Top 10 tips for photographing your baby's first year

Use natural light in your home rather than a camera flash

Use natural light in your home rather than a camera flash

So much happens in your baby's first year and it's a hectic and incredible time. I'll be honest, a huge amount of the photos I have taken of our little girl have been on my phone as it's quick and convenient. However camera phones have limitations and it can be worth dusting off your compact camera and playing around with the settings to get more from your images. 

Here are ten tips for how I think you can get more out of photographing your baby's first year:

1. Birth

So it probably won't be at the top of your hospital bag list BUT whether it's your camera phone, a compact camera or DSLR, make sure you pack a camera in your hospital bag. Chances are you will be pretty busy with a new baby on your hands breastfeeding, sleeping and not knowing what day it is but there will probably be the odd moment where you will be wishing you had a camera to hand. I was in hospital four nights and there were times (bleary eyed) where I just couldn't resist taking a couple of pictures of our new baby snoozing away in the bassinet beside me.

2. Location, Location, Location

A photo shoot on a bed with natural light streaming through a window on the left

A photo shoot on a bed with natural light streaming through a window on the left

Think about the room which has the best light in your home. Think about what time of day it has the best light - a bedroom might be a good option. Clear some space, avoid a messy background and if needs be cover a sofa or bed with a cream or white (or plain) sheet. This creates a nice, clean, light backdrop for which to photograph your baby and your mini shoot can commence.

3. Ditch the flash

Flash can be really ugly. If you have a room with good natural light, you can avoid using flash and your pictures will look so much better. If you have a compact camera play around with the light sensitivity (ISO) and push it up to a higher level. If you have an iPhone, an app such as Camera+ will allow you to have control over your settings and change the ISO. This is something definitely worth experimenting with.

4. Detail shots

Close-ups of tiny hands and feet, eyes, nose, ears, and baby's first smile make great images. These are all pictures to treasure and worth having in the family album. Many cameraphones and compact cameras have a macro setting (usually a flower symbol) and this will allow for close-up shots. Be prepared to put in some time as you will need your baby to be very still but these are great shots to have.

5. Relationships

Family relationship shots are great to have in the family album

Family relationship shots are great to have in the family album

It's incredible watching a special relationship develop between your new baby and their father, mother, grandparents and siblings. It's even better when you can catch those special moments through images. It could be dad simply holding the baby or rocking him or her to sleep, bathing them or reading the baby a story. I'm always trying to capture those relationship shots.

6. Using the seasons

As your baby starts to move around and explore their surroundings, it can be a perfect opportunity to use the seasons in your photographs. A drab, grey miserable day can be brought to life with a pop of colour - it could be your baby wearing a bright coat or mum or dad carrying a colourful umbrella. Autumn provides a wealth of warm, golden colour and can be a great backdrop for photographs, as can Spring with blooming pink and white confetti-like cherry blossom.

7. Baby's firsts

Hard to resist those pictures of baby's first taste of food!

Hard to resist those pictures of baby's first taste of food!

From their first taste of food to their first birthday - have your camera at the ready as there's bound to be some great moments. For our little girl's first birthday recently we bought balloons and bunting. Not only was she excited by them, they provided a dash of extra colour to the photographs.

8. Editing

Adobe Photoshop is the editing software of choice for many photographers who choose to pay monthly or annually to use it. If you fancy dabbling  to see what it's all about you can download a free month's trial through Adobe. There's also a fantastic free app for iPhone called Photoshop Express which allows you to do quickfire editing on the move. A great tool to have particularly if you use social media and fancy sprucing up your images before posting.

9. Printing

It's all too easy to take lots of pictures these days, upload them to a laptop or computer and forget about them. The best advice someone gave me recently was to print my pictures and keep them in a box  - old school maybe but really worth doing. Photo books are great value these days and the printing quality continues to improve. The Printspace, a London company are my go-to printers of choice for images. Beautiful, quality images,  available in a range of finishes and quick delivery.

10. Investing

Get professional images taken. I realised early on after our daughter was born that I wasn't going to be appearing in many of our pictures of her early years as I was the one behind the camera. We chose to have a photo shoot at home. We were exhausted, new parents but I am so glad we had those images taken as they are very special to us.

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Babies and the big screen