When my daughter was born, I knew I wanted to document her each month as she grew. We were living in NYC in a tiny alley way apartment with minimal natural light, but I just decided I'd take the pictures on our bed each month. I didn't put much thought into it before hand and just set about taking monthly photos. Here they are just as I edited them 5 years ago (which is pretty embarrassing for the most part!)
I of course loved taking these photos and even with the horrible editing and camera work, I am so grateful I have them to see how she changed so much and so quickly in that first year! But after documenting her first year, there were a few things I changed when I documented my son's first year.
1. Consistency in the Setting
I realized that while I usually had her on our bed every time, it was too big/I zoomed in close each month to really see how she changed in size relative to the bed. Find a stuffed animal, blanket, sign, something to place next to your child each month. This will show how they grow relative to that stagnant object.
2. Indicate Age in the Picture
Each month, when I edited my daughter's pictures, I took the image into photoshop and typed in what month it was. This was fine, but I actually lost some of the pictures to a computer crash (had them backed up online though! Always back up!) and now the only copy of that picture I have has typing on it. I wish the month was a part of the photo rather than just typed on top. I also don't have to worry about not knowing how old my boy was in his pictures since the sign indicates it. I was a little less likely to immediately edit my son's pictures #secondbabyproblems so thats another reason to have the month indicated in the photo, just in case!
3. Tricks to Keep Up with Monthly Photos
I actually write down in my calendar each month on the day I need to take my child's monthly photo. I've also made it as easy as possible to do it. No big set up. I have a light board I'm using to indicate the month with my third baby. I keep it in his closet, pull it out to update the month, plop it and the baby on the chair in his room, open the curtains up as wide as they'll go and snap away. Super easy! My goal isn't to do big elaborate set ups (which might be yours! And that's awesome, but too time consuming for me with 3 kids), my goal is to document what they looked like each month and see the progression. The simpler it is, the more likely you are to keep up with it.
4. Tricks to Keep Baby Happy
First, keep it short! I seriously take their photos in about 10 minutes. I work hard initially to get a smile/them looking at me. Then I just move around them and get close up shots and different angles. I sometimes enlist big siblings or dad to help grab baby's attention, but I just need a few. As they get a older, I also tend to give them a book or a classic toy to hold so they're more likely to stay in one spot. Another trick I've used a few times is to give baby a piece of tape. Roll it up like you're going to use it as double sided tape and hand it to baby. They'll be intrigued, but the tape is unobtrusive in the picture. Win-win for everyone!
You don't need a ton of photos. I usually get around 50-60 and only keep 10-20. Even then, how often do I look at 20 photos from my baby each month? I create a family yearbook each year and I'll make a 1-2 spreads for the monthly photos, but you really don't need a lot. I post one to instagram with all the important stats from that month (photo is always just taken with my phone for that) and I'll eventually print one for their baby books. I love having pictures of my kids and family, but you really don't need as many as you think to tell the story.