As I sit here writing this, I’m in complete shock over how fast time has flown. My sweet, squishy, beautiful baby girl is going to be a sweet, squishy beautiful ONE-YEAR-OLD! I am not exaggerating when I say that was the fastest year of my life. People tell you from the moment you find out you are pregnant “Don’t blink, it flies by so fast.” I used to shake my head and brush it off, but it’s honestly the most factual statement I’ve heard to date. I blinked, and my little girl wasn’t a “baby” anymore.

As sad as I am about her first birthday, I’m also so incredibly excited. She is at such a fun stage! She’s a mover and a shaker, has the cutest, bubbliest little personality, and those eyes are to die for! I’m looking forward to the next chapter and making all sorts of new memories as a family.

Like most mama’s, I have tried to capture every special moment and every milestone. I want to make sure that I am able to remember them forever. My sweet, sweet friend Lisa McQueeney from the Camera’s Eye has made that a reality from day one. She has captured everything from Ellie’s newborn photo shoot, to her six-month spring pictures, to her most recent first birthday session! 

A Little Bit About Lisa McQueeney and The Camera’s Eye:

You know when you meet certain people in your life and you instantly know that they will make a lasting impact? Lisa McQueeney has been that person. I met her when I was a senior in high school and she took my graduation photographs. She was so bubbly, fun and energetic to work with. Not only were her images natural and gorgeous, but she made the photo shoot enjoyable!

From that point forward, my family and I turned to her for all of our photography needs. She has photographed us for traditional family shoots, large extended-family shoots, and our biggest life events. She captured every special moment on our wedding day, and now we are privileged to have her capturing images of our growing family. How blessed are we to get to share all of our most cherished memories with someone so sweet, so sincere, and so talented? I think we hit the jackpot when it comes to photographers!!

If you live in Northern PA or Upstate NY you need to get in touch with her for your next family photo session. She is the BEST!

Now that we’ve talked about the amazingness that is Lisa McQueeney, let’s talk a little bit about how to plan for the perfect “First Birthday” photo shoot!

What to do BEFORE the Shoot: 

Share Your Vision

A few weeks before we were scheduled to meet, Lisa and I corresponded to discuss my vision. We determined that we would try to snap some photograph outdoors to jive with Ellianna’s Garden Party birthday theme. (Check out this adorable theme by Jennifer Jones at Prettiest Print Shop).

In order to give her an idea as to what the theme looked like and the overall feel of the party, I sent her a link to the Pinterest board I had created for the event. This allowed her to physically SEE my vision, rather than trying to piece things together from a simple description. From there she offered me suggestions on what to bring and styled the background accordingly. 

Choose Several Outfits

For all of our photo shoots, I have selected several different outfits for Ellianna to wear. You don’t necessarily have to do this. You can simply select one outfit that you really like and change up the background. I personally wanted some different options to go along with the theme. I made sure that I had the outfits and the accessories in advance so I wasn’t rushing around the morning of the shoot.

Even if you only want one outfit, you should still consider packing one or two extra options. Poop blowouts, grass stains, and the occasional spit up are still all too real at this age! (Am I right?) 

How to Plan the Perfect First Birthday Photo Shoot
Bake or Order a Smash Cake

I dropped the ball on this one and waited until the night before. Go figure. My lack of organization meant that I had to order the cake instead of making it. It ended up working out really well! All you need is a small cake with a pop of color so that it stands out in your photographs. You don’t need anything too fancy because your little one is going to (hopefully) dig into it really quickly!

How to plan the perfect first birthday photo shoot
Add a Pop of Color

Whether it be your props, your outfits, or a simple balloon, adding a pop of color to coordinate with your vision is really cute! You don’t have to go crazy with your props. Lisa always has the most beautiful options. This time I brought along a farmer’s market crate and requested a galvanized bucket to go with Ellianna’s birthday theme! Lisa added a few additional items, such as a small wooden chair and some fuzzy blankets. It was just enough to tie everything together but wasn’t too over-the-top! 

How to plan for the perfect first birthday photo shoot
Wear a Coordinating Outfit

Whoops. I didn’t do this. I should have known that we would want to slip in for a quick picture, but, of course, I didn’t plan well. Usually, I make sure I have on a coordinating outfit and that I prep my hair ahead of time “just in case.” This time, I wasn’t as prepared and therefore didn’t quite jive with the photo the way I had hoped. Luckily, I had on a white shirt, so I suppose that goes with anything… right?! The point is, make sure you are wearing something you wouldn’t mind having your picture taken in. It’s worth getting a few shots. Your kids will cherish them as they grow.

What to do during the shoot:

 Work the Shoot Around Your Child

We coordinated the timing of our shoot with Ellianna’s nap schedule. If you have a grumpy baby, you probably aren’t going to have a great experience. In order to keep everyone happy and snap the best pictures possible, try to coordinate the timing around when he or she is the happiest. For us, that was mid-afternoon. If your photographer isn’t as flexible and insists on a specific time, make sure to adapt your child’s schedule accordingly. A happy, well-rested baby=adorable photo shoot!

How to prepare for the perfect first birthday photo shoot
Stay Relaxed

When mom is hyper and anxious, everyone is hyper and anxious. Photo shoots are supposed to be fun! Try to stay relaxed and let the photographer work their magic. Ellianna made so many funny faces during her shoot and Lisa captured them perfectly! It always works out, so just try to stay calm and don’t intervene. 

How to prepare for the perfect first birthday photo shoot
Bring Along a Helper

This can be either your husband, your mother or your friend! Honestly, anyone that is willing to stand behind the photographer and make silly faces to capture your child’s attention! It’s also helpful to have that extra set of hands during outfit changes! If you can’t find someone to go with you, you will be a-okay. It’s simply helpful if someone is available!


The Big Picture

No matter what you do, the photographs of your little one are going to be perfect. However, a little preparation and coordination with your photographer ahead of time will make things run really smoothly! It also ensures that your pictures turn out the way you had envisioned them! I’m so pleased with Ellie’s most recent shoot and I can’t wait to see how they look displayed at her birthday party! 

Don’t forget, if you live in close proximity to Owego, NY, get ahold of Lisa McQueeney at The Camera’s Eye Studio. She’s a fantastic photographer with a beautiful soul. You won’t be disappointed.

If you enjoyed reading this, check out this post about how I created classic, adorable monthly photographs for very little money! 



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