Planning a First Birthday Photography Session

One Year Sessions1. The Location.
Deciding on if you would like to have the session indoors at my studio, or at an outdoor location would be the first step in planning a one year photography session. For an outdoor location, the best lighting is about an hour before sunset, so we would be looking at meeting about two hours before sunset for the start of our session. Depending on the time of year, this might be past your little one’s bedtime, and might not be the happiest time of the day. In this case, I would suggest an indoor session or possibly a sunrise session.

2. Outfits.
Typically for this type of session we get through 2-3 different set-ups/outfits. The first few shots we get will be portraits of your baby dressed in a cute outfit for a couple traditional first birthday portraits. Next I’ll change the backdrop as you take a few minutes to change your baby into their cake smash “attire”. Then depending on how the session goes we finish with a baby-in-bubbles clean-up type of shot.

Keep in mind that solid colors tend to photograph best. Try to avoid busy patterns and logos, as these can distract from the main subject.

For the cake smash attire, usually a diaper cover with other accessories like a bow tie, or suspenders works great for boys. For girls a fluffy tutu and pearls with a headband, or ruffled romper with matching leggings are often used.

A custom onesie with “ONE” can also be incorporated into the outfit. Etsy has tons of options is you search for “cake smash outfit.”

3. Theme and Decorations.
If we coordinate ahead of time the colors and themes, I can plan the decorations. I have a variety of props and decorations that we can use, including: banners, backdrops, tissue paper puffs, balloons & chairs.

Most of the time I create a custom banner based on the colors picked for the session if I have enough advance notice about the colors and theme.

3. Cake Smash.
Another decision would be if you would like to incorporate a cake smash into the session. You would need to provide the cake, and I have a wide variety of cake stands. From experience, shy away from red or dark blue colored frosting and chocolate cake (looks like dirt on their face).

Professionally made cakes photograph better, but I have seen some beautiful homemade cakes too. I’d be happy to  share some contacts for cakes.

4. Preparing for the Session.
Scheduling the session right after a nap usually helps with a happy baby. Try to keep a regular schedule as much as possible the day of the session. Have some puffs, cheerios or your baby’s favorite dry finger food on hand to stuff into the cake in case they need help being a little more interested in it. Also have a sippy cup within arms reach in case your baby gets thirsty.

Sometimes babies think the texture of the icing feels strange. Some babies don’t like it at all and get upset when it won’t easily wipe off, while some babies are very interested in it and have a lot of fun.

A helpful tip would be to let your baby have some cake in the week leading up to the session. This way they will be familiar with cake enough to move past the exploration phase and they can get excited about it like the rest of us!

5. What to Expect During the Session.

First year pictures are so much fun, and babies have so much personality at this age. However, these type of sessions do take a lot of energy. Due to the nature of the age, it’s usually best to plan to have at least two adults at the session. Bring someone who can be really silly to help get those adorable smiles, and someone to help with logistics.

The developmental age really varies at one, as some babies aren’t walking yet and other are full throttle ahead! There tends to be a lot of exercise from the adults during these session for the more active children, as we just keep putting them back in position until we get the perfect shot.

We typically try to incorporate a chalkboard into the set up, and then after the session I will “photoshop” on the information to the chalkboard.

Check out my Pinterest Board for ideas:

Ideas for one year sessions

Ideas for cake smashes

Cakes for one year sessions

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