Last week, our baby turned 1. That perfect little bean who came into the world barely bigger than our bitty-sized poodle, whose newborn cry sounded more like a kitty cat’s meow, who was all eyes and sweetness swaddled snug in a blanket. Yep, that little baby turned 1.
Being the photo-taking folks that we are, I knew even before Beany came out of her cozy tummy spot that I wanted to document her growth through weekly photos. Although I wasn’t sure how I’d use the images at the end of the year, I did have some inclination that I’d put them together in some sort of grid, so I opted for a uniformish look to carry through each photo: sweet baby, white onesie and our white and blue duvet. And after 52 consecutive weekly photo shoots, here’s the finished product:
Maybe it’s because I’m her mom, but I love scrolling back and forth over the images and seeing how much that girl has grown and changed. It’s fun to pick out favorite photos, decide what week she got her “look” and compare all the crazy faces she makes (seriously, Beany’s got some whopper of expressions).
Just for fun, here are a few of my favorite comparisons. First, the bookends to our little photo project: week one and week 52.
And this one just cracks me up. Sometimes a girl’s just grumpy (I promise she smiles way more than she cries!).
And here are a few holiday-week shots: Christmas with Santa socks, New Year’s with her own handmade hat and Halloween with her kitty cat face.
I learned quite a bit about photo editing and baby photographing during this project (hence the shift in photos from week one to 52, though thankfully when they’re all put together, the differences are subtle). In case you’re thinking about starting a similar project, here are a few tips:
• Keep it simple: Using a white onesie is a super easy way to ensure that you’ll be able to replicate the same outfit from week one to 52. And depending on how big your baby is, you might be able to squeak by without buying all the way to 12 months. Beany’s onesies in the latter half of the photos are all 3-6 months. Granted, she’s bitty, but the onesies are surprisingly stretchy and work fine for a 10-minute stint in front of the camera.
• Keep it (reasonably) portable: We don’t stay at our house all 52 weeks of the year, so I needed to choose a background that could travel with us. At least four of the weekly images were taken somewhere else on a matching pillowcase that I packed for the trip. Sneaky, huh?
• Let the poses change as your baby grows: Once Beany was able to sit up, it proved to be a struggle getting her photo taken lying down in the pose I used for her early shots (i.e. the latter crying photo. Yikes!). Don’t sweat it. Let your baby sit up, crawl around and act silly. They’ll be much more cooperative, and you’ll end up seeing their developmental changes as much as their physical growth.
• Don’t fret if they’re not all smiley: I used to stress when I couldn’t catch a toothy grin from Beany in the photos, but now I’m glad they’re not all the same. We have a super happy girl, but we also have a girl who’s grumpy sometimes, shy sometimes and sneaky sometimes. In 52 photos, I think we got a lot of those.
• Embrace props and snacks: At some point, your baby goes from being a reasonably cooperative gem who sits where you put her (or him) to a wiggly, noisy, just-try-and-keep-me-still girl (or boy) who is much harder to photograph. I resorted to bringing out a fun toy or snack (hello, raisins!) on most occasions. Beany was happier and stayed still a smidge longer — at least long enough for a photo or two, then it was off to the races!
• Take lots, choose your favorite: Digital cameras are awesome because you can take five gazillion photos for the one keeper. Do that. OK, maybe not five gazillion, but don’t hesitate to go shutterbug crazy, even if it’s just for one magic shot. The more you take, the better your odds will be.
So that’s it: Beany’s first year in photos. I’ll admit, I think I’m going to struggle with a bit of withdrawal from these weekly sessions. Beany is technically 53 weeks today, and it’s taking all my might not to snap her into that same 3-6-month onesie and take some more photos. But I know her week-to-week changes are slowing down, so I’m going to switch to monthly photos from here on out. Perhaps that makes room for a bit more production and fan fare. Whew, get ready, Beany!