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Mamarazzi Project

Month One

Week 1

Your Mamarazzi goal is to take a series of photographs that in years to come will remind you of those dreamy first days.

The moment-to-moment is the part of the story that you'll forget the fastest, so shoot daily-life scenes, using daylight whenever possible.

Two great ideas are a close-up of your baby's face while she's sleeping and one while she's crying (the baby may even calm down with the distractions of the camera). The point is to document your newborn's entire experience - waking, napping, stretching; no moment is too small and no scene is too messy!

Week 2

Show your baby’s tiny size by taking a picture when she’s laying in the middle of your bed.

Stand directly over her and set the camera on the widest-angle setting. Include your feet for scale and snap away. Fun toenail polish and a brightly colored bedspread add dimension.

Week 3

As you get used to being on the other side of the camera from your baby, start noticing how the patterns and textures around him - soft crib sheets when he’s sleeping, patterned fabric when he’s in your lap - change the look of your pictures. Being aware of backgrounds will help you frame your photos better.

Week 4

While you’re immersed in caring for your infant, working with your camera can help you take care of yourself - it’s a wonderful way to express all the emotions that come with new parenthood. The next time your baby is stretched out on your lap, try a wide, vertical “parents’-eye-view” shot that includes your newborn and your own legs and feet as well as any other daily life details.


Week 5

For a series of lovely, unusually angled portraits of two fo your favorite people, have your partner (or your mom or best friend) lay on the floor face-up. Use the crook of the adult’s neck as a “pillow” for your newborn by laying the baby on his back with his head nestled there, looking straight up at you. Stand over the pair, make silly noises to get Baby’s attention, and shoot straight down.

Week 6

Your baby is filling out - it’s a great time to start shooting close-ups. Near a well-lit window or outdoors, lay your baby down on a pretty blanket, then get low to the floor so you can shoot the bottoms of her feet, then her hands. Come as close as you can (by zooming in, and by moving yourself closer) in order to fill the camera’s frame with a study of the mysterious wrinkles and delicate shapes. The idea here is that you’re telling your baby’s story through all the details of her tiny body and all the little folds and wrinkles in her skin.

Week 7

Feeling comfortable with close-ups of your baby? Get creative. Try placing your baby’s hand in an adult’s for scale and shooting an assortment of the two hands with different angles, exploring the most artful composition you can find. A baby’s delicate ear shot close up, can also make a beautiful still life.

Week 8

For an artsy photo, try shooting close-ups of your baby with your camera in a black-and-white setting. Black-and-white lets you pay attention to both the textures and the tone of your baby’s skin. And as the light changes during the day and in different parts of your house, really be aware of how the different lights alter how your baby’s body looks.

Month Three

Week 9

Try shooting your baby's skin against your partner’s. One weekend morning before you're all up and dressed, have Dad hold the baby (wearing only a diaper) against his bare chest (your little one will appreciate the physical contact). Or take a picture of your baby's hand against your partner’s. Remember to zoom or move in close. You don't need to see dad's face in this shot.

Week 10

One must-have baby shot is the bared tush. It's a classic, plus you'll be able to embarrass your child with it down the road. Here's how to make it great. Lay your infant down on a textured background (sheepskin, gingham tablecloth, bedspread), and slowly zoom in to the shot looks right.

Week 11

Your baby has been your focus during her first two months. Now it's time to remember yourself! When your child is grown, you'll be interested to see what you looked like “back then”. So this week, come up with a few mommy-only and mommy-and-baby shots. If you haven't yet done so, check your camera's manual to find out how to set the self timer. You'll need a steady table or stool at the correct height to rest your camera on, or ask a family member or friend to shoot the picture you have in mind.

Week 12

If you're still following doctor's orders and sleeping when the baby sleeps, nap-time is a great time to shoot a beautiful baby-and-me shot. Ask someone who lives with you to slip in and snap a photo of the two of you in dreamland, your faces together- without a flash of course, or use the self timer and fake it. Take plenty of photos of your baby asleep, too.

Week 13

Many parents watch their baby turn three or four, and realize that Mom took all the photos, so she was rarely in them. If you're the one who's spending most of the time behind the camera, hand the camera to dad or a good friend and ask him to document your life as mom that way as your baby grows, you'll be able to remember and show your child pictures of you caring for the baby in all those myriad ways - bathing, changing, walking, cuddling, reading to, etc.

Month Four

Week 14

You and your baby have nursing down by now; time to preserve the experience in a picture. Either use your tripod and camera’s self-timer or ask someone close to you to take photographs while you’re nursing or bottle feeding. This kind of photography may make you self-conscious at first, but you’ll be happy to have the images in the future as a way to remember your earliest days as a new parent.

Week 15

Your baby probably has a lot of visitors during these first six months; capture them with your camera as often as possible. If you haven’t already, start shooting this new theme this week - and repeat, repeat, repeat as friends and family members visit your home. Multiple portraits of the same person at different times in your baby’s life can tell a compelling story.

Week 16

Pick a specific spot to serve as your portrait studio and ask each of your visitors to use there, holding the baby. Choose somewhere that has plenty of daylight so that you can avoid using the flash. You can also create a special background by hanging a piece of fabric - maybe something that denotes “newborn” - or keeping fresh flowers in a vase. You’ll end up with a sweet series of photos for an album.

Week 17

Make this another week of capturing the important people in your baby’s life. When you’re shooting friends and relatives who come to visit, pay special attention to your surroundings and choose good natural light to work in. Use your subject’s assessors - hats, umbrellas, purses and so on - as props; they’ll improve your portrait by adding texture and color. Try shooting each visitor with the baby held close to his or her face.

Month Five

Week 18

Experiment a little with your visitor-and-baby portraits. Good portraits convey emotion, so try shooting one typical “smile” shot, then ask your visitor to do anything but smile and shoot that. Next, create an intimate-connection-shot by asking your visitor to hold the baby nose to nose, and move or zoom in until the faces fill the camera frame.

Week 19

Many of the people who are visiting your baby now will become important figures in her life as she grows. Take a moment to make an album, either on a photo sharing site or on your computer, of pictures showing your baby with each of these relatives and special friends. As the years pass, this could become one of your favorite albums, I promise!

Week 20

As mundane as simple photos of a drippy baby bottle or chewed board book may seem, they will tell an emotional and memorable story for years to come and will also jog your memory about exactly what your baby loved. Start testing your still-life skills by picking one favorite toy or object or rattle baby bottle etc and shooting it in different lighting conditions, including direct sunlight and cloudy daylight. You'll be surprised to see how certain types of light can transform an object from mundane to artful. As usual, this is best done with the flash turned off.

Week 21

Last week you shot still lifes of your baby's favorite objects. Now it's time to bring the baby into the shot. Give him one of his favorite toys and shoot close ups of him interacting with it - his small hands grasping a rattle or a stuffed bear, for example. The images you'll create can also be particularly great when used as thank you cards for those who gave him the toys as gifts.

Month Six

Week 22

Your floor is a mess of toys and various other baby items - don’t fret! This seemingly chaotic scattering can make for some really beautiful images. This week make your still life more complex by shooting multiple items in one picture, with or without your baby in the middle of it. Although still lifes can be artful in black and white, pick color this time. Your photos will be a riot.

Week 23

A great way to shoot many of your baby's favorite items in one shot is by propping him on pillows, next to a stack of his toys. Make your own baby paradise by building a toy mountain, or find one that formed naturally against an attractive background, such as a brightly colored rug and shooting it both with and without your baby in the frame. Either way, you'll both enjoy looking back on the paradise for years to come.

Week 24

As your baby grows, so does her personality. Start documenting her many different emotions with a month long series of baby expression shots. A great way to get some variety is by making noises as you shoot. So test out different sounds each day to discover how your baby responds to each one with surprise, amazement, curiosity and so on. Since you know how to turn off your camera's flash setting by now (hopefully; if not, consult a photo-savvy friend - or me). Avoid using it by shooting in bright natural light as often as possible.

Week 25

Babies of this age love seeing themselves in the mirror. Make this a photo op. Like different noises, the mirror is a useful tool for bringing out your baby's natural emotions. Shoot from behind while someone else holds the baby who will be smiling and smirking at his reflection. Create a unique family portrait and put your self-portrait skills to good use by keeping the reflections of you, your partner and the camera in the shot.

Week 26

Once you've figured out how to encourage your baby to make various expressions, you can start experimenting with specific shots. Yawns are a great way to create cute and unusual portraits. So bring the camera out around naptime this week. Stay close and pay attention. It may take several attempts to get it just right, but the wait will be worth it.

Month Seven

Week 27

Here's a wonderfully surprising face shot and a great image to send to family and friends: Position yourself in the camera so that you can shoot the baby’s face upside down. You'll see her lovely features in a whole new way. Zooming and moving in as close as you can and experimenting with framing (keep the baby's face up close and center, then try again with her off to the side) are more ways to get an unusual photo with a strong emotional message.

Week 28

Now that you're completely comfortable being out and about with the baby, it's time to take your photo show on the road. Your job this month is to be your baby's personal Mamarazzo and your goal is to shoot as many places and things she comes in contact with as possible. Start by simply bringing your camera along whenever you leave the house. And remember to shoot every interaction, you can always delete later. The camera is a great icebreaker. So you'll also be developing your baby social skills as you shoot.

Week 29

While you're toting your camera along with the baby, pay attention to your surroundings and try to incorporate part of the scenery into each photograph. Like your baby, this environment is likely to change as time passes. So record it now. One way to make the pictures interesting is by placing your baby in intriguing spots as you travel: propped up on the bright red beauty parlor chair, nestled among garden flowers or the displays at the shoe store. Be humorous and take advantage of the fact that your baby probably isn't mobile. Yet.

Week 30

A great series of outdoor baby photos might show, for example, your baby's feet shot from your point of view while you're behind the stroller, or against different backgrounds: street pavement, green grass, beach sand, rain puddles.

Month Eight

Week 31

One way to create beautiful and non traditional baby images outdoors is to take a series of shots from your baby's point of view. Try standing or squatting behind her (include as much or as little of her in the frame as you'd like) and capture her interactions with what's directly in front of her.

Week 32

Your baby's meal times are getting more complex, so it's time for more food photo sessions. To start, keep your camera close so you're ready for the look on his face when he tastes his first spoonful of something new. Surprise? Intrigue? Disgust? Whatever the expression, let that face stay messy! Zoom in and shoot a back-to-back series of images - a dozen or so of these in the slideshow and you'll have the making of an art piece.

Week 33

Feeding time is the perfect opportunity to get yourself into the shot. This week, ask your partner, a grandparent or a friend to hold the camera or use a tripod and a self timer while you do the feeding. Experiment with wide shots to show the details of the room - high chair, table and surrounding mealtime mess.

Week 34

With so many different tones and textures involved. meals are a great way to create beautiful baby images that really pop. Pay attention to color. Bright green pea mixed with orange squash makes for an unforgettable palate, especially against your little one’s skin. Yes, I mean on her face.

Month Nine

Week 35

You don't have to cram your baby's whole meal into a single image. Since you're already a practice still life photographer, try some simple close ups of each part of the feeding process. A spoon messy dishes baby food jars a bib. Individual details can be a simple and meaningful way to remember a much bigger story.

Week 36

Many new digital cameras allow you to shoot photos in black and white. If yours doesn’t, go online to find free photo software that can transform a color image into a black and white one. It's an easy way to add a retro-yet-modern and instantly artsy feeling to your shots. And it's how you'll be taking your photos this month. Black and white photos are best with simple graphic compositions. So start by placing your baby on or near natural graphic shapes- square blankets, round table cloths, etc. Keep shooting over a period of time and you may find that you actually prefer black and white photos to color ones.

Week 37

Black and white photographs contain a whole rainbow of tones and highlighting these subtle differences in color will produce even richer images. This week, add dimension to your photographs by creating a shot in which every element- your baby's clothing and what's in the background- is one solid color. For instance, a white onesy against a white blanket or a blue outfit against a blue sofa. Lay or prop your baby against the background and create graphic portraits that emphasize his facial features and expressions.

Week 38

Black and white photographs are inherently simple, so try adding different elements to your images without cluttering or muddying the frame. One way to do this is by incorporating the surrounding architecture, a window frame rooflines and the distance and a symmetrical brick wall are all interesting backgrounds for baby portraits.

Week 39

Find a spot where direct sunlight creates a shadow of your silhouette near the baby. This works while at the beach. You can keep the baby under an umbrella. Traditionally, including the photographer's shadow in a photograph was considered a mistake. But when you're shooting in black and white, it's a gre