Photography in the First Year

Now that my girls are almost four and two, their first year is a complete blur. Thank goodness I took plenty of photos to remind myself what gorgeous little creatures infants are. I spent hours studying their faces, trying to imagine what they will look like, who they will look like, and I know I’m not alone in doing this, it comes with the role of being a new parent. Those little creatures are just fascinating.

Marlowe at one week
Marlowe at 1 week
Marlowe at 1 week, Mila at 2
Marlowe at 1 week, Mila at 2 years

So, when is the best time to take photos of your baby during that first year? There really is no right answer, it’s totally personal preference. Some people take their brand new bundles of joy to the nearest photo studio within days of entering this world for their first professional photo-shoot, others make a point of taking pictures on a given day in each month to capture their growth. Not me.

Much like my approach to parenting, I was a little bit more organic with my approach to photographing their first year. For me, the process of taking pictures of my girls as infants was a natural one, whenever the mood struck, I would do an impromptu photo-shoot, ensuring that I had an accurate representation of their first year.IMG_0695 My goal was always to capture a few shots of them looking directly into the lens,  which is a rather simple feat with infants compared to toddlers, since infants are just as fascinated with studying your facial features as you are with theirs.

Marlowe at 6 months
Marlowe at 6 months

In my opinion the “best” age to photograph babies would be that magical time between 5-6 months. This is the time when they are alert, smiling and aware, without all the squirming that is about to transpire. They might even be able to sit up for a little while or lift their head during tummy time, giving you a few angles to work with, and it’s actually quite amazing to see how different they look in each position.

Mila sitting up with assistance, 5.5 months
Mila sitting up, 5 months
Mila lying down, 5.5 months
Mila lying down, 5 months

Mostly, this is the age when they really develop their facial features, those big eyes, the dimples, the indent in the chin, all the things that make them unique are now very clear in photographs. There is something really special about this age for me. As I looked at my girls I thought, not only did I make this little human being, but I am the sole source of nourishment for this baby. Every little roll, pudge, tooth and hair is because of me. This is truly a magical feeling.

Marlowe at 5.5 months
Marlowe at 5 months

For both my girls I did a photo-shoot during this sweet time in the same outfit at around the same time of year. Mila and Marlowe are almost exactly 2 years a part, they actually shared the same due date, although Mila was in a bit of a rush and joined us a couple of weeks earlier than scheduled. When Mila was about 5 months, I dressed her in a pink tutu onesie and hair-band and did our first real mini-photo-shoot. After the success of these photos with Mila, I knew I would try to recreate that experience with Marlowe, and I’m so glad I did.

Mila at 5 months
Mila at 5 months
Marlowe at 5 months
Marlowe at 5 months

With both girls, I was able to capture a close-up shot of them “smizing” at me… (for those not familiar with this term, the great Tyra Banks describes it as smiling with one’s eyes.) These two shots of the girls are probably my favourite ones ever. I can stare at them forever. You can actually see the world reflected in their eyes.

Mila & Marlowe at 5 months, 2 years apart
Mila & Marlowe at 5 months, 2 years apart

These shoots were done in two different residences with similar lighting conditions, slightly overcast daylight, shot with a Canon Rebel camera. I later created collage posters of these pictures and framed them on the hallway wall between the girls’ rooms.

Collages in the hallway
5 month collages in the hallway

I often catch myself studying my girls’ features in person and in pictures, comparing to see how they are similar and different from each other and from my husband and I. I have displayed prints of their 5 month photo-shoot pictures up in practically every room in our home, since they serve as a reminder that no matter how big they might get, they will always be my babies!

Check out Photographing Toddlers for some helpful tips on photographing your baby!

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