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How to Take 1st Birthday Portraits

First birthdays are a big milestone for both baby and parents, and as such, deserve a big celebration.

Whether you choose to go all out with baby's 1st birthday party or simply hold a celebration in your home, it's safe to say your child probably won't remember the day. And that's OK! This celebration is bigger than baby -- it's also about you, the parents, getting through this first year and all the wonderful people in your life who lent a hand along the way.

One big way you can capture the occasion so that even baby can look back on it when he or she is older is with a first birthday portrait. Many parents will ask a professional photographer to capture their one-year-old in a fun, personalized way, but you don’t need to go to a pro to get a great shot! In fact, you’ll probably get an even better photo by taking it yourself as there won’t be a stranger to worry baby and cause unwanted tears.

Here are a few tips to consider when photographing baby for a 1st birthday portrait.

1. Perhaps the most important of all is to keep things easy, relaxed and fun.

Too much fuss will stress both you and your child out, which means you’ll get cranky and baby will probably cry. You need a nice big smile so make this experience more natural and playful. Baby doesn’t understand a perfect pose, so just snap away and wait for the “aha” moment when it all comes together.

2. Rather than worrying about your child looking perfect in a cute hat or outfit, concern yourself a bit more with props and setting.

If you can get a favorite toy, blanket or seat in the photo your child will be more comfortable, and you’ll also help capture a piece of baby’s world that’s important to them.

Any chance to get baby outdoors at the park or in the yard will make things easier for you in terms of finding good, natural light for your photo. It’ll also encourage baby to be happy and playful, which will always make for a sunny photo!

3. Consider your time frame.

No one says this photo has to be taken at a specific time or on a specific date. You can snap plenty of photos in the week or days leading up to the official first year mark, then take a few shots on the big day itself.

We always find baby is happiest after nap time, too, so consider scheduling time to devote to picture taking around then.

4. Get creative!

Think about what makes your child so one-of-a-kind. Perhaps he or she has a real love for blocks or stuffed animals. If you can incorporate this theme into the shot it'll add that special, personal focus this portrait is all about.


One of my favorite bloggers, Katie, of Loves of Life , shared the photos she took of her sweet pea of a daughter last year to mark her first birthday. I remembered this image while writing the above tips because it was so simply sweet and happy.

Check out Katie's post here on the day she shot the pics. She got creative with the props, which made it so bright and special, but also took her daughter to a place that meant something to them both.

Find more party planning inspirations for First Birthdays

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Meet our Writer
Jennifer Geddes
Celebrations Writer

Jennifer Kelly Geddes has hosted Christmas cookie swaps, New Year's open houses, Thanksgiving for 22, and all manner of dinner parties in her Manhattan and Ghent, NY homes.

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