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FAMILY PREP GUIDE: LIFESTYLE NEWBORN

Hey baby! 

Nothing is more magical than welcoming a new baby into your family. The tiny, delicate fingers and toes; the precious, soft skin; the certainty that this is a love unlike any you have known. You are certain that your life will never be the same. These moments pass so quickly. It is a privilege for us to preserve this special milestone for you and your family to remember forever.

Everyone who has been a parent knows that those early days go by in the blink of an eye. The things you treasure so much – the smell of a baby’s skin, the feel of his or her little body cuddled against yours – become distant but cherished memories as your children quickly change and grow. I'm so honored to be there at the beginning of your little one’s journey to capture this time of beauty and innocence in professional photographs that you and your loved ones will treasure.

xoxo Ashley

 
 
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The Experience

Once your little one makes his big entrance, let me know the news, and we can coordinate to choose a day for the photo session. Newborn photographs should be taken before the baby is two weeks old, and ideally within the first ten days.

I always like to talk with every client before pictures. It can be a phone call/skype or simple texts and emails. At this meeting I will learn about your family, and we can go over all your ideas. This planning phase is so fun and important. I will also send out a newborn questionnaire to help me get to know you even better. I can’t wait to find out the heart beat of your family and tell your story!

Siblings

If you have other children, please prepare them for our session as much as possible. Make sure kids know that this is FUN! No threats, as they usually bring about tears and added stress. Don’t even bother telling them to be sure to smile or “be good”. My goal isn’t to get a picture of your child “being good” or just “smiling” but having fun and interacting. Some kids who have been coached to smile for the photographer get so nervous that they are fighting laughing and relaxing because they are so worried about having their picture taken or making their parents happy!

Instead, I’m a huge fan of bribery - (ice cream after!) is always a great idea for the ones who need a little extra encouragement. However, please don't bring sweets for bribing during the shoot. They tend to end up being a distraction.

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Dads

Moms, I’m speaking to you. Is your husband feeling less than thrilled about your upcoming photo shoot? A little bribery seems to work well here (though maybe something better than ice cream!) as well! But seriously, let your husband know that the shoot will be relatively painless and to try to focus on having an hour to play with the kids, hold your hand and just savor the moment!

 

 
 

Mom & Dad

During the shoot, if you are not in the picture, feel free to take a break- grab a snack or a drink. Consider me your personal babysitter. 

I will try to engage siblings or work with posing your newborn on their own. When I need assistance, I will definitely ask you to come lend a hand. 

 

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Mom and dad, as you focus on your children, don’t forget about yourself! Keep your posture good as well as ensuring your chin doesn’t pull in. These allow for the most flattering images. Something else to keep in mind is to be watchful of your own expression as you’re trying to get children to smile or snuggle your newborn. Remember you are in the photos as well!

Rest assured I’ll be watching all of you and will definitely let you know if I see something out of place or looking off.

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General Tips

To prepare for our session, you won't have to do much- just be yourself. I will help you guys use the space in your home to document this first week with your newborn. I don't pose, but I will direct and guide you into different positions. Don't worry- I got you!

If you are going to have older siblings present at the session, build up the session to children as it really is- a time for fun and togetherness. There's no need for bribes when the event itself is the reward. Feel free to have a special toy or comfort item as well as a snack for your child just in case.

I have a very organic and natural approach to newborn sessions. I do not pose you or your baby, but rather guide them into natural and comfortable positions. I will arrive to photograph when you guys feel ready for visitors (first 4-10 days of life), but before or after family comes to visit. It's easier to capture your new baby with just immediate family present (parents, siblings) so I will ask that extended family wait elsewhere while we work.

Preparing Your Home

When I arrive, we can take a look around together to determine the best location for lighting. Occasionally we may need to move furniture or other items around to make room/reduce clutter. Make sure you clear any rooms of clutter that you want to highlight in the photos (nursery/your bedroom/living room/etc). I may also want to walk through your house to find special baby items or other locations to use. Please make sure to turn the temp up in your house to about 80 degrees. Even though we may be hot and uncomfortable, baby LOVES it! It's a great way to put them to sleep.

Illness

Just as important as the weather is that everyone being photographed be feeling 100%. There isn’t anything worse than an unhappy and sick feeling child - they especially do not want to be in front of a camera. At the first sign that your kids aren’t well, please give me a call.

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Props & Heirloom Items

I prefer to use your home and nursery as the backdrop for our photos. I do not use many props but I will bring blankets and a few hats. If you have a special outfit or heirloom you would like included, please let me know! I prefer a "less is more" type of mentality where the focus is on relationships and your baby. If you need some ideas or want to brainstorm, please don't hesitate to call.

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Session Checklist

  • blankets that are special to you (made by grandma, embroidered with baby name, matches nursery, etc.)
  • hats or booties you love
  • diaper cover
  • plain onesie
  • fun personal items that represent a hobby, favorite sports team, family heirlooms, etc.

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Wardrobe Tips

Ah, the age old question always associated with photo shoots. Styling is one thing I try not to have too much of a hand in, since I want you guys to still be you not, Ashley Newman's idea of fashion. But here is my 2 cents:

For mom and dad, think simple and neutral. For siblings, think layers. Probably the biggest difference between sessions that look great and sessions that look wow: little boys in a t-shirt, with a button up over it, along with a blazer. Throw on a fun hat (bowler, fedora, stylish ball cap) and you're set! Little girls: same thing, leggings, fun skirt, tank with a sweater and a tasteful (not too big and overwhelming!) headband.

*Side note: Stay away from gaudy gerber daisy flowers in neon colors and mesh hats with rhinestones, they look dated and tend to take away from your little one's gorgeous features.

Head to toe. Remember to dress down to you and your family's feet! No scuffed Reeboks for boys, but fun shoes like Converse, "boat" shoes, or boots. Same for girls, no Dora crocs, but more traditional Mary Janes or boots work best! 

Coordinate. As you think about your color palette, imagine your family being one complete piece of artwork. Each person/outfit will bring together a feeling of formality and coordination. Instead of everyone wearing the same shade of blue - think about what accent colors might look nice with said blue. Perhaps blue plaid shorts for your son with a t-shirt, vest and hat. Pull some of the colors of his plaid shorts to find a great skirt or dress for your little girl. Dad can wear some jeans and a shirt that coordinates with the plaid shorts and skirt on your daughter, and finish it off with an awesome jacket and fedora. Mom will round the entire family out with some great boots, leggings and darling dress that (again) coordinates with the family color story.

When in doubt, remember, I am here to help! We can design a visual board on Pinterest, I'm available via text or the phone to look at and discuss your ideas. Please do not hesitate to ask for help on your outfit choices.

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What NOT to Wear

What NOT to wear. Remember to Olan Mills look of everyone in khakis + white button down shirts? That isn’t the kind of matching I’d like you to do. Again, think coordinating without matching perfectly. Dads, instead of defaulting to a plain ole polo - look for fun colors, stripes, plaids. Texture photographs amazingly. Get creative!

Helpful tip! Head into your local GAP (or the like) and mention you’re styling for family photos. They are happy to direct you - and free of charge! No need to pay a stylist when you have knowledgeable fashion advice right there in the store.

Vendors

Mom, I know it's easier to pick your children's outfits first...resist! Can we take a moment and focus on you? We can build the entire family session off your outfit, so let's make it a good one. I want you to feel comfortable and beautiful in front of the camera. Check out these resources for looking your best, and consider getting professional hair and makeup done for the day of.

Hair & Makeup: Bethany Elyse Hair & Makeup | The Bronze Body | Polished by Jessica | Ashley Granados Makeup Artistry

Clothing: Alter Ego | Saved By The Dress | Free People | Hazel and Olive | Shop The Mint | Henly | Sophie & Trey | Rent The Runway |

Maternity Clothing:Mama Bump RentalsFillyBoo MaternityPink Blush Maternity


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Preparing Your Baby

Try to keep baby awake for a while before your session time. Wait to feed the baby until I arrive for your session. (We will pick a time that works for your family). I highly recommend if you’re solely breastfeeding to pump and bottle feed your milk for your baby’s session. I’ve had moms that breastfeed for up to an hour and unfortunately, that does delay the session quite a bit and does count against your allotted time coverage as well. 
If you do not pump, you can also formula feed baby just for this session. Breast-milk doesn’t keep our babies fuller longer so choosing to formula feed for the session, will not only be a little easier for you but it will keep them asleep longer during the handling and posing for a scene. Moms, please just be advised, it’s just a recommendation so if you choose to do neither, it’s completely okay. As a newborn photographer, I feel it’s my duty to offer any advice or tips that you as a parent can use to maximize the time we have  and in return, you’ll be able to showcase and display more than the average number of baby photos! I have three young children myself so I understand the way you feed baby is very personal and important to your family.

Don't worry about baby acne or little scratches. I will hand retouch your images to either eliminate or drastically minimize these imperfections. If your baby has extremely dry skin, try putting baby lotion on prior to coming to your session and bringing extra with you. I do minor retouching, but I do not do major skin smoothing (like glamour shots hehe). Embrace that peel, fresh newborn skin!

Before your session be sure to loosen their diaper. This will reduce the diaper marks from their naked little bottoms. Also do not have tight socks on their feet, they tend to leave sock lines at their ankles.

I may ask for help with propping or holding the baby in certain positions. Please understand that not every pose you imagined may be possible- it all depends on baby. I want to make sure baby is comfortable and safe above all else.

One last thing....No matter what your baby does, please know that I am always relaxed. I do this all the time and have seen everything. This session is supposed to be a special experience for you and I don't want you stressed if the baby starts to cry. The baby can sense stress and it usually makes them cry more. We have plenty of time allowed for your session. If we need to take a break to feed, walk, rock, etc. we can do that. I want you to enjoy the experience of your session and this special bonding moment for your family.

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The Day Of

Each baby is different, so our time together can differ. I am a lifestyle photographer, which means while I may do some poses, I am focused on the details of your newborn, and interactions with family. I may rock, or sway with your baby, rub his eyebrows, use a white noise machine, etc. I want to make sure the energy in the room is always relaxed and calm, with lots of trust. They will occasionally cry- please know that this is never a bother for me. I will use a variety of soothing techniques to make your baby feel safe, secure and warm. Think of me as your baby sitter. Baby will never be placed in an unsafe position and newborn safety is my top priority.

I have a very hands on approach to newborns and I am very comfortable handling them. I have three young children myself and have taken safety courses on newborn photography/workshops. I am fully vaccinated :)

2-3 Weeks After

After the photographs have been taken and each image has been professionally retouched, you will experience the moment you have been eagerly awaiting. Sneak peek images may be posted to Facebook and/or the blog for your family and friends to view. Next, we will set up a viewing at your home or local coffee shop, to show you the full gallery. I will review each shot with you, answer all of your questions, and offer my professional advice as you choose from the prints, albums and other products available. The end result will be heirlooms that you will cherish forever.

4-6 Weeks After Printing

Your printed products and artwork are ready to be picked up!


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Final Thoughts

Keep your hands busy: Hold your child's hand, give kisses, brush their hair behind their ear, play and dance, chase and ask questions, pick flowers, tell secrets, start a tickle fight. Keep moving and enjoy the process with your children. Activities you enjoy doing with one another will help tell an authentic story and capture your true personalities. 

Stay patient and positive. Children tend to go at their own pace – and that’s fine. On the day of your session, we will work with you and your family to make sure everyone has an enjoyable, relaxed experience. If that means your preschooler needs to take a break for a snack, or your baby needs a new diaper and a change of clothes, you should feel comfortable to take the time you need. We know that a great photo session takes flexibility and patience. Accept the unpredictable: Embrace the chaos of the moment and this season of life. Honest connections and candid connections create real and specific memories. Be vulnerable and open in front of the camera and your family's story will begin to pour out.


And so the adventure begins...

Whew! I know that is a lot of info!! Don't hesitate to ask questions of visit this page to re-read it. 
I can't wait to spend time with your family! Each family I get the honor of working with is etched on my heart forever. Please know this process is very important to me and I value the true heartbeat of your family.

Have a question or need some help? I'm here and ready to help make your session come to life!

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