Portrait Experience: Defying Toddler Law with Composite Portraits!


Building a real connection and relationship with my clients is incredibly important. The more you can let me in on what makes you unique, the better I’ll be able to help you express yourself through your portraits! Not only will the time we spend getting to know each other help everyone relax and open up, it also provides me with valuable inspiration towards creating really authentic artwork for your family.

There is something really magical about the excitement and energy kids just seem to radiate... they honestly just get CRAZY sometimes! We have a couple choices as parents when our kids get the sillies: fight it, roll with it and try to maintain, or indulge right into it. I’m totally guilty of the first two options at times...Sidenote: Today I actually googled "how to remain sane with a toddler" and found this totally blunt and super helpful list of 33 Tips for Maintaining Your Sanity While Raising a Toddler - honestly worth a read. I do try to make a conscious effort at least once a day though to indulge, drop everything, and just PLAY. My little one, just like every other kid, LOVES TO MOVE. They just have so much energy to burn!



When I met this little miss, I knew right away that the vision I’d been forming in my head was SPOT ON. Excitement and anticipation - those expressions you get when you’re right in the thick of it, running and playing, and totally indulging your child’s thrills! They give you these looks in between whatever (usually ridiculous) series of things you're doing to get a rise out of them, those looks that urge you AGAIN, AGAIN without any words needed - though usually accompanied by a brilliant squeal of delight!

Aside from my artistic vision mentioned above, I’d love to share what went on behind the scenes to capture this spectacular, emotive portrait! This portrait was intentionally shot as a composite - it is actually 3 separate images, merged into one in Photoshop!


Composites: This is exactly where art meets photography.


Instead of accepting that some things live only in our imaginations or memories, I want to do my very best to make that PERFECT portrait come to life! Why not take the best parts of a few images and make a SUPER-PORTRAIT?!


As I imagined it, miss Z was squealing with glee, making that classic face which is some kind of adorable mix of excitement and anticipation! I also imagined in the portrait that she was throwing her hands up just slightly, as most kids do when they get this adorable reaction.


As I envisioned this portrait, what made it really outstanding was that her hair was blowing up in all directions! Energized, whimsical, and just so full of life!


I knew that the facial expression and hand gesture would be easy to capture - I absolutely love photographing children simply by playing with them! But the hair blowing in the wind, perfectly, on either side, WHILE getting this exact expression and gesture…? I’d like think I’ve got a pretty fast reaction time but let’s be honest, it would have taken longer than a 3 year old’s attention span to get the timing exactly right.



This is where the composite part comes in! Knowing my perfect portrait of Z was going to be next to impossible with a real life 3 year old, I strategically planned my shots and the role each one would play in creating the final portrait.


  1. The expression and gesture - Nailed it!

  2. A big gust of wind from Mom fanning her cutie with my reflector and both of us convincing her she was going to have “Princess Hair”

  3. (Insert chocolate in toddler’s mouth) and another smaller gust of wind from Mom waving around the reflector

Tah-dah! It was just a matter of combining the hair from step 2 and 3 into the original image with the expression and hand gesture!


So, do you have any moments that you’re holding onto only in your dreams? Those really tiny, in between, impossible to capture moments? Combining multiple images into a finished portrait is a very real solution - this is especially helpful for SIBLINGS. If you’re dying for a beautiful sibling portrait, but every time one of them just has to move or make a weird face, please reach out! I’m here to say that we might be able to bend the rules a bit, defy the warp speed that is a toddler, and make some magic for you and your family.


My goal is to help you build your legacy through truly authentic portrait art - let's make it happen!


Don't forget to subscribe to the blog, and leave your most whimsical, seemingly impossible portrait ideas in the comments!


All the love,

Hillary West


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