Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Tips for a perfect DIY 1 Year Old Photo Shoot

We have all seen them on Pinterest. The cute cake smash photo or darling picture with a large number 1st birthday photos are all the rage right now, as they should be. It is a big deal for your little one to have their first birthday and celebrating it with a cake smash and photo shoot is the perfect way to remember it. Unfortunately, depending on where you go, a one year photo session can be kind of pricey. Don't let that stop you from getting the photos you want. Take them yourself! Read through these tips to help get the pictures you want at home! 


  •  Use a nice camera. While you can try and take these photos with your point and shoot, you are going to be happier with a nicer camera. You will be able to take photos faster, capturing your favorite moments. It seems like almost everyone has a nice camera, so ask around and see if you can borrow your sister's or friend's. 
  • A couple of people at a photo shoot is plenty. The more people you get that are telling a child what to do, the more confused they get. Keep it simple. One or two people to help with smiles is usually plenty. 
  • Work on your child' schedule! If they take naps at noon, don't try to photograph at noon. Photograph when they are the happiest. 

  • Try to capture who they are. Sometimes a pictures of a child, sitting and smiling for the camera work. Most of the time,they don't. Let the child be themselves. Let them wander and explore. Who knows you might find your best shots just by following them around
  • Try not to get frustrated. Your child will be able to tell you are frustrated and it will make it harder to get natural smiles. 

  • 1-year-old have a short attention span. Really short. Be prepared with props, outfits and whatever else you want to do. Don't be unrealistic, or you will both just end up frustrated. 
  • Go to their level. I spend most of the time I shooting a small child either squatting or on my knees. Being at their height allows you to interact with them better and it lets you see the world the way they do.

  • The best photo from a shoot isn't always one where they are looking at the camera. Capture all sorts of images. The ones you end up liking might surprise you.

Props: There are so many darling prop ideas out there for 1 year old birthdays. Try to pick props that really represent who your child is at this age, as well as some that celebrate their birthday. My favorite props for this age include: 

  • a large number 1
  • favorite blankets
  • favorite toys
  • balloons
  • birthday hats
  • cute chairs and benches
  • chalkboard with some of their favorite things written on it
  • a cake, for a cake smash

Location, Location, Location: 

You are so excited to capture your little's one first year of life in pictures, but where should you take them? It is much easier to get well lit, professional looking pictures when you take them outdoors, so try that first. Is it too cold or outside doesn't work for one reason or another? Try taking them inside in the middle of the day, next to a large window. If you do decide to go with a location, it can seem overwhelming to decide, here are some great suggestions as to wear to take these special photos.

Parks are always a good bet. They have lots of room to run around and usually lots to photograph. Look for a park with the following, which will help break up the background and give you lots of picture options.
  • Shallow Creeks. Especially on a hot summer day, it is fun to let your little ones wade into the water for some cooled off fun.

  • Bridges and waterfalls. There are so many things you can do with a good bridge. Bridges also help to break up the background so you don't look like you are shooting on a straight green field.
  • Fun and colorful playground equipment.
  • Large rocks. 

I love shooting in front of awesome old buildings. I look for old bricks, columns and historic old buildings to bring fun and texture to a shoot.

I love hitting up the beach, a local creek or waterfall for some fun and gorgeous pictures during the summer.

Consider seasonal ideas as well.

Is there a gorgeous flower patch or wheat field nearby? Is there a place where the autumn leaves are falling gorgeously? These are great places for photos!

Time of Day:

It would seem like shooting outside would always provide the perfect lighting. After all, the sun is out and shining, coating nearly every surface in a nice, warm light. Unfortunately, that's just not the case.

There may be 24 hours in a day, but there are about 4 total hours that are quality photo shoot times. The best times of day to shoot pictures are in the morning, just after the sun has risen and about an hour or two before sunset.  These may seem like arbitrary times, but there is some scientific backing for it. At those two times of day, the angle of the sunlight spreads the sunlight more evenly across surfaces and it's not as intense as midday or afternoon. Plus, the sunlight takes on different colors because of the way the light scatters in the atmosphere at those times of the day.

I know the afternoon would be just perfect to shoot, but try your best to avoid it. The sun is directly overhead and extremely intense. If you think about it, the effect is similar to a bare bulb over an interrogation suspect. The top of the head is well lit, but it casts many shadows that can look natural in person, but will likely look strange in a photograph. Remember, our eyes perceive light differently than a camera does because our brains process the information through experience filters of "how the universe should be." Cameras are not so forgiving.

If you do need to shoot during the middle of the day, look for a place with nice shady patches and watch your white balance is the shade so you don't end up with photos that have a blue tone. 


There is something about taking pictures that makes a toddler suddenly hungry. I like to bring along delicious and protein filled snacks to help keep them going longer through a photo shoot, like Gerber Lil' Beanies.

The first bean-based snack in the baby aisle, Gerber® Lil’ Beanies is made from the goodness of navy beans to deliver 2 grams of protein (9% Daily Value), 1 gram of fiber, and 10% Daily Value of Vitamin E per serving. Gerber® Lil’ Beanies Snack is baked, not made with genetically engineered (GM) ingredients, and is naturally flavored.

It is one of my very favorite snacks to keep on hand because my daughter loves it, and I know that I am giving her something good to eat that gives her good calories instead of junk good calories.

Gerber Lil' Beanies are the perfect snack to keep on hand during the photo shoot because they are crunchy and fun, but don't make the kind of mess most of the crunchy snacks do and you can feel good about what you are giving them! We pick up these guys in the baby aisle at Target when we do the rest of our shopping. From the second they hit the cart until the checkout, my toddler is begging me to open them up for her.

Right now there is an offer on Ibotta to earn .75 cents when you purchase any flavor of Lil' Beanies! Head over here to check out the details.

What are you favorite 1st birthday photo ideas?
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Rebecca Bryant said...

First let me say snacks are awesome at any age. As for these tips they rock to and wow gorgeous photos you have taken.

Mrs.AOK said...

Your pictures look great! And such wonderful tips. :)
I'm glad I wised-up and started taking my own pictures. I got hustled into going to take my babies' pictures every couple of months when they were babies. Well, not my son, I started taking his pictures instead of a studio.

Theresa Pickett said...

These are such good ideas! Taking pictures of little ones can be tough, but with these tips, anyone can get good pictures of their kids.

Karen Morse said...

I mean - you are so right on about the location! That makes a MAJOR difference in the vibe of the photo! And, these are amazing! Love how the colors of the background make the little ones look even more adorable!! How is that possible? They are already darling!

Terri Steffes said...

I'm headed to a first birthday party next week. I have been debating about a gift, maybe I'll just take a box of treats.

Cynthia said...

These are such wonderful tips for all trying to get the perfect birthday shots! Go with your the flow your little sets and stop putting so much pressure on yourself is my suggestion

Taylor Mobley said...

What precious moments you have captured!!! I don't have any kiddos but I do like taking pictures. I will have to remember this.

Amanda Rosson said...

I just can't with all these adorable photos!! I don't have any children but these tips sound spot on!

Angela Campos said...

These are all great tips! I sure miss when my kids were that little. Those snacks look yummy too, will have to tell some of my friends with toddlers about them.

SaseeChic said...

Great tips! Thanks for the advice.

Kori Tomelden said...

I've always found the best shots are the non-posed/natural ones. But that might just be me. Love these tips!

Kimberly Stroh said...

I love the photo ideas. My son is 2 and I should be more consistent about photos with him. The gerber snacks are awesome, right?

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing those tips. I think some of the best shoots are when they are babies. Once they grow up it's hard to get them to even pose. My son loved being clicked when he was younger. These days he is all shy

MyTeenGuide said...

Taking photos of your little one can be a real struggle. These are all very helpful tips.

Teresa | Simply Made Fun said...

My two favorite tips are to shoot in the early morning or evening for the best light and to keep the people there to a minimum! When we do family pictures (I have a large family) so many people try to tell the kids what to do and they get so frustrated! Which makes taking the pictures so hard. Great tips!

Ellie Augustin said...

Snacks are LIFE Oh what would we do without them! I like to call photo shoots with babies/toddlers the Fast & Furious shoots lol.. Love your tips! Thanks for sharing.

Kendall Rayburn said...

So cute! My kiddos loved these as snacks when they were younger (sniff - sniff). I've got total baby fever after seeing these cuties! Love the photo ideas, too!

Wow Di said...

These are great tips! Having got a couple of new cameras this year I can definitely attest to "decent camera"! It really does make a HUGE difference!

Brittany Muddamalle said...

My favorite is always the birthday cake photo. We have a tradition in my family where you give the baby their very own itty bitty cake and they get to DIG IN! The pictures are the best!

Christina Aliperti said...

These are great tips. I figured out early on that we had to work on my son's schedule if we wanted really good pictures.

Whitney S. said...

These are super cute! I love all the props! I'm a photographer have photographed families and babies and toddlers before! I think you hit the nail on the head, when you said, '1-year-olds have a short attention span. That is SO true! You gotta work quick!

Reesa Lewandowski said...

All of these photos are so cute! I wish I would have thought to do photos like this myself when I was a young mom.