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How to prepare for your home newborn session

Atlanta Lifestyle Newborn Photography

You’ve decided against the silly props and fancy backdrops. Instead, you want to capture images of your new arrival that are natural, relaxed, and candid. Yes!!! I’m so happy to hear that because that’s my favorite way to shoot growing families who are welcoming a new baby into their lives! And the best place to do that is in your own little nest… so now that you don’t have to rush around and struggle to get out the door to a studio for your shoot, I bet you’re wondering how to prepare for your home newborn session! I want this to be as easy as possible for you and your family, so here are a few tips I’ve picked up over the years:

1. Pick your outfits early.

Atlanta Home Newborn Session

Check this one off your list before baby arrives! You can still wear the outfits you choose before the session, of course. It’s not like they’re suddenly off limits! But now you’ll know the few pieces of laundry to throw in with your next load.

You’ll most likely be in maternity clothes still (give yourself some grace here — it takes just as long to get the bump off as it did to put it on!). Tunics or flowy tops paired with dark jeans or black leggings are great for new mamas. Don’t be afraid of colors and prints! They’ll make you look fresh and bright (and way more rested than you are, most likely).

Babies always look awesome in classic onesies. I’d stay away from anything too cartoonish and opt for light-colored solids like white and gray or simple patterns like stripes. Newborn pants, hats and headbands are also great (the simpler the better for a classic look). I’m never a fan of polo shirts on dads (they look dated to me in photographs!) and think dads always look best either in button-down shirts or simple t-shirts, depending on how dressy or casual you’d like to look as a family.

Siblings can coordinate with everyone else through their color choices! I’m always open to talking about outfits and making you look your best while also feeling comfortable so please, please feel free to contact me before our session.

2. Clean the important areas and don’t worry about the rest!

Newborn Session in Master Bedroom

We’ll be shooting in three primary locations: The master bedroom, the nursery and the main living area. Clear the clutter off your coffee table, make your bed and toss any laundry piles into the bedroom closet (I won’t peak, I promise!). This is a great task to hand off to any helping hands you have visiting (hint, hint: grandma)!

3. Open all your blinds and pull back the curtains.

Home Newborn Session Window Light

We want to let as much light in as possible! I use natural light during all of my in-home sessions, so opening the blinds and curtains before I arrive gets us off to a great start. I may also move you around to find the best pockets of light in your home, so be ready for that! If we need to readjust some things in the background, we’ll tackle it then (again, don’t feel the need to make your entire home spotless!).

4. Gather anything that’s important to YOUR story.

Special Knit Blanket Newborn Session

Start making a mental list of items you want me to photograph along with your family. I’m thinking special hand-me-downs, lovelies, handmade blankets, favorite swaddles, knit booties, etc. I’m not a fan of props for the sake of having props… but if there’s something that’s especially important to you guys? Then of course I want to capture that! You can make a little pile somewhere the morning of our session.

The blanket pictured in the image above was made for this sweet guy by his great grandmother before she passed away.

5. Take a few minutes for yourself before I arrive!

Relaxed Home Newborn Photo Session

Hand that sweet baby over, grab a quick shower, blow dry your hair dry and throw on a little mascara. And MAKE SURE YOU EAT! Us moms always think about ourselves last. But the truth is, you’re the heart of your family and you deserve to feel like a million bucks as we start our session!

6. Don’t stress.

Crying Newborn Diaper Change

We’ll be working around your baby and his or her schedule. If you need to stop and nurse or make a bottle, that’s fine! I’ll be capturing those beautiful moments of you caring for your baby. If baby has a diaper blowout, that’s okay, too! You better bet I’ll be capturing that as well because this is what parenthood is allllll about — milk, diaper changes and the occasional nap (well, it’s occasional for us parents at least… new babies are lucky they get to sleep most of the day!).

Check out my recent in-home lifestyle newborn sessions by clicking here. Haven’t booked yet but this sounds like your dream newborn session? Click here to shoot me a message and get on my calendar!

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The seasons of parenthood… they are a-changin’

I thought we were doomed for sure. What had been a “once-in-awhile” thing had turned into a “once-a-night” thing. You toddler parents know exactly what I’m talking about: At around 4 a.m. you hear those tiny footsteps sneaking across your bedroom floor. There’s a tug at your covers as your kiddo pulls himself up and over your body and finds a spot right between you.

Some nights, he’d turn perpendicular to us and — no matter how many times we tried to nudge him back into place — his feet would end up stomping my husband’s chest and his arms would slap around at my face — all. night. long. Most nights though, he slept soundly between us. And for some reason, he always woke up really happy, peering his beaming face over my shoulder: “Mama! Why are your eyes closed, mama?!”

Because… I’m sleeping. But how could you not mirror that little smile? Even running on five hours of heavily interrupted sleep.

Sometimes, my husband and I would wake before him, our eyes meeting over his still body.

“I kind of like this,” he’d whisper.

“Me, too,” I’d say.

After we got a couple weeks into this routine, I worried about what we should be doing. Should I be getting my giant pregnant body up and out of bed and marching him back into his at 4 a.m.? Should I wait until he falls back asleep and carry him in there? How will we sleep like this when the new baby is here, and wailing every other hour to be fed? Will we have to sleep in different rooms? How are we going to manage that when we have friends and family staying with us early on? I really need to get this figured out now… and then I realized, wait, no I don’t.

That’s for a few reasons: I wanted more sleep (and giving him a hand into bed and then passing right back out was way easier than 4 a.m. toddler negotiations). The baby also won’t be here for another two months (that’s forever in toddler land!). And… yeah… I really did like the extra snuggles with my little baby boy (who’s turning out to be less and less of a baby as the days go by). It won’t be long until he’s not actually “the baby” anymore, and I’m wanting to soak in as much time with just the three of us as we can before everything changes completely. So — bring on the 4 a.m. snuggles!

And then… he didn’t come into our bed the other night. Then it was two nights in a row. And now, it’s been a whole week that we haven’t seen his face until well after daybreak. Just as quickly as the whole thing started, it ended. Which reminded me… everything in parenthood really is a season: The diaper changes, the middle of the night feedings, teething, tantrums. And just like the seasons, things are always changing. And here I am now, getting up every two hours to hit the potty, missing how just last week my little man was tugging at the covers to snuggle next to us in bed.

At least I remembered to snap a few pictures 😉

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Now Booking: Holiday mini sessions!

Bookings for this year’s holiday mini sessions are officially live! Last year was such a blast that I’m excited to do it again! If we’ve already had a documentary session together, then this is a great time to update your family portraits before the holidays. It’s also our last chance to work together before I go on maternity leave at the end of the year!


Details:

Date: Sunday, September 24th
Times: Morning and Afternoon Slots
Cost: $175 plus the option to upgrade to additional collections (see below)
Location: Decatur, GA (exact spot TBD but somewhere green!)
What’s included: A stress-free, 20-minute family session! I’ll shoot everyone together in a more formal pose and then we’ll spend the rest of the time having fun and getting awesome candid shots in the process. At least one high resolution digital file of your choosing (or more, depending on your collection).


How to book:

1. Pick your collection. You’ll see a list of options at the end of this post. I wanted to give you a great selection of products that work as both gifts and beautiful art for your home!

2. Click here to reserve your date and time on Calendly. Your option will be the date circled in blue.

3. Pay your session deposit. A minimum of $175 (Collection One) is due upon booking to reserve your slot. I will invoice you shortly after I receive your booking information. The balance of additional collections will be due at your in-person ordering session. If you want to pay in full now — well, that’s great, too!

4. Get ready for an awesome shoot! I will send you more information about what to wear and exactly where to meet in the week or so before our session.

5. Think about when you’d like to view your images together. This will take place in person and it will be the time to decide which images you’d like included in your pocket albums, digital files, matted prints, frames, etc. If you are in the Decatur area, I will gladly come to your home (after bedtime even!). Otherwise, I have a loft space in Decatur where we can meet. Plan for this to take about an hour and for it to happen in the week after our session together. I want to keep the deadline pretty tight so I can have your goodies to you by mid-October!

Read more: Three reasons you should book your holiday session NOW!


Mini Session Collections:

Collection Four

20-minute session | 4 small matted gift prints | 3 pocket albums | 1 medium framed wall art piece | All high resolution digital images | 15% off additional a la carte items | $850

Mini Session Collection Four

Collection Three

20-minute session | 4 small matted gift prints | 3 pocket albums | 5 high resolution digital images | 10% off additional a la carte items | $475

Mini Session Collection Three

Collection Two

20-minute session | 4 small matted gift prints | 3 high resolution digital images | $325

Mini Session Collection Two

Collection One

20-minute session | 1 high resolution digital image | $175


A la carte items:

Add these to any collection!

Matted Gift Prints:

Small (final size 8×10): $45 each | 2 for $75 | 3 for $100
Large (final size 11×14): $115 each | 2 for $215 | 3 for $300

Pocket Albums: $125 for a set of three | $25 per additional album

High Resolution Digital Files (with printing rights): $50/each

Custom Framed Wall Art:

Small (12×16): $245 | Medium (16×22): $345 | Large (20×28): $525 | X-Large (24×34): $815

Click here to claim your spot! Can’t wait to see you there!

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Three reasons why you should book your holiday session NOW!

Atlanta Family Photographer

I already know what you’re going to say… but the kids just started school! And it’s a million degrees outside! And… and… you want me to think about the holidays already!?

Yep, you got that right! And here are three reasons why:

1 — Brighter, bolder colors totally rock!

Fall is probably my favorite season. I love all the things it brings: scarves, boots, mittens, hats, tummy-warming beverages. But capturing that wonderful fall feeling in your images can look a little dated the rest of the year. Think of how green the grass will be when you shoot earlier! How you can coordinate so many fun colors like yellow and red and blue! I think this look fits the style of our modern homes much better and I want you to really enjoy your images when you see them hanging on your walls!

 

2 — Check off your holiday gift list early

We are huge procrastinators around here. It’s probably why both my husband and I were drawn to working in the news business — we thrive under a deadline. But the holidays are stressful enough! I am determined to start planning earlier this year… and as you know, photos make amazing gifts for grandparents so you can go ahead and check them off your list. Whew! And now that that’s done, you have more time to get started building that 251-piece toy house from Santa!

 

3 — You won’t bust your budget at the end of the year

We all know how expensive the holidays can be, especially if you’re traveling out of state with little ones in tow. Add in the toys, the holiday dinners, the white elephant gifts for work and our wallets are collectively groaning come the new year. If you get your holiday session out of the way now, you’ll have a lot more flexibility in your holiday budget later. Plus, I bet you hardly ever print and hang images from your session. Who wants to think about all that when you have gifts still to buy and wrap? But I really believe that if you’re going to invest in a family session that you should also plan to invest in displaying those images around your house. Make it a priority to update your fireplace mantle or entry way every year with your new favorite shot (and move last year’s image to a collection you can start in your hallway!).

How to book your holiday mini session early this year:

Pocket Albums

This will be your last chance to shoot with me before I go away on maternity leave for a few months. It’s so sad, I know! So take advantage of it for sure.

I will be hosting a round of 20-minute sessions on Sunday, September 24th. There will be a very limited number of spots both in the morning and in the afternoon. I’m working on a few collections full of awesome goodies that you and the grandparents will love (I know our parents can’t stop talking about the mini albums we sent out last year!). I’m aiming to have a super fast turnaround on your images. Plan to schedule an in-person image reveal with me the week following your session! This is where we’ll go over all your images and you will place your order. Products will arrive shortly after that. Yes, you can even wrap them up before Thanksgiving!

As always, these will be super fun and easy sessions. If you’ve shot with me before, you know I’m laid back and love capturing the warm, natural connection between your family members. We should also have plenty of time for individual shots of the kids and sibling shots, too (cooperation pending, of course!).

Be the first to know when sign-ups open for these very limited sessions. Sign up below for my newsletter, which is where I’ll make the announcement!

Subscribe to my mailing list!

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A gift for grandma (and yourself!): Museum-quality matted prints

I love to research — everything from sippy cups to sunscreens to sofas (I mean this is a total mom thing, right?!). So you can probably appreciate how I want to have the top of the line products when it comes to what I offer my clients. My whole goal is to capture moments you’ll want to cherish forever and ever… and part of that “forever” is having your images printed into tangible heirloom pieces that you can hand down to your children some day (and to their children after that!). Cheap, chain store stuff just isn’t going to fly here!

So after conducting that extensive research, I settled on these beautiful mats. You’ve probably heard the term “acid free” before, which is of course really important when it comes to paper and protecting things for the long haul. But these mats go beyond that… they’re actually made from 100% pure cotton (not paper). They call it “cotton rag” or “museum rag” and these mats and backing boards are the choice of museums and libraries when it comes to preserving historical documents and works of art. Both of which are categories I put your images into when it comes to preserving your own family history! If you’ve ever opened up an old photo album or photo box to find the images yellowing, degrading or stuck together, then you know how important it is to preserve them the right way for future generations to discover and enjoy someday.

The mats that I use are 8-ply in thickness (compare this to the ones you might see in stores, which are 4-ply or even 2-ply). I really like the look of the deeper setting. I also take a full conservation approach to how I mat. I use top of the line linen tape to secure your images to the backing board in such a way that the adhesive never touches the front of the image. I also attach the mat to the backing board with a hinge mount so that the two pieces can contract and expand as needed.

Matting not only makes your images look like high quality art hanging on your walls, but it also serves a useful purpose, which is to create a buffer between your image and the glass. I can’t tell you how many beautiful prints I’ve had stick to the frame glass when I’ve gone in to switch out images a couple years later. It’s such a bummer! Especially when I’ve invested in high-quality prints! And speaking of prints… of course your images are printed on gorgeous archival paper. The official name is “Fuji Crystal Archive Professional Deep Matte” paper. The colors are warm and rich and the smooth surface is truly non-reflective. The archival life is over 100 years in a typical home display (200 years in dark storage).

Above you’ll see a few prints I matted recently for a family. This mom wanted to gift these to the two grandmothers in their life and keep one for her own nightstand. All prints are individually packaged in plastic slips and then placed inside a photo box. I just designed these canvas bags, too, which I think are too cute!

One perfect, tiny human — Atlanta Lifestyle Newborn Photography

Some brand new babies are just too precious for words! And man, this one gives me a major case of baby fever. It was an honor being there to see these three (or I should say four, if you include non-humans) adjust to life in their brand new home.

I really love doing the image reveal for newborn sessions. This normally happens around a week or two after our initial time together… you know, when things start to get real in newborn land. It makes me think back to that time in our lives, when we were questioning everything and going out of our minds thanks to sleep deprivation. Sometimes these sessions can be less looking at beautiful images of your baby and more venting/getting some free therapy. I will give you ANY encouragement you need — seriously. YES, this new gig is exhausting beyond what you thought was “exhausting” before… YES, you are doing a fantastic job… and YES, it will get easier, I promise! Okay, maybe easy is too strong of a word… but getting a full night’s sleep make’s alllll the difference.

Atlanta Lifestyle Newborn PhotographyAtlanta Lifestyle Newborn PhotographyAtlanta Lifestyle Newborn PhotographyAtlanta Lifestyle Newborn Photography

Atlanta Lifestyle Newborn PhotographyCan we get a collective “awwww” for all the doggies who have had to figure out their new place after baby?! <3

Atlanta Lifestyle Newborn Photography

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Eat, sleep, change diaper, repeat!

If I could go back and do it over (having my son again, that is), I would channel the energy of these two new parents. Their little guy was 10 days old for our session together and they were handling it like a pair of pros. I feel like by this point with my son? Yeah, I was a neurotic mess: Did you count that wet diaper in the baby app? Who’s going to start the timer for this nursing session?! WHEN WILL I EVER SLEEP AGAIN?!

Now that I’m on the other side of it all, I know exactly what it’s like in newborn land: nurse, nap, get your diaper changed, repeat. It’s one of the reasons I love my in-home newborn sessions. They’re super relaxed, laid back and we have plenty of time for diaper blowouts and marathon nursing sessions.

Before we get to the images, I have to make a quick confession: I have a bit of a thing for imperfect newborns. They come out a little misshapen sometimes! It’s just a part of life and I’m glad these parents were real enough to let me embrace it in so many of our shots.

This sweet little family lives in a cozy carriage house that happens to be just around the corner from us — such a small world.




I see you kitties……. 😉

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The tiny house with a big garage

It’s never the square footage but of course the family inside that truly makes a home. But if you live in one of Atlanta’s awesome intown neighborhoods, then you already know… a lot of times we have to sacrifice space for location.

Look at what we get in return though: Hardwood floors that have decades of history walked across their surface. A 60-year-old doorbell, which must have been pressed a thousand times and is still — somehow — in working order. An original fireplace mantle that carried the weight of countless family treasures and photographs.

It’s character that we get in return for living here… and to my husband and I, at least, it’s worth all the pennies we pay to be in Oakhurst. Who needs a huge house anyway when you spend most of your time outside it, walking to parks and restaurants around the corner? An extra bedroom would be nice, I’ll admit it. But for now, our living room will have to also be my work space… and our bikes will have to stay parked next to our dining room table. It’s a small price to pay for living in a true front porch community where we really do know all of our neighbors by name.

Before my session with Jessica and her family, she gave me a heads up that her house isn’t all that big. I’m tattling on her a little because I hear this sentiment frequently. I totally get why it’s a real concern — “will there be enough space? can you actually get decent images inside my little house?!” The answer, of course, is hell yeah I can! A wide-angled lens and some good light are all I need.

And I’m sorry to tell you, Jess… but even if you moved into a new house twice the size, it still wouldn’t be big enough to hold in all the love you guys have for each other. Seriously, your house is bursting at the seams with it <3

You intown Atlanta folks might also be super jealous of the big garage I mentioned in the title. I’ll just say that this garage is inside the house… and maintained by the best 2-year-old mechanic this side of Atlanta. I’m a little crazy about this kid. I think because he reminds me so much of my own 2-year-old son, just with blue eyes and blond hair. He has such a genuine, sweet soul. I can’t wait to see what kind of mark he makes on this world!

 

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Pepto and a pep talk

The stomach bug hit us hard the week before Christmas (such great timing — I know). If you live with young children in the house then you know: Once someone gets sick, everyone slams to the ground like dominoes. If this is the price we pay for all the snuggles and sloppy toddler kisses then so be it!

I wasn’t able to keep anything down, which is just the absolute worst (a million high-fives to my hubby, who was on the mend and took over childcare duties completely — wheeeew!). I’m about 12 hours into this thing and, at this point, I really think I’m going to die. I’m throwing back another shot of the pink stuff when in bounds my 2-year-old son, full of way too much post-stomach-bug energy. I had quarantined myself all day — mostly to suffer alone — and man, seeing that sweet little face made me feel all better, even if just for a few seconds. He hugged my leg, screeched a little like he always likes to do and then told me: “You’re strong, mama. You’re strong!” And just like that he was back out the bathroom door and off stomping around the corner in his fireman rain boots.

I’ve been saying that to him a lot lately: “You’re strong. You can do it! Be strong, buddy, use your muscles.” He still struggles with the physically challenging stuff on the playground. He always hesitates and asks for help, even though I know he has it in him to do it. I try to encourage him the best I know how… so it’s not like he came up with that all on his own. But the timing couldn’t be any more perfect. It’s exactly what I needed in that moment of total despair. How kids know when to deliver a message that sticks straight in your heart is beyond me. I love being moved to laughter and, occasionally, a tear or two by all of these crazy/funny/sweet things that come out of that little face.

Here’s hoping we all catch way less germs in the new years!

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Why I decided to stop helping my kid on the playground

It’s days like the one I’m about to describe that make me so happy I decided to quit my corporate job and stay home to raise my son, Brendan.

Some days are tough — the kind that are filled with so little sleep and so much struggle that your mind goes numb. Some days are easy — the kind that are filled with laughter and tickles and on-time schedules. And then there are the days that are studded with gems that make you genuinely change your perspective.

I was in a string of days that were of the “tough” variety. I could tell something had been bothering my then 16-month-old son, Brendan. There was way too much whining and shirt pulling and refusing to nap and refusing to go to bed (1 a.m. is not an acceptable toddler bedtime – ever – I mean REALLY!). Brendan had two more molars coming in but that didn’t seem like the issue this time. It’s like his little brain had been going a million miles a minute and he only stopped to sleep when he absolutely crashed down.

If you’ve gotten the chance to meet the little dude, you’ll understand what I mean when I say he’s always been more of a “social” rather than “physical” kind of kid. We have to stop and talk to everyone we meet, but when it came to crawling and walking and climbing he has always been behind the little buddies his own age.

But this particular week I could tell he had been making attempts to master control of his own body (things we’re not used to seeing him do): trying to climb up and onto things himself, squeezing into tight spots, getting super frustrated when he got stuck or couldn’t quite reach his leg high enough to climb a tall step. I’d offer my hand to help and sometimes he’d take it but most times he’d slap it away. Well okay, then, you want to do it yourself! I totally get it (even if my mama feelings are a little bit hurt!),

So we went to the park one afternoon and he was DETERMINED to climb up the slide. He would crawl on hands and knees and slide back down. Cry. Repeat (where did he get that stubbornness, I wonder?!). My husband Matt was with us and at one point he helped him finally get up the dang slide. That appeased him for a minute until he slid down and wanted to climb it yet again.

I remember reading a piece by a mom who said she didn’t want people helping her kid on the playground. Seemed kind of harsh at the time but I really liked her reasoning: If her kid wasn’t able to conquer a certain obstacle, well that was just fine. They needed to feel frustration and to have something to work towards when they were older/bigger/more skilled/etc. Could a playground really teach such legit life skills? Maybe. So I told Matt we should let Brendan figure it out (and honestly, who has the patience to help their kid up the slide every. single. time.).

So we stepped back. And Brendan wasn’t too happy about it. He tried – and failed – yet again. He cried – no, no, I’m sorry, he sat at the bottom and SCREAMED, actual tears rolling down his bright red face. I felt awful for him. I know exactly what it feels like to want so badly to be good at something. It was tempting to jump in and help him. But we didn’t.

Right then his little buddy (who has been a great climber and was at the park with us) scaled the slide right next to him. I pointed and told Brendan, “See how he uses his feet for traction and holds onto the sides with his hands? You have to try it THAT way next time!” I never know how much he really understands me but figured I might as well try explaining what to do.

So up the slide he went again, on hands and knees and down he came again. But instead of crying at the bottom this time he STOOD UP! He put both hands on the side and he stepped carefully all the way to the top. And when he got there, man was he so proud, clapping his hands, all smiles, with that sad little tear still sitting on his cheek.

I’m not gonna lie, I was tearing up at this point, too (and I’m tearing up now while writing this!). Silly, I know, over a SLIDE. But there’s something really magical about watching this little person that you created face a problem, work so hard to solve it and finally succeed. But before the triumph is the failure and that — I realized — is so very hard to stand back and watch as a parent. If it can be that difficult on the playground, I can’t even begin to imagine when life gets REAL (pause and insert thanks to all the parents out there who stepped back and watched us fail for our own good).

I told Matt on our way out that I had a feeling he’d sleep better that day. And sure enough, as soon as we got home he was READY for a nap, no fighting it this time. And no fighting bedtime, either. It was like his mind was totally at ease – at least for today. At least, until the next obstacle comes his way.

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