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Parallel photo seriesWe thought we’d share some ideas about how to set up a series of photos which illustrate a larger theme. Think of it as ‘storytelling’ with images that all share a pre-planned purpose.

We’ll focus on creating an intentional photo series about children growing up – perhaps all too quickly.

That’s the theme. Now what can you do with it? Inspiration can be as close as your closet!

One Outfit through the Years

Find a remarkable piece of clothing. Maybe an heirloom wedding dress, grandma’s colorful paisley blouse, the morning coat that your father wore on his wedding day, or your own polyester pantsuit from “the good ol’ days.”

Next, dress your newborn or toddler in the article of choice.  Then take a photo of the child every year in that very same outfit.

Granted, the first few years your child will be drowning in the polyester suit or the morning coat, but you’ll see him or her slowly fill it out until she ‘owns’ it.

Imagine having such a progressive image showing your child from one year to 18 years of age – displayed at his or her high school graduation party.  It’s a time-lapse shot that you planned two decades prior!  This ‘same suit of clothing’ is also a great idea for making your own photo calendar.

Parallel Photo Series

Starting with a child’s birth, think of certain milestones that you would wish to commemorate throughout his or her young life. Then plan out a “Parallel Photo Series.”

This involves your using the same setting to pose your growing children in, time after time. It’s easy and can be a great document of your child’s growth and maturation!

One of our clients, Katrina, did this when her children were young. She intentionally took photos of them when they were just days old, then when they were each one year old and finally when they each turned three.  She kept the setting and the outfits the same for each of the children at each of the birthdays.

Once she had a completed collection of photos, she brought them to us and we resized the images so that they scaled properly – that is the children were shown at a similar size regardless of which year the photo had been taken.

She now has three sets of progressive photos of her children, making an interesting display for even non-family members to look at.

There are so many events and ages that you’ll want to capture like this: the first day of grammar school, first communion, sweet 16 birthday, first day of high school, and graduation.

Consider a special baby digital scrapbook which shows just the incredible growth spurts of a newborn in a single year.

School Photo Collection

Collect all of your child’s school photos and arrange them together, in a scrapbook or on a wall. Marvel at how quickly children grow up and how they mature through the years.  You can also digitize the photos and display them for a graduation slide show or a photo gift.

Birthday Celebrations through the Years

We all take photos of our kids at their birthday party each year.  Why not compile them cleverly?

Make a series on birthday parties themselves. How cakes were decorated, which games were played, what gifts were given, which guests attended, who had the crying meltdown or the ice cream sugar highs, what crushes were revealed about which celebrities – or which boys next door!

Christmas, Easter, Halloween, New Year’s …. or other Holiday Series

No matter which holidays you celebrate, commemorate them with the same setting each year. It’s fun to see your son grow taller than the Christmas tree, or pumpkin carvings get more inventive, year after year. Easter egg hunts can take place rain or shine – show your family ‘dealing’ with the weather every successive spring.

Display the holiday images together on a piano or fireplace mantle…. and it’s a compelling document about a family’s coming-of-age.

Think it’s too late to do this?

Sure the earlier you start, the better.  But take heart – if time has overwhelmed all your good intentions, it’s never too late!  Just begin where you are and start your own tradition.

Preserving childhood memories isn’t just for new parents; it’s for anyone who cares about the kids…grandparents, aunts, uncles, godparents…anyone!

All of the ideas work in gift form, too.  You could make your own photo calendar with these picture ideas or digitize the photos to make a baby digital scrapbook. 

These are the kinds of “growing gifts” that everyone loves!