When should I photograph my baby?

On June 1, 2010 by Aimee

It’s a question I’m asked frequently, so I thought I’d put my thoughts into what works and what doesn’t. While these thoughts are, of course, opinions, they are based on years of experience working with all ages and stages. Some of it, you may have heard before but others, perhaps not. In that, I encourage you to find what works for you, given the information below.


Infant Photography : Within 7 days

Infant Photography : Within 7 days

Your pediatrician says keep that baby home for the first six weeks. This prevents the potential for serious or deadly illness and like all good sheep that we are, we listen … for the first two weeks. Then, we get cabin fever and out we go. So when, in this time should we photograph an infant?

In the first seven days.

Of course that begs the question, “How do I get out of the house then?” In this case you don’t. Work with a photographer that will come to you. This keeps you from breaking the cardinal rule of motherhood and will give you a unique perspective on your little one. Capture their size in relation to other and various elements of your home. Keep yourself in a quiet and comfortable surrounding. Within that seven day window babies don’t kick out as much and they sleep longer stretches during the day so the photography aspect, while it can still take 1-3 hours, will be at its peak as far as timing goes.

Three months? Four months?Personally, I say skip this stage unless you desire images in the Christening gown that will grown too small by the time they are six months old. Instead wait until six months. Otherwise, the best images will be low to the ground on their tummy with their wobbly head working much like a bobble head still and maybe one or two smiles … if you’ve chosen a good day.

Six months

Wait until 6 months for the real expressions

Wait until 6 months for the real expressions

At six months, or around this age, your baby is starting to really show his/her personality. She’ll be sitting up, babbling and smiling consistently. She’ll hold her head well. He’s got better torso control. There are elements to their development beyond just their muscles. Tactile elements are stronger. I love to let babies roll around in satin sheets (pink for girls, blue for boys) at this age. They’ll go home dying for a set for their beds. Reflection panels are great at this age too as babies can interact with themselves and to capture that is priceless.

Count the six-month stage between months 5-7 when your baby has control of his upper body.

None months? Nope. Not for me. The key differentiator between 6 and 9 months is standing, but standing will also come at the first year. Unless you have an unlimited budget at each stage, save your money for the next big milestone.

The First Birthday

Major Milestone : The First Birthday

Major Milestone : The First Birthday

I tend to think that I have just as much fun photographing a first birthday girl or boy than they do. Laughter abounds, the mess is made and Mom and Dad get to take home a baby on a sugar high. That’s not where I start though. I start with that standing photograph you want at nine months. That’s a major milestone and to capture it against a chair, a couch or some other favorite shows just how much she’s grown since the last stage.

From that standing point, we move to the fun. Get that favorite outfit in. Try a hat. How about a toy? I love to keep bug boxes around. Little inconspicuous boxes that hide a tiny ladybug. When a one-year old finds the treasure inside it’s like opening a present. When they do it the second time, it’s the same. And the third and the fourth and the tenth. The surprise is always there, no matter the number of attempts because at that age? It’s always new.

After the first year …
From that point on it’s a personal preference. Soon the cute little baby will turn into that lovely two-year old, and I say lovely in the kindest of ways. There are still stages … right through the fifth birthday, that are important.

18 months

At 18 months incorporate the whole family

At 18 months incorporate the whole family

At 18 months, most little guys and gals don’t want to be away from Mom and Dad (or just Mom) for even the time it takes for a photographer to run back to the camera or to press the shutter button. At this stage, the best option is to incorporate parents and family.

It’s time for a family session.

For many moms, by 18 months postpartum, we are just getting back to our slim selves and/or have come to the conclusion that we never will and have resigned ourselves to just be who we are. That doesn’t mean you should shy away from the camera. Quite the contrary. A family portrait is perfect at this age because Mom is a necessity in the shot. A quick trip to the salon before your session and you’ll feel even better about the adventure.

2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th birthdays

As baby grows, capture their personality

As baby grows, capture their personality

I know they aren’t technically babies anymore, but tell that to any parent. Until your child has their own grandchildren, they will still be “a baby” to a Mom or Dad.

At these ages, the most important part of the photography session is capturing personality. Have fun with it and work with someone that you know will draw out the mischievous grin or gleam in the eye, the real smile or the cackle as the birthday kid works himself into a fun frenzy.

It’s not about the starched dress or the perfectly aligned baby teeth, it’s about the point in time. A time you’ll never get back but if you have it in portraits, you’ll be happy you did.

In July, look for a discussion on photography during the school years, when you try to decide if it’s worth the cost of the school photos or not.

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