Extended Family Session | Northern Virginia Portrait Photographer

NOVAphotographer

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!

NOVAportraitphotographer
NOVAportraitphotographer
NOVAportraitphotographer
NOVAportraitphotographer
NOVAportraitphotographer

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

Heather & Jason's Maternity Session | Northern Virginia Maternity Photographer

Real talk, I FORCED Heather to do her maternity photo session. I’ve known Heather for 10 years, (I’m doing the Wayne’s World flashback thing in my head)…We met at the corporatest job I have ever worked, and I’ve worked some corporate jobs. The company which will go unnamed was somewhat cutthroat, not an environment that I was used to. I had to literally force myself to go to work every day. I would arrive, sit in my cube and the minutes would slowly tick by. No one talked to each other, and everyone on my team was spread throughout cubes on a floor. It was the strangest place, and I felt invisible.

I mentioned to my boss that I wish there was a social aspect to the company, or at least people who spoke to each other, and I’m pretty sure he forced two normal people to be friends with me. Heather was one of those people. I remember going out to lunch with her and being so seriously nervous. I was like “Oh my gosh, if these people don’t like me, I’m going back to solitary confinement. I neeeeeed them to like me!” Good news, I think they did, at least a little.

So here we are, 10 years later. I was thrilled to be able to go to Heather and Jason’s wedding, and fueled by wine, kind of held her hostage in the bathroom at her own wedding to tell her something that seemed really important that I say: that I was so happy that she and Jason found each other.

Here’s the thing about Heather. She’s freaking gorgeous, but I’m pretty sure she doesn’t know it. I know she doesn’t love having her picture taken, so I knew it was going to take some serious arm twisting. Somehow I managed to convince her, and I personally am in love with the images.

I consider myself a lifetsyle photographer, however I do pose my clients quite a bit to at least facilitate connection. Usually they look and feel so ridiculous that we end up getting real smiles. But none of that was really necessary, as Jason had us both cracking up. I was dying when I tried to get Heather to do a sexy face, and Jason kept demonstrating it to her. Her and Jason and so perfect for one another, and I know that their baby girl will grow up loved and laughing.

NOVA Maternity Photographer
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NOVA Maternity Photographer
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Northern Virginia Maternity Photographer
NOVA Maternity Photography
Virginia Maternity Photoshoot

The K Family Session | NOVA Family Photographer

Mama Jess and I went to middle and high school together, she was always super cool and I was a total nerd. Now here we are, mothers ourselves and wanting to document our children. Jess reached out for family photos, and we had to reschedule about 57 times because the weather has been such a douchebag this year. We ended up shooting on a cloudy day which isn’t ideal, but the love and connection in her family was enough to light up the images. And oh my gosh, check out her adorable daughters.

Virginia Lifestyle Family Photographer
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Virginia Lifestyle Family Photographer
Virginia Lifestyle Family Photographer
Virginia Lifestyle Family Photographer
Virginia Lifestyle Family Photographer
Virginia Lifestyle Family Photographer

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.

 

 

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

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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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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AshburnFamilyPhotographer
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!"

Cora's One Year Studio Session | Ashburn Baby Photographer

Cora has been a fighter from day one, and she continued to fight through our one year session! She's come such a long way from her newborn session, and with her mama being one of my closest friends, it was so meaningful to be able to document this milestone as well. Enjoy this fiery strawberry blonde/redheads pics!

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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!