photographing baby's first year
      6 Tips for Photographing Your Baby’s 1st Year

      If you are a new mom, I’m sure you’ve been told ‘Enjoy this time, it goes by so fast!’ I just smiled and nodded each time I heard it. Of course I’ll enjoy it. And, yes, time always goes by so fast.

      But then, while holding my sweet newborn daughter, I blinked. Well, maybe I fell asleep. But when I opened my eyes, somehow we were celebrating her 1st birthday. And I then understood what every well meaning stranger  meant. Thankfully. I loved photographing my baby’s first year. And I have so many photographs to remind me of all the moments, details and little things about her that I never want to forget.

      If you are here, I’m guessing photographing your baby’s fist year is important to you too. And, I’m happy to share what I have learned over the years as a mom of two little girls and as a family photographer.


      Lighting makes a huge difference when photographing your baby. Sometimes we have to just take the picture in the lighting we are given. And that’s okay. But if you know that you are going to take a few pictures while your baby plays on her play mat, then you can move the play mat to the best lighting in your house.

      Where is that? Look for a window or sliding glass door that has soft light streaming in. You want to avoid harsh direct sun, so the window in your house that has great lighting may change from day to day (bright sunny days compared to overcast)  or hour to hour as the sun moves across the sky.

      Position your baby so that the light is softly falling on his face. This will give you a beautifully lit picture and light up your baby’s eyes. You want to avoid putting the light behind your baby so that you don’t end up with a bright background and a dark face.

      Be Intentional

      Sure you can snap away photographing your baby. But, I found the pictures I really loved and cherished were the ones that told a story. Or captured something that was special about my baby at that moment in time. Think about your baby this month. What is he or she doing that always makes you smile? Is there a look or expression you never want to forget? Is there a toy or game that is a favorite right now? Take some time to capture those things. These will be the pictures you look back at and say, ‘Oh! I forgot how much she loved playing peek-a-boo!’ or  ‘How funny! I forgot that she would give me that look anytime I tried to feed her peas.’

      This is the sweet face I saw each and every day as my daughter napped in her swing. It was a part of our day that I never wanted to forget so I made a point to cature it. There is something so sweet about a sleeping baby. It gets me every time.
      My oldest sat on the counter and cooked with me every day. She alsways wanted to help stir. And of course sample as we went. She is too big to do this now and looking at these pictures bring back such fond memories.

      If you’d like a quick email sent to you each month with picture ideas that you may want to capture or think about for that month, click here and be sure to note in the comment section that you would like the monthly picture list.

      Be in the Moment

      I know, I know. This is the exact opposite of being intentional. But both ways of thinking and photographing have their place when documenting your baby’s first year. I like to keep my camera (or phone) nearby to capture those split second moments. Like when my youngest bear hugs our cat. She happens to be the best cat in the world for patiently tollerating my little ones. Those images may not be perfect, but when photographing your baby’s first year, sometimes it is a moment you still want to treasure.

      Focus on the Details

      You’ve probaby seen the collages of newborn portraits highlighting all the baby details. A cute picture of their button nose. Those long baby lashes. Or sweet dimpled chin.  But as you photograph your baby’s first year, don’t forget to keep photographing those details. The details that are important each month will change as your baby gets bigger. Think pictures of chubby baby fingers grasping their first food and  yummy baby rolls. These are things you’ll love looking back at because there are only that way for a short amount of time.

      close up photo of cubby baby rolls
      I love looking back at the cubby baby rolls my daughter had. If you looked at her now, you would never believe they were the same little girl.

      Monthly Photos

      One of my favorites projects when photographing my baby’s first year, is the monthly photo series. There are countless ways to create this series. Just scan through Pinterest! But no matter your style, you will love looking at how your little one grew and changed from month to month. The key to these photos is keeping them consistent each month. That way it puts all the focus on how your little one is growing and changing. For more tips, be sure to check out my post with Tips for Taking Monthly Baby Pictures.

      Hand the Camera off to Your Partner

      I know! I’m right there with you! I prefer to be behing the camera. Especially since most days I have no makeup on and my hair is usually standing on end because my 12 month old loves to pull my headband off and put it back on my head. Being photographed with a 12 month old hair stylist fixing me up isn’t one of my favorite things, but when I look back at the images, I’m always so glad I have them.

      And most importantly, 20, 30 40 years down the road when your baby is all grown up, she will cherish these pictures the most. She won’t care that your hair is a mess or you were just in your yoga pants. All she will see is YOU.

      baby smiling at mom on the beach
      This has to be one of my favorite pictures of Addie and I. No makeup, beach hair – but the way she is looking up at me just melts my heart.

      Print your portraits

      So, I guess it is really 7 , not 6, tips for photographing your baby’s first year. But I really couldn’t leave this last one off.  Please, please, please. Print those pictures. Put them in an ablum to flip through and enjoy. Hang them on your walls so they can make you smile every time you walk past them. Even if you just print little 4×6 prints to tuck in a box so your little one will have them one day, you will thank yourself for doing so later. I think in this day and age of digital images, we get lulled into the false sense of security.

      But I can’t tell you how many people have told me that they accidentally deleted the images off their computer, or a hard drive went corrupt. CDs, DVD’s and flash drives aren’t meant for long term storage and can also loose images over time. And we never know how long cloud storage places will be around. Facebook will one day be obsolete (anyone remember My Space?). And I just recieved an email from Google + that they have decided to close all personal accounts, so any pictures stored there will be deleted if not moved.

      Your printed pictures will be there for you and your daughter to look at for years to come. And that is the true treasure of photography. Being able to relive these special moment in our lives long after they have passed.

      While you may plan on photographing your baby’s day to day moments in that first year, you may also want to consider scheduling milestone sessions with your local photographer.

      Camera: Nikon D800 and Apple iPhone

      If you would like more information about booking a custom child or family session with Kristen Fotta Photography, please click here for our contact page or feel free to call 330-289-3255 or email me at