Grow with me sessions are one of those popular session types that harken back to the days of dragging your kids out to Sear or Walmart to the photo center for some semi-regular or regular portrait appointments. Some people still do them in fact, but many prefer to work with local photographers for this type of work rather than a big business. I have very distinct memories of my oldest nephew and his monthly photo sessions from birth through the first year. We still have the prints buried behind newer images in photo frames throughout the house.

Given the nature of how I like to work: really getting to know my clients, trying to make the sessions personalized and natural, it would only make sense that I endeavor to offer Grow With Me sessions. I can’t even describe how happy it would make me to be able to be present for the birth of a child, capture their first year in portraits, and be a part of their first birthday party. That would be absolutely magical! I adore every kiddo I work with and to be allowed to capture that memorable and irreplaceable first year would be one of the most gratifying experiences ever.

However, I realized I had never photographed portraits like that before! I have done newborn family sessions, day-in-the-life sessions, and tons of documentary work from milestones to first birthday parties, but I had never specifically gone into any of those sessions with this kind of portraiture in mind. Of course, any kind of milestone session could be the focus of a grow with me session, but I had never had a client to grow with me over the course of an entire year (except for my own son). So, I had to do something about this: enter Nora, my very first (volunteer) “grow with me” baby!

Grow With Me, Nora

She couldn’t have been a more perfect child to start with, she was such a little ball of sweetness when I came over to her house to capture her lifestyle portraits. Once I got to her house, met her mommy, and decided I wanted to do her first session in her nursery, we picked a simple outfit, grabbed some optional bows, and her mom gave me a blanket she wanted to be sure to incorporate for sentimental reasons. Then we got to work!

How perfect and sweet is that little face? She was such a joy to work with, she definitely went easy on me! She was freshly fed, burped, and inquisitive about the world around her.

I absolutely cannot wait to see her for her next session. Her mommy decided she wanted quarterly pictures (1, 4, 7, and 10 months) rather than monthlies, so it’s going to be amazing to see how much sweet Nora has changed between sessions. I can’t wait to see what we come up with for her future sessions! Since I don’t work out of a studio, these portrait sessions will all be truly personalized. As she grows we will be able to incorporate toys and activities that are natural to her every day, we can even do a real bath tub baby session!

I think this approach will work out really well because it’s so much less stressful for the parents- no packing up the kids, taking 20 outfits, and feeling rushed to “get the shot” in a studio when there are other clients waiting outside the door for their turn. With this approach we are able to be in familiar spaces, without travel, with complete freedom to stop for food, a nap, change outfits, grab different props (toys). I am a little worried that people with think their houses aren’t “pretty enough” but it’s not even really a concern. In portrait sessions, the subject is the focus, and the space around them will be limited. If you are distracted by a “messy” house in any of my images, I will have failed at my task of capturing beautiful, timeless, grow with me portraits of your child.