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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NOVAportraitphotographer
NOVAportraitphotographer
NOVAportraitphotographer
NOVAportraitphotographer

The V Family | Northern Virginia Family Photographer

I am just dying over the light for this family’s fall photo session at Morven Park in Leesburg.

Mama Ania had reached out to me while the family was living in another state, in anticipation of a move to Northern Virginia. Before booking, she wanted to make sure that I was ok with dogs, and that I could photograph theirs. I mean, I LOVE dogs…I always hope that I can photograph them well, but more than that, I just really like sneaking in some scritches.

Real talk. Buster the dog shouldn’t have been a concern, he was a model citizen. Baby Zosia however did not like me for the first 20ish minutes of our session. I’m starting to question bleaching my hair because since I’ve done it, I swear that little babies have been a bit wary of me. But I digress…

The good news is that we managed to get over our differences, and I dare say, became buddies by the end of the session.

Also, I can’t post about this session without a shout out to my would-be assistant if she didn’t live across the country. It just so happened that one of Ania’s besties was visiting the DC area from California for work. She stood behind me and jumped around like crazy trying to get Zosia to smile, created some wind for me, sang songs from a really strange amazon prime playlist. All in all, she gets a gold star for sure.

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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

Lucy & Cora's Sister Session | Loudoun County Family Photographer

I realize that I’ve been blogging about friends who’ve used me as a photographer a lot lately. I swear, people, I also photograph complete strangers! But let me tell you about the mother of these two beautiful girls who is one of my best friends. When I first became a “photographer” Allison trusted me, hired me, and paid me. Believe me, if you saw the images I delivered back then, you’d be astonished (they’re horrible…my fault). Despite that, she kept supporting me as I worked on learning everything I could about my camera and about photography, and she always cheered me on.

Look, I have A LOT more to learn, but I am also very proud of my personal growth. I am so thrilled that I can finally deliver the caliber of images to Allison that she deserves. Allison went through a lot for her girls, she is such a strong woman and role model, and unsurprisingly, she’s raising two smart, headstrong and very capable young girls.

Older sister Lucy came to the session ready to go. She struck these poses that shocked both Allison and I. Apparently she’s been taking on some modeling gigs in her downtime. Literally, right out of the gate, sat down on my little chair and struck a pose with her arm up (see below). Little sister Cora was pretty wary of me and my camera, but she warmed up after a bit…even if it did mean bribing her with bubbles.

Also, check out some gorgeous pieces from my client closet on both of the girls (we did an outfit change!)

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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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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.

 

 

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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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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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!

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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Christmas Family Session | Leesburg Family Photographer

Before I tell you about this Christmas family session, I have to back up and tell you how I met Becca, the gorgeous pregnant mama in these shots. Both of my children were born at INOVA Loudoun at the Birthing Inn, and one perk that the hospital touts is their new mom support group. In all honesty, that wasn’t something that I would have pursued if not for a friend of mine who already had a baby who strongly encouraged me to attend. I went for the first time when my baby was 3 or 4 weeks old, and after a somewhat traumatic emergency c-section, it was one of my first outings with him on my own. Being a first time mom is no joke, this group turned out to be a real Godsend to me. I learned so much as other moms and as the weeks went by, the ladies in this group became my friends. Our children are toddlers now and although we don’t get to see each other as often, it’s been such a blessing to have met these moms and watch our children grow together.

Here’s a link to information on the group for anyone who might be interested.

So about this session! On a cold November day, this immaculately coordinated family and I met up for a quick little photo shoot right before they headed out of town to visit with family for Thanksgiving. Their son Gage had already had a busy day partying it up at a pajama party at his school but was a total trooper. A cold front had just come through so we had to move through the session a little quicker than usual. Despite the cold, the S family handled the shoot like a bunch of old pros. It was such a blast to get to hang out with these awesome people, and capture these precious memories for them.

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