Documenting Your Baby in a Monthly Photo Series

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Photographing Eleanor, and now August, in a monthly series has been one of the best experiences I’ve had. Babies grow so quickly, and I’m glad that I had the foresight to capture them as they grew up. I love it when I hear that other people have been inspired to do their own versions, and so today I’m sharing a few of my tips for getting the most out of a photo series to document your baby’s growth.

Doing these photo shoots in the same spot at the same time and on the same date hasn’t been easy, but it has been worth it. Were there times that I felt like skipping a day? Oh yes. Plenty of times! But now, looking back at the photos, I realized that some of those difficult shoots (we had to go somewhere, the lighting was bad, Eleanor was cranky, August was crying, etc.) were some of the most memorable for me. I intended to create a keepsake to show my kids’ growth, but I also captured memories. Look at month twenty two, for example.

That face! That was the face of a brand new big sister. (We think she’s a bit happier about the situation now.) And then of course August was crying in his first photo. But little things like that make the photos more memorable.

Each month as I photograph August, I like to compare his photo to that of his sister’s when she was the same age.

Eleanor and August, Each at Two Months Old

And now that Eleanor has turned two, I’m able to compare her first photo with her last. She grew a bit, eh?

Eleanor, From a Baby to Two Years Old

Tips for Setting Up a Photo Series to Document Your Baby

  • Determine how often you would like to shoot.

    Weekly photos would be fun, but a lot of work. Can you commit to that for an entire year (52 photos)? I found monthly photos for two years to be just right. That’s enough photos to show change, but not so many that it became an overwhelming chore.

  • Don’t slack.

    If you’re doing a photo every month on the 1st, for example, don’t slack and think that you can just get it the next day (or the day after that…). Forcing yourself to do it on the proper day will ensure that you don’t fall behind, and you may associate stronger memories with the photos (as I unexpectedly did).

  • Consistency is key.

    Find a spot that will stay as consistent as possible for the duration of your photo project. I chose the living room for Eleanor and the library for August because those rooms were already finished and not up for any major overhauls. You could also choose a fabric backdrop, the floor (a fluffy flokati rug would be cute), a giant Stendig calendar, whatever. I did allow for different flowers in the background of each photo to reference the seasons, but everything else stayed the same. Consistency puts the focus on the one changing element: your baby.

  • Keep a sense of scale.

    I chose a chair so that I could see how my kids grew into it. People often like to put a big stuffed animal in the photo, and it looks much smaller by the time you’re a year or two into the project.

  • Make it fun for your baby.

    A stuffed animal for scale is also a good idea because as your baby grows, he or she will have something to play with in the photo (which is really cute). My babies get to use the setting itself: a rocking chair. I have some great shots of Eleanor rocking like crazy, and she thought it was great fun to sit in the chair.

  • Plan ahead.

    Choose a simple outfit, and buy it in multiple sizes ahead of time. Again, this puts the focus on your baby, not the constantly changing outfits. Also, keeping it simple will help keep it timeless.

  • Make your mark.

    I made a felt pin for each of my kids, and I’ve changed the center out with the number for each month. A lot of people like to put a number right on a onesie (real or added with Photoshop), but you could also do something as simple as writing on a piece of paper. If you use the giant calendar idea, you’ve already got this tip covered.

  • Be snap happy.

    Take more photos than you think you may need, especially if you’re shooting digital. Even if you think you got the perfect photo after just a few shots, take more. I like to aim for 50-100 in each session. I made a fun timelapse video of one of my shoots, so you can see how many photos I take!

I did it! I stuck with the whole series! Now what?

You could hang the photos as decorations for your baby’s first birthday party, arrange them into a grid and make a poster, print the photos and arrange them in an album, or make a book. The photos would be appreciated by the baby’s grandparents too, so you may want to plan on making multiples of whatever you choose to do with them.

It was my intention from the beginning to create a book for Eleanor when her monthly photos were finished. I will do the same for August. I originally thought that I would use just one photo from each month for the book. However, I found that it was fun to include a few of the outtakes too, and I was grateful that I had many extra shots each month to choose from. Here’s one of Eleanor’s photos from when she was two months old that you haven’t seen yet.

Look at that hair! Awesome. That wasn’t the photo I chose for that month, but I did make sure to include it in her book.

Click here to view this photo book larger

I’m still photographing August monthly (he’ll be four months old tomorrow), but I’m also going to continue photographing Eleanor every six months. Have you done a photo series with your children, or do you plan to someday when you have kids? Please do! You’ll love having the photos to look back on.

Blythe Chair with Blazing Poppies Fabric

Sometimes I think I have crazy taste. Like with this chair. I’m a little in love with it, even though I know that print is bananas. No, I’m more than just a little in love with it. I want it. Very badly.

Getting a sneak preview of how cute my kiddos would look sitting in it didn’t help.

Social Space Makeover Contest

I’ve been able to work with some amazing sponsors here on Making it Lovely. Last year, I partnered with American Express and used their Membership Rewards points program to redo our bedroom. This summer, I was offered the chance to redo another space with 150,000 points, but I’ve been very fortunate lately, and I thought that you might like the opportunity instead. So I’m working with them to give it away!

(That’s enough to win that settee above and then some!)

You could redeem points for gift cards to stores like Pottery Barn, west elm, or Crate & Barrel (I love using my points that way, though I’ve been eying the camera equipment lately.) Or go for something fun like a Wii or a barbecue. There are a million things from which to choose.

Winning 150,000 American Express Membership Rewards points would go pretty far in redoing a room. Given a shopping spree like that, what would you get? I’ll tell you what you should get. Wait, that sounds like I should be shaking my fist at you. What I mean is that the winner will also receive a custom design plan from me with advice and suggestions for the makeover!

A little before & after inspiration…

Brandon and I did this backyard patio makeover on our own (manual labor and all), but every post about makeovers should include a little inspiration! The contest winner will receive a custom design plan like the one I created for our patio to help guide them (though you’d be free to use the points however you wish).

So, how do you enter?

American Express and I want to help you makeover your social space. It could be the living room where everyone hangs out and chats, your kitchen (everyone always ends up in the kitchen at parties, right?), or maybe a it’s a patio or back deck. Where do you spend time with family and friends? We want to help you spruce it up!

Leave a comment with the following to enter:

  • Tell me what space you want to make over, and why. Be brief (a few sentences is fine). I’ll be including your words in the voting round if you’re a finalist!
  • I need photo(s) and/or video of the space. This will also help determine the finalists, and your images are part of what people will be voting on, so make ‘em good! You can host your photos and videos on free sites like flickr or YouTube, or you could post them to your blog if you have one. Please don’t post photos or video here — simply include a link to them in your comment.
  • You can enter as many separate spaces as you’d like, but only one entry per person will be selected in the finals.
  • Make sure you enter a valid email address when leaving your comment. It won’t be published publicly, but I’ll need it to contact you if you’re a finalist.

Entries will be accepted through Saturday, June 11, at 11:59 PM CST, and only US residents are eligible. I’ll select the top ten finalists and post them on Monday, the 13th. The winner of the 150,000 Membership Rewards points and custom design plan will then be chosen by readers of Making it Lovely! The runner-up will also receive a prize: a $100 gift card to The Home Depot. Good luck to all of you!

* June 12: Comments are now closed. The ten finalists will be announced Monday, June 13.

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