Baby First Birthday Photography – Tips & Tricks To Get The Best Photos!

1st birthday portraits - little girl in a tutu

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How to take first birthday portraits and have them turn out! These baby first birthday photography tips are so helpful, and your photos will turn out stunning!

Before The Photoshoot: Plan Ahead For the Best 1st Birthday Photography Shoot

Pick a Theme For Baby First Birthday Photography

Choose a theme or a color scheme for the photoshoot. Once you have a theme in mind you will need to buy or make decorations in coordinating colors. A simple crepe paper garland can be made in any color and are cheap to make.

Also, choose a location for the photo shoot. Will you do an indoor shoot by a window or are you able to have an outdoor photoshoot.

If you will be having an indoor photoshoot you will need a photo backdrop. The backdrop will get very messy if you are having a cake smash. A white sheet or a large roll of paper (that can be thrown away after the shoot) work very well.

For an outdoor shoot, you will not need to buy a backdrop, find a beautiful spot outdoors that will add to your photos!

baby first birthday photography - candy themed first birthday photo


You will want your baby to be the focus of the photo shoot, not the props, so don’t go overboard here! Choose one or two props to add to the photo shoot. You can always switch out props for different photos, but don’t overdo it.

1st birthday photography - baby in a rainbow tutu


Have some fun here but don’t go crazy. Choose 1-3 different outfits. Changing babies too many times will just make them cranky. For little girls, I love putting them into tutus for their 1st birthday portraits.

For whichever outfits you choose make sure it coordinates with your theme and background. Also, keep in mind if you are doing a cake smash, make sure your baby is wearing something that you are okay with getting ruined.

baby first birthday photography - baby girl with donut background


If you are brave enough for a big mess, do a cake smash session with your one-year-old. You will get some unforgettable shots of some messy fun!

The type of cake you chose matters! You will want a white cake; it looks better in the photos. You can make a small cake or purchase one from a bakery. I love this funfetti cake recipe, and the sprinkles inside will add a pop of color to your photoshoot.

The frosting of the smash cake should not be white, white is easy to overexpose while taking your photos. Plus, a fun color of frosting will add a pop of color to your photoshoot. Frost the cake with this buttercream frosting.

The cake should be at room temperature when doing the cake smash. A cold cake and frosting will not smash as easily as a room-temperature cake. And the baby can easily get bored if this happens. The frosting will also smear more when room temperature and you defiantly want this for your photos!

Skip a cake stand and highchair in your cake smash photos. A cake stand can get broken or knocked over while the baby is smashing the cake. And if the baby is in a highchair, you will miss out on some excellent photos of a messy-legged baby!

1st birthday portraits - baby in a bathtub slashing water

Happy Baby

No one wants a photoshoot with a grumpy baby. Make sure you choose the time of the day when your baby is the happiest. The baby needs to be well-rested and feed before the pictures to ensure the best results.

Bring a snack and something for your baby to drink if they get thirsty.

At The Photoshoot: Baby First Birthday Photography Tricks On The Day Of The Photoshoot

Perfect Lighting For 1st Birthday Photography

Inside Photos:

An inside photoshoot needs to happen in a well-light room near lots of windows, but no direct sunlight. Direct sunlight will create harsh shadows in your photos. Turn off the lights in the room and the flash off on your camera.
Make sure no one is in the path of the light (the windows) or they will create shadows in your photos.

Outside Photos:

If you are doing outside photos, find an area that is in full direct shade. If you are seeing harsh shadows on the ground, they will show up in your photos.

Have a Helper

I would suggest having someone else help with your photoshoot (dad, grandma, grandpa…) Someone that you trust to help keep your baby in the photo location. And they can help make your one-year-old laugh or focus their attention for a few moments.

mommy and me pictures - little boy with his mom

Mommy And Me Pictures

If you are able, hand your camera off to your helper for a few Mommy and me pictures! These are some photos that you can treasure and help you remember this special day.

It would be fun to coordinate outfits for these pictures. Maybe baby wears your high heels or a picture of you twirling your baby around.

Photo Tips

Take hundreds of photos during your photoshoot and get as many angles as possible. Don’t expect every photo to turn out. You may only get a handful of really good photos, but that is okay. The more photos you take the better chance that you will capture the perfect 1st birthday portraits.

While taking the photo get down at their level. Kneel on the ground, so that you are not always taking shots from above.

If a photographer is taking the photos, be sure you communicate what shots you would like to capture.

Your photoshoot may not go the way you wanted, and that is okay. You need to be flexible and read the signs your baby is giving you.

1 year old cake smash photography- baby smashing a cake

1-Year-Old Cake Smash Photography

Before letting your 1-year-old get the cake make sure you get some before shots (and after shots too!). And then let the baby go to town on the cake. If he/she is unsure of the cake, help them out a bit and put their hand in the cake and then into their mouth.

Make sure to get close-up photos of cake-covered baby legs and fingers, and a little cake bottom crawling away!

If you are doing a cake shot away from home, bring extra clothes and towels to wipe up your baby afterward. You also need to be wearing clothes that you are okay with getting covered in cake (someone has to pick up the cake-covered baby after the photos are taken).

After The Photoshoot: Editing Tips To Get The Best 1st Birthday Portraits

After the photoshoot, you will need to edit the photos. I love using Snapseed on my cellphone or Lightroom on my computer. Play with the exposure and shadow settings, to find what makes your photos look the best.

If you took some photos against a plain white wall, you could edit your photo to add some text, such as your child’s name, birthday, and favorite things.

1 year old cake smash photography - baby boy with his face in a cake


baby first birthday photography


If you loved the 1st birthday photography tips, I’d love for you to leave a comment and review!

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