Beautiful, tiny Baby J slept for me the entire session. She was a dream to photograph! Both of Baby J’s parents are police officers, so they brought their shirts, badges, and covers to the session to incorporate into the photos. I welcome personal items of significance to all portrait sessions, and I feel they add value to the images the way generic props ever could. I am not going to try to photograph a precious baby sleeping in a milk crate unless her parents met on a dairy farm! Baby J even smiled at me for a few fleeting moments. The feeling is mutual, Baby J!
I met baby Hannah in my studio when she was just 8 days old. Even though the studio has all the wraps, posing aids, and headbands a person could want, I encourage parents to bring items special to them to include in newborn photos. Hannah's parents brought a marquee sign with birth Hannah's birth stats, a family Bible, and a couple of headbands. Personal items can bring a special touch that props cannot in newborn photography.When it came time to choose colors and posing baskets, I was stoked to see Hannah's parents choose color! They chose an Indonesian carved wood bowl that was a gift from my mother-in-law last Christmas. They were the first to select that piece, and it photographed beautifully. We placed the Bible next to Hannah opened to a meaningful verse for the family.
Newborns have the cutest little details about them, and Hannah was no different. Her mama said that in all the ultrasound images, she had her hands up by her face, and she still does it all of the time. It's amazing that newborns come out of the womb with habits and personalities, and I love having the opportunity to capture this. Often times, parent's will say “Ooh, she does that all the time!” after I click the shutter, and I know that photo will be a favorite.
Every year, I get asked bu a couple of folks if I will be doing bluebonnet mini sessions, and I must answer that I don't offer them. Why? Well, mini sessions are short sessions usually around 15-20 minutes, scheduled back to back. The sessions are usually centered around a seasonal theme, so what better seasonal happening to include than bluebonnets? The problem is, bluebonnets are found in open fields without shade. The best times for shooting in these conditions is just after the crack of dawn, or during the golden hour just before sunset. A traditional mini session block would leave most of the clients who sign up with portraits in suboptimal lighting conditions! Could I better the lighting with flash and reflectors? Sure, but that is a lot to deal with in a 15 minute session while still concentrating on quality composition. In order for a reflector and diffuser setup to be effective, The subject can't be free to move about, which is exactly what you want to do when in a field of gorgeous flowers!
So, I broke my own rules on this one, but made it work. Taken at a quick stop driving through Chappell Hill at around 2:00 - a bad time for lighting.
With a little planning, it's easy to take your own beautiful bluebonnet photos including your kiddos. There are just a few points to cover -
Timing – The golden hour just before sunset provides, even, soft lighting, so you can chase that kid that doesn't like to sit still around and keep good lighting when they change position on you like a Rockets point guard.
Location – All bluebonnet patches look pretty from the road, but try to choose a spot where background distractions can be eliminated. These can be hard to find in a city, but placing your subject at the bottom of a sloped patch and shooting upward can result in full-frame backdrop of bluebonnets. In Houston, these are found along our many bayous.
Camera – The best camera is the one you have on you. Phone cameras are capable of taking amazing photos these days. Just keep in mind that the lag time from pressing the shutter to image capture can result in missed expressions and opportunities. If you own a DSLR and are familiar with it's operation, I recommend taking it our for this occasion. As a professional photographer, I am very guilty of not doing this often enough for photos of my own kid.
Wardrobe – You don't need to rush to the children's boutique for a Pinterest – worthy ensemble, but solid colors work best. Patterns tend to distract from faces and can clash with all of those gorgeous bluebonnets.
Here is a case study of taking this year's bluebonnet photos with my kiddo. These were taken in Houston, Texas, but the principles apply anywhere.
I had been searching for a premium patch of bluebonnets along the White Oak Bayou near my home and I found it in Watonga Park. It was small, but adequately sloped. The sprawling fields of bluebonnets seen near Chappel Hill are gorgeous, but sometimes you don't have time to make the drive as a busy parent. Besides, you don't NEED all of those bluebonnets in the frame if you are also wanting to concentrate on your little one's sweet face!
This bluebonnet patch by the Watonga Bat Bridge in Houston was all I needed for this year’s photos. No need to drive out to the Hill Country if you don’t have time!
I asked my husband to come along to get little E to smile and to hold my reflector. Somehow taking photos of my own kid is a difficult job to accomplish solo. We dressed her in a solid navy blue dress, stuck a bow in her hair, and walked to the park to take the ONE picture we all just want to get from these outings. Upon arrival we checked for snakes (important!) then found a bare spot in the patch at the bottom of the hill to sit on. My husband held the reflector's gold side to bounce some light back onto little E's face. It takes a few tries sometimes to get it right. If you use one, just be sure it is pointed at the direction of the sun in the sky with your subject between you and it. It's an optional step for non-professional photos, but I recommend it for that extra warmth and catchlight in the eye. They are cheap to buy online https://tinyurl.com/y5flbczv and fold up compactly to keep in your car for those unexpected photo opportunities.
After less than 10 minutes, we got what we needed and were off to the swings! Here is the final result – I did touch up some stray hairs in Photoshop, but the rest of the work is minimal. Happy shooting!
I love photographing fellow Oak Forest families. Shirley contacted me with interest in a lifestyle family session – she wanted photos of her family just doing the stuff they might do on a typical lazy Sunday. I love these types of sessions, so I quickly obliged. I arrived at the P family's home an a dark, wet Houston winter day and was met by Shirley and her cheerful, energetic daughter who is close to mine in age. I knew right away that this session would be a treat – the house was impeccably decorated, and though it was crazy dark outside for 11:00 am, the window light was ample enough to work with just a little help from my flash.
The P family loves jamming to music. Alexa played “Don't Stop Till You Get Enough” while I took photos of the family hanging in the upstairs bedroom. The session continued with friendly games of chess and tic tac toe, followed by a tea party and cupcakes. Such a fun Sunday!
I arrived at the Ft. Bend county courthouse to meet baby E and her family about a week after learning about her upcoming adoption proceeding. One of the many things I love about being an adoption photographer is the pace of it all – one day I am corresponding with the parents for the first time, and a few days later I get the honor of witnessing a forever family officially coming together.When baby E arrived in the courthouse lobby being carried by her mama, the first thing I noticed were E's big brown eyes, and then her sweet dimply cheeks. As friends and family arrived, it became obvious that sweet E is loved by a village.
After some visiting in the lobby, everyone was soon called into the courtroom. The smiles on E's parent's during the proceeding were infectious. In less than two minutes – little E was officially adopted and she chose a stuffed panda bear to take home.
Afterward, we headed to a park across the street from the courthouse to take some portraits of the family and little E. This park has several decent sized oak trees and is so convenient for family mini sessions after adoptions – just watch for ant piles! Even though it was close to her nap time, we got some sweet smiles from little E. Then, just like that, the new forever family was of to a celebratory lunch with family and friends. Such a happy day!
When I arrived at Baby T's home for his newborn session, his big brother S gave me a run down on his siblings' ages. "The new baby is zero!" He excitedly proclaimed.
T is an alert little guy, and you can just see the wheels spinning!
After T's big brother and sister took photos with their new brother, we found a clerestory window in the playroom with awesome light along with a blank wall. Simplicity in images helps to draw the eye to the bond between parent and baby!
The day I visited the home of beautiful Baby S to take her first portraits, she was a hungry, sleepy little angel. Wit the room at a warm temperature and a wrap, she quickly got comfortable and snoozed for most of the session. Baby S's mom had carefully designed the nursery with a pink and gray color scheme, so we chose coordinating wraps and blankets for the portraits.
S's parents were clearly over the moon!
Dad wanted a photo holding Baby S in his hands to show her in all of her tiny wonder.
Welcome to the world, Baby S!
I love photographing neighbors in my little community within a city of Oak Forest. Family documentary sessions have been slow to catch on in my neck of the woods, so when I received an email from a nearby mama requesting one, I was naturally excited. It was an unseasonably cool day when I arrived at the M Family's house. After meeting their twin boys and 6 month old baby girl, I decided with their parents on a couple of good spots for some informal portraits. I always get a few camera aware images at the beginning of a lifestyle family session. It's a great warm up and serves as sort of a mini-session. Although piling the entire family on the bed is a common theme with this kind of photography, I don't think that is a bad thing. Once toddlers are on the bed, their playful side comes right out, even if they were a little shy at first.
With twin toddlers and a baby, The M family was lively and full of energy, and I couldn't help but admire how the parents worked together to engage with all of the kiddos with everything they had. I felt that they were working harder than I was for most of the session!
After Baby C went for a nap, the boys got to make use of their Easter present. New, shiny, yellow rain boots! It was their first pair, and using them to splash around in rain puddles seemed like a mind – blowing discovery for the twins. They probably could have spent hours splashing and still be entertained. There's nothing quite like watching a kiddo experience something fun for the first time.
After splashing around in in rain puddles, everyone moved on to the back yard to spend some time playing, then it was snack time. Photographing the quiet, in-between moments is a favorite part of these sessions, because not only does it give me a break physically, I often get some of my favorite images from it! Just as soon as snack time was over, Baby C awoke from her nap and the family went upstairs to greet her for a little reading time in the boys' teepee.
Soon, it was time for the the boy's nap. It didn't feel like I had stayed that long!
I arrived at baby L's house on another overcast day, found a nicely lit spot by the back patio door, and stated setting up. Her big brother was so animated and curious about my photography setup! While chatting with L's mom, I discovered that L's name is the same as my beloved great grandmother's. Classic names are making a comeback!
During the portraits with the entire family, it was clear that big brother was loving life with his new sister!
Welcome to the world, sweet Lily Maye!
I arrived at D's house on an uncharacteristically chilly Texas spring morning to document her family getting ready for her adoption proceedings. The love in the house could be felt immediately, and it was obvious that her family never experiences a dull moment. I took my first shots as D's dad pulled up a cheat sheet on tie knots while he helped his son with his neckwear.
It was an overcast day when I visited Baby G's home for her portrait session, so I found a spot by the lowest window in the house and got to work. Baby G's mom had some special items of Baby G's that had been blessed that she wanted to include. I enjoy incorporating special keepsakes in newborn photos rather than props that have no connection to the family.
G's big sister then returned home from school and we were able to take photos including the entire family in the nursery. It was clear that G's big sister was excited about her new role!
Welcome to the world, Baby G!
Last week I got to photograph the most expressive, beautiful baby. Baby H was already showing her independent personality at around a week new. She didn't like my swaddling attempts, so we let her direct the session!
Baby R IV was just 10 days new when I visited his family to take his newborn portraits. After a some cuddling with his mom and dad and a good meal, he slept like a champ. Sometimes half of the work during the newborn session is done by mom and dad. In order to get peaceful, sleepy images like the one below, a settled, comfortable, well fed baby is key. Often, only mom or dad will do for these needs!
Once I saw little R IV sleeping so peacefully, I took a step back to show scale. Although close up baby details are important, it's easy to get caught up in them and forget to document the precious smallness of a new baby.
Baby R IV's nursery was decorated with a woodland theme with soothing blue hues. The display boxes are came unfinished from IKEA. A dark stain added a cabin rustic feel.
R IV's mom had the was wearing the kind of dress that photographs like a dream. Solid colors draw the eye to the subjects faces in a portrait where busy patterns tend to draw the eye away. Of course, there are some patterns that work for portraits, but when clients ask for advice on what to wear for a portrait session, I always say solids, solids, solids!
Baby R IV, thank you for the honor of taking your first portraits, and for being so cute!
I had the pleasure of visiting Baby D and his parents in their modern, light - filled home last week. At 3 weeks new, Baby D had settled into a typical nap schedule, and mom made sure I was able to visit during prime nap time to get some cozy, sleepy images. D seemed to enjoy the security of a wrap very much.
D's nursery was decorated in a subtle and calming world travel theme, which we captured in a few images with the entire family.
The gifts and challenges that each unique home presents are part of what makes in home newborn photography fun. Baby D's home was all gift. We had plenty of windows and a light filled foyer served as the perfect location for images with parents and newborn. D's mother requested a backlit portrait, and it was easily achieved by placing one of my white sheers over the glass entry door with non residue gaffer tape. The stairway was conveniently located directly across from the doorway and provided a perfect shooting angle without the need to use my step ladder.
Welcome to the world, Baby D!
I had the honor of documenting a very special day this month. L was surrounded by joyful and excited family on his adoption day. After undergoing the organized chaos of the courthouse security line, we all rode a crowded elevator way up to the penultimate story of the courthouse to wait for the proceeding. The docket was quite full that day, and family waited while enjoying one another's company in cheerful anticipation.
When it was finally time for the proceeding, the mood quickly turned from eager to elated!
Baby P's newborn session was so lively and fun! P was a hungry and alert kiddo, so we took photos with the entire family first. P's big sister was so excited about P. She was also excited about the movie "Moana" and her Moana paddle was a permanent accessory for her!
P finally fell asleep, so me got some photos featuring her in all of her cuteness, along with detail shots, of course!
Welcome to the world, Miss P!
Last week I enjoyed photographing Baby A in his home a stone's throw from my own. At seven days new, he slept like a champ, but still gave us the most wonderful smirk! A family friend made this blanket for him, so we were sure to include it.
A's nursery was decorated in a dinosaur motif. In keeping with the theme, his parent's had a special outfit for him complete with a stegosaurus hat.
The home had windows everywhere and beautiful light wherever a photographer could want it. While A was eating, I got to spend some time with Pepper, the 15 year old cat (she declined to be photographed). Later we were able to get photos with the rest of the family together including Tex, the big dog, and Fancy, who usually has her tongue sticking out of her mouth. Fancy indeed!
Welcome to the world, Baby A!
Baby O was 5 weeks new when I visited his home to take his portraits. His nursery was decorated in an eclectic style with different items that just worked together. The world map and paper crane mobile gave the room a global vibe.
He made the best little baby sounds snuggled up in the basket! He was a very alert little guy, but his parents did everything they could to soothe him to sleep for a photo.
I love taking details and candids in between the set up images. Baby O has the cutest little swirl of hair and sweet baby feet!
This newborn session was full of the color pink! Baby A's nursery was the most unique one I have seen yet. Pink walls, pink elephants, and pink neon adorned the room. The wall behind the crib was clad in pine paneling that Baby A's parent's installed themselves. These guys have it together!
I always scout out locations in the client's home to find the best light before setting up. After seeing the nursery, a pink wrap was the obvious choice for the first setup. It's helpful to think of the final display method of the images when planning out a session. Considering where the photos will be hung helps to keep a harmonious color palette in the home.
The best light was downstairs, so we set up there near a low window and got some peaceful images of baby A sleeping and plenty of detail shots.
This newborn session was a great end to the year! Baby A started the session wide awake, and I was able to get some lifestyle images of her and mom together.
After baby A was fast asleep, we were able to get several simple setups. She was a dream to photograph! I especially loved that smirk! She smiled spontaneously throughout the shoot . One the best parts of my job is witnessing a brand - new baby's little personality emerging.
At every session I am sure to get plenty of detail shots. Those fingers, toes and lips will never be that little again! These images look great displayed together as a montage in black and white.
Environmental lifestyle portraits feel much more authentic to me than fussy poses and backdrops. A solid - colored wall next to a window can provide a perfect, neutral setting to capture the love between mother and daughter.