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Andrew Carter: Month by Month Photo Project

I've been working on this photo project of Andrew month by month since he was born. I can't believe 6 months ago we brought our little monkey, Andrew Carter, home from the hospital! Now I know what parents mean when they say that it goes by soooo fast.  I find myself amazed by how fast Andrew grows, learns, and how his personality blossoms, on a daily, and sometimes hourly basis! And, of course, I want to catch every minute of it on film. 

A little over 2 months ago now, I welcomed home another baby, of sorts. My new Canon Rebel T3 :) which I luuuuurve. 
It takes beautiful pictures, and I'm so glad I can now document our family with quality snapshots. (Click to see just how the picture quality compares to my old Casio and iPhone 4 camera, it's ridiculous.)

If you don't have a newbie human of your own to photograph, wouldn't this be a wonderful gift to do for a friend or family member? Maybe a surprise revealed on Baby's first birthday? Photo book of Baby's first year? People with good quality cameras can be a huge blessing to parents without! :)

I was inspired to do this project by the amazing Sheri of Young House Love. She explains how she did her photo shoots here

I followed the same basic steps. Here's how I did it.

  • Camera
  • White onesie
  • Small Human
  • Backdrop
  • Your favorite Photo editing software 

Step 1. Wardrobe! Grab your cute little subject and stick them in a white onesie. It can be any color, but I like white because it lets you focus on Baby's face, and gives all the pictures a consistent look.

Step 2. Set the stage.  Somewhere with an abundance of soft, natural light is ideal. I shoot at roughly the same time of day for similar lighting.  Fortunately Andrew's nursery was a good spot to shoot in mid afternoon. (I just learned about setting the white balance on my camera for even more color consistency. I'll have to figure it out and try it next time!)

 I draped a white sheet over his crib for my backdrop. You can use pretty much anything, a few yards of leftover fabric, a blanket, remnants from the discount rack at the fabric store. I liked using the wide sheet and having a large area to shoot in, especially as Andrew gets more mobile and squirmy.

Step 3. Snap Away :) I usually take between 40-90 shots, and end up with a hand full (5-10) of keepers. With babies, my motto is: more is better. If your camera has the ability to take "rapid fire" shots, that might give you an extra edge too, and capture that heart-melting smile at just the right millisecond. 

Step 4. Edit. There are a wide variety of photo editors to chose from ranging from simple to complex. Some come already on your computer like Windows Photo Gallery or iPhoto. You can download ones like Gimp and Picasa. You can also use online editors like PhixrSplash Up, and Pixler. I used Picnik for these photos, which ironically Google is closing on April 19th (whyyyyyyyy...?). I really like that program, and I'm pretty bitter it is being taken down! : /

Any editor you use should have all the basic editing tools needed. In broad terms, here's how I edit:
  1. Lighten exposure a bit
  2. Increase contrast a bit
  3. Usually increase color saturation
  4. Set tint color to "cooler" or more blue

I've found too much of a good thing is not a good thing when it comes to editing photos. Slight adjustments make for great results, while too drastic "improvements" make things look unnatural and decrease the image. So tweaky, tweaky, just don't get too freaky:).

How I add the the circle and number:
  1. Select a circle shape, and center it over Andrew's chest.
  2. Select a color for the circle.
  3. Fade the circle slightly (so I can see the wrinkles of his shirt underneath, and it looks more like it is printed on his onesie).
  4. Add the number with a text box, in Impact font. Size it so that it pretty much fills up the circle.
  5. Turn the number so it lines up with Andrew's face.
  6. Pick the shade of white for the number based on Andrew's onesie (so it looks more like it's on the shirt). Picnik had an eyedropper tool to select a color by pointing to it.

Here is Andrew's first 6 months!

I also made a second version of the pictures, adding milestones and details about his development:

6 months down, 6 to go! What do you think? Any tips/suggestions? I plan to take these monthly pics through his first year. Wouldn't it be cool to frame all 12 photos in one massive frame? Or as a wedding gift when Andrew gets married?? (ok, maybe not) :)

<3 Alyssa
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UPDATE: Thank you Kathryn at Destination: CraftKatie at Creatively Living, and Alexis at We Like To Learn as We Go  for featuring my photo project!
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