Types of Photo Sessions, Part 2 -- Baby's First Year
by Laura Priestley Photography | Morgantown, WV Family Photographer
This subject might seem basic, but it's the very first factor you'll want to iron out before booking that photo session.
...and in order to answer it, it's helpful to know a little bit about the most common photo session types. This is Part 2 in our overview of portrait session types, focused on different types of sessions that parents book during baby's first year. (Read Part 1 here if you missed it.)
Baby Milestone Session
A milestone portrait session is a fun way to capture and celebrate your baby's growth and change through her first year. Six-month and one-year milestone sessions are the most frequently booked, but three-month and nine-month sessions are popular options as well for those parents who can't bear to miss a single stage of baby's first year.
Milestone sessions can either be shot in a studio session or outdoors, depending on weather and the aesthetic parents want. A studio setting is a popular choice for many parents for milestone portraits, because of the ease of creating custom-designed, color-themed, baby-sized setups like the one pictured below. A milestone session is focused solely on the baby herself, although some photographers may offer family and/or sibling images as an add-on option.
The types of props, poses and setups that will work well for a baby at any given age depend on their physical development; if you have a particular image or setup in mind for your baby, be sure to run it past your photographer along with where your baby is with their physical milestones, to pick the ideal age for the session you're wanting.
The image shown here was created in-home, with a pop-up, on-location studio setup according to my client's requested theme and color scheme.
Cake Smash Session
Cake smash sessions are simply a blast. They're usually shot roughly around a baby's first birthday (although I've been receiving more inquiries for second-birthday cake smash sessions recently as well; and why not!) The cake smash session is scheduled according to the timeline on which the parents will need the final images, so it may actually be shot several weeks before the baby turns one; many parents like to use an image from the session as a graphic for birthday party invitations, or as a printed and framed display at the actual party itself.
For a typical cake smash session, I will usually snap a few cute portraits of the baby while he is still clean, before all the smashing begins. Then, we bring out the cake, and let baby smash and eat to his heart's content, while I snap away with my camera to capture the process, and the parents get to sit back and watch, laugh and enjoy.
Cake smash sessions are focused solely around the baby, although many parents will choose to book a separate family session around their baby's first birthday as well. Attempting to shoot both session types on the same day may seem like an efficient approach, but (from ample experience) I do not recommend this.
A cake smash takes time to accomplish, and one year-olds have a limited attention span for photos. Attempting to combine two session types in one day will nearly always cause the images from one session to suffer-- and that's not what we want!
Milk Bath Session
A baby milk bath session is adorable in its own right, but it is also beloved by many of my breastfeeding mama-clients as a beautiful way to commemorate the breastfeeding season of their child's life. The best age to schedule a milk bath session depends on the individual baby or toddler and the mother's preferences. Many mamas like to schedule the milk bath session either around the time of their baby's first birthday, or around the time that they choose to wean. Since the decision to wean is so personal and individualized, these time frames vary widely.
Some mamas may want a milk bath session when they have been forced by medical or other reasons, to wean earlier than they had intended. In this case, the baby may well be too small to sit safely upright in a tub. For these situations, milk bath images can be shot from above, straight down into a very shallow tub where baby is able to lie on their back in an inch or so of milk.
For a tub-style milk bath, with baby sitting upright in a tub of milk, it's important that the baby is able to easily and consistently hold themselves upright in a sitting position. A baby should never be left unattended in a milk bath *regardless,* of their ability to sit, of course-- but attempting an upright milk bath with a baby that cannot sit upright is a safety risk, even with mama and the photographer there.
This style of session is focused on baby and mama, and the incredible bond shared through breastfeeding. Breastfeeding sessions are scheduled at any point during the breastfeeding season of a baby's life, although I recommend waiting long enough after baby's birth that breastfeeding is well established, so that both mama and baby can be comfortable and relaxed for the session.
Breastfeeding sessions can be shot at home, for candid, authentic lifestyle images that will transport you back to this season of life when you see your them in the future. They can be shot in studio for dramatic and glamorous impact images, or even outside for a beautiful, earthy sylvan feel.
Every mother's comfort level and desire for privacy with breastfeeding is different, and I always structure my breastfeeding sessions around my individual client's preferences.