1. Be Snap-Happy
Professional photogs might hate to admit it, but the key to getting the perfect pic is easy: Just keep shooting! Clear out your digital memory or load up on film, then do like the pros do and snap away repeatedly without waiting for the ideal pose. You'll be sure to catch some lovely, fleeting moments.
2. Catch Big Emotions
Grab your camera when she's smiling sweetly—but also when she's pouting, frowning, or even throwing a noisy little tantrum. You'll have an indelible record of her character—with the laughter and the tears—at each age.
3. Go for the Close-Up
To capture revealing glimpses of your little one's emotions, dress her in a simple top, then zoom or move in so that her face fills the viewfinder. A 125-mm telephoto lens is ideal for portraits: It blurs the background while keeping the subject in sharp focus.
4. See It in Black and White
Black-and-white images seem arty and sophisticated—plus they smooth out skin tone and, because they blend with any decor, look especially chic when grouped in frames. Using a digital camera? You can easily convert shots to black and white after downloading them.
5. Let Loose
Have your kid roll around in the mud or run through the sprinkler. Catch your baby as he dumps a bucket of blocks. These hilarious, chaotic moments are just the ones you'll want to remember years from now. And don't be shy about joining in. You'll feel more relaxed, and he'll forget the camera in your hand.
6. Trash the Flash
Camera flashes often produce that devilish "red-eye" effect and cast weird tones on your little one's lovely skin. So use available natural light whenever possible. If you're indoors, snap photos near (but not directly in front of) a sunny window; outdoors, try to shoot in the warm, syrupy light of early morning or late afternoon—pros call these "the golden hours" with good reason.
7. Get Real
Let's be candid: Some amazing photos are snapped during unscripted moments. Catch your child when she's ignoring the camera—reading a book, gazing at a flower, or playing in the yard.
8. Crop Creatively
Sometimes a part says more than the whole. Feel free to focus in on your baby's hand or foot, edit out arms or legs, or allow some of his face to fall outside the frame. Try photographing him from behind to capture a different side of your little one.
9. Do a Background Check
Before you snap, see what's visible behind your child. Steer clear of ugly, busy stuff like laundry piles or parking lots. Instead, shoot in front of a simple but interesting backdrop—grass or water outdoors, a pretty-colored wall or fabric indoors.