You're so excited! You just found out that soon that little bun in your oven will become the newest part of your family. It's a pretty cool feeling, and you want to make sure you capture even moment of love that comes along the way. Hiring a professional photographer to follow you day in and day out is probably not doable though (nor would you want a camera-clicking stranger just hanging around all the time lol!). That's why I've put together 8 Milestones throughout your pregnancy and baby's first year to make sure you document and capture all the special moments along the way.
Announcing to Your Significant Other/ Older Siblings
Whether this is your first baby or this ain't your first rodeo, telling your significant other (and older siblings for that matter) is always a fun experience. Once you get that positive test, it's hard to keep this news a secret! For Baby #2, I immediately ran outside and yelled "We did it!" to my husband who was working in the yard. I think the neighbors found out I was pregnant before he did. My older son heard the yelling and excitement and ran out, so he found out right then and there too. Looking back on it, I wish I had waited to have a photographer capture their reactions. I'll never forget my hubby and son's faces, but it would be great for them to see exactly what that emotion looks like. Maybe next time?
Announcing Your Pregnancy
No doubt this was the hardest thing for me to wait for. I wanted to make sure that I had gotten my ducks in a row before telling the whole world, including social media. For me, 8-13 weeks was a good time to announce. Want to shout it from a mountain top while holding a positive test in your hand like a trophy? You go girl! Want to wait until your 10 cm dilated and baby is almost here to hop on Facebook? It's selfie time! Only you and your partner know when is the best time to tell anyone. But get ready for the loads of love once you do tell your friends, family, coworkers, and strangers on the internet. More than likely, they will be overjoyed for you!
Find Your Professional Photographer
If you are wanting a professional photographer to capture your gender reveal, maternity, or newborn life moments, Week 16 of your pregnancy seems to be the best time to find and hire your memory maker. This gives you plenty of time to get on their calendar, plan wardrobe, and have planning meetings with your photographer before baby arrives. For my clients, I like to book at least 2-3 weeks (4-6 weeks for newborn sessions) ahead of time so I can check location conditions, meet them in person to talk about services I offer, and see what their print needs are. Also, make sure you look at their portfolios before hiring a photographer. You want their vibe to vibe with your vibe, right? Make sure you mesh aesthetically before you shell out the moolah for a professional photographer for any life moment or event.
Gender Reveal Session
Oh, gender reveals are so much fun! I have photographed gender reveals where I am the ONLY person on the planet (besides the doc) who knows if you're having a boy or girl. No Pressure! Whether you're throwing a huge gender reveal party, surprising Grandma with a pink or blue onesie, or enjoying the excitement with just your family, gender reveals can be a great way to capture the surprise of God's greatest gift. I am the type of person who can't wait until it's Go Time to know. I'm just too much of a planner for that. But, a gender reveal is a way to have the best of both worlds. You're still surprised, but can still prepare.
Mamas-to-be are some of the most beautiful people on the planet. That pregnancy glow is a real thing and growing new life is something that God blessed you as a mother to do. If you haven't photographed your baby bump by a professional photographer by your 6-7 month mark, this is the time to do so. This is the sweet spot because you are past the nauseous, exhausted first trimester, but haven't quite started the "I'm so uncomfortable I can't walk" phase. Your bump is not a force of it's own quite yet, so wardrobe seems to fit a smidge better during this time frame too. Most photographers offer belly-to-baby packages that include maternity sessions, so keep a look out for that.
Birth / Fresh 48 Session
while in hospital
The birth of your child is a personal, intimate, emotionally charged time in your life. You will experience feelings that you've never felt before and each birth is different. Having a trusted professional to be a fly on the wall that day can produce irreplaceable images of your baby's first breaths. However, if you're not super comfortable with a stranger being in the birthing room, a Fresh 48 session may be the best option for you. These sessions are held within 48 hours of birth at the hospital. You'll be able to freshen up beforehand, put on that pretty robe you bought from Etsy months ago, and not be completely swimming in anesthesia medications. It's a great way to capture the small window of time after birth before heading home with your newest bundle of joy.
5-10 days after birth
Newborn babies are my absolute favorite. Their smell, their teeny, tiny toes, their sweet cries, and their ability to sleep through even the loudest older sibling. Such joy! Newborn sessions are special because you are capturing the very beginning of what will surely be an incredible life. The 5-10 day old rule is not a hard and fast rule, but over the years I have found that to be the sweet spot for newborn sessions. You have hopefully been home a few days from the hospital and had a little time to adjust to your new normal. I photograph all my newborn sessions in my clients' home which means you don't have to pack a diaper bag and load up the car to get beautiful portraits made. Plus, baby is still pretty "squishy" (the technical term for still flexible with less muscle resistance to wrapping, etc.) so you're able to get all those unique newborn poses and wrappings that are so popular. You can participate in the newborn portraits, or you can hang out in your favorite sweatpants with a top knot and a much needed coffee. Either way, make sure you book a newborn session. You'll definitely want to be able to look back on these memories (because trust me, you won't remember your own name for a while let alone what your baby looked at one week old).
Baby's First Year
(3 months, 6 months, 9 months, and 1 year)
You will be shocked at how much your baby changes from birth to their first birthday. They go from this small, helpless little bundle to a busy, walking, talking toddler in twelve months! Oh, and once they start moving, there is no looking back. The first year's milestones are so fun to capture as a photographer because I get to see my clients grow and change before my very eyes. You may not notice the subtle changes that happen over that first year since you see them every day. But once you look at the difference between your 3-month portraits and your 9-month portraits, that's when the tears start and you say "where did the time go?!". It really is a pretty cool experience. Most newborn and child photographers offer packages that span the entire first year, typically spaced out every three months. I suggest varying the type of session you have for each stage so you have more variety (meaning outdoor for one, indoor with setups for another, etc.), but stick with maybe the same color scheme throughout so your baby's First Year album has some continuity.
Did I miss anything? Hopefully this list gives you a guide to making sure you capture all the wonderful moments from bump to baby. But what about after the first year? Typically my clients aim for a photo session every six months until their child is around three years old. That seems to be the best time to switch to a yearly family session schedule, but some maintain every six months. And trust me, I have never heard a parent complain about having too many pictures of their children!
So from one mama to another, enjoy the time when they are little. Time does fly when you're having fun, so make sure you capture it!
Julia Ervin is a professional photographer based in Brenham, Texas. Julia specializes in newborns, families, children, and weddings. She has been a photographer for five years and has loved every single click. When not behind the lens, Julia is keeping up with her busy 6-year-old, watching him enjoy soccer, swimming, play dates, and choir. She has been married to her wonderful husband, Michael, for eight years and they are expecting their second son in July 2020. Glory to God for this crazy ride we call life!