Newborn Margot | McLean Virginia Newborn Photographer

This beautiful little nugget was born to two good friends of mine. Her father Wade and I used to shoot weddings together on weekends, so for another photographer to hire me for newborn pictures of their own child, well, I was flattered and sliiiightly nervous.

All of my clients fill out a questionnaire prior to their session, which helps me to bring the right colors, props, etc., and gives me an idea of the general style that they’re hoping for in the final images. Mo and Wade had requested yellow, and I had hummed and hawwed over whether I brought the right yellow (so nerdy, I know). But as I walked up and knocked on their door adorned with an adorable yellow wreath, I felt that I had brought the correct one!

This is such a stupid thing to say, but I really like to laugh. And I love capturing images that convey emotion, and a lot of that to me is humor. Margot made some of the absolute BEST expressions, and I just had to include those images in her gallery.

Wade and Mo chose the package without family photos, but did request a few sibling photos with pup Mabel. I am the biggest dog lover there is, so I was glad to oblige. Mabel was so good, and Margot was as well! All in all, it was such a nice time spent with good friends.

NOVA newborn photographer
NOVA Newborn Photographer
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Northern Virginia Newborn Photographer
NOVA in home newborn photographer

Baby I's Newborn Session | Fairfax, Virginia In Home Newborn Photographer

This beautiful girl’s parents were kind enough to let me post photos with no identifying information, so please enjoy some images of this gorgeous baby!

Northern Virginia Lifestyle Newborn Photographer
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Northern Virginia Newborn Photographer
Northern Virginia Newborn Photographer
Northern Virginia Newborn Photographer
Northern Virginia Newborn Photographer

Baby Registry Shopping List | NOVA Newborn Photographer

I'm the youngest of four. I only have 3 first cousins, and they are all older than me and lived across the country and world as we all grew up. All this is to say that until I had my own children, I had absolutely no experience with babies. They just weren't around, and they kind of scared me. 

As my friends and I started pairing off and having children, I still remained pretty blissfully unaware of all things baby. I remember placing a nipple brush off of a friend's baby shower registry in my basket at babies 'r us, and in that moment calling my mom and asking in a hushed tone "wait, you have to brush them?!" Turns out the brush is meant to wash bottle nipples, not the other kind. 

When Jason and I found out that we were expecting, I had no clue what this little baby would need. So I started asking friends and sisters in law and compiling a list. I put many of those things on my registry having no clue what they were. Some were instrumental in our lives, some were complete wastes of time. 

Now that I've been through it, I've been able to share my list with friends who found themselves in a similar position. One of those friends recently told me that she has shared my list with tons of people, so I feel like maybe it could help others if I post it here? I know, I know, not exactly newborn photography, but newborn-related! I should probably put a disclaimer here that I'm not a medical professional, just a lady who has two babies and photographs newborns a lot. 

 

Travel

Necessary

  • 1 Infant car seat + base. We have the Britax B Safe that goes with the BOB Revolution running stroller which is a really good running/off-road kinda thing, but it’s way too big for day to day errands. But if you’re into running, you can find them all over craigslist for a lot cheaper than in the stores.
  • For day to day strolling around we had the click it. It’s a crappy little stroller thing that works with the infant seat that we own. You will only need that for as long as the baby is in the infant seat, so maybe 6-8ish months. This is best for errands, grocery store, and generally having a stroller that fits in your car. 
  • If I had to do it all over again, I’d go with what’s called a “travel system stroller.”  It’s the infant car seat, base, and a stroller which works with the infant car seat, but also is just a regular stroller for when the baby is bigger. Britax and Baby Trend are good brands.

Optional

  • Having a baby carrier worked really well for me. You know like that thing Zack Galifanlksdhgoweijas wore in the Hangover. The one that worked best for me was the Baby K’tan carrier. Jacob and Fiona LIVED in this thing for the first 3-4 months. I tried a few different carriers and this was by far my favorite. It all kind of depends on the baby though, there are tons of options out there.
  • Once baby gets a little bigger, I LOVED the Lillebaby. I ordered mine on black Friday and got a great deal.

 

Sleep

  • Get a white noise app on your phone and/or a white noise machine, we like the Graco Sweet Slumber Sound Machine which we still use for every nap/bed time
  • Rock n Play. I wish I'd had one of these the first time around!
  • Halo Sleep sacks. My first baby freaking loved these, second one hated them. So who knows.
  • Bouncer. This was a lifesaver for me from birth to about 6 months. I was able to put Jacob in it in the bathroom with me while I showered, or in the kitchen when 
  • Baby Monitor. There are so many options, I think most of them are fine. This can wait a month or two if you have the baby in the room with you for the first few weeks.
  • Pack and Play. I liked having it on the main level, so there were two diaper changing stations for the first 3 months or so, especially coming off of an unexpected and painful emergency c section. Then it became a good place to put the baby when I need to do something where I can’t have him/her getting into stuff. Then, works great for a travel crib for about 2 years.  I would recommend the kind that has a diaper changer on it.
  • For baby's crib, you'll want two mattress pads and two fitted sheets. This comes in handy if there are any middle of the night incidents that require laundry, at least you have another set ready to go.

 

Entertainment

Pretty Much All Optional

  • Mobile – Keeps baby occupied for a few minutes?
  • Door jumper. Starting around 3-4 months, he/she’ll be occupied in this thing for a while. At least my children were! They're also hilarious.
  • Exersaucer – Amazing from about 3 months to 9 months. Kept my kiddos super busy. But really big, takes up a lot of space.
  • Activity mat – Really great from about 1 month to about 6 months

Eating

Necessary

  • Bottles. Even if you breastfeed, you should start introducing a bottle around 4 weeks so that the baby gets accustomed to eating from someone other than you. I know people who waited too long to try a bottle, and the baby flat out rejected anything that wasn’t the boob.The thing about bottles, is that different ones work for different periods with the baby. The biggest thing is to try different flows…obviously slow flow at first, then quicker as he/she gets older.
  • Medela. These worked well for the first few months
  • Comotomo
  • These are so pricey, but meant for breastfed babies and were my kids' favorites

If you plan on breastfeeding:

  • Boppy or My Breast Friend
  •  Nipple Cream. If you plan on breastfeeding, bring it to the hospital with you
  • Breast Pump. Your insurance should cover this and send you one
  • Quick clean micro steam bags. These are great for sterilizing breast pump stuff, bottles, pacifiers, etc.
  • Get a few nursing bras, especially sleep ones. Target has cheap ones!
  • Nursing pads. I tried a few and liked these the best. The only weird part is that they have like, fake nipples.
  • Milk storage bags

Optional

 

Clothes/Blankets

Necessary

  • Get a few muslin blankets they are great for swaddling.
  • Onesies. A few in NB size, more in 3 month size.
  • Maybe a few pants/shorts (NB and 3 month)…but these are mostly useless. I kept my babies in either a onesie or a sleepsack most of the time. Maybe I'm just lazy?

 

Crying

We didn't know it, but our first baby was battling reflux, probably what would have been called colic years ago. Since we didn't have much experience with babies, I just assumed this was what they all did. Turns out, they don't. If your baby is crying all the time, there could be some problems! We found that the following were helpful:

  • Gripe water and Mylicon Drops, both in any drug store. Just get them. There will be times when the baby is crying and nothing else is working, the reason is that he/she has gas stuck in his stomach and it’s painful. These dissipate it.
  • If you plan on doing pacifiers, get Avent Soothies. A lactation consultant told me to get the most nipple-like paci out there. She said “if you don’t want your nipple looking like a particular pacifier, don’t get it”. Gosh I've said "nipple" a lot in this post

 

Poop & Gross Stuff

  • You're going to want a poop receptacle that keeps the smell contained. We have two, Ubbi which is nice because you can use regular trash bags. Then we also have the diaper genie. The only annoying part with the diaper genie is that you have to buy special bags for it. You can find generic ones at target.

  • Diapers - If you're amazon prime member, do subscribe and save on diapers. I went with Pampers Swaddlers because that's what the hospital used. I really like them though, they have a little line that turns blue when the baby has peed or pooped. If you do subscribe and save, start it maybe 2 or 3 weeks from your due date, and only get one box of newborn diapers, and then get size 1 for the next box. Most babies don't stay in newborn sized diapers too long. Obviously you can reassess if you need to, but it's better to have to get more than have tons of newborn diapers that are too small for your baby. 

  • Diaper rash cream – Desitin, whatevs

  • Wipes. I did amazon subscribe and save with the pampers sensitive ones

  • Burp cloths (cloth diapers can double as birth cloths...provided you only use them for one or the other).

 

Bathtime

  • You’ll need a baby tub starting around 3 months, this is so annoying because you will only use it for a few months and they generally take up a good deal of space. You can do little sink baths before that.
  • Get Mustela Foam shampoo, it's the only thing I found that cured cradle cap
  • Some kind of baby head to toe wash

Shopping List

Things you need before the baby arrives (in my opinion)

  • Crib, cradle or bassinet
  • Pack and Play
  • Boppy pillow
  • Nipple cream
  • Bottles (just a few at first)
  • Burp Cloths
  • Nursing Pads
  • Nursing Bras
  • Muslin Blankets
  • Diapers
  • Wipes
  • Tearless shampoo/bath gel
  • Baby lotion
  • Diaper cream
  • Diaper Genie bags
  • Gripe water & Mylicon drops
  • White noise machine
  • A few onesies
  • Zip up footie pajamas. The zip up part is key. No one has time for those snaps.

Things that can wait

  • Baby monitor (if the baby will sleep in your room for a bit)
  • Crib (if the baby will sleep in your room for a bit)
  • Clothes past 3 month size
  • Baby care kit (nail clippers etc)
  • Real stroller
  • Convertible car seat. I put one of these on my registry because I had no idea. Then I saw anonymous people on Baby Center making fun of people who did this. Ah well. Anyways, this can wait until the baby is 8-12ish months
  • Pretty much everything else 

 

Random Closing Thoughts

 

  • I went through about 3 diaper bags, and I hate them all. I'm such a nerd, but have found that for me, a backpack is best when I'm out and about with the kids. But these days I actually don't even need that. Now I'll just keep some diapers and wipes in my car for emergencies.
  • Babyproofing will start to be a concern around 8 months. You'll need baby gates, things to secure tall furniture to walls, cabinet locks, and all that stuff. On advice from moms who had been there done that before me, they said not to buy those cheapy cabinet locks because kiddos figure those out quickly. We've put the magnetic locks on our super dangerous cabinets, and love them. 
  • And let me tell you, the "baby registry checklist" on certain a baby store website is a complete load of crap. Don't believe the hype!

Newborn T | NOVA Newborn Photographer

NOVANewbornPhotographer

I photographed baby T at his home in Arlington, Virginia. His mama allowed me to post images without identifying information, but I've decided to take it a step further and not include images of this adorable little guy's family. But take it from me, they are beautiful! One of the first things I noticed about their home was that it was pretty much my dream decorating. I'm sure T's mama thought I was insane, but I thought this adorable little horse family on their window represented them, mom/dad/sister/brother.

Also, I get the biggest kick out of newborn facial expressions. Baby T did not disappoint!

NOVANewbornPhotographer
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NOVANewbornPhotographer

Newborn V | Fairfax In-Home Lifestyle Photographer

I photographed this beautiful and loving family at their home in Northern Virginia. I love in-home lifestyle sessions, as I believe that photographing people in the comfort of their own home captures the most truth and emotion, truly telling the story of the first few days/weeks following the birth of a new baby. I love the fly-on-the-wall aspect, for example seeing dad and the big brother play with blocks, middle brother toddling around and the newest family member finishing a bottle.

The family has asked the remain anonymous, but gave me permission to post both the images and a blog post, as I was so moved by their story. Prior to our session, mom had requested an image of her sons holding a pendant that was special to her. It wasn't until I arrived at the session that I understood the poignancy of that necklace. There were three boys at this session, however the first of these brothers was stillborn. The pendant shows his footprint and name, paying homage to their four children and an unimaginable grief.

I come from a family with four children, as I child I was aware that there was a tiny headstone at our church for a sibling of mine who was stillborn. It wasn't until I had children of my own that I asked my mom to tell me more. She choked up and revealed that had all of her pregnancies come to fruition, there would have been seven of us. She went through these losses before I was born, I truly cannot image the pain, but also the strength it took to persevere.

I tear up when looking at some of these images, I am so grateful that this family allowed me to capture their loving connections. One of my favorite things about newborn sessions is connecting with the mother. It's such a raw, emotional and hormonal time after the birth of a child. I loved getting to know this mama, to hear her birth story, and to share anything I can that might make the transition a little easier. In this family's case, I was in awe of how they handled a 3 year old, 11 month old and newborn with ease. 

Not to mention, these boys are all absolutely precious, make sure to look for her oldest being my big helper and helping to photograph baby brother!

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Pippin's Sitter Session | Northern Virginia Baby Photographer

Despite the best laid plans, sometimes babies just can't get down with photo shoots. And in their defense, it can be stressful for an adult, imagine it from the point of view of a baby that hasn't been hanging around on this earth for very long. There's a bright light, a crazy lady making noises, outfit changes, new textures, all in all it's a break from a baby's daily routine.

Pippin's mama and I planned her session after what should have been her morning nap, but this little nugget wasn't having any of that! She did get a little snooze on her way to my home studio, but we maaaaaaay have woken her up a bit too early. Once we started our session, Pippin wasn't 100% sure of me, but thanks to her mom and a fidget spinner, we got some shots where it didn't look like she hated me.

But seriously, isn't she just the most beautiful baby?

Northern Virginia Baby Photographer
Northern Virginia Baby Photographer
Northern Virginia Baby Photographer
Northern Virginia Baby Photographer
Northern Virginia Baby Photographer
Northern Virginia Baby Photographer
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Olivia and Clara Turn Two! | Ashburn Child Photographer

I have been way behind on my blogging, and I've been dying to add photos from this session of cousins who turned 2 within 2 days of each other. One of the girls lives with her family in Texas, so it was really special that we were able to get these images during the few days that they were visiting in Virginia. Aren't they just the cutest?

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Oliver's One Year/Cake Smash Session | Ashburn Baby Photographer

Oliver's mama contacted me and gave me the biggest compliment ever from the get-go, which I have to share here:

"I’m based in Ashburn as well and wanted to support local entrepreneurs. I’m searching for a family photographer to capture my son as he’s turning one and I love the pureness and joy expressed by the kids you’ve photographed and posted. I am a fan of kids being kids in their own element and surroundings and not so much staged studio photos, so I’m definitely a fan of your work!"

Talk about the best compliment ever! When we met at the session, both mama and Oliver were the sweetest people, beautiful inside and out. Speaking of beautiful...will you take a moment to bask in the glory of this little one's hair? Isn't it magnificent? It's no wonder that Oliver's mama is a very talented hair stylist located in Ashburn. Definitely check her out at https://www.tresshairco.com/

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The Stotkas Sleigh Their Christmas Card Photos | Burke Family Photographer

I had to. Mama Ang and I both love a good pun.

I was beyond thrilled when Angela asked me to take her family photos, like over the moon. And it was so awesome that they made the trip from Fairfax County to Loudoun to shoot in Morven Park, one of my favorite spots. Moreover, please take note of the outfits, coordinating but not matching. Ang straight up OWNED it.

Parker (3) was a little unsure about me and the scenario in the beginning, so we went with the tried and true "pay-attention-to-the-other-child" method for a few minutes. Not long after that we were getting great smiles out of Parker, and he was loving it. Meanwhile little Carter (6 months) is just about the happiest little dude I've ever met, and smiled away. Since I'm feeling Christmasy, he reminds me of Elf and the quote "I love smiling, smiling's my favorite!"

It was hard to narrow down my favorites, so here are just a few!

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My Own | Loudoun County Family Photographer

My kids are 3 and 1, they are my inspiration. I had been "in" to photography since my sophomore year of high school, but have gone through periods where I didn't pick my camera up for weeks and sometimes even months at a time. When I had my son three years ago, my passion for photography was reignited, and has grown stronger with every day. These years, when my little ones are little, seem to fly by, and I can't resist the urge to document...but once in a while I have to be reminded to put my camera down again and live.

My husband and I have always loved the outdoors and it's played a large supporting role in our journey together. Some of my favorite memories of ours took place in Virginia's regional and national parks, so I'm thrilled that our children already share in their parents' love for nature. An unexpected result of our family nature walks is that we've come upon new photo spots, and I've gotten to know how the light acts in these different locations throughout the year. 

Jacob is only 3, but he is already on to me when I dress him and his sister up and take them to a new park. Have you ever heard of photographer child syndrome? It's when a photographer's children are so used to being photographed throughout their young life that they are no longer interested in smiling at the camera, much less looking at it. But as a photographer who revels in capturing emotion, personality and connections, a lot of times this isn't a bad thing. Because so far, these tend to be some of my favorite images of my children. 

I just love this. On one hand, their expressions are hilarious and make me laugh. But it's also such a beautiful capture of my silly children just as they are in this moment in time.

I just love this. On one hand, their expressions are hilarious and make me laugh. But it's also such a beautiful capture of my silly children just as they are in this moment in time.

This is currently one of my favorite images of my son. Initially I posed him on the blanket in a way that I felt would work best. Never one to make my life easy, this guy started rolling around all over the place. Somehow I managed to capture this, and I love it.

This is currently one of my favorite images of my son. Initially I posed him on the blanket in a way that I felt would work best. Never one to make my life easy, this guy started rolling around all over the place. Somehow I managed to capture this, and I love it.

I recently discovered that I have a vintage quilt problem. In that I love them, and want them all. Simultaneously, my daughter has recently started playing a game at home that cracks all of us up. She brings a blanket to you, and motions that you are to wrap it around her. Then she holds it around herself and walks around the house like some kind of royalty. So for this image, we took our game outside!

I recently discovered that I have a vintage quilt problem. In that I love them, and want them all. Simultaneously, my daughter has recently started playing a game at home that cracks all of us up. She brings a blanket to you, and motions that you are to wrap it around her. Then she holds it around herself and walks around the house like some kind of royalty. So for this image, we took our game outside!

Where did she get those dimples? Definitely not me!

Where did she get those dimples? Definitely not me!

I took the kiddos here to check out the light, play some soccer and get some nice images of them. Instead I get this...however, Captures like this absolutely crack me up. Fiona wants her chair back, Jacob looks pretty proud at having stolen it from her. 

I took the kiddos here to check out the light, play some soccer and get some nice images of them. Instead I get this...however, Captures like this absolutely crack me up. Fiona wants her chair back, Jacob looks pretty proud at having stolen it from her. 

There goes the queen

There goes the queen

Hiking through Big meadows in Shenandoah National Park during the most beautiful golden hour. "Hey bud, smile nice for the camera!" Jacob does this...but it's perfect. It's my wild guy.

Hiking through Big meadows in Shenandoah National Park during the most beautiful golden hour. "Hey bud, smile nice for the camera!" Jacob does this...but it's perfect. It's my wild guy.

Maybe Gnats, maybe a facepalm. Again, if it makes me laugh, It's in.

Maybe Gnats, maybe a facepalm. Again, if it makes me laugh, It's in.

Dial back the moxie, sassmouth!

Dial back the moxie, sassmouth!

As we were walking out to the car in the morning, the light was perfect. I ran upstairs, grabbed my camera and caught baby girl as she tasted a brief moment of freedom. 

As we were walking out to the car in the morning, the light was perfect. I ran upstairs, grabbed my camera and caught baby girl as she tasted a brief moment of freedom. 

Then I moved a few feet and caught this beautiful moment of a toddler taking a moment to stop and smell the roses. 

Then I moved a few feet and caught this beautiful moment of a toddler taking a moment to stop and smell the roses. 

Mid afternoon sun comes in bright white in the summer as my little gymnast balances.

Mid afternoon sun comes in bright white in the summer as my little gymnast balances.

We took an afternoon hike at a nearby trail, as Jacob started messing with the dirt I realized that it softened the light and created a magical atmosphere. So i encouraged him to kick the dirt all over the place while I snapped away, and Fiona gave him the Heisman. We all got super dirty, but it was so worth it.

We took an afternoon hike at a nearby trail, as Jacob started messing with the dirt I realized that it softened the light and created a magical atmosphere. So i encouraged him to kick the dirt all over the place while I snapped away, and Fiona gave him the Heisman. We all got super dirty, but it was so worth it.

A sunday evening hike backlit by the setting sun.

A sunday evening hike backlit by the setting sun.

And an angry baby who thinks she should be allowed to scale rocks on her own.

And an angry baby who thinks she should be allowed to scale rocks on her own.

Super serious cool guy in the harsh mid day sun

Super serious cool guy in the harsh mid day sun

And a bouncy baby in the harshest of sun

And a bouncy baby in the harshest of sun

The Schenning Family Fall Session | Loudoun County Family Photographer

This fall family session was so much fun. Sometimes I find it hard to believe that I just get to hang out with cool people, play games and take photos in a beautiful location. Little Matthew started out the session a little shy, and quite serious, but as we hung out and played, his fun-loving personality shined through. I hope you enjoy these photos as much as I do!

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The Mortweet Family | Ashburn Virginia Family Photographer

I met mama Nadine a few years back through a mutual friend at one of the Ashburn libraries' baby story time. Looking back, I think going there was more for the mamas than the babies, I know that it gave me great practice at getting not only myself, but my 6 month old dressed and out the door. Even if it did take an hour, and even if I was wearing yoga pants and a sweatshirt...baby steps right? Anyways, I could tell from the moment I met Nadine that she was super cool and that I wanted us to be friends. And lucky for me, we are!

It was such a perfect night for the Mortweet family's session, the leaves were just starting to change but it wasn't too cold yet. We had lots of room for Tyler to run, but luckily we kept most of the evening fun enough that he wanted to be near us and play. And the sun, we all know I'm a sucker for golden hour. This one was absolutely perfect.

I loved getting to hang out with these cool people, and capture the love and joy that they exude.

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The Tosh Family - Part Deux | Loudoun County Family Photographer

I've blogged about this family before, and was actually called out at this session by mama Julie for my last post which covered how I tend to have to chase after their oldest son, William, to get photos. So now I'm calling you out for calling me out for calling you out, Julie!  But this time, I didn't have to run after William at all, not that I mind having to chase a kiddo for good shots. However, dad Chris probably has a little bit of a different take on things! Seriously though, the Tosh family has mastered photo shoots. Julie is an absolute rock star at coming up with coordinating outfits for the whole family, and even thinks about breaking up the color of one son's pants, against dad's shirt. Talk about an ideal client (and friend!) 

We took images at a few different settings within one main park to add variety to their gallery, and every step of the way was so much fun. I think the pinnacle was when we moved to the final location which had these insane ball seed things all over the place. I literally just googled as "weird ball seed brain looking things from trees" and it turns out they are Osage Oranges from Osage trees. One year old Henry was the first to spot them, pointing and saying "ball!". So we let the boys play with them (don't worry, they're not toxic, in fact my google search just taught me that they're edible but it's very difficult to extract the seeds.) Then we realized that they kind of worked as a Christmas-y props, their green coloring contrasting against the red blanket that the boys sat upon. The boys loved them, and all in all, it was just hilarious.

I just had such a blast hanging out with this fun family. And look at the eyes on these boys, talk about stunning!

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My 365 | Northern Virginia Photographer

I don't know why I felt the desire to start a personal project like a 365...especially considering I was adjusting to life of a mama of two, with a 2 year old and a 2 month old. At the time, I remember asking my lifelong girlfriends for advice on a unifying theme for my 365, but I think we all knew that I was using delay tactics. The enormity of this project seemed overwhelming. And while I knew I wanted to do it, I was scared and so I tried to find ways to put it off. Which is so silly, because it was a personal project! And now that it's said and done, I am so glad that I pushed through the fear and did it. 

With that year under my belt, and thousands of RAW files on various external drives, I haven't been so proud of my creative self in a long time. It was such a positive experience, and the growth I can see in my images from September 1, 2016 to September 1, 2017 is surreal. And it's not just technical understanding of my camera, settings, light, shadow and composition, but the story, and the growth of my children over that time. Given all of the positives I took from this experience, I encourage you to consider a personal project as well. It doesn't require a fancy camera, in fact the megapixels on the iPhone camera far surpass those on my first DSLR. It also doesn't have to be a year, you could make it a 30 day challenge. If the idea of a 365 even so much as sparks your interest, I encourage you to take on a personal creative project. You won't regret it.

So if you're ready to give it a go, here are my tips on how to make it successful.

Let it Be Organic
Like I mentioned before, I became so hung up on brainstorming a theme that I let it serve as a roadblock to actually beginning. Just start! I guarantee that a theme will present itself as time goes by. And if you do have an idea of a theme before starting, that's awesome. You're way ahead of me!

In the beginning I didn't really know where this was going, so I took photos of my kids. I'm pretty sure my thought process was "Uhhh, yes. Baby on carpet. Go."

In the beginning I didn't really know where this was going, so I took photos of my kids. I'm pretty sure my thought process was "Uhhh, yes. Baby on carpet. Go."

Plan Ahead When You Can
Part of this journey meant bringing my camera with me everywhere. At first it felt cumbersome and somewhat annoying, but over time it helped me see the beauty in even the most mundane daily occurrences. Now I kick myself when I forget to bring it to a local playground, as the light dances around my son's curls.

An everyday afternoon trip to the playground can be such an amazing snapshot into life as it is today.

An everyday afternoon trip to the playground can be such an amazing snapshot into life as it is today.

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Embrace the Chaos
I really do try to keep my house clean. But I've come to terms with the fact that while I have a few toddlers running around, it just isn't going to be the pristine escape I envision. This brings me to a really odd memory. When I was in college, disposable cameras were all the rage. Do I sound like Grandpa Simpson? I feel like I did right there.  Anyways, I don't know if I took this picture on purpose or not, but I have an image of my dorm room, as it was. I remember getting that roll of film developed and almost throwing out that photo. But I didn't, and I actually really love it when I come upon that mistaken image. It's such a great window into this tiny little cube that was my home for a pivotal year of my life. 

So! I say work with the mess, shoot with it, around it and through it. Someday you'll love that window into your life as it was. 

Messes everywhere, but I will always cherish this...my crazy little guy racing his trike through our house.

Messes everywhere, but I will always cherish this...my crazy little guy racing his trike through our house.

Find even the smallest amount of light

Find even the smallest amount of light

Know that You'll Get Stuck
There will be days when you have no idea what to shoot. I reached a point where I just didn't know how many more photos I could take of my son at his train table. When you hit a wall, change something up. Try out a different lens, why not take a macro shot of Thomas on the train tracks!? Take your camera somewhere completely unexpected. I'll admit I still haven't garnered up the courage to take my camera to the grocery store, but I will. And I know those images will be a fantastic representation of the chaos in the mundane. Or try to shoot in a lighting situation that feels completely crazy difficult. You'll be surprised at the results.

Forgive Yourself
Unless you have the discipline of my man Dwayne Johnson, you will most likely miss a day here and there. I absolutely missed some days, it happens. In fact, I ended up continuing my 365 for an additional month to try to make up for those days. I remember one night I was in bed and then I realized I had forgotten to take my image for the day. I must have been feeling particularly motivated, because I got out of bed, brought my camera up to the bedroom and tried to find a random composition. I ended up taking an image of the video monitor sitting on my nightstand. It took a few tries to get the settings right given the tricky lighting, but I always stop on that image as I scroll through my favorites from the project, my angelic sleeping 2 year old. Such an everyday moment, looking at your monitor to check on your babies, and I am so grateful to have frozen it in time with that last minute capture.

But you know what? There were way more nights where I realized I had forgotten to take my daily image, and I said "oh well, there's always tomorrow." That's the nice thing about a personal project. You're the boss, you can be as hardcore as you'd like. 

Reward Yourself
I'm working on a photo book of the finished images from my 365. It won't be anything crazy, there are a bunch of companies that will take all of your files and compile them into a beautifully laid out design, ZNO comes to mind. But it will be such a great snapshot into this year in the life of my family.

Go forth and chase the light, my friends!

Go forth and chase the light, my friends!

The Choi Family | Leesburg VA Family Photographer

Right out of college I took a graphic design job at a small government contractor in Northern Virginia. The hours were grueling, the work wasn't fun, and it was quite the wake up call for me in terms of what I could expect in the real world. However, I will always look back on my time at that company fondly, as I met my husband there, and some of my best friends.

One of those friends also met her husband there.

Christina was the receptionist, the ever-friendly face of the company, and Mike was the quiet but hilarious (when he spoke up) accounting guy. I know that I rooted for them to start dating, and I think of the rest of the company felt the same. It took much longer than many of us meddlers would have liked, but eventually Mike and Christina went on their first date and the rest is history. Here we are over 10 years later, and they have started a family that I was honored to get the chance to photograph.

It was such a joy to capture their love and connection, plus they were such great sports with the heat and unbelievable amount of gnats!

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Henry's First Birthday | Ashburn VA Family Photographer

You might be noticing a theme here...I met Julie through my hospital's new moms group following the birth of my son and hers. She has been a huge supporter of my work, and has booked sessions time and again, and it's such an honor to be able to photograph her adorable guys as they grow. William, her son who's the same age as mine, gives me an excellent workout during our shoots, as I find I spend a lot of time chasing him around. But I honestly love that, I get to capture real images of who William is, mischief and all. And get to my 10,000 step goal quicker too!

Julie asked me to do some first birthday pictures of Henry along with some family shots. First off, this family always come dressed and coordinated impeccably. On top of that, Julie always has multiple ADORABLE outfit options for the boys, and for this session she even came with balloons and a birthday hat for Henry. And on top of that, they're always in good spirits and such good sports, even when nature is out to get them (sorry Chris!) 

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Newborn Asha | Ashburn Newborn Photographer

Meet baby Asha, isn’t she stunning? I met Asha’s family around the holidays last year, they were new to the area and looking to have some family photos for their holiday card and I am honored that they chose me. They’re the nicest people, and their son Kavin, is not only sweet and adorable, but also the best dressed little guy I’ve ever seen. It was so nice getting to hang out with them while I took these photos, they are just so laid back and indulged my need to try out a multitude of props on their little one. Tina (mama), must share my excitement for knitted things, as she had already bought a few outfits meant for newborn photography which we enthusiastically included in the session!

I tell my clients that when I come to their home for a session, it might look like I’m trying to move in. I bring a lot of things, and I mean A LOT of things. I generally advise clients not to dress their newborns in any fancy outfits…as cute and tiny as those little NB sized clothes are, a lot of times they swallow up a tiny little baby and don’t photograph well. I have lots of swaddles, wraps, bonnets, hats, headbands and other pieces made exclusively for newborn photography, and I will bring those items to your session based on your answers to the pre-session questionnaire. Mama just went above and beyond in this case 

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What to Expect for Your Session

It's not every day that you and yours get dressed up, load into the family car and head to a random location in exurban Virginia. I've compiled a list of things to expect when booking an outdoor session with Lennah Press Photo & Paper.

Light + Timing

I'm not alone in the photography world when I say that I love shooting during "golden hour" or the hour after sunrise/hour before sunset. The light at these times of day is soft, the temperature of the light is warm, and colors appear so rich and creamy. It's utterly magical, and I just can't get enough of it. There's a fleeting nature to this time of day, and the images captured within it feel like a enchanted memory to me.

Even shuffling along a dirt path can be magical with the right kind of light

Even shuffling along a dirt path can be magical with the right kind of light

Golden hour isn't actually an hour, it depends on a number of factors including the date, time and location of the photographer in relation to the sun. Some days might only have that magical light for 5 minutes, some days it doesn't make an appearance at all due to cloud cover. 

The timing of golden hour can pose problems when photographing babies, toddlers and young children who might usually be in bed during this time. I stand by the statement that I would rather have a happy child than a beautifully lit angry child. But if the sun-drenched images in my portfolio drew you to my work, I ask that you consider being flexible to scheduling your shoot during golden hour. As a mother of two myself, I understand how important routines are to a child's day. But if you think your child/children can handle it, and you can do things to mitigate meltdowns (such as pushing nap time back, bringing snacks, promising a very special treat following the session), my advice is to go for it.

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Location
I've lived in Loudoun county for 6 years, and I am still taken aback by it's rural beauty. Some of my favorite spots for photographing families are rugged and rustic...i.e. you will probably have to drive a ways to get to the location, that route will most likely include a gravel road, we might have to pause the session to swat a few gnats, and I'll almost always advise to check for ticks afterwards. I prefer locations that aren't teeming with people so that your family can relax and be yourselves, and you are free from fear of your child/children running into danger. 

Posing
I call my brand of photography "life-inspired." I almost always try to get the "grandma shot" early in the session. You know what I'm talking about, the one where everyone is looking at the camera and smiling, the kind of image that a grandma would love! Once that's out of the way, we can all really relax and just have fun. You should know that I will be hands on, I will pose you, I will fix an errant hair, I will ask you or your spouse to stand SUPER close to me so that your 9 month old is looking at my lens and smiling, not off to the side. And in some cases I might seat you in a way that might feel really awkward and unnatural. But trust that I am posing you in a flattering way and making sure that everyone looks their best. On that note, please tell me if there are bad knees or other injuries I need to consider! Dads already don't care for family photo sessions, I'd hate for him to come out of it with a stiff hip or tweaked knee!

If you have kiddos, we will play games, and let them be kids! I've found that this is the best way to get real smiles, and capture lasting memories of such a fleeting time. As they say, the days are long but the years are short. Someday you won't be able to scoop your child up in your arms and flip him upside down. Let's preserve memories like that.

In many cases I will ask that you NOT look at me. It sounds like such a cliche photographer thing to say, but oftentimes my favorite images are those where it's like I wasn't even there. I want true interaction, emotional connections, and real feeling. Those are the moments I live to photograph. Life-inspired.

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Props
In the same way that I veer towards rustic settings, I'm drawn to a vintage vibe when it comes to props. In most cases I'll bring a crocheted vintage afghan, vintage quilt and a neutral blanket for sitting poses. Then I will tailor props to the age of your kiddos. For a 10 month old, I might bring a vintage galvanized steel wash basin to plop her in, for a baby that can stand supported, I would bring a crate for him to lean on. You're more than welcome to bring props of your own, but try to keep them timeless. I also have a few tricks up my sleeve if we are really having trouble getting smiles out of little ones.

Clothing
Upon e-signing the contract, I will send you a little "what to wear" guide to help you in choosing your family's outfits. First and foremost, I want to photograph YOUR family, not the family you found on pinterest. So while I offer advice for those who would like it, most importantly, you do you. The reason I send the guide is that I've found that clothing has been one of the biggest concerns for clients, and part of my job is alleviating any stress you might feel about your session.

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Ridiculousness
You should probably know that when I'm trying to get smiles out of kids, I act really ridiculous. Maybe you're laughing at me, maybe you're laughing at how badly you want to be anywhere but sitting on a quilt in Loudoun getting family pictures taken. But I just love personality, especially when it comes through in a photograph. I will include silly pics in your gallery where your husband is photobombing, or your baby is giving her brother the stink eye. If it makes me laugh, I will include it. 

Ready? Let's do this!

Newborn Adam | Ashburn VA Newborn Photographer

When I go into a client’s home for a newborn session, my top three objectives are to capture the family connection, their personalities, and life as it is that very day. Those days right after the birth of a new little baby seem to fly by, which is why I think that newborn photography is so important. Sure, in that moment you’re exhausted, probably pretty sore and banged up, and not exactly in the mood to get the whole family dressed up and smiling for photos. But I know from my own experience that those are the images that I treasure the most. I look back now at images of my children as newborns and can see their personalities as I know them now, shining through even then.

So back to personality! I met Giana (mama to Ari and Adam) through my hospital’s new moms group, her daughter has grown up alongside my son. Knowing her family, I knew there would be no shortage of personality with this clan. And I was not disappointed. Enjoy a few of my favorites from this great session!

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