Next up in our Ask the Photographer series is the fabulous Susan Peck from Susan Peck Photography! With this new blog series, we hope to provide you with some expert tips for getting the most out of your family photos and capturing your children's precious memories. If you have a question you'd like to have answered by our panel of professional photographers, please send it to!


My child's first birthday is coming up. How can I capture memorable photos of the occasion?

Ah, baby's first birthday - that first year goes by in the blink of an eye, doesn't it? And by, the way, congratulations to YOU for surviving every crazy, sleepless, precious, wondrous, wouldn't-change-it-for-a-minute moment. Setting up a special photo shoot is a great way to commemorate your baby's first year one year olds make wonderful, unpredictable, subjects!
1. A few things to keep in mind before you start: time of day matters! You want to capture your baby when she is happiest, and for most babies that will be in the morning. Early morning light also looks great in photos. Make sure tummies are full and the photo session will be easier on everyone. In choosing your location, make sure there is plenty of soft light and keep background distractions to a minimum. Check out the difference in the photos below - all I did was move baby girl to that patch of shade you can see at the bottom of the photo, and move my vantage point around her and shoot slightly above. This created softer, more even light, and the focus is on her, not the playground and other distractions in the background.
2. Be sure to capture any new milestones - Is your baby pulling up on his own? Is she taking her first steps? What about any new teeth? Make sure to get a few shots that show these new achievements, as well as sweet details like chubby little fingers and toes.
3. Incorporate meaningful props - such as a favorite new birthday toy, family heirlooms (like a chair that has been passed down several generations), and of course balloons are always fun and colorful (supervise carefully!).
4. Cake smashes are always great - and you never know what kind of reaction the baby is going to have, which makes it even more fun! Sometimes the photos where the baby is less than thrilled are the best ones. Place the cake in front of the baby and just document what happens. Try to shoot from different angles - get down on the baby's level, shoot from above, and zoom in on the details for a few. I always have the parents bring a vanilla cake as chocolate cake can read as dirt on camera - especially in black and white! It's also easier to wash out of those sweet smocked outfits.
First Birthday Photo IdeasFirst Birthday Photo Ideas
First Birthday Cake Smash PhotoFirst Birthday Smash Cake Photo
First Birthday Cake Smash Photo
5. I always like to end a cake smash session with some bath photos. You can fill a tub outside if it's warm or simply bring the baby inside to the bathtub. Most babies love baths, so it's a great way to end the session on a happy note.

Susan Peck of Susan Peck Photography is a fine art portrait photographer specializing in maternity and high school senior photography. With a background in painting, she brings an artist's eye to each session and loves creating heirloom portraits for her clients. Susan lives in Nashville, TN with her husband, 4 year old twins, and insane puppy.
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