Baby's first year: Monthly photo collage

I can't take credit for this idea... I saw it on Pinterest somewhere. I loved the idea of documenting the Bean's growth from the beginning, but needed something time and user-friendly.

It was so easy to do! Just buy a set of alphabet letters (I got mine at the Dollar Store), put baby on a white sheet, and click click click away! I pulled the letters for "month" out and had them in a separate Ziplock baggie, so all I needed to do at the first of the month was grab that and the number I needed. It was easy to remember to do, as every month they grow is a milestone that you're very aware of.

Don't worry about getting the "perfect" shot-- just take a lot of them every time so you can have plenty to choose from. As you can see with my little one, sometimes he was fussy, sometimes he needed a snack (on his foot, apparently, or on the letter "S"), sometimes he was just over it. But put those "imperfect" shots together with the good ones, and you encapsulate baby's personality in 12 shots!

A few notes:
1. I used Collage Maker, an Apple app, to put all the pictures together. Another good free photo collage software for download is CollageIt.

For online collage makers, try Photovisi, Loupe, Collage.com, or Fotor.

2. It's fun to see baby's body grow which is why I had him in only a diaper. I always tried to get a full-body shot and have that in a version too (but for the purpose of posting it on the Internet, chose to just show his face).
3. Keeping baby with the same "scenery" every time helps show growth, a perspective which can be hard to capture on camera otherwise. I've seen people put them next to the same stuffed animal, in the same chair, etc.

4. I am anything but a professional photographer, and I know the lighting varies by picture. If you do it in the same place at the same time of day every time, you would get more uniform lighting (and my applause).

5. I reiterate: take a LOT of shots each time. You know babies go through a range of moods in a quick time span, and you want to have lots to choose from. Plus, it's fun to have all the pictures from each month to look back on.

6. As baby gets older, they will want to grab at the letters... let them! You may want to distract them or get a smile by having their favorite toy nearby.

7. There are TONS of great ideas on the Web with variations of this idea so look around. For example, one I loved (and actually tried the first month) was baby next to the number of balloons of their month. I just didn't want to buy helium balloons every month for the purpose of a picture.

This really is a fun project and the end result is a treasure. Get creative and have fun!
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