Before my daughter, Hailey, was born, I had this fantasy about taking amazing milestone photos of her. I had NO idea what I would be doing, of course, but I had seen so many cool milestone photos that went viral. I figured it couldn’t be that hard, right? Pick an idea, plop baby in, take a few pics and post for all the likes and comments. Easy peasy. Or, more like “hahahahahahah oh pleasy.”
The truth was, I had no idea how hard it would be to set up for these photo shoots after Hailey was born. I was a very overwhelmed new mom, and the thought of doing something other than sleeping, eating and showering (besides all the new baby tasks) was daunting. Plan an elaborate photoshoot? Haha, that’s funny.
Now that I’m out of the whirlwind newborn period, I can see things more clearly and I know exactly where I went wrong. In fact, one of the reasons I’m so big on giving advice about milestone photos is that I don’t have any consistent photos for the first 12 months of Hailey’s life.
So, this is a classic case of “do as I say, not as I do” because I want your photos to be a success! Here are 15 things to keep in mind when doing milestone photos.
1. Have a plan.
I would also call this creating a “template” for each month. By that, I mean go into it knowing exactly what type of photo you plan to take. Your plan can be, for example, baby wears a white onesie, phone was taken overhead, and there is a number made out of flowers. Or, each photo shoot involves the holiday of the month. Essentially, have an idea of the type of photos you plan to take before you lay baby down and try to take a picture. You can always improvise as you go along, but I think it’s helpful to know what you’re doing instead of saying oh gosh, I wonder if I have anything Christmas related laying around? (PS- if you’re pregnant right now, you get bonus points and bonus time. Start planning it out now and know exactly what you’ll be doing before baby comes!)
2. Keep it consistent.
You want to have a baseline for comparing your baby month by month, right? To do this in the best way possible, you want to have similar photos that you can compare! Whether it’s the same spot, same outfit (like a white onesie) or the same stuffed animal, you want to have something consistent each month.
3. Keep it simple.
Some people like to do something complex but they usually say that it was tough and they wish they picked something simpler! Babies make everything more complicated so although it could be fun to do an elaborate setup every month, it might not be doable. If you plan something more elaborate, give yourself plenty of time to get things together. If you’re going to DIY anything (like numbers or handmade onesies) do them in bulk and a month in advance. Why? So you aren’t scrambling the night before, sobbing with a glass of wine/coffee/tea in one hand and a glue gun in the other.
4. Take them at the same time of day and same location for consistency.
The best way to ensure that the pictures match month after month is to have the lighting match! The easiest way to achieve this is by having the photos taken at the same spot. This will also make it easier to figure out the best time of day for the photos.
5. Find the best lighting.
I think this one is kind of a no brainer, but I’m gonna talk about it anyway! The lighting in your photos is super important to make sure your images are both consistent and attractive. Look for the brightest, most well-lit room for the time of day that you’re taking the pictures. Open all the blinds and curtains, stay near the windows, and aim for a sunny day. You can guarantee great lighting by always picking the best-lit room for the time of day, or consistently shooting in the same spot at the same time of day. But, remember daylight savings and account for that as the seasons change!
6. Well rested and fed is better for everyone.
I think this is another one that everyone knows about, but I’m gonna say it anyway! A well- rested and recently fed baby will be more pleasant. Always plan photo shoots for after baby has napped and eaten, so you’re more likely to get a smile out of them! If baby is fussy during your photo shoot, try giving them a snack and see if that’s why they’re crying. Taking photos after a nap also prevents them from having red or baggy eyes, which is common when they’re tired.
7. Be prepared to adapt.
Your tiny newborn and your 8 month old are very different! That means you need to be adaptable. Some of your photos might be baby laying down, some awake while some are sleeping, and eventually baby is going to want to sit up or crawl. Do your best to stay consistent, but also remember that this about baby’s evolution and growth, including things like refusing to lay down or wanting to walk away!
8. Use something for scale.
This one isn’t necessary, but it is fun! You can try using the same stuffed animal in every photo, take the baby’s photo on the same chair, or use the same blanket each time. It’s fun to see how big baby gets, and that’s even easier when you have an item you can compare them against.
9. Label properly.
At the time you take the photos, you’ll know exactly which month is which. As time passes, it’ll be harder to tell! Make sure you label each months photos – either by labeling the folders very well, or “labeling” the baby in the photos, haha! You can add a sticker to their onesie, purchase a blanket that lets you circle the month, or create numbers out of objects like flowers. Either way, you want to make sure it’s really clear which month belongs to which photos.
10. Keep baby clean.
This is something we often forget about until after the photo shoot is done and you’re starting to edit pictures, but you want to make sure your baby is clean. Check for boogies or dry food on their face, and check their hands and between their toes for lint. Is also a good time to make sure that their nails have been trimmed and look clean as well. Brush their hair and check that their clothes don’t have any spit up or dried food on it. Also, give them a clean diaper so they don’t end up with a blue line (aka, dirty diaper!) showing through their onesie!
11. Avoid crowds so baby looks at you/camera.
It can be tempting for family members to want to watch you while you take pictures of your baby, but try to avoid that if possible. When there are other people around the baby, you might find that baby is looking at them instead of you/the camera. The best photos will probably involve the baby looking right at the camera so if there is anyone around make sure that they are just above or below your head, aka where the camera is.
12. Understand what’s been photoshopped.
Some poses just aren’t possible without Photoshop. Before trying a weird pose on your baby, do a quick search to make sure that it’s not something that’s been photoshopped. For example, froggy pose (a popular newborn pose) is usually a photo that was taken where someone is holding the baby’s head and then the baby’s arms, and then it’s put together as if it was one image. Keep your baby safe and make sure any weird poses aren’t Photoshopped before you take them.
13. Be creative.
I know I said to be simple, it doesn’t mean you can’t be creative! For example, keeping it simple might mean baby wears a white onesie. Being creative could mean adding a hat or headband that corresponds to the holidays of the month. Or, you could add a handmade number for your photos. I would keep it simple with just adding one or two elements, as opposed to creating a whole scene each month as it could get very complicated and cause you unneeded stress.
14. Letter boards are fun.
It’s a fact- moms love letter boards! Use them to give info about the baby like the month, weight and size, to say funny things that baby did, or share some of their favorite things. These are great because they’re reusable and can be changed each month easily.
15. Do what you can and try not to fret.
We can put a lot of pressure on ourselves when it comes to taking milestone photos, but at the end of the day, we just want to make sure we do our best and still make the process enjoyable. That means if baby is not cooperating, try something different to make sure he is happy or try again another day. Try not to get too caught up in making the pictures perfect that you miss out on the fun part – having a baby that you love and capturing the memories of them each month.
The biggest variable will always be your baby’s mood and cooperation, so ensure that everything else is all set up for you. When you have a plan in place, milestone photos are easy peasy. Consistency is key, because it will help you know exactly what to do so you can go on autopilot. The less work it is, the more likely you are to do it!
designed by Michelle gifford creative
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