that time i tried to take my daughter's newborn portraits | personal.

I'm not sure how this story slipped through the blogging cracks - maybe it was my wounded pride at having failed so spectacularly, or because it just got lost in the shuffle, or because I made you guys think everything went smoothly when I posted these photos the first time. But as I sat down to write this morning and this same baby climbed up in my lap and ate my toast while insisting we watch Curious George, I thought, "Damnit - I am putting it out there." Either way,  it's terrifically embarrassing and a solid reminder of why I don't do posed newborn photography. Pull up a chair.

Before our daughter Quinlan was born in April of 2012, I spent weeks months researching newborn photography. My business was fairly new and I'd never done a newborn session before, but I figured if I couldn't make it work with my own child, where else would I begin? I found all different set-ups for newborn shoots - Boppy pillows, space heaters, muslin blankets - and I started shopping. I bought a tiered backdrop (which is still in the original box in my closet) and a bunch of cheesecloth at the craft store. I made a valiant attempt at dying the fabric in the basement utility sink which resulted in stretched out cloth that looked like it was more stained and spotted than dyed. I probably could've gotten something nice out of a dumpster behind A.C. Moore.

Fast forward to 9 days after her birth and we were ready to make this session happen. We did it at my parents house in the guest room...on the white bedspread. Genius, right? These new parents were already in bad shape. We were exhausted and crabby, snapping at each other in the excessive heat of the room (because you have to get it smokin' hot to keep the baby cozy, you see). I had barely recovered from her birth - I had a dislocated tailbone that kept me from sitting down for months, not to mention all the other pleasantries that happen to your body after a baby has come out of it. (True story: I had a special butt pillow called a Kabooti that made sitting possible until it healed a year later.) I was right at home with the 4:30 crowd at Bob Evans.

As it happens...all those cute little scrunched-up newborn poses you see? The ones where their little legs tug cozily under their tummies and they smile in their sleep? That doesn't happen with a nearly 10 pound baby. There's just too many rolls. I'd tuck her chub legs under and she's shoot them right back out. She wouldn't keep her hands tucked under her chin, they had to be sprawled out above her head. She was spread-eagled across the bed snoring away. ALL MY IDEAS WENT OUT THE WINDOW.

Then she pooped on the sheets. And you know what I mean, Mama's. The newborn poop. The watery, yellow crap that knows no end. Then we tried one of those cute Daddy's Holding Me By The Window poses and she pooped again. And I'm shooting away and Justin is shouting, "SHE IS POOPING. SHE IS POOPING RIGHT NOW THROUGH MY HANDS." And I was laughing but he was a new Dad and he was tired and he was mad.

So we tried a few more poses, some were totally indecent and you wonder how the hell these newborn photographers keep the little darlings decent without their privates flashing all about. And Justin had a great idea that we incorporate his SWAT gear into the shoot (normal, right?) so we tried cramming our giant newborn into this riot helmet and her head was hanging off the end and we were crying and yelling at each other and and it is only now, today, that I look at these photos and laugh so hard the tears are back and I will never, ever try this again.

Not-posed newborn photography? Yes, please. Pictures of Mommy and Baby and Family at home, in their natural state? Sign me up. Props and poses and little outfits and space heaters and poop everywhere? It's just never gonna be me.


hagerstown, md wedding photographer | justin + jeanna.

When I met Justin and Jeanna (you say it like Gina, not Jenna, just a head’s up) fo talk about their wedding, they had big plans. Over two-hundred guests, meetings with caterers and bakers and florists. Jeanna was going to town on DIY projects and decorations and, as always, I’m impressed by the amount of work my couples take on in addition to having homes, careers, and families.

So when Jeanna e-mailed me a few months afterward to say they were scaling things back - I could hear her sigh of relief coming through the computer screen. She explained their decision to have a smaller wedding instead, to make it an intimate day filled with their closest family and friends, and to not let the stress of wedding planning stop them from doing it their way.

It was so, so beautiful. Justin + Jeanna were married in his grandparents’ backyard with just 35 guests and flower vases hanging from the trees. There were iced bottles of Coca-Cola, a slip gown covered in lace, and cowboy boots and it was easy, relaxed, and exactly the kind of wedding I like to shoot in early August when wedding season has been nuts and an intimate affair is perfectly in order.

After the ceremony, we spent a leisurely hour taking their portraits (#spoiledphotographer), just the three of us, so I figured it would be alright if I took my shoes off for it. Their reception at 28 South was like a fabulous dinner party I somehow scored an invite to and you better your bottom dollar I didn't leave without a black-bottom cupcake.

Justin and Jeanna, thank you so much for having me be a part of your gorgeous wedding day! It was a joy. Enjoy the sneak peak!