I met this sweet mom, Allison, through a mutual friend about a year ago. Our daughters are close to the same age and at the time, we lived in the same neighborhood. Shortly after I met her, she found out she was pregnant with her third baby.
I was originally supposed to do a Fresh 48 session with this family and hopefully be present when the big sister and brother came to meet the new baby. However, this little guy had some breathing issues at birth and landed himself in the NICU. As someone who has experienced this same stress and chaos myself, I offered to switch to a newborn session instead once they were able to go home. Luckily, his stay was short, and they were able to get home within a few days.
Baby Brayden was only 5 days old when I came for his newborn session. Not long after I walked in, Allison asked if I wanted to hold the baby while she helped big brother into his special t-shirt. Um... OF COURSE. I am ALWAYS willing to snuggle new babies and I not-so-discreetly gave the top of his head a little sniff. I love new baby smell. It's my favorite.
Once all the kids were ready, I set up my favorite fuzzy blanket and prepared to take pictures of all 3 kids together. There was only one problem...
Baby Brayden was NOT happy. Although he had been fed recently and had a clean diaper, he still wasn't happy.
I swaddled him and that helped for a little bit. Big sister was fantastic at following my directions for pictures and very patient. This clearly wasn't her first rodeo.
The new big brother, on the other hand, required a little more coaxing (i.e. bribing). He didn't want to give the baby a kiss, but I can see these brothers certainly have their own special bond.
I thought a change of position might help, so I got all of the kids settled together on the couch. I was able to get the elusive picture of the kids smiling together (no photoshop head swapping necessary)!
After I finished up with the big kids, they got to go on a special outing with their grandmother, and little Brayden got what he really wanted: TO EAT! Even if you meticulously plan and have baby fed before your newborn session, babies often don't cooperate anyway. The issue with newborns is that they often cluster feed, and you can't always plan when that's going to happen. Cluster feeding is extremely common in the first several weeks with a newborn. It's the baby's way of signaling mom's body to make more milk for an upcoming growth spurt, and newborns grow rapidly in the beginning.
The good news is that I am a very laid back photographer. If we need to stop to settle a fussy baby, I'm totally fine with that.
Once Allison nursed Brayden, he snuggled in to sleep. I wanted to make sure he was deep asleep before moving him, so I snapped a few pictures of him with mom while we waited.
Once we were sure he was settled, we snuggled him in a blanket and we put him in an adorable crocheted set that was a gift from a friend.
Before I left, I wanted to get a picture of Brayden snuggled on his mom's chest. However, as soon as he smelled his mom, there was only one thing he wanted...
In my glimpse into this family's life with three kids, I saw a little bit of chaos, plenty of laughs, and an abundance of LOVE. I was in awe of Allison's grace and patience with all of her kids, and I can't wait to see more of this family as they grow together.
There is a relatively new trend in the baby photography world called a Fresh 48 session, and it happens to be one of my favorites. Simply put, a Fresh 48 is a session photographed within your baby's first 48 hours of life when they are still wrinkly and new. Ideally this session is done while you are still in the hospital if that is where you choose to deliver.
A Fresh 48 is different from a traditional newborn session in that it is shorter and less posed. Although I use more of a lifestyle/documentary approach in my newborn sessions, I still use some props and suggest poses and activities in order to capture the relationships in your family. Also, a newborn session is scheduled sometime in the first 2 weeks after birth in the comfort of your own home.
With a Fresh 48 session, my main goal is to preserve the little details of those earliest moments. Any mom will tell you that babies change so much in those first couple of weeks, and remembering your baby fresh out of the womb becomes harder as time passes.
Leading up to your baby's birth, I am essentially "on call" for the weeks surrounding your due date. I have two children of my own, so I always make sure I have babysitters and back up plans ready at any time. Since I have such a short window of time in which to complete the session, it is important that I am prepared to go at a moment's notice. You will notify me as soon as you are able after your baby is born, so that we can decide on a time for me to come.
When I arrive at the hospital, I usually take pictures of the hospital itself and the details around the room. I will usually chat with you while I take pictures - ask how you're feeling, hear about your birth, gush over your baby (because I LOVE babies).
If baby is sleeping or content, I will have you put baby in the bassinet, so I can take all of the sweet detail pictures. I usually leave baby swaddled during this portion and just unwrap one body part or feature at a time to photograph.
It is not uncommon for the session to be interrupted in some way. If your little one needs to eat during the session (because newborns eat FREQUENTLY), I can continue taking photos if you are comfortable and want nursing photos. If not, I can give you privacy and continue taking photos when you are finished. Often, the interruptions come from medical personnel. In the example below, the pediatrician came to check the baby while I was in a session, and I took the opportunity to take pictures of all his sweet hair!
I like to include the new parents in these sessions when possible and siblings, grandparents, or other family members if they are present as well! However, the baby boy highlighted in this particular post was born just before 4 am and mom and dad had still not had a chance to rest when I came by for the session after noon. Because they were both exhausted, we chose to focus on just baby. Although, mom and baby were snuggling in to take a nap as I was packing up to leave, and I was able to snag a sweet picture of some skin to skin time.
I am currently accepting Fresh 48 clients through February 2018. I only take a limited number of these sessions per month to ensure my availability when your baby arrives. Contact me today to book your Fresh 48 session!
Unless you've been living under a rock somewhere, you likely know we experienced a pretty cool phenomenon in the USA yesterday. The solar eclipse has been all over the media for weeks now. As a photographer who lives within the path of totality, I was asked multiple times if I would be purchasing a special filter for my camera so I could photograph the eclipse. I may be among the minority of photographers in Charleston, but I did not.
I knew there would be many other photographers who were better equipped to photograph an event like the eclipse (NASA for example), and I chose to enjoy their beautiful photographs instead of stressing myself out trying to get the best shot. Besides, we all know my specialty is photographing people. I like to capture the experience of the PEOPLE in an event and not necessarily the event itself.
My husband had to work the day of the eclipse, so I took my kids out to my parents' house. They live a little north of Charleston and were supposed to have the longest period of totality. I spent some time explaining the eclipse to my 4-year-old using a flashlight and 2 rubber balls. My dad then helped her make a pinhole viewer from a cereal box.
We tested out the projector, and I was actually pretty impressed with how well it worked! We could even see the detail in some of the clouds passing over.
We tried to show my little one how to use the projector, but he's only 19 months old. This whole experience was way over his head. He had much more fun chasing frogs outside and generally being adorable.
It was a pretty cloudy day, but we had a great view for most of the progression leading up to totality. My daughter watched through her pinhole viewer most of the time, but we allowed her to take glances with the eclipse glasses occasionally (with adult supervision and assistance).
I was surprised by how quickly the temperature cooled as darkness arrived. My parents live out in the country, so the chorus of crickets and frogs is often very loud as evening falls. It was amazing to hear them suddenly come to life at 2:30 in the afternoon! My daughter's reaction was priceless, and I'm so glad I had my camera aimed at her in that moment.
Once we explained to her that all the creatures were confused by the darkness, she thought it was hilarious! It wasn't long before the sun began to return. Unfortunately, a dark storm cloud arrived just moments before totality, so we missed the main event! We were all disappointed, but I was thankful I hadn't been planning to photograph the eclipse anyway. Instead I was able to capture an exciting day with my family. I'm sure one day we'll all reminisce about the great eclipse that was eclipsed by the clouds.
Did you watch any of the eclipse? Were you able to see the time of totality? Tell me about it in the comments!
There have been times in the years since you were born when I wondered what God could have possibly been thinking giving you to me. Not because of anything you have done. Oh no, precious girl...
I wonder why God thought I would be the best momma for you. I think I'm a pretty good mom most of the time, but I often worry that one day you'll be sitting with your therapist lamenting all the ways in which I screwed you up and all the ways I could have been better.
Our personalities are just so different. It's not that I don't understand you. I know every little facet of who you are. I've been studying you since the moment you were born.
You are cautious and timid.
You don't like to try new things until you've watched for a little while and are fairly confident that you could do them well.
You are a planner.
You are tender and thoughtful.
I adore everything about you, sweet girl.
But I fly by the seat of my pants. I'm loud and a little bit chaotic. I like to jump in with both feet and learn as I go.
Sometimes I worry I'm too much for you and at the same time, not enough.
Lately, however, in seemingly every day moments, I've been hearing God whisper, "This is why you were made for each other."
Last summer, I made you take swim lessons because I thought it was important for you to know how to swim considering we spend so much time in or near the water. You fought me every step of the way. You rarely, if ever, made it through a lesson without crying at least once.
This year, I decided to give you space to decide for yourself. If there's one thing I've learned about you, it's that you do things on your own timeline. You can't be forced. You have to decide when you're ready. Because I'm flexible and spontaneous, giving you the time you need is easy for me. God whisper #1.
Two weeks ago you suddenly informed me you wanted to go to swim lessons. I called and asked the coach to squeeze you in for the last 2 weeks of lessons. It completely turned our schedule upside down, but I'm always up for an adventure whenever you decide you're ready. God whisper #2.
The very first day of lessons, you informed me that you would NEVER jump off the diving board. I told you that was okay. You didn't have to jump off the diving board. I was still proud of you for choosing to go back to lessons and working so hard to improve each day.
Over the next two weeks, you flourished! You were swimming well and jumping in from the side of the pool with confidence. You were still adamant that you didn't want to jump off the diving board, but I saw you watching the other kids... watching them jump while you sat quietly on the side of the pool. I told you it was okay to change your mind. You could try the diving board if you wanted. I was proud of you either way.
Your cautious mind sometimes tells you that you can't or it's too scary. I'm the voice that reminds you that you CAN. I'm the one that believes in you even when you're not so sure, but I still give you the space to figure it out for yourself. God whisper #3.
Then one day you declared that you were ready. I watched you climb up the ladder. You suddenly looked so small, yet I was stunned by your confidence.
After a quick look to make sure I was watching, you jumped...
When you came up out of the water, you looked for me to see my reaction and found me unashamedly cheering like a lunatic. Oh my baby girl, you finally realized you could fly...
God might have whispered then too, but I like to think He was cheering with me instead.
One of the many perks of living in Charleston, SC is the access to so many beautiful beaches. There is no shortage of gorgeous ocean views in this area. However, there's one stretch of beach that holds a special place in my heart. I have memories from my teenage years of sitting on the rocks with friends talking about nothing and everything. It's a quiet stretch of beach with a spectacular view.
When Allie contacted me about taking maternity portraits, I knew this would be the perfect place.
Allie and I went to Winthrop University together. She is a teacher in the upstate and was planning a vacation to Charleston and Hilton Head with her husband, Andrew, and her son, Liam. She asked if I would take beach maternity portraits for her while she was in town. Having recently finished my photography certification program, I jumped at the opportunity to use some of my new knowledge.
We started with some posed family portraits on the rocks. I loved what they chose to wear because they all coordinate without being super "matchy."
Liam did a great job listening to my directions and suggestions, but he eventually started getting restless (as all kids do). We let him take a break while I took some photos of mom alone. We did convince him to run back in and give his baby brother a quick kiss though.
My favorite part of every beach portrait session comes at the end. That's when it's time to get wet! The family takes a walk in the water. Kids get to splash and get wet. My favorite photos almost always come from the spontaneous moments the waves bring.
I only wish I lived closer to this family so I could photograph this sweet new baby boy on the outside too!
Do you have a favorite beach spot? Tell me about it in the comments!
"Whenever and however you intend to give birth, your experience will impact your emotions, your mind, your body, and your spirit for the rest of your life." - Ina May Gaskin
When I first started thinking about becoming a birth photographer, I received a variety of reactions.
Oh! That's interesting!
The reaction from everyone who knows me well, however, was pretty much the same.
Oh my gosh! That's perfect for you! It makes so much sense!
If you've read my bio on my website, you know that I have always been the person with a camera ready to photograph life. Photography seemed like a no-brainer, but figuring out WHAT to photograph was my sticking point.
Even just 5 years ago, when I gave birth to my daughter, I didn't really know birth photography was a "thing." I had seen beautiful photographs from births in all of my research and reading during pregnancy, but I just assumed those mothers were lucky to have friends or family present who happened to be photographers. It wasn't until later that I realized there is an entire industry of professional photographers who specialize in capturing birth stories.
That's when this idea started growing. You see, when I was younger, I had a fascination with birth that was unusual for my age. When aunts or cousins were pregnant, I always asked a lot of questions and was enthralled when I was invited to feel a belly with a baby rolling around inside. In a class in high school, we were required to watch a birth video. While the rest of the class cringed, I sat in awe of how perfectly the female body was designed for birth.
Then in 2012, I had my first child and I realized just how important birth photography can be. The end of my pregnancy became complicated very quickly. I developed gestational hypertension in my third trimester which was rapidly heading into pre-eclampsia territory. I was in and out of the hospital for a couple of weeks before doctors decided it was time for my sweet girl to meet the world. The induction was a pretty spectacular failure, and I ended up in the OR.
I was completely unprepared for this turn of events. I had spent my entire pregnancy planning and mentally preparing for a normal vaginal delivery. Surgery just wasn't on my radar. As a result, I was at the mercy of the hospital staff. My daughter was born perfectly healthy. They showed her to me briefly before they whisked away my husband, my mom, and my daughter. I was left alone in the OR with a bunch of strangers begging for someone to tell me what was going on with my baby.
I missed so much. My husband held our daughter for the first time (the first baby he had ever held) while I was still in the OR, and I don't have a single picture to show for it. Our families watched through the nursery window as she was weighed, measured, and foot-printed, and I missed all of it.
I finally met my daughter about an hour or so after she was born, and I'm so thankful my doctor grabbed my camera and began snapping pictures because I honestly don't remember it. I have some fuzzy memories from those first moments holding my daughter, but most of them have been lost in the haze of anesthesia.
By the time I was pregnant with my second baby, I had quit my full time job to stay at home. We couldn't afford both a doula and a birth photographer. Since I was planning a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean), I really wanted a doula to help me navigate this birth. However, I still desperately wanted pictures. I sat down with my mom, my husband, and my doula during my third trimester and expressed to them how important photos were to me. I told them my camera would be available to any one of them at any time. I told them to take pictures of everything.
They listened. They took turns with the camera throughout my labor and delivery. Unfortunately, I went through a long, exhausting 50 hour labor and delivery.
I am so incredibly thankful for the pictures I do have, but I often wish I had been able to hire a birth photographer. Someone who hadn't been awake with me for 2 straight days. Someone with a fresh perspective.
The births of both of my children changed me. They taught me about myself: my strengths and the lengths I would go for the sake of my babies. They were the two most life-changing experiences of my life, and I will forever wish they had been captured with the same reverence I feel when I think back on those days.
I chose birth photography because it combines two things I'm passionate about: art and motherhood. However, I also don't want anyone else to miss moments like I did. I want every mother to be able to look back and see the combination of her own strength and vulnerability. I want her to look back on the way her partner stroked her hair and stared at her in adoration. I want her to be able to see the look on her own face when she laid eyes on her precious baby for the first time. I want to capture all births with the reverence that bringing new life into the world deserves.