As a photographer, you probably love capturing and freezing time in the lives of your children and babies.
I know I do!
These images are priceless as they grow so quickly, especially that very first year of their lives. Everyone said they’d grow up in a blink and they were so right. I distinctly remember thinking at the end of the first year with my daughter, “Wow, the day’s are so long sometimes, but the first year sure did fly by!”
You probably feel pretty confident behind the camera taking pictures if you are a photographer, and I’d like to challenge you to try something new if you haven’t yet. Switch that cute little dial over to video. Yes! Try it! There are so many details that first year that are beautiful in still images, but truly sing and come to life when they are in motion. Let me break it down to 5 moments to make it less overwhelming.
I am a big fan of the phrase “Done is better than perfect.” Don’t worry about taking excellent video, just do it so it’s done and you will feel relieved that you have it to look back on later.
I’d encourage you to start by making a folder on your computer called “Baby’s First Year” to store the clips. At the end of the year, you can pick your favorites (or all of them!) and easily put them together.
Video clips don’t need to be longer than a few seconds each, and when your exposure is great for a photograph, it’s probably just fine for some video too. Keep in mind shaky footage can be distracting and unusable, so try to use a wider lens, like a 35 if you are hand holding, or use some kind of stability for your camera like a tripod or table top for your favorite 50mm or zoom lenses.
As you create these videos, remember that this isn’t something that’s just for you. It’s a love letter to your baby.
Here are my top five video clips for baby’s first year:
1. Newborn at the hospital, and again at home
We all know (especially if you specialize in newborn photography) that a “newborn” is only a curly little sleepy bundle for a couple weeks.
Take a few video clips of your time in the hospital. Get some variety like the big view of the room with your tiny baby in the bassinet. Hand the camera over and let a friend or your spouse get video of you feeding your new baby, or baby getting his or her first bath.
You are most likely going to be recovering so it’s ok to hand the camera over! Have a short list of video you’d like to capture and let others help with that.
Get some clips of siblings meeting the newest member. At home, try to get some video clips in the nursery (this could even be done before baby comes home) and your home. You might move someday, and having video of their first home and street, even if they don’t remember it, tells a great story they will love seeing later. Capturing their tiny cry (you know it’s about to get louder!) and their sweet sounds is really adorable, too.
If you are hiring a newborn photographer, ask them to take a few video clips of your family together. Baby with mommy and daddy is especially sweet. You can also do this on your own with good light and a tripod. It’s worth the effort.
2. First smiles and gurgley coos
Is there anything sweeter than a first smile? Inevitably babies don’t perform on command so these can be hard to capture. Again, done is better than perfect, and if you have an iPhone grab a few clips with that. Sometimes the big camera in their face freaks babies out a little, so try a tripod and let your baby look in your eyes and smile.
3. Rolling, sitting, bouncing, crawling, eating, bath time, sleeping, and playing
New actions and milestones are fun to capture in video. Don’t forget to get in the frame with baby. Set the camera on a counter or coffee table and push record. Of course, your DSLR or mirrorless camera is going to take beautiful video, but grab the camera that’s handy to keep it easy.
Make sure to grab some b-roll too, like their fingers grabbing a toy, details of your home, the spoon with their first taste of sweet potatoes, and messy faces.
4. Family in motion
Your immediate family with their newest member is beautiful! Get mommy, daddy, and sibling shots whenever you can. Grandparents are pretty special too. Older generations with younger is something to be cherished now, but even more later on. I love baby hands holding on to grandparent’s older and weather-worn hands.
5. First birthday
Your baby is one year old! Congrats to him or her, and also you! Being a mommy is a tough, messy, tiring, and extremely rewarding job.
Grab some video of baby’s first birthday party, and of course, his or her first bite of cake and icing. If you prefer taking stills, let your husband or other family member grab the video clips. Often first steps are taken around one year, so grab those on film too.
I started getting serious with video when my youngest was 4, not when I had a brand new baby. I did, however, take some video clips with my big camera and my iPhone. I used Animoto to put them together in a slideshow video. It’s one of my favorite things to watch on his birthday with him. (He just turned 6, and watched it like 15 times in a row this year.)
My business partner, Kim Bear, and I offer video with our first year program. At first, parents were not sure it was necessary, and some asked to take it out of the package because it made us more expensive. We stayed firm, believing strongly in our product, and though we aren’t primarily newborn photographers, we usually attract clients because of our first-year video now.
And those parents that wanted to take it out of the package? Yeah, they bawled like a baby after seeing that first year edited and put together to music.
Clients are now truly seeing the value, it separates us in our market, and it’s so worth our time to create.
Video isn’t new anymore, but because it takes time and has a bit of a learning curve, photographers don’t flip the switch to video as much as they could. Start at home with your own kids, and don’t stress about the perfect setting. Just start taking some short (like a few seconds!) clips and put them together.
I highly recommend Adobe Premiere, but iMovie and other software work beautifully as well.
Your baby’s first year is going to be stunning in photographs, and now video too! We all start somewhere, so start taking some video today. It’s worth it, I promise.