Being a Houston newborn photographer and maternity photographer, I find it fun and energizing to get out of town every now and then for some continuing education. This week I had the chance to attend Shutterfest, an awesome hands on photography conference in St. Louis, Missouri for the third year in a row. It was great to see old friends, make new ones, and try some creative maternity photography styles that I hadn’t shot before.
My favorite shoot was one I put together in my hotel room one night with a small group of friends, all photographers and two of them pregnant and willing to get in front of the lens for a change as models. First we did a bodyscape maternity photography session – tastefully done nude black and white images with dramatic lighting.
Next we wanted to try another fun style of maternity photography – a milk bath. We used powdered milk, added cornstarch for whiteness, and mixed it all up in the hotel tub. Just add flowers and a beautiful mama-to-be in a lace gown, set the lights, click the shutter … and magic happens.
I came home with some new techniques I’m excited to put into practice in my own Houston photography studio. If you are expecting and would love to have photos like these, contact me today and let’s set up a session!
I am thrilled to announce that I recently completed the certification process with the Professional Photographers of America (PPA), and am now a CPP (Certified Professional Photographer). What does that mean to you, as a potential client trying to find a Houston newborn photographer in what seems to be an endless sea of Google listings? Here’s what the PPA website has to say about it:
“These days, photography is practiced by anyone with a smartphone, but it’s mastered by few. When it comes to those once-in-a-lifetime moments—when you’ve got one shot at getting it right—you’d better make sure the person behind the camera is a pro. A proven professional photographer that is. There’s no greater proof than when the letters “CPP” follow a photographer’s name. They designate a Certified Professional Photographer, someone who is putting in the extra work to stay above the rest. It assures you of this photographer’s professional knowledge and experience, while also declaring that photographer as one who has achieved and maintains a higher standard.”
There are hundreds of photographers in the greater Houston area, but according to the PPA website, only 60 of us are CPPs. (You can check the list here: Houston CPPs.) You will also find a large number of photographers in the Houston area who offer newborn photography services, but of those, only a handful are CPPs. Narrow that small group of CPPs who will photograph newborns even further, to CPPs who actually specialize in newborn photography, and it’s down to just a few. I am proud to count myself among what I believe to be less than five Houston newborn photographers in the greater Houston area with CPP certification, plus extensive training and experience in safely posing and photographing newborns. See a list of the training I’ve completed here.
In order to become a CPP, you must first pass a written exam which is to photographers what the bar exam is to lawyers, or the CPA exam is to accountants. Once you’ve passed that you move on to image submission. You must submit a portfolio of 15 images including 6 compulsory images demonstrating specific techniques in lighting, composition and camera skills, plus 9 images from paid client work which adhere to the standards of the judging panel. This was not an easy task, and I have to say I grew as a photographer during the process. Feedback and critique from fellow photographers who have already achieved this level of excellence was invaluable in putting my portfolio together, and I learned so much. I’m including several images from my portfolio in this post.
Just as you don’t have to be a CPA to prepare someone’s taxes, you don’t have to be a CPP to be a good photographer. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of photographers in the greater Houston area, and many of them are very talented. But if you have a complicated tax return, or a tiny human only a few days old… wouldn’t you feel better hiring a certified professional? I’m proud to be one of the few PPA certified Houston newborn photographers.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about this quote, from Gretchen Rubin, author of “The Happiness Project” – “The days are long, but the years are short.”
When you are in the thick of life with littles, running on just a few hours of interrupted sleep and answering constant demands, there are certainly those days when baby’s bedtime can’t come fast enough. It takes me back to when I had a newborn and a one-year-old. That first year with the second baby, I was so exhausted and overwhelmed that I often struggled to appreciate all the beautiful and tender moments. I know they happened, and I remember a few of them, but that year is mostly a haze to me now.
Perhaps my strongest memory from those days is one that is less than idyllic. On a chilly morning, I had bundled up my girls and packed them into a double stroller, even though I was sick with a cold and struggling to stay on my feet from exhaustion. The house was a mess and the one year old, who had given me the cold, was also getting her molars. The baby had kept me up until past midnight the night before, and woken twice to nurse. The toddler had risen bright eyed and bushy tailed at 5:30 a.m., despite a 2:00 a.m. wakeup of her own. As I stumbled past the house on the corner, a kind fifty-something neighbor stopped to coo over my beautiful babies and told me to cherish every moment, because the time goes so fast.
Cherish every moment. The time goes so fast. Older women were always telling me that.
I’m sure they say it to you too, if you have little ones. Normally I was able to smile and agree, even when the current moment didn’t feel entirely precious, because I recognized the underlying truth. However that day I was swept with such a powerful and strange mixture of sadness, exasperation and guilt that tears welled in my eyes. I barely made it back to my house before breaking out in the ugly cry.
It’s true. Motherhood is precious, fleeting, beautiful, and wonderful. It’s also exhausting, disgusting, frustrating … it’s everything, and sometimes all in the same moment. And the baby hormones don’t help. I’m sure others before me have said it more eloquently, but if you’re reading this, you probably know exactly what I mean.
Twenty years later, I look back on that day with the perspective of age. I am one of those well meaning older ladies now, telling the young moms how quickly the time goes – and yes, I understand the irony. It’s why my tag line now as a Houston newborn photographer is “Treasure the little things.” Because even that memory to me now is beautiful. But I really wish that I’d taken the time to capture and commemorate more of the good moments. It’s not that I didn’t take photos, I took a ton of them. But I wasn’t a professional photographer back then, and the images I have from that time are mostly snapshots.
That’s what this rambling has to do with photography. I don’t have newborn photos of my daughters.
Back in the early 1990s, newborn photography wasn’t popular the way it is now. I don’t think I even thought about it with my first baby. When my second baby was born, and I knew she’d be my last, I wanted to cherish every moment, and remember all the little details, so I called a photographer, and was told to bring her in at about three months. I did, and I love those photos, but they are very basic and she had already changed so much from the time she was a newborn. Back then I had never even seen the kind of photography I create now. But oh, how I would love to have photos like these of my daughters. I would hold them in my hands, and remember all the little details I struggle to picture now.
I’m a grandma now, and my grandson is 9 months old. I’ve been so blessed to live very close to my daughter and her family. My daughter is experiencing many of those same emotions I remember. He’s a beautiful, healthy baby and we love him to bits. He also had colic, and he’s very active, easily frustrated, and doesn’t nap well. I’m so glad to be here to help her when it gets overwhelming. And I’m absolutely thrilled that I’ve been able to give her the kind of beautiful newborn photos and baby photos of little Levi, that I wish I had of her. Because the days are long, but the years are short.
Here is a link to Gretchen Rubin’s short video about this saying: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KktuoQwb3vQ
As a Houston newborn photographer, I’m so excited and honored that not one, but two of my newborn images were published in Shutter Magazine. My images are in the Inspiration section of the June, 2016 issue. This issue is focused on baby and newborn photography, and it’s a great feeling to be included in the same magazine with some of the big names in the business.
It’s also exciting that the people at Shutter devoted an entire issue to newborn and baby photography. Newborn photographers are kind of a special breed in the photography industry. Our skills are specialized – newborn photography is very different than photographing weddings or seniors. As a newborn photographer, I strive to make my League City studio warm and womblike. I use white noise to simulate the sound of mom’s bloodstream, lay baby on soft fabrics and sometimes wrap him or her snugly to mimic the environment of womb. I handle and pose my tiny clients with the utmost care. Sessions are typically two to three hours long, and can include multiple feeding breaks and lots of soothing to get baby to sleep.
This is the first time I have been published in Shutter Magazine, but I hope it will not be the last. Shutter Magazine is available by subscription, and can also be found at Barnes & Noble stores all over the country.
I’m now booking newborn sessions for babies born in July, 2016 and beyond. The best time to book your newborn session is while you are still pregnant, so don’t wait to contact me. We will put a tentative date on the calendar, and reschedule as needed once baby arrives. By scheduling ahead of time and prepaying your session fee, you are guaranteeing a spot on my calendar in baby’s first two weeks of life – the ideal time for newborn photos. However if you’re reading this and baby is already here, don’t worry – give me a call at 573-356-1236 and we will try to fit you in.
When young children come along to be photographed with the new baby, we do their part of the session first. Attention spans only last so long! First siblings, then dads, then family… and then dad and siblings are free to go have fun at the park, or go home, or whatever they choose to do so mom can stay and relax for the rest of the session with baby. Here, Lola was very sweet with baby brother Cruz, but I had a few tricks up my sleeve in case she hadn’t been. (One of my favorites is to put a toy or a few M&M’s in the pram or basket so big sis or big bro will look in, then I take a separate shot of the baby in the pram or basket and put the two shots together in Photoshop). Here are a few images from the session. This family did a beautiful collage wall of matted prints, plus a big canvas of the family portrait at top left, and several smaller canvases.