Capturing your little one is not hard to do in this day and age: we all have hours of videos on our phones and can probably scroll through our photo albums without finding a shot of ourselves, the dog…or anyone but our babes! The joy of the technological age. However, my favorite photos of my kids are, without question, those taken by the pros with the “big guns” (those glorious expensive camera contraptions that I have no hope of conquering).
When and how to time photos can be overwhelming. So to calm nerves and offer some amazing advice, we have interviewed 3 extremely talented photographers who will walk us through the various age-appropriate tips for photo shoots during your little one’s first year!
Yes, you have a teeny tiny human and are just trying to make it through each day. But don’t miss this amazingly sweet (and fleeting) time to capture these memories. You’ve heard it a million times…they grow so fast. Shirley Henderson, the photography mastermind behind Picture Kidz, is a baby whisperer and newborn photo shoot expert. Here is some of her advice:
- Schedule the photo shoot when baby is no more than 14 days old. Babies tend to be much more alert after that time and it is more difficult to capture them in those sleepy, cuddled up positions.
- Stay calm and feed on: let baby have a very milky experience on the photo shoot day. A full tummy is a happy baby so be prepared to feed or nurse throughout the photo shoot. If you are capturing baby sans diaper, don’t be worried about a little poop or pee. Choose props that can go in the wash if your photographer is not providing them.
- Don’t be afraid to be in the photos. A lot of parents are feeling too tired or haggard to join in, but there are many sweet poses that often become treasured keepsakes. Most photographers will offer editing and you will be pleasantly surprised by your suddenly less sleepless-looking features!
I’m not really a fan of the 3-month photo shoot. Don’t get me wrong, I’d capture every age if money were no object. 6 months is such a smiley and interactive age, and many babes can sit up (or be safely propped into a sitting position). This photo shoot is a blast because they absolutely love peek-a-boo or to simply give you a gummy grin over and over and over and over…perfect! Here is what Chelsea Tharp (Memories by Chelsea) has to say about this stage:
- Make sure the baby is awake for about 30 minutes before the session begins (for instance, if your session is scheduled after a nap) so that babe can have a chance to wake up, eat and be adjusted before having a camera focused on him or her.
- Be prepared to do tummy time: bring a coordinating blanket or ask your photographer if they have an item they prefer to use as this is sometimes the best position to capture little feet and arm rolls.
- If an older sibling is going to be in the photos, it is best to take the individual shots of the younger child first. This way the older sibling can feel involved and special: since there will likely be a lot of focus on the little one, the older child can quickly feel left out and begin to stand off. Instead make them a part of things! Have them help get the baby’s attention by dancing, singing, clapping, making silly faces… whatever works! They will also be ready to join in the fun in front of the camera after seeing exactly what is going to happen. This helps them to interact in a more comfortable and natural way instead of being forced into a pose.
I knew I was in wonderful hands when my photographer, Tenley Clark, asked me to tell her about our daughter and the family. What’s her favorite toy? Favorite game to play? What makes her laugh? She wanted the photos to not only be great but to also reflect our family and Quinn’s personality. While I can’t send Tenley personally to capture all of your toddling babes, I can offer some of her tips to help make the shoot a success:
- Bring: water, sunscreen, a favorite snack or treat, a brush, hair ties & clips (in case it’s really windy), a change of clothes (in case of spills, etc) and any props you’d like included (a favorite toy).
- Keep It Positive: for kids, build this up as a fun playdate more than a serious event (because it is!). For parents, keep things enthusiastic with only positive reinforcements, smiles and love. Let the photographer handle getting the kids to smile and participate while you just relax and enjoy the moment.
I really love this “bottom line” advice from Chelsea: “really examine a photographers work, personally talk to them to see if you connect well, and take advice from friends and family about who worked well for them. Photographing your kids is a special time and you want to have someone there not solely because they offered the best price but because they are willing to get down in the dirt and play with your kids…as well as use their camera to photograph them.”
Now go take the stress out of photo shoots and enjoy capturing those special moments!