Why Baby’s First Year Portraits Are So Important

Like most new parents, I was a little naive. When I was expecting my first baby, people told me, “your life is about to change so much, it will never be the same after the baby arrives,” I thought that maybe they were exaggerating a bit. After all, my husband and I didn’t party, or travel, or really do much of anything. We were homebodies. We grabbed takeout and watched movies or read books together. So we very naively, thought, we would just have a sweet little one to join us quietly hanging out and watching movies.

Lifestyle Newborn in Crib by Just Maggie Photography - Los Angeles Newborn and Baby Photographer

But, as some sort of cruel punishment, we got the complete opposite of that. We got a colicky little girl, who would cry and cry and then cry some more, for seemingly no reason and there was not much we could do about it. For the first six weeks of her life, any time you attempted to place her in her bassinet after she had fallen asleep, no matter how gently or carefully you did it, she would immediately wake up and start crying until you picked her up again. So, for those first six weeks, we took turns holding her while she slept throughout each night.

Lifestyle Newborn with Mom in Nursery by Just Maggie Photography - Los Angeles Newborn and Baby Photographer

We were both miserable, and I felt like a failure. I had read every book on new babies and thought I was prepared. Instead, she arrived and I felt lost and helpless. It felt like we were messing up from the moment we arrived home with her. Eventually, things got better. We started feeling like we sorta knew what we were doing and that at least we knew our little girl. She got a little easier as she got older. (Well, maybe not easier, at 9 she is still difficult, I mean, “spirited.”) But her fussing, complaining, and crying got more predictable, and we knew what to do for her. As that first year rushed by, the days felt so long. I now knew exactly what people meant when they talked about “surviving” the first year of parenthood, because we just barely made it through.

Lifestyle 4 Month Baby with Mom Portraits by Just Maggie Photography - Los Angeles Newborn and Baby Photographer

I learned how incredibly difficult, and sometimes completely miserable, the first year can be can be. Like when they decide they are done with their carrot puree so the dump the rest of the bowl onto their head. Or when they start screaming and crying in the middle of a trip to Target, and nothing you do calms them down, so you just have to just abandon your shopping cart to get them out of there. Sometimes you just feel a little bit like you’re drowning and there is no one to throw you a life preserver. But I also learned how truly magical that first year can be. Like when they smile at you for the first time, the way they are absolutely amazed by peek-a-boo, or when they start to crawl and you feel so proud.

Lifestyle One Year Old Session, First Steps by Just Maggie Photography - Los Angeles Newborn and Baby Photographer

Sometimes the magical times can get a little lost in the difficult times. So when I realized that I could use photography to catch those magical times with my daughter and save them forever, I knew I wanted to do the same for other parents. There is nothing wrong with remembering the difficult times too, especially when they make you laugh in retrospect. But I hate the thought that the pure magic of that first year can be obscured by the sleeplessness, the fear, and the overwhelm. We are all better parents than we think, and I want every parent to remember how happy they made their little one, and how happy that little one made them.

Lifestyle 4 Month Baby with Mom Portraits by Just Maggie Photography - Los Angeles Newborn and Baby Photographer


Why Family Portraits Matter

There are a lot of snapshots from my childhood. Photos of me and my brothers and sister at the beach, at holidays, playing together in our backyard. There are even some shots of us with my dad, but looking through our family photos it’s almost impossible to find a photo of my mom. There’s the one of her pregnant with my twin brothers, and the one of her at Easter with an amazing perm. And there are no portraits of my whole family all together. No portraits showing me what we looked like all together as we grew through the years.

There’s a saying I love, “The days are long but the years are short,” that reminds us that the time we have with our kids at any age is fleeting. Sometimes it may seem like otherwise, when they are painting the wall with mac and cheese or when they are singing ‘Let It Go’ for the thirty-fourth time today. But then it seems like all you do is blink and your baby is in high school.

With your precious family time flying by so quickly, family portraits matter. Recording memories matters. Setting aside just a few hours every year to capture your family’s love and unique relationship truly has the biggest return on investment of anything your family will do together. These will be images that your daughter collects when she makes a slideshow for her wedding or the images that your grandchildren pore over to see what their dad used to look like.

I believe that annual family portraits are more precious than anything else you could buy. These are the things that childhood memories are made up of. These are the moments that your kids will be looking for in twenty years.

Most of all, I believe that Mom needs to get in front of the camera, instead of always behind. Don’t make your kids have to search for the one moment that you were all in a photo together. Think about how much your own mom was part of your childhood, and how much you wish you could see that when you look at your family photos. You are the most important person in your child’s life, make sure you exist in photos for them.



Thank You for a Beautiful 2016!

Every year, on New Year’s Day, I go through my very favorite images from each of the previous year’s sessions and I create a very special slideshow as a huge thank you to all of our clients! In 2016 we met a lot of new families and had the amazing pleasure of photographing so many of our regular clients. It’s one of my greatest joys getting to watch all of your little ones grow up. These images fill my heart with joy and gratitude to each and every one of you. It is because of you that I am able to run the business of my dreams!

2016 was a year of hard work, some small set-backs and failures, but ever greater successes! We photographed 101 families with 66 babies & 160 kids. The year began slower than normal, but ended with a fall that was twice as busy as the year before! And in the midst of the busy season I had a health scare that inconvenienced some clients and made my work load even heavier. I want to thank all of the wonderfully kind, patient and understanding families who we had to reschedule. I am thankful to report that I am strong and healthy going into 2017. My body may have just been telling me that I need to remember to drink more water, get more sleep,and take a break once in a while.

I am an admitted work-aholic, always struggling against my impulses to overfill my plate. To save me from myself, I added a few new members to our team to help with our growth this year. Not only did we have a full shooting schedule but I also taught a workshop, an online class with @clickinmoms, and mentored a few other photographers. AND after an almost two year search for the right space we moved into our first commercial STUDIO!

I can’t wait to see what the year ahead holds for us. We plan to shoot more, teach more, play more, and laugh more! Bring me your babies!

Just Maggie Newsletter

Sign up to get our latest news and exclusive offers and you’ll get access to our Welcome Guide with details about our family portrait sessions including complete pricing info!