M&A: Newborn daughter in Herndon

Real is beautiful

If you look up newborn photos, you will see images immaculately posed and photoshopped. Many talented photographers painstakingly work for hours with newborns and then post-process to achieve a look of perfection. Some parents dream of images like that and might even assume this is what most newborn photographers do. So this post will explain the completely different images I capture. You see, if you look at the photo above and cringe because…well is that the umbilical cord stump that’s in focus? You might be a parent who wants those photoshopped photos, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But if you look at the photo above and love it, we are so on the same page. I would want to remember my mother delighting in me – the natural me. It’s real, and it’s beautiful.

If you can remember when your baby was that little, or if you can sit a while with someone who has just had a baby, the perfection and beauty is there already. Parents gaze at their newborn with wonder, tenderness, love and deep emotion. Their skin is imperfect, they may be a little hairy, they may soon have flakey skin, their fingers are curled up tightly, not relaxed, they have unexpected jerky movements from their Moro reflex…and they are absolutely beautiful.

4 photo collage of real lifestyle newborn photos, baby with mom, baby with dad

Capturing this beauty

This is my vision for newborn photography sessions – capturing the deep feeling of this fleeting time, remembering the details of this tiny being (yes even that umbilical cord stump), and creating a time capsule of the beauty in the every day details of life with a newborn. Just the way they are, in their real, natural beauty. I capture them in their parents’ arms, interacting and showcasing the indescribable bond between them. And even when baby is not in their arms, because my goal is natural and real, the baby is never placed in any dangerous unnatural positions and parents are always nearby.

But not a fly on the wall

On the other extreme of highly posed and polished photography is documentary, where the photographer does not affect the environment at all but captures it as it happens naturally. The photographer does not direct the subjects nor create the circumstances desired for her photos. This is what photojournalists capture, but some photographers do specialize in family photojournalism, spending a whole day with a family, photographing with no interference. Although I do enjoy documentary photography, my family photography is not that either.

Starting in the planning stages, I have purposefully guided my clients to ensure the most relaxed and successful photo session possible. During the session, I proactively place both the subject and myself for specific reasons. I keep in mind the light, the background, the angle, the composition, and the mood. I give parents direction and guidance. They are never left to figure out the posing by themselves, but I still encourage the real love that is there already and the end result is real – the feeling and emotion of the time is true.

4 photo collage of real lifestyle newborn photos, baby with mom, baby with parents, baby in crib

Embracing the unexpected

In the midst of the casual, real, natural beauty of the newborn and her family, and the gentle but definitely guided direction by me, there is always room for embracing the unexpected. Two ingredients for the unexpected: the newborn and siblings.

Newborn Led

The newborn will guide and lead the session. Does that sound crazy? I actually think it’s more crazy to try to force a newborn to sleep or to disrupt a feeding schedule or stress out families who are already in a huge whirlwind of life. When the newborn wants to nurse, we let her nurse. I photograph this time, if desired by mama, because it is one of the most tender times they have together. If parents are bottle-feeding, I capture that. If she needs a diaper change, a clothing change, a hug, I want to capture all of that. Sleepy newborns mean sleeping photos. Alert newborns mean we get to see pretty eyes and maybe even some fun expressions. In this way, the unexpected is not a cause for stress, it’s an opportunity to capture.

4 photo black and white collage of real lifestyle newborn photos, baby with mom nursing, dad swaddling baby

Honoring Siblings

Siblings also add spice to a session. Often they are toddlers themselves, and as unpredictable as a baby. They are confused by this new addition and might not know how to comprehend, much less verbalize, the range of feelings he is seeing and feeling. All he knows is something big has happened. In this session, the siblings were a little older, but nonetheless still children.

I made sure they knew their wishes were important and that they were never in the way. Giving them a sense of respect and significance in this way often leads them to want to participate in the photos. Letting them excuse themselves from certain shots for no good reason other than it makes them uncomfortable allows them to feel heard, and they will most likely return for more photos. In this shoot, we photographed the siblings with baby first, and then the whole family, and then released them to play. Throughout the rest of the session, however, they wandered in and out, and I included them as they desired. By coming in on their volition and finding they are always welcome, I believe siblings will respond to posing guidance.

3 photo collage of real lifestyle newborn photos, baby with brother and sister


Can you see the outpouring of love and tenderness in this family? I am convinced that this precious child, looking back at her baby photos, will absolutely feel how her family treasured her as a newborn. Showing the real connection and affection in this special time means so much to me.

Meeting wonderful families like this family also means a lot to me. I feel personally blessed to have been welcomed into their precious and intimate space.

3 photo collage of real lifestyle newborn photos, baby with dad kissing her, baby sleeping

Rethink family photos! Check out the information on holiday sessions  to book your family’s photo session.

Headshot and Corporate Event Photographer in Northern Virginia

22375 Broderick Drive, Suite 135, Sterling VA 20166, Loudoun County