I know picture day can feel stressful - especially with little ones! This guide is designed to help you get super prepared for your session so that you can feel calm, confident and relaxed for picture day. I will walk you through some of the most common questions and concerns that come up - like what to expect at your session, what to wear, and how to deal with less-than-enthusiastic kids.
Preparing for your session
As you're probably well aware by now, my sessions focus more on connection and authentic moments rather than "posing" or "perfect portraits". Most of my sessions take place either outside in nature, or in your home. No matter where your session takes place, you can expect that there will be a little "warming up" period - especially with babies and/or if your kiddo(s) is particularly shy. That's okay and totally normal. We will take some time just getting used to the camera and find a groove as we go along.
While your session will focus on documenting your littlest family member, we will include you (the parents!) and older siblings in the session. In order to create (and capture) authentic moments of connection, you can expect that we will be moving around during your session! It is a good idea to make sure that everyone is wearing clothing that is comfortable enough to move around in. We will talk more about this in the "what to wear" section below.
For outside sessions, make sure that you take the elements of nature into consideration - I recommend lots of bug spray in the summer time, and clothing that is appropriate for the weather. There may be times when I ask you to interact with nature in a way you weren't expecting - perhaps putting your bare feet in a stream or sitting down in the grass. I often go with the flow during sessions, and respond as inspiration strikes. However, if there is ever something I ask you to do that you are not comfortable doing, please don't hesitate to say "no thank you"! I promise you won't hurt my feelings :)
In Home sessions
For in home sessions, I am obsessive about being near the best natural light source you have...even if it doesn't necessarily look like the perfect background (I ask for your trust with this!). It's helpful to open up the curtains and turn off the light switches before I come over to get an idea of where the most light is coming in - because that's where we'll probably be hanging out the most. As always, if you aren't quite sure where the best light would be, feel free to send me some photos of your home before your session and we can figure out what rooms would be best for the time of day of your session.
When picture day comes, take a few minutes to tidy up the rooms we'll be using like you would for an "everyday clean" (not "oh crap my mother in law is coming over" clean). If you are all about documenting "real" life and don't care about having messes in your photos, then by all means - you do you! But if you want your images to be a bit more polished, I recommend getting the clutter out of the way. Don't over think or stress about this though - if you shove things under a bed or in a closet, no one has to know (I promise I won't tell if you don't).
Just like the rest of my sessions, my newborn sessions focus on authentic connection rather than "posing". That means I will guide you into positions, or through activities, that promote real emotion and connection with your newest family member, while focusing on them as the star of the show.
Most of my newborn sessions take place in your home. However, if you would rather do your session outside (during warmer months), we can do so. I do have access to a studio if you prefer an indoor location outside of your home. There will be an additional $60 charge for studio sessions.
The name of the game for newborn sessions is slow and relaxed. I like to take my time with these so that we are honoring your baby's needs (as well as any rambunctious toddler's needs), and maintaining relaxed and calm energy. That means we take plenty of time for snuggles, diaper changes and feedings.
Speaking of feedings, I recommend wearing something comfortable to nurse in if you're breastfeeding. I will often capture breastfeeding photos as well, if you want them.
Postpartum sessions celebrate the incredible thing your body just did. I mean...you created and grew and entire human, then brought them into the world. Your. Body. Is. Incredible. You deserve to remember all the details of that fleeting 4th trimester
Postpartum sessions generally take place in your home. For more intimate sessions, we can use your bedroom or even the shower. If you would prefer not to use your home, I do have access to a studio for these sessions.
For these sessions we will start with a few "looking-at-the-camera" photos of your new family. Then, we'll focus on more candid, intimate moments of you and your new baby together earth-side.
Just like all of my sessions with babies, we will go slow - leaving plenty of time for nursing (and hey, we can capture that too!), diaper changes, and snuggles.
These sessions will celebrate a particular milestone in your baby's first 2 years - whether that's holding their head up, sitting on their own, or their first birthday. Just like with the rest of my sessions, these will sessions will focus on genuine moments and fun. We will chat beforehand so I can learn about some of the ways you enjoy connecting with your baby right now - whether that's playing, reading, or blowing bubbles. Whatever makes your baby laugh and smile - expect to do a lot of that during this session.
I have photographed lots of babies over the years - some who are less than enthusiastic about being in front of the camera. I am pretty good at getting them to warm up to me, and haven't had a session yet where I couldn't get any usable images of a shy kiddo. My approach is to honor them where they are and follow their lead - and we usually end up with some great moments!
For 1st Birthday Sessions - I love a good cake smash, so feel free to bring a cake if you want! We can do these either in your home or outside during warmer months. I will usually snag a few mess-free photos before we introduce the cake, then let them go crazy on it at the end! If we are doing a cake smash in your home, I recommend using the kitchen so we have the sink available for quick clean up. For outdoor cake smash sessions, bring paper towels and lots of wipes ;)
Do's (and don'ts)
1. DO relax! If you follow nothing else in this guide, do this one. Your kiddos will mirror your energy - so if you are happy and relaxed, they are much more likely to be happy and relaxed too! You want these memories to capture the best in you, not the stress in you...so I promise it's worth it to take a deep breath, relax and truse (And I won't judge if that means you also have a shot of tequila before you show up - you do you, boo).
2. DO make sure everyone has a full belly. Hanger doesn't photograph well.
3. DO have snacks on hand just in case.
4. DON'T try to force your kiddo, or partner, or pets into poses or activities they're just not in to. Not only will it stress you out, it'll make them unhappy, which makes for unhappy memories, which makes for not so great photos. I have lots of experience getting good images with kiddos that aren't having it - we just have to do what works for them.
4. DO give gentle encouragement and positive feedback to your kiddos during the session (and your partner if he/she is not overly thrilled to be there)
5. DO wear comfortable clothes and shoes you can move around in. For newborn sessions, make sure to wear something that is easy for nursing (if you are breastfeeding)
6. DO Be open and authentic. Have fun!
We get sick or the weather isn't ideal?
I can (and do) reschedule sessions for illness and less than ideal weather.
If you or anyone in your family is not feeling well in the days before our session, please let me know so we can make other plans.
While I believe fun and beautiful photos can be made in any weather, I totally get that you may not want to stand in pouring rain or sub zero temps. We can either reschedule to a different day, or move our session to an indoor location.
If we have to reschedule due to weather or illness, we will simply compare calendars and find the first available date that works for us both. No biggie!
What to wear
Tips for style and comfort
**A quick note about my philosophy on outfits:
First, I don't actually care what you wear. My photography style is storytelling - which means I want you and your family to show up authentic to who you are. If that means you have a kiddo with sensory issues who hates jeans, or they are in a season where they have to wear a superhero cape every stinking day, then let them! However, if you would like your family to look a bit more "polished" - here are a few tips to help you select outfits.
1. Choose your outfit first - If you are planning to be in the photos, I recommend choosing your outfit first, then coordinate everyone else around that. Pick something that makes you feel super confident, and something that feels comfortable on your body. Again, you want to choose something that you can move around in (and is appropriate for the weather).
2. Coordinate, but don't match - Once you have your outfit picked out, choose outfits for the rest of the family that coordinate (similar/complimentary color palette), but don't dress everyone in the same exact color. It is also a good idea to put everyone in colors of a similar brightness. For example, don't dress everyone in pastels, then put dad in a dark navy shirt. Too much contrast in the colors can get distracting.
3. Avoid characters, logos, or clashing patterns - Cocomelon is awesome (or annoying - but hey, the kids love it), but it can definitely be a distraction in family photos. When choosing outfits for the family, try to avoid anything that has a character, lettering or a logo on it. Patterns are ok for one or two outfits, as long as they compliment each other. Too many competing patterns will distract from what's most important in the photos - you and your crew.
4. Consider accessories and shoes - it is definitely not required, but accessories (jewelry, hats, layering pieces) can elevate an outfit and help you feel more put together - so it's worth considering if you are planning to be in the photos. And don't forget to pay attention to shoes - if you plan to wear them (I love some barefoot photos too!)
5. Have multiple outfit choices for baby - Practically speaking, babies are great at soiling outfits. It's always a good idea to have a few favorites picked out to bring to your session in case of a - eh hem - mishap. Since your session will be focused on baby more than the whole family, it's also appropriate to bring an outfit that is just for them - so it doesn't need to coordinate with everyone else. One word of caution though - most babies don't love being changed, especially multiple times in a short period, so keep that in mind and prioritize your outfits.
6. Check out Pinterest for ideas - Feel free to make a Pinterest board or something similar to share your ideas with me, and I can help you choose if you like!
7. Above all, always choose comfort over style - If it looks great, but it's uncomfortable, that is going to shine through your photos. If you have to choose, always, always, always choose comfort over style!
After your Session
After your session I will get to work on choosing the best of the best images (typically between 20-35) and edit them to perfection. Once they're ready and uploaded to your gallery, I'll be in touch to schedule your 24-hour slideshow window.
When you get the slideshow link, I encourage you to make an event of it! Put it up on the big screen, grab some popcorn and a yummy beverage, turn the volume up and snuggle up on the couch to watch it together. The first time you see your photos is always the best, so make the most of it!
Once you've seen your slideshow, you have 24 hours to choose and purchase your collection (A, B or C - if you need a refresher on those, click here). Once payment is received for your collection, your gallery will be open for a full 30 days to download your images and use your print credit.
Downloading your files:
Once you've decided on your favorite images for your download credit (or all images if you chose Collection C), then I encourage you to download those right away. The process is simple, and I will send you step-by-step instructions on how to download them from your online gallery. Once you've downloaded them, I highly recommend backing them up to a cloud service, like Dropbox or Google Drive.
Copyrights (and wrongs):
Once you've got your digital files in hand, you are free to print them when, where, and as often as you wish. You can use them for holiday cards, share on your social media, or send personalized gifts to friends and family. The only thing you can't do is resell them for commercial or business use - for example, you wouldn't be able to enter them into a contest to win prize money, or use them on the cover of your book (but if you are writing a book - please let me know! I'd love to read it ;). While not required, I do appreciate it when my clients tag me in photos they post on social :)
Printing your images:
While everything I offer in my store is printed in professional labs and guaranteed to be beautiful and long-lasting, I also recognize that you may want to print your images yourself for future projects, gifts, etc. - and thanks to those digital files, you can! However, not all photo printers are created equal. For the best quality and color accuracy, I recommend Rockbrook Camera (in Lincoln), and mpix.com for online printing. Be sure to de-select any "color correction" options, and upload the original files you downloaded (not copies of the files). The files you receive from me should allow you to print as large as you like.
What you do with your images is perhaps the most important aspect to consider when you're planning for a photo session - but it's all too often the part that's overlooked.
You've invested time and money. You deserve better than photos gathering dust on a hard drive somewhere (or worse yet - lost in the digital ether). You will never get the same feeling looking at your photos on a screen as you will seeing them on your wall or flipping through them in an album, so I include a substantial print credit with every collection. Below is a sample from the print store
PROFESSIONAL LAB PRINTS
These are not your typical drugstore prints. You will fall in love with these luxurious silk like prints that are true to color and fingerprint resistant. Gift prints are perfect for sharing with friends and family, and you can bet your bottom dollar that they’ll last for a lifetime (plus some). Add a hard-back mount and display anywhere without a frame
Starting at $30
Keepsake boxes are perfect for the sentimental person who loves to hold onto physical treasures as well as printed photos. Each keepsake box is custom designed and can include names, dates, birth stats, a meaningful quote, etc. Then, you choose 5 images to be included as 5x7 prints inside your box.
Starting at $185
Let your creativity run wild! These are perfect for announcing your baby’s birth, or sharing with friends and family for the holidays. Using my design templates, you get to customize the perfect card to share your joy with those closest to you.
Starting at $85
Your photos are printed on heirloom quality fine art paper that lays completely flat when you open it. The pages are nice and thick to stand the test of time (and little fingers). Your album will hold up to 30 of your favorite images, and can be customized with a full photo cover or your choice of cover materials and colors
Starting at $600
I can't wait!
"She captured emotion in every moment perfectly."
- Hannah, Lincoln NE
I am so excited for our session together and can't wait to capture some magic with you! Please feel free to reach out to me via phone, text or email if you have any questions at all. See you soon!