, so that you’ll have photos to share at their 18th birthday to bring back happy memories.

Listen to the Podcast Here:

Read the Transcript of the Podcast:

Hello, and welcome to the Photographs in a Shoebox Podcast, with me Sue Kennedy.

Today, we’ll be talking about capturing childhood memories, starting with toddlerhood, but much of this really applies to childhood as well.

Before we dive in, let’s just talk about my quiz. This is something which is free and fun. If you are planning your child’s first pictures, then do take the quiz and you’ll discover their picture personality. It’ll take you less than 90 seconds, and I’ll send you my top tips for preparing for a portrait session.

Head to suekennedy.co.uk/quiz-baby, to get started, and I promise you’ll be able to answer all the questions 🙂 It’s been written with babies in mind, but it will apply to toddlers as well.

So let’s get back to what we are talking about today, which is capturing childhood memories.

Toddler Photography

I wanted to start with toddler photography because it follows babyhood.

Little boy photographed as part of a family and toddler photoshoot at Sue Kennedy Photography. Creating childhood memories for his family.

For me, the toddler phase is the busy phase. Your toddler is like a Duracell Bunny. They are nonstop, full of limitless energy, the lucky things.

So it’s actually a great time to do a photoshoot. They may not sit still for long, but do you really want that? Well, you might want one photo of them sitting nicely, but maybe not every photograph. Using natural light, a little bit of fun yields a personality driven portrait. I want to capture who they are, not just what they look like. I also think at this age, it’s a great option to photograph them outside.

There’s nothing quite like capturing a great photograph of a child at play but don’t get me wrong, it’s not about chasing them around as they play, but just when they’re having those quiet moments of playfulness or thinking, or some interaction with a sibling. Use that opportunity to take a photo or maybe even grab a little bit of video, and do that regularly. They may have siblings, they may not, but mix it up so that you get a range of memories. Some will be with siblings, some will be with other family members and so on, but don’t forget yourself. If you’re the person that always takes the photographs, hand the camera over and be in some of the photographs. Exist in the childhood memories, because that’s important too.

Let me just guide you through some thoughts I’ve had on making the most of the toddler phase and getting photographs from it.

  • I would start with shooting them, not literally shooting them, photographing them as they are, not how you want them to be. It’s probably easier to go with the natural anyway, and then …
  • Just go with the flow of what they’re doing, and you will get some great images as a result. It may take a few years down the line to suddenly think, “Oh, that was actually a great moment to have captured,” but those days do come, trust me.
  • Speak their language, don’t be too grown up in your words.
  • Silliness goes a long way and also getting down to their level. Don’t be photographing them overhead, so to speak.
  • Sit down and be at eye level with them, and just watch for signs when they’re bored of it. I know some parents will say that’s as soon as they pull the camera out, but just be quick with your photograph taking, don’t make it a long photoshoot so that they feel like the paparazzi have arrived. That just benefits no one.
  • If you are quick to take the photograph, they gradually learn and they humour you then.
  • As I said before, I think natural light is perfect for photographing toddlers. It gives you the most natural photographs.

If I’m asked to photograph a toddler, and I get asked to photograph a lot of two-year-olds, I prefer to head outside because I think the studio can be a little bit intimidating for them.

two sister climbing on the gate fence and smiling at each other during a child photoshoot

There’s something about being outside that is quite calming for the children, and it’s possibly more fun for them. But it doesn’t suit every child, so I obviously speak to the parents and decide what’s the best strategy, because at the end of the day, and this will be my final point, everyone needs to enjoy it. It has to be fun for everybody because the kids will pick up on that energy. If the parents are a little bit anxious, they’ll be playing up to that.

Anyway, let’s wrap this up.

For me, toddler photography is about capturing those firsts and the favourites. So things like first haircuts, first shoes, first day at school, and then moving on to things like their favourite toy. Do they have a cuddly toy they take everywhere? Do they have a favourite t-shirt that you have to wash overnight so they can wear it the next day? Or things like dress-up clothes, that sort of thing.

It’s probably only a phase, but it’s fun to look back on it. And what parent doesn’t want to freeze the memory of their two-year-old with chubby cheeks, or their six-year-olds toothless grin?

Something else I’ve started to do is to take short videos. I was lucky enough to do that when my daughter was small, and it is great to capture their voice as a toddler, the silly little things they say to you, the questions that can be equally as funny. I’m talking about the ones that make you smile, not the ones that make you wince.

Embrace the fact that we can capture these things on video as well as with still photographs, because in the old days, you just had to note it down. Our parents couldn’t easily video us. I know you could, but it wasn’t as easy as it is today.

Apps like 1 Second Every Day allow you to create a video diary, so it’s effortless. You get a reminder, you just need to use your videos or photographs that you’ve taken on your camera roll, and you’re good to go.

Capture the ordinary everyday moments too

It’s surprising how the mundane everyday moments can be just joyful to look back on in five, 10 years’ time.

I also think you should capture the little details, the little facets of them, their little toes, just the everyday things, the first curls and things like that. It’s not always about the big days out or the birthday celebrations. There’s a lot that goes on during childhood between those events.

Little girl look at her teddy bear under a tree. Capturing childhood memories with an outdoor child photoshoot image

Now, you wouldn’t be surprised to hear me say back everything up, because you want this archive to survive. Not only so that you can embarrass them at some point in the future, but you never know, they may want to recreate photos from their childhood at some point in the future. I mean, we see enough of them around on social media, and there’s a reason for that. We’re drawn to them, aren’t we? We’re interested.

Anyway, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. How will you remember the toddler and childhood years?

This quote made me smile, mainly because I’m married to a big kid, but anyway, the quote is this.

“The first 40 years of your childhood are always the hardest.”

Well, it made me smile anyway. That’s all for this episode. I hope you’ve enjoyed it.

Do give this podcast a like and a follow on your preferred player, and it’d be great if you could leave me a review on Apple Podcasts.

I’d love to hear what you think of the show @photographsinashoebox

Portrait of Essex Baby photographer Sue Kennedy
Sue Kennedy

About Your Podcast Host – Sue Kennedy of Sue Kennedy Photography

Sue is a professional portrait photographer based in Harlow, Essex and she specialises in baby, child and family portraiture. Being a parent, she understands just how special your child is to you and her aim is to produce a collection of images that are natural and meaningful to your family. No two moments are ever the same and she wants to perfectly capture those early precious memories and the natural character of your child.

For more information please call 01279 433392, or visit the Sue Kennedy Photography website.

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portrait of sue kennedy photographer

I'm Sue

and I am dedicated to helping you share your family’s story through beautiful natural photographs.



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