December 27, 2013

Hardest Kept Secret, Nicole’s Baby Book

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This has been one of my most ambitious photography projects, and also one of the hardest secrets to keep. Now that each of the grandparents have received their baby book Christmas gift, I wanted to share this project with you!

For Nicole’s baby book we purchased a 24 page photo book, using 12 whole page images.

1 Month

2 Months

3 Months

4 Months

5 Months

6 Months

7 Months

8 Months

9 Months

10 Months

11 Months

12 Months

I had been reading a fair number of ‘mommy blogs’ when I was pregnant with Nicole, and wanted to do an age progression baby book. I thought I’d be different and use baby blocks instead of the typical tummy stickers. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t seen anyone else use baby blocks before. It seemed like such an obvious idea. Turns out there’s a reason the stickers are so popular. The first couple of months with the blocks were easy, but once she realized she could reach those blocks, everything got a whole lot harder.

My intention was for each month to represent a different milestone: smiling, sitting, clapping, first tooth, etc. I also had this grand vision of the baby blocks neatly aligned, a big smile on Nicole’s face as she looked straight into the camera. Ahh Naive Sarah, so Naive.

Lessons Learned:

  1. While cute in concept, the milestone idea was the most difficult aspect to execute. I gave up at seven months. I was having too hard coming up with milestone ideas, and an even harder time convincing Nicki to show off the desired milestones. Instead I repeating some poses (on her back for 2 & 8 month photos, on her tummy for 3 & 9). It worked out for the better. I think the repeated posses really emphasized how much she had changed. I only wish I had given up on the milestone idea sooner. Her five month milestone is holding a block, but in reality she was able to hold much sooner, and the 5 month photo feels so different because of it.
  2. Variety is key. Once I’d given up on the milestone idea, I started doing multiple different posses each month: sitting, lying down, to the left of the blocks, right, etc. This gave me more flexibility, so if the only good 9 month photo was of her lying down, I could use her 8 month sitting photo and not have the same pose back to back.
  3. Consistency is hard (and it’s noticeable when things aren’t consistent.) I accidentally used a different lens on month 6, and with the difficult winter lighting the photo looks different from the rest. Even with the same lens and same camera body, the camera settings will need to change. As Nicki grews and became more mobile, the depth of field necessary to keep her in focus as well as the shutter speed needed to freeze the motion changed. Add the changing lighting conditions and it’s easy for photos to start having minor differences in the amount of shadow, brightness, etc. Next time I plan to print out the previous month’s photos so I can immediately compare them with the current set. I hope that makes it easier to achieve a consistent look.
  4. Photo editing can save your sanity. A number of the above photos were off center, or had the backdrop edge in the photo. Hey, it’s HARD to get everything lined up perfectly with a squirmy child! For the 10 month old photo she’s staring right at the camera and smiling. It was the only one where she was in focus, smiling at the camera. The problem? Almost half that background wasn’t a backdrop at all. I ended up shooting at a slightly different angle than anticipated and the backdrop wasn’t wide enough. Indeed the raw photo contains the door and some of the hall way. Since retaking the photo isn’t always a practical idea (go ahead, try and ask a ten month old to pose the same way again), it’s worth spending a little time learning how to clone the background and fix those minor issues.

Material Costs
Uncle Goose ABC Blocks: $30
Extra block(s), one block was damaged due to teething, and we needed an extra letter: $4

Total costs: $34

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  1. […] 2, there’s less time to be had behind the camera anyway. It would be impossible to duplicate Nicki’s baby book with Alexis. There were times when the book felt like an impossible project as just a mother of […]


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