A Field Guide to Child Development for Photographys' Sake

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Newborn to 3 Months

Basically you have to take them as they come. Most will be asleep others will not give you any poses other than a sweet stare (or glare). Photographing babies flat on their back is the best recommendation. Propping them up on pillows or rolled up blanket/throw is also suggested. Slow shutter speeds are good for this age group since heavy movement is not this group’s forte.

4 to 6 Months

Babies will start holding up their heads and have much better neck strength. This is a great age for tummy/arm poses. Grabbing at and holding objects is what these babes enjoy the most. Soft tickles around the nose or chin will make babies smile and giggle for you. However, shoot fast! This age group tires easily and will probably need a nap after his picture is taken.

6 to 9 Months

The back and spine muscles are strengthening, yay! Babies will more than likely start rolling over. They will like to grab at their feet and take tiny nibbles at the toes. Sitting up will happen for short bursts at a time, so if you want a sit-up picture be quick before he slowly tumbles to the side. Squeaky toys, bells, rattles and whistles will keep this group at attention for a little while.

9 Months to 1 Year

Imitation is the name of the game for this group. Some game favorites are peek-a-boo and patty-cake. Clothes are his worst enemy; so take advantage of diaper and bare butt shots. They will sit-up for you, but not for too long. These little guys are crawling cruisers so set your shutter speed fast and follow the motion. The downside to this age group is teething: Get your shots quick before irritation sets in!

1 year to 18 Months

This is the ‘I want to walk’ stage! If your little one is not walking by this time, then grabbing and pulling himself up is all he wants to do. And, if he is walking then he is also running and so should you! He is very playful and will command a lot of your attention. Smiling and making YOU smile is one of their favorite past-times. This age is a lot of fun and should yield many precious memories.

Terrific (or Terrible) Twos

Interests shift very fast at two. Chalkboard play, painting, water activities basically anything they can get ‘messy’ with will grab his attention. Bribery will be your best friend so stock up on animal crackers. And, not to mention it, but the ‘I want’ and ‘Gimme’s’ have all kicked in, too. If you want your child to do something specific, don’t say it; do it. Kids at two, respond more to imitation than words, especially if capturing a picture or two is your main goal. Another thing, wear sneakers! You will need them.

Three and Four Years Old

No more imitating for these tikes! Words are their best friend. Tell them what you want, but prepare yourself to hear an occasional ‘no’ from them: Independence Day is everyday to them! Rewarding good behavior will bring you a smile or two, so aim at shooting at a moments notice, they will not keep that pose for long.

Five to Ten Years Old

AH! The Golden Child stage: Eager to please and ready to feel grown up. Posing them is usually a piece of cake; they usually will be your little ‘mannequins’. Even better, strike up a conversation with them and they are putty in your hands. Have fun with this age; it doesn’t get much better (or easier) than this.

The Tween Scene

Welcome the fake smile syndrome! You can basically combat fake smiles by making them laugh, so find something that tickles their funny bone and you are home free.