It's not every day that your little one turns one, and there are lots of super fun and creative ways to capture the moment with a first birthday photoshoot. From posed pictures to cute candids, the options are endless.
Don't worry if you're not an experienced photographer. You know your kid best and can get the smiles, and we've got all the pro tips you need to get all the most adorable photos.
Embrace the Chaos on Their First Birthday
If you have a one-year-old, you already know that babies have a way of changing even the best-organized plans. The key with a first birthday photoshoot is embracing the chaos. Make your plans, but also be okay with the photos not turning out exactly how you imagine (kind of like literally every other part of parenting, right?).
One awesome option is to stage your pictures outside and hold your little one on your lap. Shoot fast - we're tallking tons of pictures in a space of a few minutes. Toss some balloons around and bring in the cake when you're ready. You pictures will feel candid and super real.
There's no rule about when you should schedule your first birthday photoshoot, but it's good to pick a time slot after naptime or in the morning when your baby will be happiest. You know your baby best, so pick the time when you're most likely to get smiles (or at least not tears).
Get to Know Your Camera Before the Shoot
You can take first birthday photos with any camera you have handy, but the key is really getting to know it first. Whether you're shooting film, a DSLR, or your phone, take some time to practice and get to know the settings.
As far as the ideal camera settings for a first birthday, the biggest factor to keep in mind here is movement. Little ones get the wiggles (to put it mildly), and you don't want your baby to be a blur on their birthday. If you can control the shutter speed, set it for at least 1/125 second. That will freeze normal movement and help you get sharper pictures of your birthday kid.
Try a Chalkboard #1
Your little one is turning one, so show that off with a giant chalkboard #1 in the background during your 1st birthday photoshoot. This is super simple and works in almost any situation. Just find a wall or door that's fairly uncluttered and hang a chalkboard on it (you can even use a spot where you have a nail for hanging a picture).
Put your baby in a high chair in front of the #1 and start snapping. Bonus points if you can get them to wear a crown or tiara.
Show Off the Real Gift
Your baby will probably get plenty of presents for their birthday, but everyone knows that your little one is the real gift. You can take an adorable photo of them standing in a wrapped box. What's great about this is that the box will contain them for a few moments and keep them from crawling or toddling away.
All you need to do is find a simple background (hang a sheet if you don't have a spot that you like). Then wrap a box and put your little one inside. Take lots of shots before they start to get frustrated.
Because babies can't be bribed or reasoned with, there's really no way to prepare your 1-year-old for a photoshoot ahead of time. The key is keeping them happy and in one spot. You might need to try a few different poses and situations, but you'll get great photos.
Capture the Moment Before the Mess
Cake smash photos are about as adorable as it gets, but you can also get some lovely images in the moments before that mess. Dress your little one up in something sweet and pick a nice background. You can do this first birthday photoshoot inside if you have pretty floors and shoot a little above, or it also works super well on grass.
You'll have a short window to capture the pre-mess, so it's good to have an assistant to put the cake down in front of your baby. Start taking pictures immediately and don't stop shooting until the chaos has begun.
Get in the Frame With Your Baby
Sure, this is a big deal for your little one, but it's no small deal for you. After all, you've kept a tiny human alive for a year! Take some photos with you in the frame too.
There are lots of ways for you to get in the picture, from holding your baby (super helpful to keep them from running off) to helping with gift opening or cake serving. Capture some simple posed photos of you with your baby too. This is a momentous day for both of you.
Bring Dad Into the Picture
If there's a dad in the picture, bring him into the photos too. This is a great time for dads to shine. Grab some candid photos of him holding the birthday baby.
To make your photoshoot super special, have them wear birthday hats or pose in front of some of the birthday decorations or the cake. This helps anchor the photo in time as a special birthday portrait, and it will be easy to tell what's going on when you look back at this picture in an album someday.
Let the Whole Family Celebrate
It's exciting when the littlest member of the family turns one, so get the whole group in some photos. Older kids love being a part of these pictures.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to lay a blanket on the grass or floor and have everyone pose on it. The low angle makes it easy to get the baby's face in the picture. Make sure you have birthday props like noise makers and hats so it feels like the celebration it is.
Include Grandparents in Your First Bithday Photoshoot
Pictures with grandparents will be a treasure your baby will love as they grow up, so make sure you include Grandma and Grandpa in the birthday photos if they're local or visiting for the party.
It's easy to get a great grandparent and baby birthday picture by posing the grandparents on either side of your little one. You can do this with a high chair or have them hold the baby. Then encourage lots of interaction with funny faces, noise makers, balloons, or anything else that baby loves.
Play Up the Baloons in 1st Birthday Pictures
Balloons are pretty great, and babies are well aware of this fact. They'll add an instant sense of fun to your photos and captivate your little one for lots of smiles. You can toss them around or pose your baby next to a balloon arrangement.
If you find a path at a park, you can let the trees frame your little one and their birthday balloons for a guaranteed lovely photo. Pick a spot where your baby is in the shade so there aren't harsh shadows on their face.
Parents often stand behind the person taking the photo to try to get the baby to look at the camera and smile, but we have a better plan. Standing behind the camera actually has the baby looking a little away and behind. Instead, put a video or song the baby loves on your phone and hold it right next to the lens to get huge smiles and great pictures.
Capture People Feeding the Birthday Baby
Candid first birthday photos are among the best, and you can get some great ones when it's time for cake. Your baby might dive in and make a mess themselves, but you can get involved or have loved ones help.
Instead of giving your baby the whole cake or a piece, try feeding them bites on a fork. The interaction will be adorable, especially if you wait for the baby to look at the person feeding them before taking the shot.
Take Your First Birthday Party to the Beach
Beach family photos are always winners, and birthday photoshoots at the beach can be ideal too. This is perfect if your little one has a summer birthday or if you live somewhere that it's warm.
Be ready for lots of action in these pictures, since there's a lot here for your baby to explore (and so much sand to eat). Take tons of pictures of people interacting with the baby and don't forget to include some birthday decorations or the cake.
Don't Be Afraid to Get Elaborate With Your Photoshoot
If you're feeling creative, stage an elaborate photoshoot with your baby. One cool way to do this is to attach a bunch of helium balloons to a basket like a hot-air balloon. Put the basket in a park or your backyard to get a great nature background.
The thing that's awesome with the idea is that the baby is in the basket. The balloons will keep them happy for a while, and the basket will keep them from crawling off.
Capture a Little Bit of Normal Life at Age One
While it's always nice to make sure your birthday photos have plenty of birthday happening, there's also something to be said for capturing your everyday life at this time. Your little one will only be one once, so get some pictures of what "normal" looks like at your house.
Called "lifestyle" photography, this type of picture involves someone taking photos of you just being you in your regular environment. Get some in your baby's room, in the living room or kitchen, and anywhere else you like to spend time together. The best part will be your interactions when you're feeling comfortable in your own home.
Keep Baby Happy for the Best Birthday Pictures
Ultimately, your first birthday photoshoot is a success if you get some great photos of your baby happy. Everything else is just for fun. Watch your little one for cues they might need a break or a snack and be ready to change your plans to match what they seem to be enjoying. You'll end up with smiling pictures and minimal stress for everyone involved.