newborn photographer

Newborn Photography: Lifestyle vs. Posed

A sweet, nude little babe all sleepy and curled up on a soft blanket wearing an adorable bow or knit cap or swaddled in an adorable wrap. These kinds of posed newborn photographs have become synonymous with the term “newborn photography” over the past five years or so. I love them. We all love them. There is something so serene and pleasing about a brand new life. A baby only days old sleeping peacefully, all curled up and comfy just as they were recently in utero.

Of course, as a newborn photographer, I offer this style of newborn photography to my clients in the Central Illinois area and beyond. I do however also offer an alternative type of newborn photo session, which is slightly less common but equally as beautiful and amazing as an in studio newborn session. Lifestyle newborn photography is becoming one of my favorite sessions that I offer to my clients.

I just wanted to take the time to explain the differences between the two.

1.) Time: Timing is everything when it comes to newborn photography. For an in studio newborn baby photo session I try to get the baby’s in my studio before they are two weeks old. When you are looking for those sleepy, posed shots… the younger the baby, the better! Sleepy, posed shots are not always a guarantee at lifestyle sessions for a variety of reasons. However, if baby does sleep, I can still get those ADORABLE posed shots anywhere!

Time is also important for a posed newborn session because it takes time for me to get them settled into that nice, deep sleep before I start to work with them. Typically the posed newborn sessions take around 3 hours while the lifestyle newborn sessions take around 1-2 hours. The lifestyle newborn session doesn’t take as long simply because it focuses primarily on the interaction between the new baby and his/her family and surroundings and is less centered on obtaining the perfect pose. Therefore, having the baby be under two weeks old is less important. This is particularly helpful for mothers who contact me once the newborn baby is over that magic age for the traditional posed session.

2.) Location: the location for your upcoming newborn session might have you thinking about whether a studio photo session or a lifestyle session is the choice for you. My posed sessions typically take place in my studio, however, I can travel to your home for an additional fee. I will say my studio has everything you needed to provide you with the best experience. I have toys for older siblings, live within walking distance of many local attractions and parks, I have all the equipment and lighting I need to provide you with the images you know and love, all my backdrops, and posing tools are within arms reach. Plus, parents have a nice cozy spot to relax, grab some coffee and a refreshment and watch tv, take a nap, scroll facebook, or whatever you want to do on your little break.

However, I know the thought of traveling with a newborn can be daunting for some parents. Lifestyle newborn sessions can be conducted in the studio, your home, or even outdoor. Whether its images of you snuggling your baby in their nursery or big brother peeking over the crib at his new little sister, these images provide a level of intimacy that you just don’t get during studio sessions.

3.) Connection: Of course all of my clients want to capture some darling images of the newest baby with different family members during the session. Whether its photos with mom & dad or siblings, these treasured images can be obtained at both the lifestyle session AND posed session. However the resulting look is completely different. Whichever you prefer is entirely up to you!

4.) Light: It is true that during a studio session the light is controlled. I know what to expect in my studio and I know when the light comes in big and beautiful at a certain time of day. An in-home lifestyle session obviously cannot offer the same type of assurance. Clients often come to me concerned that their home will not be bright and airy or even pretty enough.

When I walk into a clients home, I’m not looking for the most beautiful room. That is the least of my concerns. Haha! I’m looking for LIGHT! Whether its a screened in front porch (if the weather is nice enough) or the master bedroom…. I’m looking for large windows that provide me with beautiful soft light. The other thing I look for is NEUTRAL rooms. White bedding or walls gives us a gorgeous, non-distracting backdrop to work with while making the baby and their family the focus of the session. The fact of the matter is, if you have one or two bright rooms that I can use to my advantage to provide you with gorgeous images, you will be overjoyed with the personalized newborn photos and treasure them for years to come.


So there you have it! A little 4-1-1 with me to help you decide on which newborn session is right for you!

Why you want a Fresh 48 Session!

From a mother's standpoint. Having a baby is an experience that is ineffable. As mom's, we have spent the last 9-10 months with this baby growing inside of us. A life that completely depends on us. We get to know their wake and sleep patterns, what time of days they move and what time of day they sleep. We know how frequently they get the hiccups and begin to get an idea of whether they are going to be an awesome soccer player 😂😜. But up until this moment. This moment when our body decides that we are ready. That I am ready. That my baby is ready. That the world is ready. Then and only then is our baby brought into the world.

The pains of labor are inexplicable. But the power that the mother displays in these moments is EQUALLY inexplicable. There is no other sensation in the entire human existence like it. The feelings of readiness and excitement are slowly overcome by silence & seriousness. This is followed by feelings of apprehension and then when we believe that we cannot do it any more... this is when it happens. This is the moment that not just a baby is born.... but a mother is born.

This is the moment when that baby inside your tummy becomes more than that.... they have a face, they have a cry, they have an identity... and they become your everything. It is at this moment that this hypothetical glass ceiling, that we didn't know previously existed, is shattered and suddenly we get to know and experience what true, unconditional love is.

It is curious to me as to why we hire a professional photographer to photograph our wedding but not our birth. Just as wedding photos are an investment. Birth photos are also an investment. I promise you, you will not regret it. How do I know this? Because NOTHING can compare to that moment when you and your baby meet for the first time.

I offer both Fresh 48 photos as well as posed newborn photos. To me, each one is as important as the other. Each of them serve completely different purposes. Each of them make you feel two very emotions. Both good. Both necessary. That is why I offer a combination package. When you purchase a newborn posed session, you can add a fresh 48 session on for a discounted price. I believe that both types will serve you greatly now and for years to come.

Enjoy these sneak peeks from Liz Peden's fresh 48 session!

Killian Kemp's Newborn Session!

A couple years ago I got to be there while Jeremy and Emily Kemp welcomed their sweet little girl Kyleigh into the world. Now, I got to be there to welcome there sweet baby BOY, Killian, in to the world. Weighing in at a whopping 9 lbs. 6 oz., a tad bigger than his 4 lb. sister, he was just as cuddly and cute! It is so fun to be able to be a part of growing families! Something that I never take for granted. Two particular poses I did with Kyleigh, I had to recreate with Killian. One, was baby wrapped in daddy's military gear! And the second was the image with the teddy bear. For generations past in the Kemp family, each time a new baby was born the dad picked out a special teddy bear especially for that child. We made sure to include these teddy bears in each of their newborn photos! Enjoy these sneak peeks from Killian Kemp's Newborn Session! 

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The beginnings of love....

I recently went through some business counseling. They asked me all the right questions, forced me to dig deep into who I am as a photographer, what I love to do and why, what do I want my business to be and how am I going to get there... basically all the hard questions that I didn't want to focus on because it takes time, a thing which I do not have. But it ended up being one of the best things I've ever done. I will be writing more on that later. But what I discovered about myself was significant. 

I love to photograph the beginnings of love. This can be found in newborns and weddings. There are more in common about these two life transitions than one might think. Both of these times are moments of sweetness and grace, where the other person feels intensely present to us. Devotion, hope, and a future are vivid. Putting the other person first (whether that's spouse or child) is not just considered a privilege but an honor. We are so filled to the brim with love and thankfulness that we cannot EVER imagine taking this relationship for granted. 

But that is exactly what happens. We have this idealistic view of what our marriage is going to be like. We have this idealistic view of parenting and how our children are going to behave. We think we know what our life will be like. But then life smacks you in the face. Whether it’s sickness, a colicky child, a sudden death, a disobedient child, financial difficulties, or just the mundane of day to day life, we begin to realize that marriages are hard and children are difficult. We are left feeling tired, lost, hopeless or indifferent. But more significantly, we have forgotten who we are. 

This is where I come in. By photographing you at the beginning of love, I can return you to this relationship with a sense of gratitude and wonder. I believe that through your entire experience with me (booking, conversations, dreaming, planning, photo-taking, and viewing) I can assist you in recovering your identity and mission. Through your experience with me, not just the photos themselves, I believe we can recover hope, dignify suffering, develop empathy, laugh, wonder, and nurture a sense of communion with each other. I believe that your experience with me and the finished product can heal your feelings of hopelessness and indifference. Not just for the person you are right now, but for the person that you are becoming. These photos become a visual symbol of hope. When you view these photos, presently and in the future, you will remember the truth of their message and be reminded of who you are! And when we are reminded of this, our burdens will begin to be lifted. We will no longer live life aimlessly or indifferently because by remembering who you are, you will KNOW what to do!  

When you invest in a session with me you are not just investing in photos, you are investing in an experience. An experience that will benefit your present, AND your future. An experience that produces a product with an eternal message. A message that needs to be heard not just by who you are at this moment, but the person you are becoming. Who could put a price on that? 

Enjoy some of the sneak peeks from Carissa and Zack's newborn session with baby Murphy, part 1 in their Baby's First Year Experience. This session took place at the Photos by Ariel Studio located in Lincoln, Illinois. Interested in booking your own session? Contact me here.

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When parenting is painful....

Frustration is something most mothers face. Whether its holding your newborn that just won't sleep, carrying a screaming toddler out of the grocery store, your five your old that has an attitude of a 16 year old, or the constant go-go-go lifestyle of running your teenage kids to and from school, errands, exercise, grocery shopping, cleaning, etc. Whatever the season is, it isn't uncommon for us as mothers to say to ourselves, "When will this be over? Can I just skip ahead? I'd like to leave this stage a little early?" 

It's normal to wish away the painful parts of parenting. Despite the annoyingly correct advice from those around us, "Enjoy the time that you have... it goes so fast." Have they forgotten? Do they just not remember what it was like to have littles running around? I mean, there are plenty of joyful parenting moments but there are also moments filled with ONLY stress and strife. How am I supposed to enjoy all of this? 

This is the danger, my friends. We are making 3 terrible mistakes.... 1) We compare ourselves to the seemingly perfect lives of others, 2) We try to "fix" every natural stage that our children go through, 3) We expect our transitions from one stage to the next to happen in a straight line when in fact, it's quite messy. I mean, potty training.... am I right? 

This isn't just a trap for first time moms. It is something we second, third, and even fourth and fifth-timers fall into at times. I mean, we all walk into parenting knowing that sleepless nights and feeding troubles are coming. But even still, when it happens, there seems to be an element of shock and frustration. 

How do we deal with the painful parts of parenting? Feeding, sleep regressions, potty-training, disrespectful attitudes, bad grades, friendship drama, ALL the activities. The answer is both hard and simple. It's all about muddling through the mess with the right perspective, not finding quick-fix solutions. As much as we don't like it, some things just take time to get better. 

It doesn't take long as a parent to know that each new stage comes with both good and bad components. I mean, as soon as you breath a sigh of relief that your child is out of their "Terrible Twos" then in comes the "threenagers." Why do we even bother to separate these irritable stages that can be found in parenthood?

Please, hear me on this. I'm not saying parenting is horrid. There are also amazing, heart-exploding, over the top experiences with each stage. For example, we have enough rooms in our house for our kids to have their own but they CHOSE to share. Not even that, they have bunkbeds, yet every single night in the middle of the night, my two year old climbs up to the top bunk to sleep next to her 5 year old sister. Talk about heart-melting.

But why is it so hard for us to get okay with the place we are in on our journey of Motherhood? There are probably a lot of reasons, whether its the shattering of our ideals of what we thought parenting would be like, or because we have instant access to fix almost anything (google) and the fact that we can't do that wit parenting drives us crazy. Learning to be content with each and every stage is NOT easy. 

So what can we do? 

1) Get educated. Learning about typical baby and childhood development is super helpful. Sometimes just knowing that you're not alone and what your experiencing is totally normal is enough to get us through. 

2) Prioritize self-care. Make sure you are taking care of yourself. I know this is hard and seems impossible, but it is necessary. 

3) Plan date nights with each kid individually. I've always found that the ones who are most difficult to love at any given moment, need it the most. A special date night always helps me to fall in love with them all over again, which we all need sometimes.

4) Community. Surround yourselves with other parents who get it. Experienced confidants who can give you perspective and encouragement. I'll never forget a conversation I had with a dear friend who is a mother to five kids herself. I was in a season where I was feeling burnt out in EVERY area of my life. My job, my marriage, my kids, EVERYTHING. I was left feeling apathetic towards it all. And when I confessed to her this statement, "I just don't enjoy being a stay-at-home mom every waking moment of every day" I felt like a horrible person. But her response was unjudgmental and gracious and affirming. She said something to the effect of, "It's okay to not enjoy every moment of being a mom." Instantly, my life turned around. I was literally paralyzed by guilt and couldn't function because I backed myself into a self-writhing corner. Don't do this, moms. Find your community and chat with them as often as you can. 

5.) Be patient and wait. The most annoying tip of all. But it's true. I just taught my children a song about being patient to the tune of "The Farmer and the Dell." It goes like this, "Be patient while you wait. Be patient while you wait. Don't lose your temper or complain, be patient while you wait." They sing it to themselves when they have to remind themselves to be patient with someone or something and I find myself saying it in my head on occasion as well. I guess patience is never easy, no matter what age we are.

Remember these things, my friends. Everything has seasons and parenting is no different. It is filled with seasons of intense struggle and seasons of equally intense celebration. Seasons we have the energy to sprint and seasons we find ourselves muddling through. No matter what season, let it ride, keep perspective because perspective brings contentment. 

When you look back at this time of your life in 5 years... what do you want to remember about these moments? Let me help you capture ther life that you are experiencing at this moment. It is my goal that my photos will be a catalyst for tomorrow's hopes. To schedule a session with me, please contact me here

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