Questions to ask before choosing a maternity or newborn photographer

 

maternity portrait lying on floor draped in red silk

Houston is home to many talented photographers in the maternity and newborn specialty. So how do you know which photographer is the right fit for you? Each time anyone reaches out to me for information about a maternity or newborn session I always start with a consultation. There are many reasons for this, but the main one is that each and every photographer runs their business a little differently. From the photographer’s perspective this is an appealing aspect of our work. However, from the client’s perspective it can be quite confusing. So often clients don’t know what questions to ask, and not every photographer does a great job at preparing their clients. So, to make things a bit easier on you while you’re considering which photographer is the right fit for you, I’m going to list some really important questions to ask before you commit.

Session Fees

Do you charge a session fee? How much is it? Does it include print products or digital images? Is the session fee refundable if I change my mind?

My session fee is 200 for all sessions. It is non-refundable and does not include prints or digital images. The session fee is due at the time of booking to reserve your time on my calendar and to cover all the time, supplies, and talent needed to complete your session.

Wardrobe & Props

Does your studio provide wardrobe for sessions? Are props provided by the studio for sessions? How does the photographer choose which wardrobe and props to use for my session?

My studio has an extensive wardrobe and prop collection. These are available for all of my client sessions making things less stressful on them. Each of my sessions are customized to each of my clients. So, I choose props and wardrobe that fit the style and color preferences of my client to create unique images that are really special for them.

Maternity Sessions

How many looks are included in my session? Will hair and makeup be provided? I don’t know how to pose, will I have help?

When I’m planning a maternity session we’ve already discussed how you’d like to be photographed and what your style is like. I will pull gowns and fabrics based on that and use as many as possible in our session. I never limit the number of looks I shoot, but a typical maternity session with me consists of roughly 8-12 unique looks. My clients come with hair and makeup done based on my recommendations. You do not need to know how to pose! It is my job to capture your beautiful figure with the most flattering angles and light. I direct and demonstrate throughout the entire shoot!

Newborn Sessions

What kind of training have you had in order to handle my baby safely? Are you up to date on all recommended vaccinations? What type of cleaning products do you use to clean the studio? How do you keep my baby sleepy and comfortable throughout the session?

Your baby’s comfort and safety is my top priority during a newborn session! I treat each and every baby as if it were one of my own. I’ve had online and in person training on how to photograph a newborn beautifully and safely. And I’m always educating myself and staying up to date with the latest recommendations from leaders in this field as well as health care professionals. I am up to date on all recommended vaccinations and only use natural cleaners on surfaces as well as on fabrics that touch your baby’s skin. My newborn session workflow allows me to maximize my time while disturbing baby as little as possible throughout the session. I have a lot of patience with these sweet little ones and take direction from them about what they do or do not like. I take my time handling babies while still being efficient and use a spotter any time baby is in an upright prop. I often composite multiple images together to create beautiful art with your baby while still keeping them completely safe and comfortable.

Ordering

How do I order my images? What are my options for prints and digitals? How long will it take me to receive my order? Is my artwork ready to be displayed as soon as it’s picked up or will I need to do my own framing?

All of my ordering appointments are conducted in person so I can provide assistance in choosing the right products and sizes to fit your needs. I offer collections (most of my clients use these) that bundle my most popular products as well as an a la cart menu so you receive exactly what you need. If orders contain digital images and are paid in full you will take all of your fully retouched digital images home with you the day of your ordering appointment. No waiting to share your excitement with friends and family 😊 Any print products that are ordered will be ready for pickup in approximately four weeks. I can’t tell you how often I hear that clients have not printed or framed any of their images from a previous photographer that offered digital images only. I totally get it that life is hectic and it’s hard to find the time to finish your portraits. So to help with that, all of the artwork that leaves my studio is fully finished and ready to be displayed as soon as you take it home.

Mother photographed with newborn girl in red lace dress

I prepare my clients with exactly what they can expect from their sessions with me and any photographer you’re considering working with should be very upfront and transparent about their procedures and policies as well. Want more information on how to work with me? Get in touch through my contact form at the top of the page and I’ll schedule your design consultation to discuss just how beautiful your portrait experience will be!

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Overlooked Registry and Baby Shower Gifts

 

Maternity portrait all white gown with white flowers

Creating a baby registry can be exciting, overwhelming, and many times eye opening for new parents. When clients come into the studio for maternity sessions, naturally the topic of preparing for baby comes up. Some mamas have started to shop around, some are still awaiting their baby shower and some are confident that they’ve already gathered what’s needed to welcome baby. Many of the items that go onto your registry are obvious such as gear, clothes, bottles etc.  Here are a few items that occasionally I will ask about, because they can sometimes be easily overlooked!

White Noise Machine – not only can it lull baby to sleep quicker but the soothing noises can help KEEP the, asleep longer. From sounds similar to what they heard in the womb to a variety of calming sounds found in nature, it can help drown out noises that would normally startle baby. If you’re out and about you can always have a white noise machine with you as well by downloading a white noise app. I use one during every newborn session to help keep baby sleepy as we move through poses. 

Humidifier – especially during colder months when heat is running, this will add moisture back into the air and prevent it from getting too dry and uncomfortable for baby. This can help relieve mucus buildup if baby is congested and also keep their skin smooth if dry skin is an issue.

Medicine – speaking of congestion, you’ll want to have the following on hand for when your little one is feeling under the weather. Be sure to have a thermometer, a fever reducer, gas relief and a nasal aspiratior. It will save a midnight run to the store!

Baby Mittens – it’s common to be gifted a grooming set that includes infant nail clippers, but the reality is that attempting to trim a squirmy baby’s nails intimidates many new parents. Mittens will keep their sweet cheeks scratch free until you’re ready to tackle the trimming. Having a hard time keeping those mittens on their hands? Try using a pair of baby’s socks!

Night Light – the perfect amount of light is crucial for middle of the night baby duties. You want enough light to not have to fumble clumsily for what you need, but the glow should be soft enough to not disturb the sleep cycle.

Wrap – sometimes baby just needs to be held close, and sometimes you need a free hand or two to eat, return an email or get something done around the house. When it is time to venture out, opting to wear your little one will sometimes be easier than lugging around the travel system. It can keep them more content which will make for a less stressful outing. This was the only way I was ever able to get anything done with my second child with a toddler in tow. 

House Cleaning Services – even through the chaos of bringing home a new baby, having a clean space will help any mom feel at ease. No new mama will turn down the gift of a helping hand when it comes to cleaning and refreshing the house! My kiddos are much older now, but I still splurge on a regular house cleaner. It takes so much stress off of me and I wish I had done it when they were little. If you’re feeling guilty about using a service, don’t. There’s nothing wrong with getting help with things you don’t like to do or have trouble finding time to do. This will free up time for more important things like taking care of yourself and enjoying all of your baby’s milestones.

Post Partum Bath Sets – from salts to bath herbs to sprays, there are tons of amazing products on the market to help new mamas, specifically, practice self-care. Multitask in the bath by using products that  promote physical healing. If you’re using a doula or midwife for your delivery they should be able to recommend some great products.

Post Partum Massage – self-care is extremely important to new mothers, and sometimes you need a push to treat yourself. A post partum massage will leave Mom refreshed and recharged – having a reason to get out of the house can be a gift in itself for new mothers, so soak it up and enjoy some time dedicated to only YOU.

Navigating motherhood is sometimes a dauting task. Anytime you’re in the studio I’m always happy to listen and offer any advice…from one mother to another 🙂

Mother and baby portaits from La Vie Photography

 

 

 

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Car Seat Safety – A Few Reminders

Newborn portrait with hearts and red rosesAs a Houston area newborn photographer I have a pleasant amount of brand new babies coming into my studio. Usually they are still in their car seat when they arrive, sound asleep and dreaming peacefully! Unfortunately becoming a parent doesn’t come with a manual, and I have seen one too many precious babies that are actually not strapped in properly. I know exactly what you’re going through… I was once a new mother myself who had to learn proper car seat safety for my little ones. I was one of those moms who despite thinking I was bucking her car seat properly I wasn’t and I took someone speaking up to let me know this. I was a little embarrassed, but thankful that I now knew she was as safe as possible when we were in the car. As a parent, there’s no doubt that keeping your child safe is your most important job. One of the easiest ways to do so is to ensure baby is properly secured for every car ride, whether 5 or 50 miles long. So, just in case let’s go over how to do this properly 😉

It all starts with selecting the right car seat. Narrowing the market’s many options down to one seems daunting to most soon-to-be parents. Know that every new car seat has passed government safety regulations – the difference between one that’s $99 and one that’s $399 will be cosmetic upgrades, added conveniences, and extra safety features that go above the minimum requirements. Weigh the differences between an infant car seat and a convertible one. Consider a car seat’s compatibility with the stroller you intend to use as well as the vehicle it will be installed in! Try it out for size if possible and get extra practice securing it in your vehicle. When you secure the base into the car it should be very tight and not have any wiggle room. If you’re having trouble with this ask for help don’t hesitate to ask for help. Also, be sure to fill out the car seat registration form so that you can be notified of any possible recalls in the future.

Installing the car seat the correct way is paramount to the safety of your little one. Those extra safety features you may have paid for can only be effective when the entire seat is installed correctly! You can find certified child passenger safety technicians – usually at local hospitals and fire stations – that can offer additional support in making sure the seat is installed as it should be. The middle seat in the back is typically the safest spot in the vehicle, however, any rear seat where it can be fastened properly is the best. Whether using the LATCH or the seat belt method, be sure it is strapped in as tightly as possible and that the seat is angled correctly for your child.

Once your baby is snuggled into the seat, make sure the straps come out at or just below their shoulders and that the chest clip is level with their armpits. The harness should be good and snug, with only one of your fingers being able to slide underneath. Don’t attempt to buckle over bulky outerwear or thick layers – these could compress in the event of a crash, leaving the straps too loose to keep your tiny one safe. While going in and out during cold weather, buckle your baby in light layers and keep them warm with a thick car seat blanket.

Car Seat Safety DemonstrationRemember that how you use your baby’s car seat is far more important than which one you use. Be sure to inform anyone that might be driving your baby at any time about these safety guidelines. These small but important reminders will help keep that precious cargo safe while on each and every adventure!

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What to expect from your Newborn Session

 

Custom newborn portraits houston newborn studioWaiting on your baby to arrive is one of the most joyous and exciting times in anyone’s life. You have nurtured this little one with all you’ve got, celebrated this momentous journey with friends and family, decorated the perfect nursery, and dreamed of what your baby will look like. Once your baby arrives you will quickly realize that while we’d like it to, time does not slow down, and this is such a fleeting time. You’ll want to remember all the precious little details of your baby from how fuzzy their head is to how tiny and curly their little toes are. Good news…I’m here to help preserve your legacy!

My fine art newborn portrait sessions capture the delicate features of your baby and are styled to perfection customized to your style preferences resulting in beautiful artwork that you and your family will treasure for generations to come. Imagine having perfectly styled artwork displayed throughout your home that you can enjoy seeing every day as your baby rapidly grows. And further than that, imagine sitting down with your child throughout their life as well as with your grandbabies someday, to flip through beautiful heirloom albums from their beginning. Children feel so loved when they see portraits of themselves proudly displayed and really enjoy seeing what they looked like when they were little.

If you’re still reading this you’ve probably already decided… “Yes! I need to schedule my baby for a session!” So, I want to share with you how that works at our studio and what you can expect from your newborn session.

I always recommend reaching out to book your newborn session while you’re in your second trimester. Don’t worry, we won’t be scheduling an actual session date until after your little bundle of joy arrives. However, booking while you’re still pregnant reserves your due date on my calendar and guarantees you a session within those first important couple of weeks after baby arrives. Newborns are best photographed during the first 14 days to capture their newness while they’re still very sleepy and flexible. Unfortunately, I’m not always able to accommodate newborn clients who contact me after baby is born, so reserving your session ahead of time is the way to go.

I start working with each client in the same way… We’ll chat quick via phone to see if we’re a good fit, then meet in person for a design consultation prior to booking. This appointment doesn’t take long but is very important. It gives you a chance to meet me and make sure you’re feel comfortable putting your brand new baby in my care. I will also explain my entire process for you, answer any questions you have, go over my full product menu and artwork samples, and of course (the fun part) discuss how to style your session. 

Whether you have specific ideas of how you’d like your session to look, or no clue at all, I’m here to help bring your vision of a perfect portrait session to life. We’ll discuss color choices, nursery décor, home décor, and anything specific you’d like to incorporate such as family heirlooms. I’ll then take all this information and curate your session from our extensive prop and wardrobe collection, and often go shopping for or craft items to bring your vision to life. The customization doesn’t stop there either… During your ordering appointment following your session we’ll create the perfect artwork to display seamlessly throughout your home. You’re going to have your hands full with your little one… I want to create the most beautiful and stress-free experience for you as possible!

Black and white newborn in daddy's hands portrait

 The day of your session is an opportunity for you to sit back and take a breather. Afterall… you’ve had almost no sleep for quite some time at this point. Not to worry mama, your baby’s safety and comfort is my highest priority during a newborn session. I’ve been specializing in photographing newborns for almost 9 years now since my oldest daughter was born. I’m always continuing to educate myself on safe handling procedures from experts in my field. I also have a methods in place to help ensure your baby stays comfortable throughout the approximately 3 hour session. During a newborn session I keep my studio at roughly 80 degrees. At this age your baby is unable to regulate its own body temperature. Since we’re undressing baby etc, we help regulate that temperature for them. I’m also very vigilant about not overheating them as well. I use a specific workflow for each of my sessions that disturbs baby as little as possible from one pose to the next. And last but not least, I have an enormous amount of patience with your little one. Each session is planned ahead of time, but flexible, so I can accommodate what baby is comfortable with. Not every baby is comfortable in every pose and I’ll never force a baby to do something it doesn’t like.

So, as you can tell, a great amount of care goes into each and every one of my sessions. I love snuggling each and every baby I see as if it were one of my own and can’t wait to plan your baby’s session with you!

P.S. Most of my clients start working with me during their pregnancy for a maternity session. This is another type of session I am deeply passionate about. Want to learn more about what maternity sessions are like?

Ethereal mom and baby newborn portrait

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How to Choose the Best Childcare

Houston Newborn Photography with ParentsMaternity and newborn photography sessions are quite busy. But I love the conversations that my clients and I are still able to have in between sets, wardrobe changes, and baby feedings. Most new parents coming into my photography studio always seem to have lots of questions and ask for advice. A common topic of conversation is child care. While I’m no expert, I am a mother 🙂 and I am always happy to share my personal opinions and advice.

If you’re heading back to work, entrusting your little one’s well being to someone else is a huge investment – financially and emotionally! There are thousands of child care options to choose from in the Houston area. No wonder selecting one can be overwhelming and time consuming. Whether you’re looking into day care facilities, in-home centers or a personal nanny, here are a few tips to help you choose the best one for your family:

Observe them interacting with your baby. Look for low adult to child ratios and ensure each child is able to get a healthy dose of one on one attention. If considering a nanny, set up a play date where you can sit by and watch. They should be warm, gentle and comforting! Ask for referrals and references from close friends and family members.

Consider your personal parenting techniques – do you limit screen time? What are your baby’s sleep routines like? How do you soothe your baby? Look for someone who can mirror your own care giving style. Make sure you agree with their standards and policies when it comes to nutrition, discipline and being sick, especially for older kids.

Keeping your little one safe is always the priority. Ask if they are CPR certified. Make sure the environment is baby proofed, clean and sanitary. Germs can spread quickly where there are multiple children! When considering either a home daycare or a center, ask about how the staff is screened and what safety procedures are in place.

Take note of the turnover rates for daycare staff. Ask a potential nanny about their work history. Those with longer tenures may be more dedicated and reliable. Make sure your nanny can agree to a long term commitment- stability is important for little ones. That being said…

Babies are resilient! The most important tip is to always follow your intuition. If at any point you are not 100% comfortable or satisfied, do not hesitate to switch simply because your baby has grown accustomed to a certain person or place. Always keep an open line of communication for any concerns or questions involving your little one.

Who ever you choose to care for your precious bundle of joy should have your same goal in mind – a healthy and happy baby! 🙂

Newborn girl photographed on pink

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