A baby goes through so many physical and developmental changes during their first year. As a photographer, I work with clients who hire me to record these milestones with my “Baby’s First Year” package. I shoot on location not in a studio so what I capture at a client’s home are moments any parent with a camera can strive to capture too. Here are creative ideas on what to aim for during the baby’s first 365 days.
What shots do I have on my checklist for these major milestones?1. Newborn
For me a newborn session takes place within the first 10 days after the baby’s birth. During those first days, the baby is usually very sleepy and in a milk-drunken state. Take full advantage of this wistful time to capture a dreaming, sleepy portrait and consider using props such as cute hats, diaper coverings or au natural. I frequently use a feeding pillow and cover it with clean blankets that I supply. I never use a flash during this session because that can startle a sleepy baby. I look for a window with a lot of light streaming through. I love to capture details such as the baby’s sweet lips, their tiny hand gripping the mother and/or father’s finger to show comparison, eyelashes, the back of the head where their hair swirls and of course, their tiny toes. For sure I compose a lot of photos with the parents together and separately. It’s particularly important for me to capture the father holding the baby. And remember, at this stage a newborn does not have strong neck muscles so it is critical to always support it properly in all shots.2. Four to Six Months
By the time a baby is three or four months old, they have gained a lot of weight and have better neck and head strength, but not always. Be sure to determine how strong the baby is based on the parent’s input. At this age, the baby is often able to lift their head when placed on their tummy which makes for a great shot. They are able or nearly able to roll over. They love to play with their hands and toes and smile a whole lot more. This is the perfect time to capture bright open eyes, big smiles, crinkled noses and chubby cheeks. At three or four months they are not quite ready to sit up so I don’t attempt to photograph them in that full upright position unless they have proper support.3. Six to Eight Months
Now that they can sit upright for short periods of time you can place them in very fun poses. Their personality is really shining through and their first teeth (typically bottom two) are starting to poke through. They are gaining more control over their hands and feet and can start picking up small objects on their own. This is the perfect time to capture them propped in a basket that has good side support (always keeping an assistant or parent within range) or sitting on a blanket outside on the grass. As they get closer to 7 and 8 months old they are beginning to crawl. I love to crouch down and snap photos at eye level.4. Twelve Months
If the parents are planning a first birthday party my goal is to schedule our twelve-month session to coincide with that momentous event. My photo checklist includes group shots with extended family, details of the décor and gifts and any shot that shows the ethnic or traditional details of the family. Oftentimes there are great opportunities to capture messy faces as the baby tries to feed themselves and unwrap gifts. If the parents allow the baby to smash their birthday cake I definitely have to capture that. And of course, at this stage the baby is so close to taking their first steps. My first of three daughters started walking just before she turned 10 months. But my other two daughters didn’t walk until 13 and 14 months of age. So be prepared to capture those first steps and attempts, which make for some amazing shots. One of my favorite shots is when the baby hugs the parent’s leg – it’s such a fleeting, precious moment in time.
In addition to this checklist be sure to capture the full story during each stage from different angles and perspectives. For instance when the baby starts crawling try to angle your shots from above and eye level to freeze that moment from the baby’s and parents perspective.The baby’s first year will be filled with many firsts. Be prepared to capture them at regular intervals. A good reminder is to coincide these milestones with their regular first year check ups. Those doctor appointments can serve as your reminder to snap away and capture a year of amazing memories.
Tina Case is an Adoramapix Ambassador and a writer and photographer out of the San Francisco-San Jose Bay area. She co-writes for the photography blog Moms Who Click where she shares photographer tips, tricks and interviews. Tina shares her parenting stories and more on Yahoo! where she is a featured “Parenting Guru.” Check more of her photos at Tina Case Photography | Facebook | Instagram.