Extended Family Session | Northern Virginia Portrait Photographer

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One thing is certain in this world, when I go into a session with the Kien family, I know it's going to be a blast. I'll admit, I was a liiiiittle nervous when mama Lara told me she wanted a one year session combined with an extended family session. We also had very little wiggle room on the date because family was in town from across the country, and we had to make it work rain or shine. I was also nervous when Lara texted me baby Sam's go-to facial expression which I managed to capture in a shot or two.

We ended up with a really beautiful albeit humid morning, and I know that I had a great time, I hope that everyone else did!

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Barbara's Personal Branding Session | NOVA Brand Photographer

 

A few months ago, I nervously brought a few business cards to my new yoga studio in Leesburg and when no one was looking, pinned them up on the cork board. Occasionally when heading in for class, I’d take a peek up at the board to see if anyone had taken one. And one morning I excitedly noticed that someone had! Shortly thereafter, Barbara, a talented, dynamic and energetic teacher at Five Peaks contacted me.

I had never taken a class from Barbara prior to her session, but I could tell from the moment I met her that she’s a force to be reckoned with. And I mean that in the best way possible. Barbara is a yoga teacher, a grief coach and energy healer. She is working on getting her website up and going, and was looking for a photographer to capture images for the site.  Even though she saw that I veer more towards babies, mamas and families, she said that she loved the feel of my images and was hoping that I could help her with “a different kind of photoshoot.”

It was kind of a mutual leap of faith, as I had never done a shoot like this before, and she was aware that I hadn’t! I straight up told her as we started our session that I was scared and completely out of my comfort zone. We wanted images that captured all three of her gifts, without being too overt. She was kind enough to let me play with my tripod and a little copper tube to get those ring of fire images, and then I went even more crazy in post processing, doing some double exposures.

Thank goodness Barbara trusted me, and together I think we made some magical images.

As you can tell, this session was over the summer but I’m only just getting around to blogging it. To say that I’m slightly behind is an understatement!

Virginia Personal Brand Photographer
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Virginia Personal Brand Photographer
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Virginia Personal Brand Photographer
Virginia Personal Brand Photographer
Virginia Personal Brand Photographer

Newborn Caden | Northern Virginia Newborn Photographer

As I drove up to park in front of Caden’s home in Ballston for his newborn photo session, I had to do a double take as I realized that I had been to the building he now lived in many times before. If you didn’t know, Arlington is a sprawling suburb just over the river from Washington DC, full of high rises. Caden’s new home used to be home to two of my brothers, and as time went on, one brother moved out, a wife moved in and my very first nephew was born, all in this very building. My brother and sister in law, bless their hearts, asked me to photograph their baby, and at the time, I really only had pinterest as my guide. Hopefully they’ve found it in their hearts to forgive me, in the five years since that very first newborn session I have strived to learn and grow with every shoot. But what an amazing thing, the universe straight up slapped me in the face and forced me to recognize how much has changed and how far I’ve come in 5 short years.

Enough about me, let’s talk about this gorgeous family! I love that they wanted to keep things very simple, and let their beautiful baby be the star of the show. He was such an easy going guy, and it was such a pleasure to have the opportunity to meet the whole family.

Enjoy a few of my favorites from this session!

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Newborn Lincoln | NOVA Lifestyle Newborn Photographer

When it comes to scheduling, I’m about as Type A as it comes…so it’s kind of funny that I’m so passionate about newborn photography, as it’s one of those things that you can try to plan, but never really know. Janelle was due in August, but Lincoln decided to make his appearance much sooner, actually while I was on vacation with my family. Janelle had booked a lifestyle session though, and with that kind of session it’s not as imperative that you have it within days 5-14. So we planned a date and were good to go.

Then, my kids and I managed to contract some kind of crazy illness while at the beach, and I didn’t feel comfortable having Lincoln’s session on the date we had planned, so we had to push it back even further. Janelle was so understanding, big shout out to her!

All this is to say, I believe it worked out perfectly, and little Lincoln is absolutely perfect.

Also, please note Luna (the cat) making an appearance here and there!

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Newborn T | NOVA Newborn Photographer

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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!

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Why is Newborn Photography So Expensive?

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Real talk. When purchasing a non-necessity, the buyer must first decide if that thing or service is worth the money to them. I willingly admit that I'm able to drop a solid $200 at Target in 30 minutes, because a) Cat & Jack sees into my soul and knows what my children NEED to wear and b) as the meme goes "No one goes to Target because they need something, Target tells you what you need." 

I'm biased, but it is important to me to have photographs documenting my family as we grow together. I'm not writing this post to tell you that professional photography should be important to you, but I do implore you to take images of your family (and don't forget to include yourself, mamas) because this time is so fleeting. However, if professional photography is indeed something that you feel is worth some money, read on to see why it can be expensive, and this doesn't even include things like housing/food/medical costs.

Licensed & Insured
This is a biggie, and is super important to me, especially when it comes to newborns. Lennah Press LLC is registered and licensed in the state of Virginia, and is also insured. I'm going to be handling your newborn who literally just came into the world, I can think of no greater responsibility. I take your newborn's safety extremely seriously, I have studied and trained on newborn physiology, and I insist that some poses be composites (one image made up of multiple images in photoshop, keeping baby's safety as the top priority).

Accreditations and Memberships
Adobe is the worst and has started only offering it's programs like Photoshop as a monthly subscription. So I'm paying for that. I'm a member of Accredited Professional Newborn Photographers International, Clickin' Moms and Unraveled Academy, all of these groups are focused on safety, growth, community and learning, but they also have membership fees.

Education & Training
I am constantly investing in myself and my business to bring you imagery that will stand the test of time.

Permit Fees
This applies more to family sessions, but did you know that most outdoor locations require a permit fee or membership for professional photographers to be able to use their grounds? It's true! On top of that, I've spent many hours scouting locations to find the best light during different times of the day, and year.

Equipment & Maintenance
I'm rolling up to your session with thousands of dollars worth of camera gear alone. I have to send that gear into Canon about once a year for maintenance. And aside from being terrifying to be without my camera for a few days, it's also pricey. The same goes for studio lighting. 

Props
That adorable bear bonnet/felted fur/textured wrap/teeny tiny newborn outfit was handmade specifically for newborn photography. Due to their one of a kind nature, they are often expensive, and us photographers like to occasionally refresh our collections to offer colors or props that the client requests.

Communication
I take a limited amount of clients because you deserve my full attention. My passion is photography, but I love the process of getting to know you and your family from your first inquiry to final image delivery (and hopefully beyond!) I actually had a client email me last night about prints, and I was thrilled because I had missed our daily emails discussing locations, outfits, weather, and a million other things. 

Time
Depending on the type of session, I'm spending anywhere from an hour to four hours with you. With newborns, I travel to your home because I know that that is what I would have preferred if I had the option after having my own babies. This also means selecting props and outfits especially for you and your family, packing up my car, and then unpacking once the session is over. And the laundry, oh the laundry.

Lastly, after your session, I spend on average 15 minutes per image editing.

Childcare
I'm a mom too, and am mostly of the Stay at Home persuasion. I have to line up childcare for my own kiddos to be able to spend time with you and yours. Unless you want me to bring my mischievous little ones around to really spice things up!

 

Ultimately, you have to decide if professional photography is important to you. If it isn't, that's ok! Snap as many pictures of that tiny baby as you possibly can. You'll look back and laugh at how your 4 year old still makes that very same expression when he's upset. Or how your 2 year old still sleeps with her tiny lips slightly agape. 

I know that for me though, and especially in the case of newborn photos, the window to capture those tiny fingers and toes is so small. I wouldn't let it pass me by.

 

 

Newborn Dex | Northern Virginia Newborn Photographer

I met Dex and his family when he was 6-ish weeks old, so he was definitely more awake than your usual baby, and quite possibly the noisiest baby I've ever met (in the cutest way possible of course!) His family is phenomenal, you can see he's going to have tons of fun trying to be just like his big brothers, and he is already so very loved!

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

What's the Difference Between a Lifestyle Newborn Session and a Posed Newborn Session?

After receiving a few questions about the difference between a lifestyle newborn session and a posed session, I realized I haven't been very clear! Hopefully this post will shed some light on these types of sessions, and help you choose what is a better fit for you and your family.

Posed Newborn Session

The word "posed" has much more to do with baby than it does with the family. While we do get lifestyle-inspired images of your family, a posed session is focused on timeless images of just your baby. 

Posed sessions are the ones where it's best that baby be between 5 and 14 days old (but truthfully, I've had babies up to 25 days totally rock this kind of session). Since your newborn was up until very recently squished securely inside of mama, they are usually a) very amenable to posing in ways that show off their beautifully tiny features and b) sleepy enough to let me pose them.

From a photographic standpoint, posed sessions tend to be somewhat challenging, as each baby is different and you never truly know what you are going to get. But I guess I like a challenge because I absolutely LOVE these sessions. I look at these posed images as fine art, and feel so inspired with a blank/solid backdrop and your baby as the subject. 

Then there's mom and dad. I know that I wasn't looking or feeling 100% right after the births of my kiddos, and I don't generally display images in my home of me being a hot mess. The images that I have framed are posed shots of my children as teeny babies. And every time I look at those images, my heart is filled with love, rather than as a reminder of how sore, crampy, bloated and emotional I was. But everyone's birth story is different, you might have come out of labor a mother f-ing goddess. And if so, let's capture that!

This is where things probably get a bit confusing. In the packages that I offer, most people go for lifestyle family shots and posed newborn shots (Classic Package). In most cases, we do family shots on the master bed, or elsewhere in the house. While I do pose you initially, what I'm looking for is more about your family's love and connection. If there are older siblings, we do a few shots of just them with the baby. If you'd like images of just mom/just dad/just mom and dad with the baby, we do that as well. 

Logistics
With a posed session, I will essentially be moving into your house. I have a giant beanbag made especially for newborn photography that will confuse your husband and generally prompts questions on how I built it. I will set this bad boy up with a number of blankets to help achieve that solid colored, gradual fade backdrop. Then depending on baby, I will try a bunch of different poses, all of which are safe and meant to hide any private bits. 

  • Things I bring to a posed newborn session:
    • Posing bean bag
    • Different colored posing blankets for the beanbag
    • Posing pillows to help position baby
    • Flokati rug (great for sibling shots)
    • Crates/buckets/baskets for baby 
    • Wraps/hats/bonnets/headbands/newborn outfits all handmade by newborn photography prop vendors
    • Floor drops 
    • Space heater
    • Seamless backdrop paper and stand (if going with the premiere package)
    • Studio light with umbrella and diffuser
       
  • Things I need from you in your home
    • Heat turned up
    • An area of at least 6 ft by 6 ft in a dark-ish room to set up the bean bag
    • If we're doing seamless background for parent/family shots (premiere package) I'll need an area of about 8 ft by 8 ft with a hard floor

Lifestyle Newborn Session

Even in a lifestyle session I will do some hands on posing, but I view this as a more photo journalistic and natural approach to your newborn.

With a lifestyle session, I will bring waaaay less stuff to your house, and will instead be using your environment as a backdrop. This includes baby's nursery, common areas in the home, and possibly the master bedroom or a siblings room as well. We won't miss the details like your newborn's tiny little fingers and toes, but they will be framed differently than they would in a posed session. Baby might be in his/her crib, on a family heirloom quilt, or laying next to big brother while he reads a story. My posing of baby will be very minimal with this type of session.

With a lifestyle session, it's less important that baby be within that 5-14 day time frame. I've shot lifestyle sessions for babies as old as 3 months, and these can often be great because you start getting real smiles, rather than the sleepy-and-pooping-smile you get with a very new newborn.

Much like I mentioned above in the posed session explanation, my family shots almost always take on a lifestyle feel. We do family shots on the master bed, or elsewhere in the house if you'd prefer. While I do pose you initially,  I'm looking for your family's love and connection. If there are older siblings, we do a few shots of just them with the baby. If you'd like images of just mom/just dad/just mom and dad with the baby, we do that as well. 

Logistics

  • Things I would bring to a lifestyle session:
    • A few neutral wraps/swaddles for baby
    • Studio light with umbrella and diffuser
  • Things I need from you in your home:
    • A few clean/tidy areas (this is why I personally wouldn't be the best candidate for this type of shoot) but if you are, you are amazing
    • If you'd like some parent images with a seamless backdrop-look, I'll need about 6 feet of an undercoated wall as a backdrop
    • Regarding the below gallery, there are more images to come, I need to pull them off of the cloud, but I wanted to have this blog post up as soon as I could.

Family Images

To sum it all up, these are my current packages, and the family images you can expect:

  • Lifestyle - Family lifestyle images included, similar to below
  • Petite - JUST your newborn, no family images included
  • Heirloom- Family lifestyle images included, similar to below, either lifestyle or for a simpler look, against a seamless backdrop or painted wall in your home

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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The Orr Children Own Christmas | South Riding Family Photographer

I was a freakishly cold day in November when I met with the Orr family for their Christmas card photo session. Allie (5) and Finn (2) both fell asleep en route to the location, and I know my kids can be somewhat difficult when awoken from a nap, but these two were ready to go!

Admittedly, it got a little too cold for Finn, but even subzero temperatures couldn't stop Allie from hamming it up!

Just the sweetest, coziest little girl ever!

Just the sweetest, coziest little girl ever!

She couldn't be any more stunning!

She couldn't be any more stunning!

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The Christmas Dinosaur (as Finn called himself)

The Christmas Dinosaur (as Finn called himself)

The Christmas Princess!

The Christmas Princess!

We're the two best friends that anyone could have!

We're the two best friends that anyone could have!

This kills me, Finn is like "lady, I've had more than enough, and if you don't stop taking pictures I'm going to stab you with this candy cane!"

This kills me, Finn is like "lady, I've had more than enough, and if you don't stop taking pictures I'm going to stab you with this candy cane!"

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!

Choosing a Color Palette for your Fall Family Photos | Northern Virginia Family Photographer

I've noticed that styling outfits for a family photo session is probably the biggest stressor for clients. And I'll fully admit, since having children, I feel like I've lost touch with what "the kids are wearing" and what's in. So while I'm no fashion guru, I do have an understanding of color theory and what photographs well.

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When you're having your fall family photographs taken, think about the colors in the outdoor setting around you. Hopefully we've set your session for peak color, so there should be oranges, reds and golden yellows around you. From there, you can check out the color wheel to the right and see that opposite to golden yellows are navy blues and purples. Your family would definitely pop against yellow leaves in those tones. 

Neutrals also work against almost any backdrop, and always look timeless. Neutrals can be anything from white, ivory, cream, tan, khaki, mocha, camel, brown, grey, black, denim, and sometimes even blush pinks or olive greens. I truly don't think there can be too many neutrals in a palette.

Not sure where to start? Pick 2-3 main colors. There should be elements of these colors in everyone's outfits. From there, pick some neutrals. A lot of times, neutrals will be the blueish tone of denim, a khaki or brown, blacks and grays, or a toned down version of the main colors that you chose. Lastly, pick 1-2 pops of color. These accent colors tend to be bright and vibrant and oftentimes are the most visible element tying the photos together. When choosing a color scheme, consider the season, setting, and where you'll display the images in your home. 

Some classic fall color combinations

Some classic fall color combinations

Here are some general rules for picking clothing for a family photo session:

  1. Start with one piece. To get the ball rolling, start with one outfit that you really love, and build the other outfits around that. Matching is out, coordinating is in.

  2. Layer, layer layer! This adds dimension and depth to your images.

  3. Fit. Purchase clothes that fit now. I know, if I'm buying a fall sweater for my son from Janie and Jack, I want to get as much wear out of that ridiculously priced piece of clothing as possible. But I beg of you, buy your child's current size. Rolled up sleeves and pant legs end up looking sloppy and undone in your final images.

  4. Dress for the weather. Be prepared with a flexible wardrobe in case you have to switch it up at the last minute. If your child is burning up in a sweater, he won't be happy and we won't be able to get images that you will cherish forever.

  5. Footwear. Shoes are such an important part of the wardrobe. Imagine your daughter dressed to the nines for the family shoot, but with her light up paw patrol shoes on. It causes the entire look to lose cohesion. My recommendation for shoes are boots, leather sandals, Converse All-Stars, Toms, Sperrys, and Mary Janes. Also, weather and setting-permitting, barefoot is always an adorable option, especially with babies.

  6. Let Your Child's Personality Shine! Allow your child's personality to shine through in what they’re wearing. If your daughter has a favorite pair of boots, let her wear them (at least in a few pictures). Whatever makes your child their own amazing self, let’s focus on those things.

This family nailed it for their Christmas shoot with plenty of neutrals (cream, tan, browns and olive) with pops of a bright Christmas-y red.

This family nailed it for their Christmas shoot with plenty of neutrals (cream, tan, browns and olive) with pops of a bright Christmas-y red.

Check out this coordination, mom and dad wore olive green and dark navy, and let the kids pop with a beautifully textured velvet dress and the quintessential fall mustard yellow. Nailed it!

Check out this coordination, mom and dad wore olive green and dark navy, and let the kids pop with a beautifully textured velvet dress and the quintessential fall mustard yellow. Nailed it!

Mom did a great job pulling colors from this little one’s dress for everyone else’s outfits.

Mom did a great job pulling colors from this little one’s dress for everyone else’s outfits.

You can’t go wrong with neutrals, this family is picture perfect for their holiday card!

You can’t go wrong with neutrals, this family is picture perfect for their holiday card!

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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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!