newborn photos

Grumpy Guys- How to prep your man for a photoshoot

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Let’s be honest… I don’t know if I’ve ever met a man in the world who is EXCITED about pictures. Whether its his wedding day, an engagement session, newborn session or family pictures… feeling apathetic about the session is pretty typical. Most of the time they don’t see why its necessary, they would rather spend their money elsewhere (or not spend it at all), they don’t like how stressed their wives get about every single detail beforehand, and really…. they kinda think its a waste of time… and definitely not something they would call “fun.”

Even when it came time for me to do my OWN branding session with my husband and kids… don’t think I didn’t hear groans about money, and time, and importance and blah, blah, blah! You can only imagine my reaction when my hubby questioned the necessity of photos! Lol, It wasn’t pretty!

Because ultimately, I know that BOTH you AND your man’s attitude determines SO MUCH about how a session goes. The kids notice, I notice, its noticeable in the poses and the lack of connection, its noticed in their eyes. Turns out “i’d rather be anywhere but here” is pretty evident in photos! :) So I knew I had to get my man not just on board about the photos (frankly, he had no choice, lol) but at peace with them!

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Thankfully, as a photographer who has had MANY, MANY sessions over the last six years, I have a few tips and tricks up my sleeve for getting guys to cooperate… and now i’m here to share them with YOU!

1.) Empathy

Typically, guys walk into a photo session grumpy because they’ve had a bad experience in the past! Whether its a drill sergeant photographer on their wedding day, an unorganized session, a session where the kids screamed and cried and the photographer didn’t know how to handle it, a surprise $500 fee at the end to actually receive the pics, or a 5 hour photo session straight from Hades… all of these are enough to tarnish a man’s view of photo sessions forever!

Try to understand where your man is coming from and then let him know that you get it…. that sometimes sessions have stressed you out to. But that the reason you chose me is because a “stress-free” experience is what I deliver my clients in every single step from booking to session to delivery! One of my favorite compliments ever that I typically hear from a husband of an expecting woman (because they got married most recently and it’s fresh on their mind) is, “I wish you were our photographer on our wedding day!” Seriously, i’ve heard this MULTIPLE TIMES! I always tell him, “I know, its such a shame that photo sessions have such a bad rep! Now go everyone you know about this experience so we can change that.”

So sit down with your hubby, listen to his concerns, take them into consideration and have him watch this video that is LIVE right after I finished a family photo session where the dad himself unrehearsed has something to say to allllll the other dads (around 1:55 on video)!

2.) Expectations

Now that you’ve let them know you understand their pain… they will be more likely to listen! So here’s what I want you to do! Men are a lot like toddlers! But don’t tell them I said so! ;) I’ve noticed that if you take the time to tell them what to expect and set realistic expectations it really empowers them to handle the whole entire process better. . Here are some typical things to expect:

  • You will ask his opinion on outfits, tell him to pretend to care (and because he really doesn’t, feel free to email me, text me, or facebook message me for my opinion if you want ;) )

  • The day of the session, you will probably be feeling insecure, nervous, and a little stressed because you haven’t been in front of a camera in a year and you don’t like ______________ about yourself, so now is not the time to get mad and grumpy at you for planning this in the first place.

  • Let him know that the kids might cry a time or two and that’s okay! It will be okay! Plus, if you don’t normally bribe your children, now is great time to let him know that it may happen….

  • Explain to him that getting kids ready for a photo shoot is NOT easy and you are going to need his help by doing __________________. Whether it’s helping get them bathed and dressed or keeping them clean after you get them dressed.

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3.) Involvement

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You know how when already have a toddler and you are having a new baby in the family how you ask for that toddler’s help after the baby arrive’s (ex: can you be my big helper and go get a diaper for mommy!, etc.). Well, men react better if they are involved or at least FELL involved in the process. Nobody likes being told what to do, especially if it seemed like a waste of time. Let’s be real, if my hubby told me I had to sit and watch golf with him for the next 2 hrs, while the kids are screaming and crying and I couldn’t leave or be on my phone, then I would be really ticked.

So let’s start including our guy in the process, even if they don’t THINK that’s what they want!

  • Tell him why photos are important to you… and “its for the Christmas card” or “to post on social media” doesn’t count! I’m talking about digging deep and telling him why having photos of you during this stage are important. Maybe you tried to get pregnant for years and never thought it was going to happen… maternity photos are always going to remind you of that blessing. Maybe its because your kids are driving you nuts, your tired and weary, and you find that when you look at photos of them it re-energizes you and keeps you invested in that relationship. Maybe its because you were adopted and don’t have any photos of your past to call your own. Maybe you want your kids to see photos of them hanging all around your house so that they have confidence and know that they are loved. Whatever the reason, explain it to him! Because he loves you he will see that your reasons for wanting photos aren’t superficial and he will care about it more!

  • Show him why you chose me! Take him to my website, have him watch my branding video, or show him that one blog post that you loved so much! Take him to my facebook and show him how each week I post about authentic motherhood and how every time you read it you feel like I get you, like you aren’t alone, and it encourages you! Show him the sneak peeks and the live videos and all the things that when thrown together made you say, “I choose her!”

  • Have him fill out the questionnaire with you! If you’ve been a client of mine in the past you KNOW that after selecting a date and time! I send you a bunch of resources that will help you plan your shoot (because knowledge is power, right!?!) but I also send you a questionnaire and I ask you to fill it out together! Why? Because it really gives your significant other insight into your life and you into his. It forces you to pause, take a deep breath, and remember your story. Remember why you chose each other and why you continue to choose each other every single day. It develops feelings of connection and empathy in you both as you open up. It allows you step out of autopilot and have a special moment where you fall back in love with each other all over again! On this questionnaire I ask a variety of questions about your past, present and future. Not because i’m giving you busy work…. but because as a creative i’m inspired by your story! I allow your story to change details about the session! The poses I choose, the social prompts I use to get certain expressions, the location, etc. All of it is used to create a session that feels like you as a couple… you as a family!

Involve your guy in the process and he won’t just pretend to care, this whole thing will become not just YOUR thing but his too!


Best of Luck!

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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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