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Four by Four

2011 January 18
by Katie

Every three months I make a 4 by 4 collage of the Tinkler’s facial expressions.  I love that I can see the many faces of Will all in one place.  It’s like a peak into his very delicately budding personality.  Also known as the terror of his inquisitive mind.

Here he is at 3 months: 

And then again at 6 months:

He just turned 9 months…so it is time for another faces photo shoot. 

So how do you do it yourself?  Well, just keep shooting when your little one is oh-so-happy…or sad…or anything in between.  And then choose 16 of the photos to include in your collage.  Crop each one to a 2×2 or 4×4 or whatever square dimension that gets your wee-bitties face and shoulders in the shot.  Then line up all together (I used photoshop to layer each photo together but you could do the same thing with a little cut and paste action in Paint).  I like leaving a little white line to separate each one…but you could do it with black or gray or any other color too. 

Now go.  Shoot.  Crop.  Collage.  It’s like a momarazzi assignment.  And yes, I’ll be handing out grades….

43 Responses leave one →
  1. January 18, 2011

    I’d use picnik! It has this cool ‘collage’ feature that allows you to upload a ton of photos and arrange in any way you want! even different sizes, spaces, colors, arrangements etc!

    cute baby!

    • January 18, 2011

      Thanks Robin for the info! I’ll have to go check it out :)
      xo – kb

  2. Audrey permalink
    January 18, 2011

    Does his hair get more and more red everyday?

    • January 18, 2011

      It’s really reddish in the sun… I think it must be those undertones shining through. Most times when he is inside, it looks chestnut.
      xo – kb

  3. January 18, 2011

    SUCH a cute… I love his huge brown eyes and you’re smart to document all those adorable faces

  4. January 18, 2011

    Ahhh! So much baby cuteness!

  5. January 18, 2011

    I love this! What a fun idea. Another one to steal ;)

  6. Kim permalink
    January 18, 2011

    He’s so expressive! Absolutely adorable. :o )

  7. January 18, 2011

    Great idea, it’s super cute!

  8. Gretchen permalink
    January 18, 2011

    Love it! Can’t wait to see the 9 month set.

  9. Bethany permalink
    January 18, 2011

    I don’ t have any kids but this almost makes me want one right now! LOL I had no idea babies could be so expressive at just three months! Good stuff!!!

  10. sarah permalink
    January 18, 2011

    You should try – you dont have to sign up for anything, and this is HEAPS easier for making mosaics than doing them in photoshop!!

  11. Lauren permalink
    January 18, 2011

    Love it! My little turns three months next week and I think we’ll have to do this collage. We’re already doing the monthly photos but I love how this captures his expressions. Though I don’t know how you got Will to pose like that at three months. He must love tummy time!

  12. January 18, 2011

    This is super cute but I seriously don’t know how you have time to do it all. You’re amazing!

  13. Lesley permalink
    January 18, 2011

    The little Tinkler is so stinkin’ cute :)

  14. January 18, 2011

    What a cutie you have. And that is a great idea, sometimes one photo just isn’t enough to capture their personalities.

  15. April permalink
    January 19, 2011

    Your son is so cute! You do a great job of capturing his sweetness.

    I used to work in a children’s portrait studio, so I have a bit of advice. Hope you don’t mind! Feel free to ignore it if you wish. :)

    When it’s just for yourself, a 4×4 with various similar expressions is fine. After all, as the mom you can see the subtle and not-so-subtle differences between each one. And you love them all! That’s great, and more power to you.

    But if you’re going to try this, say, for a Christmas card, or Facebook, or somewhere else that’s public where other people will be looking at your child, try this: Have a fewer number of faces (2×2/4 total, or 3×3/9 total, for example) so that each picture is bigger and all the details can be seen. But more importantly than that (i.e., no matter the number of photos you use), try to only use pictures that have significantly different expressions.

    The not-so-subtle differences are what’s interesting to those who aren’t immediate relatives. Three or four open-mouth smiles with just slight differences look like the same expression to these people. So, aim to have just one with that smile, but the others as something else—like mid-sneeze, or bawling, or sleeping, or looking off to the side, or making a funny face. You have a few of those unique expressions in your sets and those are what gives it charm. A half a dozen smiling faces fade into the background, whereas one glorious smile will stand out.

    Another fun thing to do with sets like these, though it’s not your goal with these, is to have a large number of squares (like your 4×4) with only a handful of face photos (still each unique) scattered throughout. Then try using the rest of the squares to focus on body parts, like his little fingers, his nose, his ear, his toes, his bellybutton, his one-tooth grinning mouth, etc. These always turn out really cute.

    Hope that makes sense. Enjoy! :)

  16. January 19, 2011

    Our baby is 9 months too! So cute! Love this idea I am def going to copy it. I am loving all your picture taking tips. I did a photo shoot with him this weekend and I got one or two ADORABLE pictures compliments of your hints. :)

  17. January 19, 2011

    Those are so cute! What a wonderful idea.

  18. January 19, 2011

    So cute! That is going to be adorable to look back on when Will is older.

  19. January 19, 2011

    Keep the ideas coming–this one is genius! I’m so excited to have found your site BEFORE our boy is born this spring…so I can guarantee he’ll have awesome and fun pictures from the get-go :)

  20. Ariadna permalink
    January 19, 2011

    I’m so glad I found your blog before my husband and I start trying to have kids, you have so many cute ideas, I hope you don’t mind that we steal some of them! Please keep them coming!


  21. Ariadna permalink
    January 19, 2011

    HA! I should’ve read the last comment before mine, I guess everybody loves your ideas!! Who wouldn’t?!

  22. January 19, 2011

    So cute!!

  23. January 19, 2011

    First, the video of your adorable grandparents made me cry. Happy tears of course!
    Second, The 5 Love Languages and Love & Respect are my 2 favorite books on learning to know your spouse better. So awesome to know another person that feels the same!

  24. January 19, 2011

    What a wonderful idea! I will be spending Saturday babysitting my 1 year old niece…might have to see if she will lay down and give me some wonderful facial expressions! I’m sure her mother or grandmother would love one of these collages!

  25. January 19, 2011

    Oh wow! These are great! What a fabulous idea!

  26. Amy T-Y permalink
    January 19, 2011

    Katie, any chance you’ll offer this as a print service, if I just take the pics, then submit them?

    • January 19, 2011

      Hi Amy T-Y,
      Did you hear that Picasa does this? I am sure you could go to their site and do it for free…let me know how it works out!
      xo – kb

  27. January 19, 2011

    What version of Photoshop do you have? I’m just now becoming interested in photography and am not sure whether to invest in a better camera or the software first. What would you suggest?By the way, these pictures are precious!

    • January 19, 2011

      Hi Mary-Beth,
      I have both Elements and CS4 – but honestly I only use CS4 now. I would suggest that since the price tag is so steep and the learning curve is different with each that you go for Elements. After you get the hang of that…then maybe you will want to invest in CS4 but if you end up not using it, then it won’t feel like you blew tons of money.
      xo – kb

  28. Kelly permalink
    January 19, 2011

    Great idea and just in time for me to do with my 11-week old! She hates tummy time though. LOVE your ideas!:)

  29. Lisa permalink
    January 19, 2011

    Awhile back I did the same thing with my son’s 3mo pics. I also use picasa to crop each photo and then create a collage using the picasa tool. Works great for using all those silly photos that I shoot just trying to get one perfect one! The collage is now the desktop background on my pc!

    Love your site. Lots of inspiration and it’s my daily treat!

  30. January 19, 2011

    LOVE this idea! and i’m a fan of all the tot’s expressions, but i think the ornery ones are my favorite. :) great reminder to take pictures of the “not smiling” moments too!

  31. January 19, 2011

    To start with…you’re photoshop skills make me drool a little. Can I ask you to write an entire post on how you got started editing?

    And to the main point of the comment…I just tried this tonight! Photoshop still scares me, so I used paint to make the collage and didn’t edit the photos at all, but I think it could have ended up a lot worse! Not to promote myself with a link, but this is what I came up with if you want to see one of your slacker momarazzi students at work:

    Thanks for all the photography tips!

  32. January 19, 2011

    Can/would you share your photoshop template? I would love to do this with each of my 4 kiddos – what a fantastic idea!

  33. January 19, 2011

    I want. to squish. his face. Oh my, he reminds me so much of my patoot at that age. LOVE.

  34. January 19, 2011

    Love it, Katie! How do you get him to lay there? My son is 11 months and I would like to try this, but I don’t think I can get him to stay put on a back drop! Let me know if you have any suggestions as I’m sure Will is a little mover, too!

  35. January 20, 2011

    Love it!! I’m having fun learning how to work Elements. It’s amazing what a little screening and soft light can do :-) I just ordered a shutterfly book of Ansley’s first year, it can’t get here soon enough!!!

    This year, my photo project is my Project 365 (, I’m having fun getting a picture per day. I have really enjoyed just having one photo per day to work on in Photoshop. It’s not overwhelming and I have been learning a lot!

  36. Ashley in NC permalink
    January 20, 2011

    I love this! What a wonderful idea!

  37. January 20, 2011

    I love the 6 month photo in the A2 (think spreadsheets) position. There is just something about that cute bottom lip!

  38. Shelly permalink
    February 17, 2011

    A little late, but I just did another photo collage tonight… love the idea! Thanks!

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