Tips for Photographing Your Child and Their First Moments

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Seeing your little one begin to explore their world with their first solid food, crawl on the floor, or enjoy independent playtime is an amazing experience. But, photographing your child and capturing those moments to cherish forever is even more enjoyable!

While you may not always capture the exact the moment a “first” happens, as little ones can be full of surprises, these tips will help you to capture beautiful storytelling images of those moments to look back on for years to come.

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1. Be prepared

Anticipation of key moments in your child’s life will come naturally as they grow. An important piece of capturing those first moments is being prepared at all times, with a camera nearby. As they say, the best camera is the one you have with you. It doesn’t matter what camera you use, but having it on hand will be paramount to capturing those fleeting firsts.

Oftentimes, I keep my DSLR in my living room, on the mantel, where it’s easily accessible in a moment of activity or at feeding times. It is in the On position ,with ISO settings at the lowest, and the aperture at f/2.8 for a nice shallow depth of field, and one that works with the natural lighting in my living and dining rooms. In addition, my mobile device is always ready in my purse hanging in the living room, or generally nearby in any room I walk into as well.

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When something new happens, you can quickly grab your camera and capture the moment!

2. Get on their level

As adults, we often forget what it is like to live so low to the ground. You might find yourself capturing your child’s firsts from the high perspective of standing upright, or from above.

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While this isn’t a bad perspective, over time your little one will become aware of your paparazzi-like actions and shy away. Try to get down low while playing, with your camera nearby, and capture the moment from their perspective. Often, they are unaware you are photographing them if you’re on their level, as it doesn’t appear as obvious from a distance than when you might be hovering above.

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3. Find your light

If you are planning to take a few photos of your child when you know they might be headed into a first moment, or have done it maybe once before, scope out the scene. Where is the best light coming from? What time of day is best in that room or that location?

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You may want to position a toy, or your child, in a certain way to capture the moment with a better angle of light hitting their face for a smile, or backlight them for more of a story. Practicing often before those first moments, in your home with a camera and light angles, helps you to define the best locations and lighting, as well as camera settings to be prepared.

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4. Try new locations

Firsts come in all shapes and sizes, as well as for years beyond the first 12 months of life. While most firsts just appear without planning, there are many moments you can create, and prepare for ahead of time.

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Eating their first solid food is one you can set-up and plan in advance, as well as capturing their reaction to the first time touching the beautiful plush grass.

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Plan to go to a new location and practice your photo, before you bring your child into the setting. Go to the beach at the best time for lighting, or for your child’s energy level, and prepare to photograph the first moment they set foot or fingers in the sand.

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5. Tell their story

You know your children the best. You have spent countless hours with them, at all times of the day and night, and can read their responses and personalities the best. As a new parent, you have those gut feelings when something new is about to happen.

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When you’re photographing those moments, take time to tell their story. That is the story you’ll want to remember. Their favorite toy, their first moment peeking out the window, or touching the sand or grass. Keep in mind your child’s story, and how you want to tell that story with your images.

In the end, firsts will come and go, but you’ll always have these beautiful storytelling images to share with them as they grow. Being prepared, change your position, lighting, or locations, and remember who your child is at heart, is the key to capturing those amazing moments in your heart and through your lens.

Share your child’s first moments in the comments below. We’d love to see them.

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category

Kate Nesi is a wife, mom, distance runner, photographer, and academic librarian. She is the Frugal Momster as well as owns Kate Nesi Photography. Connect with her on Instagram and Twitter.

  • This article should be called “Tips for Photographing Your Toddler and Their First Moments”. I have a two CHILDren. They are both teenagers.

  • Heidi Eberle

    First time in the pool and first food (carrots)!

  • Kate Nesi

    Thanks Khurt, you make a good point!

  • Kate Nesi

    Those look great Heidi!

  • Heidi Eberle

    Thanks Kate. Today I tried to take photos of her in MY baptismal dress but I couldn’t get the environment quite right. We will try again another day.

  • kate nesi

    Definitely keep trying 🙂 There’s always a lot of practice that goes into photographing little ones to get the right image you’re hoping for.

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  • True, however I would sort of assume that by the time they hit teenage years they aren’t experiencing any new firsts. That is mostly little kids, no? First car maybe for teens but I edited it and didn’t feel it needed that qualifier as firsts tend to relate to babies and small kids in my mind and I’m not a parent (maybe I’m wrong).

  • yes, which ones? Looks like there aren’t any here? Sometimes they get through and we pick them up a few days later.

  • Von Will

    I like angles

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