It’s incredible how quickly those first twelve months fly by. Everyone warned me that they would, and I knew it in my heart, too. I tried my best to enjoy every moment and embrace all the challenges, late nights, early mornings, laughter and tears the best I could.
I carried my camera around with me as often as I was able to and did my best to document all the little moments I knew I would want to remember years from now. With every click of the shutter I imagined my daughters looking back on the photographs of them and smiling while asking me the stories behind them.
Perhaps it is more likely that I will be the one looking back and smiling with my husband while we reminisce about how special and fleeting those early days were. Either way, I knew from the start I wanted to document a great deal of my daughters’ life for them and for us.
There are far more important details I want to embrace as a mom than all the traditional milestones that are expected of a one year old. I wanted to remember the size of their tiny fingers and tiny toes, the way they were surprised about the world, the many expressions on their faces that would often change within seconds of each other.
During this journey, I have learned so much about myself both as a mother and a photographer. Here are some tips to help you to document the first year with your baby.
They are absolutely key for me. I’ve always known this from a photographer’s perspective, even before my daughter was born.
I found myself continuously trying to capture the shape of my daughters eyes, those yummy and oh so tiny toes, the way she smiled while spleeping and I realized that these are in fact the details you want to be frozen in time.
2. Use your smart phone
Sometimes, especially in the beginning, it’s hard to run and grab your camera every time something comes up. Even when you try to keep your camera close, life happens and I always felt it better to have some documentation than nothing.
I loved taking naps with my daughters during those first three months when they would just sleep so peacefully on my chest. Occasionally I would want to take a picture of them sleeping on me, or us lounging together, but getting up to get my camera was not an option. I always had my phone within reach though and smart phones now take really great pictures, so it was a wonderful back up to have.
3. Get in the frame too.
This is so important! I get it… you have that extra baby weight, your hair is falling out, you’re sleep deprived, maybe you haven’t showered in a couple of days, but guess what? You’re babies don’t care and they want to see their relationship with you, too! Take a minute, treat yourself and fancy up a bit if you can, and if not that’s okay. I promise that you don’t look nearly as scary as you think you do.
4. Print your photos
Remember why you started this journey in the first place. Your images are doing you no good taking up space in your computer. The reason I wanted to document my daughters’ first year at all was to have the tangible memories for both of them and I to hold one day.
Choose some pictures to print and display in your home at the very least, but I highly suggest making an album that you can look through in the future. There are so many great options for putting an album together.
Gone are the days of printing countless images and taping them in an album or tediously scrapbooking them. There are many websites that allow you to make your album digitally and will print, bind and send it right to your doorstep. This is a great area to invest your time and money into as these albums will hopefully be carried and viewed by generations to come.
5. Some ideas and inspiration
Whether you’re looking to start documenting your child’s life and don’t quite know where to start, or you have already been documenting, but are looking for some fresh inspiration, then I’ve got just the thing for you!
Here is a wonderful list of what we enjoy capturing most from a sentimental standpoint:
- Swaddled at the hospital
- First moments with your partner
- Newborn hair swirl
- Flaky newborn skin
- Nursing or feeding
- Chunky baby rolls
- Favorite physical features
- First/favourite foods
- Snuggled with a favorite or handmade blanket/quilt
- Interactions with other family members
- Interactions with pets
- Funny and unique facial expressions
- Favourite outfits
- Mom and baby (don’t forget to get in the frame too!)
- Everyday messes
- Participating in family/holiday traditions
- Mischievous moments (i.e. playing with the toilet paper roll)
- Quirky obsessions (i.e. following the vacuum)
And of course, the technical must-have shots:
- Monthly size/growth
- First bath
- Umbilical cord
- Newborn yawn
- Time in their crib
- First smile/laugh
- Sucking on fingers and toes
- Tummy time
- The nursery
- First outing
- First teeth
If you want to give a family documentary session a try, or if you have any questions about these types of sessions, please drop me a note – I’d love to continue the conversation.