The first birthday of a child is such a special milestone!

It’s also an age full of progress, wide smiles and adorable expressions.

However, from a photographer’s perspective, one year olds can be tricky little subjects. They are not the happily-seated baby that they used to be a few months ago, they want to move all the time and are little bundles of energy.

Unfortunately, most of them cannot walk on their own yet at 12 months, so you can’t focus this one-year-old session on their first steps.

What are the secrets to a successful session with a non-walking one year old? Here are a few easy tips to capture memorable images.

1. Helping hand

Even if they cannot toddle on their own yet, they usually can walk pretty well if their parents hold their hand. They will be very happy to show you their new walking skills (especially if you express very loudly how impressed you are), and even more happy if you make them swing!

mom and dad helping toddler walk by Lisa Tichane of Tout Petit Pixel
one year old photo session by Lisa Tichane of Tout Petit Pixel

2. Peek-a-boo

A classic that never gets old. In this image, sweet Alma is in her Mom’s arms, who is propping her from behind the wall to surprise me. She is delighted to hear me scream with amazement every time I see her cute face showing up!

baby playing peek a boo by Lisa Tichane of Tout Petit Pixel

3. Belly laughs

One year olds can have the most infectious belly laughs, and the good news is that they are actually pretty easy to capture! Ask one of their parents to tickle them or give them a “blowing raspberries” kiss or, like in the image below, a big noisy kiss on the neck!

Interview with French photographer Lisa Tichane of Tout Petit Pixel

4. Deep eyes

Parents will always melt for a meaningful headshot. Fortunately, one year olds can have the deepest soulful look when they are serious, so don’t forget to capture it! Let them focus on something they want to do, place yourself slightly above them, and make a weird/funny noise to catch their attention. Be quick, one year olds are very easily distracted, so you won’t get strong eye contact for long… But one second is enough to get the perfect image!

getting eye contact in a one year olds photo by Lisa Tichane of Tout Petit Pixel 5

5. Upside down

Most one year olds will get very cranky if you try to prevent them from moving around. But if you hire a helper (or two!) to hang them upside down, you’ll be able to keep them happy for a little moment, while getting the widest smiles ever!

Related: 5 ways to rock your toddler session

mom and dad playing with baby by Lisa Tichane of Tout Petit Pixel

6. They can’t walk, but they can fly!

Another great way to make a one year old smile big is the airplane trick! You will get happy expressions from the baby AND the parent at the same time, which is a sweet bonus.

dad flying toddler by Lisa Tichane of Tout Petit Pixel
mom playing airplane with baby by Lisa Tichane of Tout Petit Pixel

7. Happy cuddles

Tender moments are a must with one year old babies, especially if they involve some sort of wrestling/tickling/play. Remember, they hate to stay still for more than a second at this age, so you must give them a good reason to remain in the picture!

toddler tickles from mom and dad by Lisa Tichane of Tout Petit Pixel

8. Fly-on-the-wall

Last but not least, take a long focal length lens (I have the Canon 135L for this), step back and just let them be. You’ll be able to capture sweet faces and details without interrupting their little routine.

photo of a toddlers face by Lisa Tichane of Tout Petit Pixel