A Has Reached His First Year Milestone!

Posted On: November 16, 2012
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Time seemed to pass in the blink of an eye, as Warden and I went through an exciting period of our lives adjusting to the arrival of the new member of our family. The road has not been all rosy of course, as we gained new knowledge as parents, learned to adapt to changes and discovered our own inadequacies along the way. But we have gained so much more that it seems overwhelming at times.

Just before our boy’s first month baby shower, Warden suggested that we embark on a year-long project to record his grown. The idea came from YoungHouseLove.com that has lovely and inspiration pictures, especially for young couples. To do so, I was tasked to find a spot and a general theme to work with. For instance, we could place on a toy in all the pictures which will be a constant such that we can compare against the growth of our child.

The task proved more difficult than it sounded, as I soon found out. Firstly, I did not want to use flash as I am wary of its effects on the eyes of a baby, so I had to find a well-lit spot in our house, relying on natural light from our small HDB windows. That basically narrowed down to 2 spots in our apartment. Secondly, I was not able to find a toy that he seemed even vaguely interested in that looks nice in pictures. So this chair from IKEA proved to be my best friend – its white translucent surface is a nice backdrop. Place at our balcony, right below the windows.

On hindsight, I made a number of mistakes in my execution. So take note for anyone who plans to do this for the first time, and learn from my mistakes:

  1. Plan, visualize and take down notes! Even with what seems like the simplest set up, you need to plan ahead and pay attention to each and every detail. Things like which clothes to dress your child for each month, which accessories to use (if any), the time of the day (and weather)… it saves a lot of trouble at the end when you need to put everything together.
  2. Use the same lens for every shoot! The lens makes a difference, not only to the quality of the photo, but it affects the color as well. More importantly, it affects the perspective of the end image. Longer zoom lens actually makes your subject look thinner. It also affects the placement of your camera which definitely affects the final output. For my shots, I actually took them handheld, and it helped that some of the shots were taken with the Nikon 70-200mm VR2. If I had my way and had a chance to redo this, I will prefer to use a standard lens like the 50mm for all the shots, with a tripod of course (see next point).
  3. Use a tripod, place it at the exact same spot, height and angle! A tripod makes sure you get the sharpest image and eliminates camera shake, especially important when the subject is always moving. You may even consider placing markers on the floor, and the tripod to make sure that the position, height and angle are all exactly the same.
  4. Remember, Safety first! Keep in mind that your child has no idea what you are doing. I try to have Warden very close by while I am taking the photos. A shorter focal length for the selected lens (like the 50mm) is preferred, but I used 70mm for most shots.

So today, we celebrated our little rascal’s first birthday with our family. My parents were visibly happy that he is now responding very animatedly to their actions, especially so when he waved, kicked and made a lot of noise from his seat during the meal. My sisters, brother-in-law, niece and nephews were equally amused by Aiden and his charming smile.

I guess it takes a parent to truly understand the pride you feel watching your children grow up. It has been an interesting and fun trip so far for me, more so than I expected at the beginning. I do look forward to more fun together with our family, despite the looming economic downturn, and despite having to run after a hyperactive kid at my age. It could prove a back-breaking affair for me, but hell, I am going to have to give it a try nevertheless. Happy Birthday A!