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Birth: First Breath, First Cry
The first thirty minutes of a baby s life is chaotic and amazing all at once, and you want to capture all of that on camera. When the nurses first lay your little one down, theyll keep baby warm by turning on a heat lamp, which also provides great light for photos. Whoever is taking the pictures should squeeze in as your partner and the nurses huddle around baby being measured. When they cant squeeze in any longer, they should stand up on a chair behind the group and shoot down.
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Month 1: Bath time
You can take bath photos anytime, but in the first few weeks of life, babies tend to be super calm in their movement and focused on you. For this image I turned off the bathroom lights and let the skylight be the only illumination. If you dont have that option, I suggest turning on all the lights. Consider making the image black and white, which highlights emotion much more and also does away with horrible bathroom lighting (or distracting, outdated wallpaper!).
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Month 2: The fleeting Hair Swirl
One of my favorite newborn details is the short-lived hair swirl. To capture this part of your babys sweet story before it grows out and disappears, position your partner or another subject near a window, holding your baby as shown. Lean against the window or a wall to make your body still and stable. To emphasize the hair swirl, I moved in closer to the baby so I could fill my frame. If your camera wont let you get in close, use your zoom feature.
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Month 3: Tiny cries
The tiny cry of a newborn is unmistakable: its somehow fragile and furious at the same time. Though this may seem cruel, youll want to have a photo of baby mid-cry. (If its any consolation, they wont remember you doing this, but they will love the photos when theyre older!)
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Month 4: Peekaboo!
Babies love little surprises, and at three to four months, they really get into peekaboo. For this shot, have your partner prop baby up high enough on his or her chest to look over one shoulder. Bend down behind them and play peekaboo with your baby, popping up with a big smile and then squatting back down. The goal is to get your baby engaged in looking over your partners shoulder to find you. When baby is totally enthralled, squat down and shoot upward into babys face.
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Month 5: Sitting Up ... Well, Almost!
A five-month-old baby, propped up against Mom, has a view that was never available from his bouncer seat. Take some time to capture a few shots of this precious pre-sitting stage, preferably when your baby is most relaxed. Look around your house for a simple setting where Mom can comfortably lay down on her side. You also want the space to convey a sense of quiet to enhance the intimacy of the moment. The less clutter in your image, the more peaceful it will be.
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Month 6: First Swim
There are so many storytelling images to capture at babys first swim — from pool action shots of baby in the water to the quiet, snuggled-up moment of baby wrapped up in a big towel. As you plan these shots, be sure to think about where your light source is. For indoor pools, bring your baby close to the window and put your back to it so that baby faces the light coming in. If youre outside, put bright sunlight behind baby but have baby face soft sunlight.
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Month 7: On the Move
For this shot, enlist a spotter not only to spot but also to catch and restart baby. I find that its easier to take this type of crawling shot on the bed or a countertop, rather than the floor, but your spotter needs to ensure that baby doesnt get too close to the edge. If she does, your spotter should pick her up and start her back where she began.
A horizontal format is a great way to capture baby crawling across the bed. Instead of filling the frame with baby, leave a little empty space on one side to enhance the sense of baby being on the move.
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Month 8: Standing Proud
The first time your baby pulls himself up and begins to scoot around your furniture is a moment you have to document. For this shot simplify your setting as much as possible. If possible move the piece of furniture baby is likely to use for support and balance beneath a window, where youll get the best light. Also clear away any clutter so that the composition draws you to babys excited face and energy. I love having baby barefoot for this photo to emphasize how those feet are supporting him.
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Month 9: Baby's Best Friend
It is amazing to see the connection that can develop between dog and baby. To capture it youll want to time photos optimally for both your child and your pooch. If the dog has been cooped up for a few hours, let her run around to work off some energy. You also want to make sure baby is alert and feeling playful. Aim for the late afternoon so youll have soft, natural light.
This photo shoot can require two helpers: one for the dog and one for the baby. If your baby is still a little unsteady when sitting up, have someone ready to prop him back up every time he tips over. The dog may also need someone to give her the commands of when to sit, when to lay down, etc.
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Month 10: Making a Messy Meal Worth It
If you tend to be a bit controlling, like I am, take a deep breath and prepare to give up control for just this photo. The messier your baby is for this picture, the more fun it becomes.
I love to have baby in just a diaper for this one because the messiness shows up so much more. To get started let your baby take a couple of bites of food and resist cleaning them up as you go. Remember, messier is better. At some point, let baby have the spoon. His little eyes will light up with wonder, discovery, and independence, and youll be ready with your camera to capture it all!
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Month 11: Sibling shot
While your first baby watched everything you did with wonder and awe, your second baby watches everything big sister or brother does with that same intensity.
Set up for this photo whenever your baby is trying to emulate big sister or brother — playtime is prime time for these moments. Dont worry about what the kids are wearing — instead, focus on the action and let all those other mismatched details add to the humor. I love this kind of shot because it reveals so much about the siblings personalities.
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Month 12: The big first birthday
Babys first birthday is a big deal, and youve probably put a lot of work into this special occasion. To capture all of the untouched details — and your babys reaction to them — take ten minutes before the doorbell rings to shoot everything you can: the decorations, piñata, bagged party favors, and an extra birthday invitation. Once guests arrive and start showering your baby with attention, she will become over-stimulated and tired much faster than normal. If you get any good shots after the festivities begin, consider them the icing on the cake.
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