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Suzana Turns 10! {Huntington WV children’s photographer}

Suzana’s parents and our family have been friends for years, but I’ve never had the opportunity to photograph them.  Imagine my joy when Rachael (mom) called and asked me to help her brainstorm a special session for Suzana’s 10th birthday!  We carefully selected location, outfits, themes and her expectations for the session….I was so excited by the time the day finally arrived.

We had the most perfect weather– not too hot, not too cold– and sweet Suzana hammed it up for me.  I love how we were able to bring Rachael’s vision to life– to celebrate Suzana being herself….laughing, dancing, leaping, even making a duck face (but we decided together to not keep that one 😉 ).  Suzana is such an incredibly cheerful child and I really enjoyed getting to spend this special time with her and celebrate this milestone.

Enjoy these images from one of my favorite sessions to date!

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Prints are Important!

For me, there is something so powerful about printed work…. its lasting permanence, the emotional impact it brings to the viewer. My commitment to providing my clients with prints from every session has always been a core value in my business.
This print, a 16×48″ panoramic view of the entire staff and student body at FWES, makes me SO proud!!! Commissioned last fall, the image gives ownership of the school to the students and is now a focal point in the foyer of the building. Imagine my complete and utter joy this morning when I walked in a forgotten reading book (lol- mom life!) and saw it hanging for all to see! Imagine, still, how it felt for several students to stop by and find themselves in the image– “There I am!”, they exclaimed. My heart is full. <3





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Baby Orion | 7 Days New

I know I say this all the time but I really do have the best job ever.  My clients are simply the best, allowing me the privilege to photograph their changing and growing families and letting me be a part of their lives.  It is such an honor when clients come back to me, which is the case for this fabulous family.  I’ve photographed them in 2013 and again last year. We thought that would be the last session for a while but then sweet Orion made his debut this year and I am *so* glad he did!  He is SO cuddly and sweet…I loved getting to spend my morning with him, and I am pretty sure his family is smitten right now.  How adorable are big brother and sister with him?


Thank you, C Family, for choosing me yet again to captured these sweet moments.  I am lucky to have clients who are friends like you! <3

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Favorites- 2016’s best client images

Time for my annual review of images from my client sessions from the previous year! I always love looking back– not only is a great reminder of the amazing families and children with whom I’ve created, but I truly like to analyze and reflect on the work…why did I choose that particular pose? If I processed it in color- would the impact have been greater in black and white? I’ve even been known to re-edit prior works if I run across a new skill or technique that I think would enhance.  I guess you could say I just like to think ;).  So– without further adieu, and in no particular order….here are my favorite client images from 2016:



Nicole’s senior session….not only is this child incredibly beautiful, she’s also amazingly intelligent and a state-champion athlete!  It has been such a pleasure watching her grow up and I am so eager to see what the future holds for this shining star.  For this photo, we were in a nearby park and the sun was streaming *just so* through the trees… I love how small and delicate she looks here.  It reminds me a little of  a Tinkerbell/fairy princess photo… I adore it. If you want to see the rest of Nicole’s session, look here.


Oh, baby Liana is beyond adorable, isn’t she?  Ever since her grandma called me (all the way from Chicago!!) I have been enamored with her family.  Her newborn session was a breeze, this fall session was so perfectly styled and we had the best weather. Plus, in a couple of weeks she’ll be coming back to me for her first birthday and a cake smash session!  I am beyond excited!  I loved this image because it’s just so REAL– she is joyful and happy and her parents are completely smitten by her…it warms my heart. 


This photo makes my heart sing and makes me want to cry all at once.  Marra and her mom met me for a session in the fall on a cold, chilly day.  I didn’t know them before but it was an instant connection and I liked them both so much, especially how snuggly Marra was with her mommy.  This was a totally unscripted moment– I just encouraged them to connect with one another and whispered to Marra that maybe she might want to make her mom laugh…and this frame was born.  It’s real, it’s un-posed, and the perfect depiction of a mama and her girl…. since I have a girl around the same age the bittersweetness of the moment is not lost on me….we are holding them tight but they’re still growing up on us. 


Oh baby Grayson…so adorable!  When his mom got out this baby deer outfit I almost died– how was I even supposed to deal with this cuteness??  That little tail sticking up kills me every time and those ANTLERS?  No…I can’t.  He is so precious! 


Back to Liana again…I told you I can’t get enough!  This photo I loved anyway when I first took it…she only yawned the one time and thankfully I was already prepped and caught it in time.  Later, I chose to convert it to black and white and I’m still glad I did…for me, removing the color helps me to focus on the innocence of her little baby self…not a care in the world, just warm and cozy in my 90 degree studio (lol…she was the only one comfortable- the rest of us were sweating!) You can see the rest of her sessions’s highlights here.


Sigh…baby Kane.  This image– the tiny features, the snuggly blanket and the ears on that hat just combine to make it so peaceful and calm– I feel like when you look at it, really study it– your stressors have to ease a bit.  He’s just so happy and carefree– not a single thing on his mind except this cuddly naptime.  The colors work together to evoke a calm, pleasant response with the earthy tones.  As soon as I took this shot, I knew this would be a favorite for the year.  


Twins Harper and Drew came to see me and helped me to check off two things on my photography bucket list– boy/girl twins (I had previously only done baby boy twin sessions) and Miss Harper was the smallest baby I’ve photographed– she was just over 4lbs when this was taken!  The two of them were SO good for me… easygoing, sleepy (yesssss!) and just let me move them however I wanted.   I’ve not really felt as calm with a newborn as I did with the two of them- I knew that the session was going well and it was so nice to have that peaceful confidence.  This is a bit more prop-heavy than what I usually provide, but when mom told me about their nautical themed nursery I just couldn’t resist.  Hands-down one of my favorite sessions ever! 


This precious guy just melted my heart at his milestone session.  Watching him roll around and practice sitting was so much fun, especially since I hadn’t seen him since his newborn session! He has grown and changed so much this year.  I also love his mama’s expression, snuggled in with her sweet boy.

I’m a sucker for baby feet…I make a point of catching them in every newborn session.  This little guy, though, seemed to want to elude me in my efforts….kicking and moving them all around  and making it tough on me.  So….desperate times call for desperate measures!  I grabbed a newborn wrap I had nearby (love that springy green color!) and wrapped his feet up… it limited it movement and resulted in one of my favorite feet photos EVER!

A lesser-known aspect of my work is helping my commercial clients to enhance their professional spaces.  A lot of times we’ll use work I’ve already made in advance– like my travel and still life albums.   But occasionally, a client will request custom work, such as this image which I made specifically for Cabell Huntington Hospital’s Pain Management department.  They wanted some cool images of the train stations and locomotives in our town…so I booked myself one afternoon and went out shooting for them.  They purchased this print in a HUGE size for their office lobby and I am so excited for it to be installed!  Josh and Katie’s engagement session downtown was a true joy to photograph last fall.  I LOVED capturing their tender moments together and enjoyed laughing with them too (they are both huge goofballs!)  This image was very special though– they went out on a limb with me and agreed to stand next to this giant puddle we found in an alleyway…I knelt next to the water (and truthfully, almost fell in!) and got a great series of images from our little adventure.  I’m always looking for something unique, something different…so naturally this image makes my heart sing.It’s only natural that one of my very favorite client families would also have a favorite image for last year.  This sweet girl has been photographed MANY times by me– her mommy’s maternity session, her newborn session, and several sessions featuring her older brothers have all taken place with me in the past.  I simply adore all 5 of them!  I love her expression here and while I’m not usually heavy on props, I LOVED her mom’s idea to do a hot-air balloon theme.  Isn’t she adorable?!If you clicked on the links above, you’ll recognize these cuties as her big brothers!! This might be my favorite image taken all year….they are so adorable!  They can be rough and tumble, typical boys…and then turn it right off and squeeze in a moment of tenderness (like this!) that just melts your heart.  I love these little guys!I photographed Becca’s senior session on a sunny, unusually warm November day and I am SO glad she wanted to go outside the studio.  We headed down the street to the historic Keith Albee Theatre and the images we took in front of it just blew me away.  She is so talented!  I loved her session from start to finish.Just like Becca’s session, I loved Lexi’s senior session too!  She is incredibly beautiful and super smart, too.  I loved the juxtaposition of her girly outfits and our gritty downtown locations (can anyone tell I simply LOVE being downtown?!?! 😉 ) And I adored her shoes, which are on full display in this sassy image.  Definitely a favorite of mine for sure!Tiny baby Max was so cute and sleepy during his newborn session with me.  This is almost an outtake– one of those happy accidents that just fall in your lap.  I had opened his wrap to move him and he was so zonked out that his arms reached up like that…I laughed and then grabbed my camera and took the shot.  I think he looks like a tiny body builder- suns out, guns out! 😉And finally……..this right here. 😉 Does this not just sum up how we feel some days?  Sweet N is such a character and I love photographing his family.  He is a charmer– changing from a great big signature grin to this– which his mom and I fondly refer to as his “emoji face”.  He makes me laugh!!  If I ever wanted an image to evoke emotion…by golly…this one works!! 😉


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Getting Ready for Your Newborn Session

So you’re pregnant, you’ve perfected the nursery and found a photographer online who shows work you would LOVE to have in your home… sweet images of tiny fingers and toes…they’ve captured exactly what you want to see when you look back at your baby’s newborn photos.  You book the photographer (I hope it’s me! 😉 ) in advance and wait for baby’s arrival.

Now what? How do you get ready for a newborn session?

I get this question a lot so I’m spending some time today considering how best to prepare for your baby’s big photo debut.  Disclaimer– this is how *I* do it, and recommendations that I give to my clients.  Chances are, if you’re using a qualified newborn photographer (check out the National Association of Professional Child Photographers for the best in the business) they’ll have their own information to share…but if they don’t, this will give you a good starting point.

While you’re still pregnant, it may seem silly but it’s definitely not too soon to start prepping for baby’s newborn session!  Once baby arrives you will be TIRED and possibly recovering from childbirth/dealing with pain and pain meds.  It’s always best to “Boy Scout” it— be prepared!  In addition to packing your bag for the hospital, go ahead and pack baby’s photo bag.  Some things you may want to include:  lots of changes of clothes (seriously– the second that diaper comes off babies usually pee or poo…happens every.single.time…don’t be embarrassed!), extra diapers and wipes, boogie wipes if you use them, nail clippers in case a nail is long and scratchy (although there’s NO WAY I’m cutting that off for you, haha! That always made me so nervous when my girls were little).  Other items you may want to include are family heirlooms– maybe you have an 80 year old Christening dress worn by every baby girl in your family (like my precious clients in this session!) Maybe your husband loves football and you want your baby photographed with an adorable football beanie on (like this sweet guy) or you brought your wedding dress for your baby girl to pose on any other of 100 other items that have been brought to sessions with my clients.  The point is– be original!  This is YOUR baby and YOUR family, so show who you are.  I am always happy to work these items into my clients’ artwork.

It’s also important to discuss expectations with your photographer before you give birth (if possible).  Where will the session be?  How much will it cost and what’s included in that pricing?  How long will it take to see your completed images?  Is your photographer up to date on vaccinations and what happens if he/she gets sick the day of baby’s session?  Do you owe a deposit to hold your spot?  These are KEY items that you have to have in place before your sweet babe is born.  If baby is born before you’ve had a chance to call someone, make sure that you’re alert and awake when you call– you want to make sure everything is clear and understood.

The Day Of the Session

OK– so baby has arrived– hooray!  My favorite texts are from my clients, who send them to me once baby is born and let me know they’ll be seeing me in a few days.  (FYI for my local audience– booking your session with me for a newborn is never a set in stone date…instead, I keep a very light, flexible schedule in the days near my expectant moms’ due dates to ensure that when baby arrives, I’m ready!)

The day of the session, it’s best to dress baby in a sleeper type gown– the fewer buttons and snaps to deal with, the better!  I also recommend that my moms feed baby once they arrive at my home studio– this way, baby is “milk drunk” and very tired, as opposed to feeding at home and then coming to me.  I also ask (and this is sometimes hard for mamas but it makes good sense) that once baby is here and fed, that Mom is as “hands off” with baby as possible.  Why?? Because Mom=food, and comfort, and love…but mostly food. 😉  I don’t smell like food (I don’t think, ha!) so I am able to comfort baby without baby thinking about nursing again…which means we don’t have to take baby away from the food source again and again during the session.  It almost ALWAYS works. 😉

I keep the room where my newborns sessions take place at about 90 degrees- seriously!- because the warmer baby is, the more tired he/she will be, which is exactly what we want.  What this means for moms and dads and grandparents is that the room is HOT– so dress in layers!  If mom and dad are in photos, they may want to bring at least one change of clothes (see above– I can’t tell you how many times a baby has peed on a parent…or a big sibling!) I also welcome mamas to get ready at my house– I have a nice big bathroom vanity that’s perfect for getting ready, especially when you’ve tried to hustle a newborn and possibly more folks out the door that morning.

I always leave bottles of water and snacks out for my clients and welcome them into my home as not really clients but more friends– so, make yourselves at home! Watch TV (I’ll leave it on for you), rest, and relax.  Once I’ve entered the studio area with baby, I’m not coming out until we are finished.  It’s unbearably hot in there so I usually tell parents to take breaks as needed and to ignore my workout clothes since I’ll be sweating away working with baby. 😉

During my time posing the baby I don’t allow young children in the room– despite my best efforts to mask the noise of the camera and lights with a white noise machine, the excitable nature of siblings tends to overpower the machine and disturb baby…exactly what we don’t want while trying to capture all that yummy newborn sleepiness.  Mom and Dad (and grandparents too!) are always welcome to stay in the room with me.  Siblings and other children are free to watch TV or use my home WiFi to occupy their time while they wait for the siblings part…or, I’ve even had parents drive separately to deliver siblings toward the end of the session, which tends to work best of all. 🙂


While your photographer is working with baby, it’s a great time for you to touch up makeup or put on your “photo clothes”.  New moms are typically sleep deprived so I usually encourage neutral tops but not stark white…it tends to wash out an already pale complexion if you’re lacking sleep.  Also, a nice wrap sweater can provide a dressy look without having to actually put on a dress.  For dads, a complementary color on top and another neutral (dark jeans or khakis) will tie in nicely to your color scheme.  I typically photograph most of my newborns in their birthday suits or maybe just wearing a simple hat or wrap.  Another key thing to keep in mind when choosing your outfits is your color scheme at home–be sure to pick colors that will go nicely with your walls and accent tones.

How do I prepare for your baby’s session?  There’s a lot you might not realize goes into your session— I heat the room to a balmy 90 degrees or so, and I’ll trim my own nails to eliminate the possibility of me scratching fragile baby skin.  I’ll wear clothing that allows me to be comfortable in the heat but won’t throw a color cast on baby’s complexion– so no hot pink or green, even though they’re my favorite colors.  I stay up to date on my vaccinations so I won’t transmit any illness to baby… I eat and use the restroom beforehand so I don’t have to take breaks while working.  I also take workshops and attend photographer events and retreats to make sure I’m staying ahead of the curve in terms of education and new trends.  And I am careful to avoid scheduling too many newborn sessions at once to make sure I can accommodate my clients– that first week is a critical window to capture the true “newborn” phase.

Ultimately, your baby’s birth is likely one of the most important days of your life and your newborn photo session is the perfect way to showcase baby’s “new-ness”.  I hope that this guide has given you some insight into how to prepare and what to expect the day of the session.. and if you’re local, I hope you’ll call or recommend me if you’re in the market for newborn imagery.  I would love to snuggle your baby and capture those precious newborn moments.


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