A fun idea to encourage eye contact when photographing toddlers.

Photographing Corrigan is an exercise in frustration.  Like most toddlers he never stops moving and as the son of a photo enthusiast he has honed his avoidance instincts to the point that I swear I think that he knows I am about to take his photo just by hearing the sound of the lens cap being removed from the camera.

On top of that, he has eye-contact issues when a big fat lens isn’t pointed at his face let alone when I am trying to take his photo.  I have all sorts of tricks to try and get him to look at me while shooting, some are downright embarrassing.   Just ask the neighbors the things they have seen me doing in the backyard while attempting to capture him with camera.

Basically, if Corrigan is looking at me in a photo it is either luck or I have just gone through a sequence of attention-grabbing sounds and acrobatics that must never ever be captured on video.

Years ago I read an article that showed how to modify a Pez dispenser so that it could be mounted on a camera using the camera’s hot-shoe and used to get eye-contact out of busy toddlers and babies.  I have no idea why it didn’t occur to me to try it with Corrigan before now but I saw a Buzz Lightyear Pez dispenser at the grocery store last week and the proverbial lightbulb went off in my head.

It is super simple and looks like this when finished…

I broke the whole thing out today while the bigger boys were at church and snapped a few shots to see if Corrigan would look at my camera with Buzz on top looking down at him.  The first shot cracks me up.

Stopped in his tracks…

Well, at least he is looking in the camera’s general direction but obviously he is looking up too high.

This seemed to be the case for most of the shots.  I kind of wish the Pez dispenser was an inch and a half shorter to avoid this problem but I will gladly take “almost looking” over 20 shots of the side of his head.

He was really serious about Buzz Lightyear…

I plopped him down in a chair and adjusted my own angle a bit to see if I could get something resembling a direct look at my lens but while I got closer it is still pretty obvious that he is checking out what is above my head instead of the camera.

Remember those fabric scrunchies from a few years ago? I saw a seller, on Etsy, that makes these cute little animals out of scrunchies that can be popped on the lens to get eye-contact from little ones.  You can see what I am talking about here.  The lens animal might work better since the child will be looking more in the proper direction but the Pez dispenser is fun too and can be changed to suit the preference of your little client.

I just need to practice more with it.  I wonder if they make Pez dispensers with flashing lights. Oooh! or BUBBLES!!!! Bubble blowing Pez dispensers would be perfect!

How about some black and white shots? I have been on a color kick lately but a deep black and white makes Corrigan’s eyes pop.

Out of focus but still cute…and I think he is looking at me.

Finally, I captured exactly ONE shot that I wanted out of the 25 that I took.  Man, the toddler shoot ratio of “keepers to trash can” shots is high around here.

But I got one (kind of)…

Oh well, there’s always tomorrow.  I hope that this fun idea works for you!


3 thoughts on “A fun idea to encourage eye contact when photographing toddlers.

  1. What a great idea! I also have a toddler who is ALWAYS on the move! He says he wants a picture, but as soon as I point the camera at him, he’s off running again!! He LOVES the Toy Story characters, and I think we actually have a Buzz Pez…. hmmm… I think I’ll have to try it!!


  2. Pingback: 30 month checkup | mooney=mc2

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