Should I Do a Home or Studio Newborn Session?

Which Session Is Right For You?

There are so many things to think about and prepare for when you are having a baby. Getting professional newborn photos is a luxury that many new parents are investing in to document this wonderful occasion and capture the beauty of their new little one. For new parents this can be another daunting task to add to the overwhelming number of things you need to do to get ready. So I’m here to help walk you through how to make the best decisions when choosing a photographer and when deciding whether to have your portrait session in your own home or in the photographer’s studio.

Click here if you missed my previous blog post - Tips For Choosing Your Newborn Photographer. There are hundreds, if not thousands of ‘photographers’ in the Austin area, so I just want to give you a few tips when trying to weed through all of them and find the right one for you.

But today’s question is, should you do an in-home session or a studio session? When I first started my business I only offered in-home sessions because I did not have a studio space and I was living in an apartment downtown so I had no room for a studio in my home and I wasn’t ready to commit to leasing a studio space. Now that I have an awesome studio space, I still like to offer the convenience of in-home sessions to my clients who prefer them. Over the years I’ve been able to compile a list of the reasons clients prefer the different types of sessions. Hopefully this will clear up any questions you have and give you a little insight as to what to expect at your own session.

  1. Do you live in a small home or apartment? That doesn’t matter. I just need a tiny space to set up. And I bring studio lighting so I don’t need natural light. Some clients just aren’t comfortable with people coming into their home so they prefer going to the studio, but the amount of space you have, or lack of it, isn’t an issue.

  2. Do you worry about taking your new baby out in public? Some parents are perfectly comfortable going out with a 1-2 week old baby. Some parents are still sweating bullets when they have to put the baby in the armored tanks they call carseats these days. Some moms are still recovering and don’t feel like moving too much. Some moms can’t wait to get out of the house. Some babies are a little higher risk than others. There’s no judgement, just whatever you are more comfortable with. I would just like to note that my studio is impeccably clean, and all of the clothing, wraps, and props are properly cleaned and sterilized between clients. I am up-to-date on my immunizations and flu-shot and take every precaution when working with your precious new baby. So whether you come to my studio or I come to your home, your baby will be in safe surroundings and safe hands.

  3. Are there older siblings? This is a tricky one. You know your babies better than anyone, so you need to think about their personalities when making this decision. Many of my clients have children between 18 months and 3 years old and we all know kids this age have strong-willed minds of their own. There’s no guarantee they will cooperate for photos so we just need to go in with a great attitude and hope for the best (and maybe have a few bribes up our sleeves).

    💜Is big brother super-duper shy and fearful of strangers? If so, he’ll probably feel more comfortable in his own home. Being able to watch as the photographer sets up and interacts with his parents and new baby will hopefully help him get comfortable. If your photographer knows what she’s doing and is great with children, she’ll be able to warm up to him and pay him a lot of attention and make him feel special, which should also help to get him to cooperate.

    💜Is big sister super-duper active and maybe a tiny bit hard to control? She might actually do better in the studio. New surroundings and a new person (the photographer) can help her focus some of her energy on the task at hand. I would highly suggest taking the family and sibling photos at the beginning of the session and then having one parent or family member/friend take her to a park, or back home while the other parent stays for the newborn’s session. My studio has a small sitting area with a tv, snacks, and toys so a parent could hang out there with her as well. A home session may work well also. Again, I would suggest doing the family and sibling photos first and then big sister can go off and play, eat lunch, take a nap, or whatever. But through the years I have noticed that the super strong-willed siblings that don’t want to cooperate are even less cooperative when they are in the comfort of their own home. I also need to add, I am a strong proponent for bribes! But let your photographer do the bribing. Big sister is used to throwing a tantrum with mom and dad, but not with someone new, so that little switch up is sometimes our saving grace to get that shot!

    💜Are there several big sisters and brothers? I would definitely suggest a home session. Once you are out-numbered by your children, it’s definitely easier to manage them at home. 😂

4. Do you really like props? If you love babies in bowls, and beds, and buckets, and on a moon, and in a plane, and with different themed backdrops, you’ll definitely be happier in the studio. When I come to your home I am limited with the amount of things I can bring, and it’ll usually be just one of the smaller props (bowl, bed, bucket). If you come to the studio, you will have access to all of my props. You’ll be able to choose from all of my little outfits, wraps, bonnets, hats, headbands, backdrops, and floors. And we’ll be able to do multiple set-ups so you’ll have a greater variety in your gallery. If you like this kind of stuff you’ll feel like a kid in a candy store!

5. Do you prefer the more casual, lifestyle family and newborn photos? Some clients actually don’t really care for the posed newborn photos. (gasp!) If you want photos of the baby in the new nursery, or family photos on your bed, or with your family pet, obviously you are going to want a home session. It’s easy to create studio-quality newborn and family portraits in your home, but kinda hard to do the opposite. 😆

6. How much time do you have? In-home sessions typically take 3-4 hours. This is including the time it takes me to bring all of my equipment in and set it up, and then breaking it down and taking it back out. Studio sessions are usually 2-3 hours. I still like to block off 4 hours though, just in case baby is fussy, or needs a few feeding breaks, but in general, the studio sessions are a bit shorter.

7. Are you willing to pay for the convenience of your photographer coming to your home? In-home sessions are going to be more expensive than studio sessions. Your photographer needs to plan and gather all of the appropriate props, pack up all of her equipment, travel to your home, set up the equipment, break down and pack up the equipment again, travel back, and then unload the equipment and props again. She also needs to be skilled in how to handle different lighting scenarios and be able to work around other obstacles a studio photographer does not encounter.

Those are the main questions I think you need to consider when making your decision. If you were on the fence trying to decide which type of session to choose, I hope this helped. If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact me or leave them below and I will be sure to address them.

Congratulations on your new little one! Whichever session you choose I’m sure you will adore your photos forever! 💜

Can you guess which images were shot in the studio and which were shot in the client’s home?

Top row - studio, studio, studio, home

Bottom row - home, studio, home, home

Tips for Choosing Your Newborn Photographer || Austin Newborn Photography

Choosing a newborn photographer is a daunting task. There are so many options in the Austin area and so many variables to consider. And because the photos are really a piece of art, it’s a very subjective decision as well.

If you are looking for a newborn photographer (or any kind for that matter), I want to point out a few things that you may not have thought of that could help you with your decision making.

  1. Is the safety of your newborn baby important to you?

PLEASE take caution when choosing a photographer for your newborn photos. An inexperienced photographer can take family photos easily but if they don’t have experience posing newborns they could seriously injure your baby. Professional newborn photographers are trained in newborn safety and understand the limitations of certain poses and positions. They are knowledgable of baby’s anatomy, reflexes, and circulation issues (how certain poses can restrict blood flow and breathing if not done correctly). Also, inexperienced photographers may try to replicate a pose they saw online and not even know that it was actually a composite photo (2 or more photos combined in photoshop) and there were hands on the baby at all times. Professional newborn photographers invest in education geared specifically for the safety of your newborn. Choose someone that knows what they are doing. Ask what type of training they’ve had. When I first started photographing newborns I had already taken several hands-on workshops with other professional photographers and had done hours of research on proper posing. Only then did I start photographing newborns and I did 15 free, portfolio-building sessions which were more about learning proper camera angles and lighting to get the best images possible…I was not experimenting with how to pose the babies. Please don’t put your baby at risk!

Hands are on the baby AT ALL TIMES! I’ve seen videos of photographers trying to balance babies on their own and they fall over, risking serious injury to their neck.

Hands are on the baby AT ALL TIMES! I’ve seen videos of photographers trying to balance babies on their own and they fall over, risking serious injury to their neck.

The above images were used to composite together in Photoshop. ✨Magic! ✨

The above images were used to composite together in Photoshop. ✨Magic! ✨

2. Do you want posed newborn photos or natural/lifestyle photos?

Most professional photographers will specialize in one or the other, mainly because that’s the type of photography they love to do. If you are searching for a fabulous lifestyle photographer, make sure to put that keyword in your web search (i.e. Austin lifestyle newborn photographer). Another good key word for the lifestyle photography is ‘natural light newborn photographer’ since they typically rely on sunlight as opposed to studio lighting. Likewise, you could narrow your search with ‘Austin posed newborn photographer’.

Lifestyle image vs. posed image. Both of these were taken in the client’s home.

Lifestyle image vs. posed image. Both of these were taken in the client’s home.

3. Would you like your photographer to come to your home or would you like to go to a studio?

There are pros and cons to each option. Some photographers only do studio photography and some will do both. If you are looking for lifestyle photos, most likely you will want the photographer to come to your home, unless you want ‘staged’ lifestyle photos done in a studio or on location. But for posed photos your decision will depend on a lot of issues like your physical comfort level, whether you have older children, if you mind traveling with your newborn, etc. If you aren’t sure which type is right for you, check out my next blog post ‘Should I Do a Home or Studio Newborn Session?’

4. Do you value professional portraiture? 

If your answer is “No, I just want pictures of my baby” then you have a plethora of photographers to choose from. If you go on a local Facebook group for moms you will see daily posts asking for photographer recommendations and sometimes 100 people will respond! These photographers range from professionals to people with iPhones that call themselves professionals. Not joking…I saw it with my own eyes…and she was a WEDDING photographer! Can you image? 😂The majority of these photographers will be part-time and may not have a business license (which, if they are accepting money for a service, is illegal…just saying…). These photographers compete on price and you will most likely get a LOT of photos for a small amount of money. It’s the whole ‘Quality vs. Quantity’ decision that you need to make.
If your answer is “Yes, I want high quality portraits that I can print large and display in my home as well as view on my phone” your options start to narrow down a bit. And yes, you are going to spend more money on a professional photographer. Professionals have business expenses and pay taxes and also need to make a living off of their salary. Get referrals from your friends, do a Google search for local newborn photographers and check out the reviews, and of course, check out their portfolios on their website. My suggestion would be to find 2 or 3 photographers online who’s images you LOVE. Then get a feel for the photographer’s personality by checking out his/her blog posts, Facebook posts, and Instagram posts. Who do you feel like you would ‘vibe’ with the most? Once you’ve done that, THEN look at their pricing. If you try to compare professional photographers by price it’s going to be very difficult. There is no standard package…some offer prints, or digitals, or combo packages, some have sitting fees and minimum purchases, some are all-inclusive, and so on, and so on, and so on. It will make your brain hurt to try to compare them. Find someone who’s work you love and who’s vibe you vibe with, and then decide if you’re ok with their pricing and what they offer. 

5. My last tip is all about safety again. Why? Because it’s that important! Is your photographer up to date on their immunizations? Are they licensed and insured? Do they properly clean and sanitize their equipment and props? What kind of training do they have? How much experience do they have? These are all questions you should ask your potential photographer and all questions they shouldn’t hesitate to answer. 

6. One more tip - Pick me. Haha, just kidding… but not really. 🤗 No one probably read this far anyways. 😂If you did read this far, maybe drop a ‘like’ or a comment below so I know you were here!

Behind-the-scenes at an in-home session.

Behind-the-scenes at an in-home session.

Baby Rowan | Heart Warrior | Austin, TX

baby heart warrior austin texas

❤️Meet Rowan ❤️

I had the pleasure of meeting Baby Rowan and her mom and dad just a couple of weeks ago when they came in for a Valentines mini session. I immediately fell in love with her sweet face and personality. Rowan is 7 months old and was born with CHD (Congenital Heart Disease). She has experienced a lot of adversity so far, but you would never know by looking in those big, adorable eyes or at that ever-present smile. And the strength and courage her mom and dad have is so inspiring. It’s those big eyes (and the cheeks didn’t hurt 😜) and that strength that has driven me to start offering Warrior Portrait Sessions. But more on that later.

I would like to take this opportunity to shine the spotlight on this beautiful baby, bring awareness to her cause, and give mom and dad an outlet to tell their story and publicly thank their supporters. You may want to grab some tissues. I don’t know how it’s possible to shed happy and sad tears at the same time, but it is. And some of the images may be difficult for some to view, but we (Rowan’s parents and I) think it’s important to help raise awareness for CHD and to help get support.

Did you know February 7th through the 14th is CHD Awareness Week?

Did you know February 7th through the 14th is CHD Awareness Week?

Please tell us about your daughter and her journey so far.

My daughter was diagnosed with a heart defect when I was around 23 weeks pregnant. I had a scan done at Texas Perinatal in Austin, TX that was recommended by my OB in Phoenix, AZ before we moved back to Texas because they weren't able to see all chambers of the heart. From then on we scanned every 3-4 weeks to make sure there was nothing we didn't know when she was born, but she still ended having defects that weren't caught. I didn't have the best birth experience. I knew it wouldn't be the skin to skin, delayed cord clamping, nurse her for the first time experience that I had dreamed of; but it went a lot different than I had tried to prepare myself for. Rowan was born and she didn't cry at first, there was this long pause where I looked down and she seemed to just be staring into space. When I delivered there were probably 15 different medical staff in the room and they handed her straight over to the NICU team. I heard faint little cries as they put oxygen on her and brought her near my face. They said, "Give her a kiss and say hello." I did just that, they let me put my hands under her bottom and head, and I kissed her before they whisked her away. My husband, as we had arranged beforehand, went with her. And I was suddenly alone in this room that just 5 minutes before was so full of people awaiting the arrival of my little baby, who was no longer in my belly. It was 12 hours before I got to see her again; they worked all night to try to place a PICC line unsuccessfully. Zach wheeled me up to the NICU and there was my little lady with a breathing tube, an ART line, leads and pulse ox and IV's.

Morning after birth.

Morning after birth.

I tried to be happy and in love but I was so scared of this little tiny human. The cardiologist came to us and said, "The flight for Dallas will be taking off in about an hour, which one of you would like to fly with her?" It was super confusing and I felt like he was going to follow up with a "just kidding," but he was totally serious. Less than 24 hours after she was born Rowan was flown to Dallas where she received her official diagnosis, which was Dextro-Transposition of the Great Arteries, Coarctation of the Aorta, Double Outlet Right Ventricle, a large VSD (ventricular septal defect) and Pulmonary Stenosis. She was born on a Sunday and they wanted to schedule surgery for that Friday. Unfortunately, there was an MRI done on accident (the hospital she was born at sent over the wrong patients file and nobody caught it soon enough) that found bleeding on her brain. The doctors explained that while 9 out of 10 babies delivered naturally would probably show the same bleeding, it was too risky to put her on heart-lung bypass, as you have to thin the blood for it and that could allow the bleeding to become more severe. On day 17 we knew surgery was tentatively the next morning, we were just waiting for the go ahead, and this wonderful little woman in blue scrubs came in and introduced herself. We had met her in passing previously but as you can imagine, pediatric heart surgeons are busy people and Rowan wasn't having surgery yet. She introduced herself as Camille Hancock-Friesen, she would be operating on Rowan the next morning. She explained she had already manipulated Rowan's heart via virtual reality and had a solid plan in place for what she wanted to do in the operating room. I will never forget her looking into my eyes and promising "Once she leaves this room I will treat her as if she is my own. I operate on all of my patients as if they are my own child. She is in good hands." Rowan was in OR that day for 12 hours. We got hourly calls from the OR nurse to let us know how things were going, a vague "she's doing good." All of the nurses and therapists had stressed that we shouldn't spend the day in the hospital, to get out of there and go do something distracting. I thought they were crazy. How could you suggest I leave while my child is laying on a table having her HEART operated on? We stayed in the hard, plastic chairs all day. Trying to nap, trying to support each other while our hearts were aching and racing. We finally got the call to go to the consultation room and Dr. Camille came in and the first thing she said was,

“She’s doing great! Can I hug you?”

After her first surgery.

After her first surgery.

‘Aunt Cami’ snuggles - Dr. Camille Hancock-Friesen ❤️

‘Aunt Cami’ snuggles - Dr. Camille Hancock-Friesen ❤️

We spent a lot of time after that trying to get her off of her breathing tube, trying to come off of oxygen, trying to conquer feeds and work on taking a bottle. She was sedated and intubated for so long she had never taken any food by mouth. She had significant airway damage from having a breathing tube placed less than an hour after birth and had to have a surgery for that. In the meantime we were told her pulmonary artery was continuing to narrow. They had hoped it would grow with her after her first operation, they didn't want to go in and mess with it during that repair as it was already such a massive surgery. We were told we wouldn't be getting home to Austin before they went back in and placed an arterial conduit, which is a new pulmonary artery to bypass her native PA and relieve the pressures in her heart. We got to take her to her grandparents house, (though we were driving her back to Dallas almost every day), for about 9 days before they did a CT and found that her PA was almost completely obstructed and she needed surgery soon. That was on a Thursday, they set our surgery date for that Monday. This surgery presented a lot more issues than the first. Rowan was nearly 3 months old and knew this time around that the breathing tube was foreign, the IV's made her angry and she couldn't relax. The surgery itself was another long day, around 9 hours, as Rowan took a longer time to come off of heart lung bypass. They would reverse the blood thinners, start the process of taking her off and she would spiral. She did this 4 times. The next few days would be full of her bradying (bradycardia), nobody could come near her without her dropping her heart rate and all of her pressures and turning blue. We finally got her extubated 6 days later and the brady spells stopped. Back to working on feeds and coming off of oxygen. We finally figured out that she had a milk-protein allergy. Did I mention I had been pumping every 2 hours, around the clock, with a massive over supply? It hurt my feelings so much, but in the grand scheme of things it wasn't the WORST thing that had happened to her. We found a formula she tolerated and we were home in Austin by Thanksgiving. Nearly 4 1/2 months had passed and it felt like the outside world had left us behind, back in July, when we first walked in to Children's Medical Center Dallas. Rowan is now home and happy, g-tube fed and conquering taking food by mouth. We have been told her conduit is calcifying much sooner than they expected and we have less than a year before her next open heart surgery to replace it. She will be going to Cath Lab this week to balloon her SVC (superior vena cava) and to get a look at where the obstruction is with her conduit. It's hard to look at her smiling and laughing and know she is in heart failure. She looks okay but she's not. Her father and I will continue to work the sidelines while she takes on the battle. She is the most headstrong, feisty, loving and cheesy soul I have ever known. That I will probably ever know. I am so proud to be her mother. ❤️

How has this affected your family?

Sometimes I feel that it hasn't. We just did what we had to do, it's done and now we're home. But it has. We are always expecting the worst but hoping for the best, always considering a second opinion when things look good just to be sure. Instead of just parents we are home health nurses, we are her caseworkers. We have honorary medical degrees we didn't ask for, an 'MD in Rowan.' We also know our strength now. Zach and I were married for 4 1/2 years before we decided to have a baby, we experienced struggles that married couples go through. This has brought out a side of Zach and I that I didn't know we had. We have leaned on each other and worked so hard to try to continue nurturing our marriage while the world that we knew crumbled around us. Every day is new and sometimes I can't help but question why this happened to us; to her. But she makes every day wonderful. Because of her I have fallen in love all over again with my husband, watching him be so strong for her when she was in the hospital when I couldn't. When I was convinced we were headed for the worst, he never had a doubt about her. Just watching him be a dad. Don't get me wrong, there are really hard days and we both grieve the first year we had planned for her in different ways, but this has brought us closer than I ever imagined. This crumbled us, but gave us the opportunity to rebuild ourselves better than before. Stronger.

What advice would you like to give to families experiencing the same or similar circumstances?

Give yourself grace. Each individual handles their emotions differently, give your significant other and family members grace as well. While I was an emotional mess, my husband seemed to just be able to roll with the punches and take on each challenge with grace. That is how he deals with things. There is no right way to feel, react or just "be". There were days I felt so guilty for wanting to run out of the hospital, leave it behind and go do something fun. I just wanted to be reminded of what it felt like to feel GOOD again. To feel safe and okay and SURE of myself. If you know before your baby is born that they have a defect, ask ALL THE QUESTIONS. There is no stupid question, this is not your profession and you need to know these things. Write it all down. Find a Facebook group for whatever it is that your child is facing. I wish I would've done that so I could've talked to other moms and not felt so alone. Prepare for everything, make tentative plans but know that things don't always go the way you're expecting or have been told. Most of all, remember to do something each day that makes you happy. It sounds selfish to say that while your child is in the hospital, but it's important to take care of yourself. It's easy to completely submerge yourself in hospital life and forget the world outside. Hospital psychosis is a real thing. Please reach out when you need help; yes you are in the hospital for your child but there are resources for you too!! Utilize them!

baby warrior valentine

❤️Rowan and her mom and dad would like to thank the following people.❤️

The first thank you is to Rowan's surgeon, Dr. Camille. She is the most phenomenal woman I have ever met. If you ran into her at the grocery store you'd never know she fixes little tiny hearts for a living. Her sincerity, humbleness and love for what she does is incredible, we cannot thank her enough for what she has done for us.

Thank you to the nursing staff, specifically, Hannah, Kelsey, Haley and AJ. Thank you all for not only taking care of my daughter in her most critical states, but for listening to me cry, complain, celebrate and go through all of the emotions of this process. Thank you for bonding with my daughter and giving me the peace that when I left her in your care, I could walk out of the hospital and breathe easy. She was 100% safe with you and you would advocate for her just like I would. Thank you for giving me the right questions to ask and the knowledge to push back when I needed to. We sincerely love you guys and I will make sure Rowan knows how special you all are.

Analisa Trott was our caseworker but seriously so much more, she will take all of the stressors outside of having your child in the hospital on. Countless times she listened to me just pour my heart out, always lending an ear and responding constructively. She was literally always a phone call away if she hadn't already popped in that day to see how things were going. That woman can move MOUNTAINS and she does it all with a smile on her face. I to this day call her when I'm having a problem, even if it's just to talk it out, and she always answers. She is wonderful. Thank you SO MUCH Analisa!!

To Katy, thank you for making hospital life bearable. I didn’t expect to meet one of my best friends during the worst time of our lives. I am so appreciative of your sense of humor, willingness to listen and our ability to relate as mothers of heart babies. Forever thankful for all of the times we sat near the windows venting, drinking mediocre hospital coffee and trying to come up with a plan to bust those babies out of there. We love you, Conor, Cory & Daphne.

Finally, thank you to the wonderful doctors (Dr. Ricky Markus, you are the best!!), therapists and social workers that we worked with. This was such an intimidating world to be thrown into and to have all of the resources we did was amazing. The team they have at Children's Medical Center Dallas is truly remarkable and we will ALWAYS take Rowan there. Their care cannot be beat.

Thank you, mom and dad, for being the best parents a baby could ask for! Love, Rowan ❤️

Thank you, mom and dad, for being the best parents a baby could ask for! Love, Rowan ❤️


❤️Mended Little Hearts ❤️ <- Click here make a donation to an amazing organization that provides support for parents of CHD babies.


“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” - Pablo Picasso

If you know a family that has a child under one year old with a life-altering illness, birth defect, or injury, lives within 30 miles of downtown Austin, TX, and would treasure professional portraits of their precious baby and family, please nominate them by filling out this form.

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❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

Let's Design a Beautiful Collage Wall For Your Home!

This is just a quick post to announce a new product I have available. Collagewall© Displays are super easy to design and even easier to hang. Trust me, if I can do it, anyone can!

Check out the design options available -

JDP Collagewall Displays.

Contact me for more information and pricing.

💜Let’s get those images on your wall!! 💜

Every Day Is Taco Tuesday! || Austin, TX Child Photography

First Birthday Taco Smash!

baby taco fiesta austin texas

This session was so stinkin' CUTE! Back in January I put out a bucketlist of cake smash ideas that I wanted to try, and one was a taco smash. Axel's mom contacted right away and booked the session. Needless to say, I've been excited about this session for the last 7 months! 

Sometimes babies aren't too excited about their session. But not Axel. He loooooooves his tacos! Everyone can relate to his adorable little taco dance, right? (I do this when I eat good queso 😋). 

austin texas baby taco smash

He loved splashing in the tub almost as much as the tacos!

austin texas baby taco smash bath splash

And those dimples!!! {{swoon}}

So on Tuesday, or any day for that matter, let your inner taco baby out and do a little happy dance. 🌮🕺💃🌮

Behind-the-Scenes with Jessica Doffing Photography, LLC

I have been having fun putting together behind-the-scenes videos of some recent sessions. Please disregard the shaky camera and bad lighting and just enjoy the fun sneak peek at me doing what I do. :D

My first video shows a beautiful baby girl in a couple of poses (in fast-forward) in my favorite bowl prop. I was so excited when Mom said she wanted to use lavender because purple is my favorite color. (1.01 minutes)

Big brother was the sweetest, most well-behaved little gentleman and he loved his little sister. Trust me, not all sibling shots go this well! LOL (58 seconds)

This last video shows how I shoot for, and edit, a composite image. I mainly use digital backgrounds from Luisa Dunn Photography Shop because they are simply stunning. Babies love to be snuggled up in the little beanbag poser. It's filled with beanbag pellets and rice and forms to the baby, making them feel super comfortable and safe. (1.33 minutes)

What do you think about these videos? Would you like to see more? I'd love to read your comments below. Let me know if there is anything in particular you would like to see. I need all the practice I can get making videos! 

What Size Should You Print Your Images?

Wall display showing different size prints.

I wanted to show a quick overview of different print sizes and how cropping your images may effect the overall look of your portrait. As you can see in the above example, 5x7 and 8x10 prints (often referred to as 'gift prints') are best for displaying on a table or desk. They are typically considered too small for a wall print. For your wall, go big or go home! j/k :) But honestly, the bigger the better. 

Your gallery from Jessica Doffing Photography contains images left at the standard 2x3 ratio, except for any special composites or collages that were designed...more about that later.

Farm theme cake smash with barn and farm animals and baby boy smashing birthday cake.

So, with a 2x3 ratio, this image will look best as a 4x6, 8x12, 16x24, etc. With these dimensions, no part of the image will need to be cropped out.

For some reason, 5x7 and 8x10 seem to be very standard size gift prints. Check out the examples below showing how much of the image needs to be cropped out in order to fit these sizes.

5x7 crop

5x7 crop

8x10 crop

8x10 crop

Because these sizes are so popular, I purposefully try to keep a nice wide range around the subject (in this case, little farmer Oliver) so that he will never need to be cropped out. However, sometimes the little details in the scene are kind of important too, and you may lose them. It also changes the aesthetic of the overall image if you want to get into all of the 'rules' of photography like rule of thirds, leading lines, etc. 

Here is an example of an 8x10 crop that I feel is too tight and constrictive for the overall image. My suggestion would be to print this as an 8x12 instead.

8x10 too tight

8x10 too tight

I try to include a collage of all of the little baby parts in my newborn galleries. These are designed in a square, 2x2 ratio. These should always be printed as a square...either 8x8, 10x10, and so on. It is impossible to not cut off crucial parts of the image in any other ratio and it just looks 'off'.

10x10 original                                    8x10 crop                                        10x8 crop

I hope this has helped explain a little about cropping your photos and how to get the best results when ordering prints. I would be more than happy to come out to assist you if you would like some ideas and suggestions for printing and hanging your portraits in your home. We need to get those pictures off of your computer and on your walls!

Let me know if this has been helpful or if you have any questions. Leave your likes and comments below. Thank you!!

 

 

 

 

Kid Friendly Austin Locations for Family Photos

Austin, Texas is by far one of the coolest cities in the US. There are so many fun things to do and places to see that even if you are a local resident, you still stumble on new places all the time. As a family photographer, it is my job to find great spots for family photos, engagement sessions, senior portraits...you get the idea. I've compiled a short list of some great spots in and around Austin for families with young kiddos. You probably don't want to be hiking up to the top of Mt. Bonnell with 2 toddlers in tow (although it is a very popular location for proposals and engagement photos). But for easy parking and easy walking plus great backdrops for photos, check out my list below.

1. Butler Park - 1000 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78704

My first and probably favorite location is downtown, right behind the Palmer Events Center. The only major con for this location is parking. There are a few spots available on Riverside Drive and they are usually filled (there is a pretty quick turnover though because it's limited to 2 hours). You can also park on the other side of the park, behind the Dougherty Arts Center. As long as they aren't having an event they have quite a few parking spots available to the public. It's also not always fun driving downtown when there is a big event or festival going on, so that limits the days you would want to go here. The pros usually outweigh the cons though. It's a short little paved (great for strollers) circular walk around the park with many great spots for good photos. There's a small pond, a few piers to walk out on and check out the turtles, lots of trees and open space, and my favorite part in the summer time...a kids splash park. So much fun! You can go up to the top of the hill and get a gorgeous view of the skyline, and you can even roll down the hill if you are so inclined. ;P I love this park for the wide variety of backgrounds for your family photos, any time of year.

The best part about this park is the splash pad! If you're willing to let the little ones get soaked, I promise you will get adorable photos!

2. Mayfield Park - 3505 W 35th St, Austin, TX 78703

I have always been fascinated by peacocks, and when I need a little peacock-fix I head to Mayfield Park. Walking around the beautiful gardens and ponds and mingling with majestic peacocks is something most people don't get to do every day. There is a small parking lot that is never full (at least not whenever I've gone) and it is super close to the cottage and gardens. The walkways can be a little uneven and difficult for young toddlers, so if you have runners you may want to go on the hiking trail instead. There is a fee to have a professional photographer take your photos at this site, but if you are just going on a family outing and want great photos, you can't beat the beauty here. It may be hard to catch a peacock in your photo, but if you do, what a great bonus! 

3. Old Settler's Park - 3300 E Palm Valley Blvd, Round Rock, TX 78665

If you live in north Austin or Round Rock, Old Settler's Park is the place to go for photos. It is huge! There is sooooo much to do at this park, but for family photos there are several different areas that I love. The first is super close to the entrance of the park. If you turn left into the trailer park area you will see a large open field with some beautiful trees and a perfect little barn and some other cute buildings. The lighting here is always spectacular for some reason. I LOOOOOOVE it. If you want a little rustic feel to your photos, check this place out. 

If you drive down about a mile you'll pass a few cool areas, but one on the right (by the sand volleyball courts) has great parking access to a gorgeous lake. There is a paved walking path and a short walk takes you to a pretty pedestrian bridge. You can bribe the kiddos with the playground afterwards if they're good for their photoshoot! :D

4. Memorial Park - 600 N Lee St, Round Rock, TX 78664

Another great option for up north is Memorial Park. There are actually 2 parts to this park that are separated by 35, so this really counts as 2 locations. If you go to the address listed you will find easy parking and a nice little park with a paved walking path. There is a small playground and picnic area and the path follows along the water of Brushy Creek. If you walk to the end of the path you will come across a pedestrian bridge, but the sweet spot for photos is behind the bridge, down the grass to the water. Again, I always get amazing light at this location. I wouldn't suggest this area for babies, but young kiddos will love it. If you are adventurous you can get great shots in the shallow water as well. 

Memorial Park (part 2) - 910 Round Rock Ave, Round Rock TX 78681

If you take 620 to the other side of 35 and go to the restaurant at 910 Round Rock Ave. (it used to be the 620 Bakery & Cafe and then the 620 Hacienda Bar & Grill but now it's currently vacant) and drive down behind the restaurant and then to your right, you will come across a beautiful little waterfall. It has gained popularity in the last few years and is usually a little crowded, but if you go in the off season you have a good chance of having the place nearly to yourselves. Even if it's crowded, you can still snag a spot for a great photo. There is ample parking and the waterfall is right there by the parking lot. Walking is not easy for toddlers and you certainly would want to be very cautious letting young kids get close to the edge of the rocks. But if you want a stunning background that's easy to access, this is where it's at!

There are a bazillion other great spots for photos in and around Austin, but these are definitely my top picks for easy access and beautiful backgrounds. Comment below if you have a favorite spot.

Stay tuned for my next post with lots of tips for how to get the best photos of your kids. The very best tip would be to hire me (haha - very subtle, huh?), but I'm going to give you tips to get great shots on your own. Click below to subscribe and get it straight to your email!

2017 Reflections and 2018 Wishes

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WOW! I am floored by what a great year I have had. No, seriously, I am shocked. For the past 2 years I have set goals that I really thought were beyond my reach, and not only did I reach them, I surpassed them! 

For those who don't know me, I started my business officially in October 2015. I have enjoyed photography as a hobby forever and had thought about starting a business for a few years but never had the guts to do it. But, once all of my kids were out of the house I found I had a lot more free time to pursue my hobby so I decided to give it a try. I was teaching middle school at the time so I could only work on weekends and some evenings. I started out shooting mostly families and a few weddings but didn't start shooting newborns until January of 2016. And immediately after that first baby I was hooked!

My first official newborn :)

My first official newborn :)

And when I say 'hooked' I mean HOOKED. I became obsessed with finding information online about newborn photography and rounded up 15 free portfolio-building newborn sessions. It was crazy but I loved every minute of it. I look back at some of those images and cringe, but I also have a few that are still my favorites. I learned so much in such a short period of time. Meanwhile I was still teaching and shooting families, weddings, SXSW and other events. It was crazy hectic but totally worth it. And it ended up being a little profitable too...which, considering my Etsy addiction, is kind of hard to believe. :D

I didn't shoot enough newborns in 2016 to fill up the collage, so I included all of my older babies too :)

I didn't shoot enough newborns in 2016 to fill up the collage, so I included all of my older babies too :)

My goals for 2017 were 1) Quit teaching. Check! Thank you Baby Jesus. 2) Shoot 10 weddings. Check! I shot 11. 3) Double the number of newborn sessions from 2016. Check! I shot 46 newborns in 2016 (40 sessions with some twins and triplets). In 2017 I shot 86 newborns in 80 sessions. So I exactly doubled the number of sessions, which is freaky, but AWESOME! 

I know it sounds dumb, and no one really cares, but I truly am humbled and honored that every one of my clients has trusted me with their precious babies and with their wedding day memories. I love my job SO much, and it wouldn't be possible without y'all. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

So for next year I'm pushing the limits of my goals again and I'm putting it down here for all to see. 1) I want to double my newborn sessions this year. Yup, that's right, I want to shoot 160 newborn sessions in 2018! That's 13.3 sessions a month or 3-4 a week. That's totally do-able. And I still want to see all of my babies coming back for milestone sessions and cake smashes. And don't forget the maternity sessions and lots of Fresh 48 sessions. So basically I am focusing on babies, babies, and more babies. I will still do a few wedding and of course the dreaded fall mini sessions, but I want more babies dammit! :D 2) I would love to get a studio. I think it may be more of a 2019 goal, but I'm just putting it out there, because if I can do it in 2018 that would be super cool. If anyone knows of a south/central location that's actually affordable (HA), let me know. Even with a studio I think I would still travel to client's homes for the newborn sessions because it is so less stressful for new parents and even more-so for families with older kiddos. But a studio outside of my home would be amazing for everything else. 3) I have a few more mini goals for organizing and streamlining business tasks, advancing my photography skills, and becoming more profitable, but I think I've babbled enough for now.

Thank you again to all of my clients, followers and friends. I obviously couldn't do this without you! Now go make some babies and help me kick ass in 2018! 

Newborn Photography Safety || My #1 Priority || Austin, TX Newborn Photographer

A slight variation to the standard newborn 'froggy' position.

A slight variation to the standard newborn 'froggy' position.

A video is currently circulating Facebook showing a newborn falling out of the 'froggy' position. The photographer has the baby balanced with no assistance or spotting from a parent or assistant and the baby collapses and falls to the side. I do not believe the baby was injured, but it has motivated me to do my part as a professional newborn photographer to educate parents on the safety issues involved in a newborn portrait session. I like to periodically show behind-the-scenes photos on my Facebook page but I figured it was a good idea to gather the photos and information and put them all together is one place...right here. :)

Mom always had a hand on baby, supporting her comfortably.

Mom always had a hand on baby, supporting her comfortably.

Let me start by saying the above position is super adorable and many parents request it, but it is by far the most complex positions to achieve properly. First off, the baby has to be super asleep and relaxed. Even super sleepy and relaxed babies usually fuss a bit getting started with this position. A professional photographer will be able to tell if the baby will settle into the position or not. I will get the baby in position as I explain the procedure to a parent and direct them how to properly hold the baby, supporting their wrists and head. A baby's head is very heavy (25% of their entire body weight) and they should not be supporting that on their own! Sandra Moffatt, a professional photographer and co-founder of the StandInBaby, has made an excellent series of newborn photography safety videos along with a registered neonatal nurse. She goes into great detail to explain the importance of proper positioning. You can see the videos here - Newborn Photography Safety Series. Several shots are taken and then composited together in Photoshop. The baby is supported the entire time!

Another popular pose, sometimes referred to as the "Simba" pose, looks like mom or dad is precariously holding the baby up in the air, when if fact, the baby is lying comfortably on a cushy beanbag. 

This is one of my favorite poses.&nbsp;

This is one of my favorite poses. 

I can't count the number of times my dads have been ready to just hold the baby up over their head! Talk about scaring the crap out of me...thinking 'people probably actually do that'! Un-educated photographers see something on Pinterest and try to recreate it without doing any research and will put your baby at risk just to get the shot. PLEASE, for the love of God, hire an educated, professional photographer for your newborn session. Pay the extra money. PLEASE!

Photoshop is essential.

Photoshop is essential.

Things you don't see in these photos - weights in the bottom of the bucket to counteract the weight of the baby and lots of blankets and pillows to cushion around the baby. I had mom and dad on either side of baby and there was ALWAYS a hand on her. Then I simply take the images and photoshop them together to mask out the parents hands. And VOILA!

Which reminds me of another issue...props. I purchase my props from reputable vendors that specialize in newborn photo props. They need to be safe and sturdy with no sharp areas. They should always be counterweighted with weights or beanbags and cushioned properly to support and protect the baby. Believe it or not, I even have special made prop pillows like the E. Tole Pillow and Rainbow Posing Beans to support baby in different positions. There is so much more to an image than you would think!

In these photos, mom or dad are helping support baby's head and I just photoshop their finger out of the picture. They are also there, just inches away, in case baby startles and moves. 

newborn_safety_blog7.jpg

Speaking of Photoshop, my latest obsession is doing composites. This is an excellent way to keep baby safe but I worry about unexperienced photographers seeing the photos and thinking I really put a baby on a bench in a field unsupervised or in a bird's nest in a tree. Ok, if someone believes that than we have more serious issues to deal with...but that person is out there and possibly trying to photograph babies!

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newborn_composite.jpg

Extreme care is always taken to insure baby is safe and comfortable. It takes time and patience to get baby in the proper position, not just for the best shot but for the baby's safety. Posing is manipulated to never inhibit baby's airway or circulation. You will often see me adjusting baby's head with little pillows and stuffers under the blanket to insure this. Also, if baby's hands or feet are turning red/purple they should be moved out of that position because their circulation is being cut off, and this happens with some babies faster than others.

I believe it's also important to note that my parents are right there even with toddlers. They may look like they are sitting on that chair or stool safely, but we all know it only takes a half-second for a baby to tumble. With mom or dad right there spotting the baby, I can concentrate on getting the perfect shot.

newborn_safety_blog4.jpg
newborn_safety_blog5.jpg
GAH I have the cutest clients!&nbsp;

GAH I have the cutest clients! 

So, I'm not one to preach but I just want to say, if you are looking for a newborn photographer, please choose someone who is experienced, educated, licensed and insured. Yes, you will have to pay more for that experience, education, licensing and insurance, but your new baby is definitely worth it. And if you do hire a less experienced photographer (we were all one at some point), PLEASE do not attempt the more complicated poses and PLEASE speak up and ask your photographer questions to make sure they have had some training and are aware of safety issues. 

Contact me &nbsp;if you have any questions or would like to book your newborn portrait session.

Contact me if you have any questions or would like to book your newborn portrait session.

I take a lot of pride in my work. I have over 27 years of experience working with children as a mom, a licensed daycare provider, a certified teacher, and now a professional newborn photographer. I continue to educate myself on best practices for safe baby poses along with bettering my camera and lighting skills to give you the most precious keepsakes of your newborn baby. I would LOVE for you to hire me to take portraits of your little one, but more importantly I want to educate you on what to look for when hiring whoever you decide to hire. 

Now go make a baby and call me to set up your newborn session! :D 

Photoshop Composites || My Latest Obsession || Austin, TX Newborn Photography

This little one's nursery theme is cactus and succulents so I was SO excited to create this portrait!

This little one's nursery theme is cactus and succulents so I was SO excited to create this portrait!

I have been having sooooo much fun playing around with my newborn photos in photoshop. My latest obsession was sparked by the gorgeous backgrounds created by Luisa Dunn and Sasha Chomakov. These ladies create amazing digital backdrops for newborn photographers to help enhance their clients' galleries. 

A lot of the backdrops I'm drawn to are designed to be used with the baby photographed on a black or brown backdrop. This makes it easy to blend the shadows into the background. 

This is the original image used in the composite above. I had to flip him to match the lighting direction on the digital backdrop.

This is the original image used in the composite above. I had to flip him to match the lighting direction on the digital backdrop.

For others you need to plan ahead and photograph the baby on a similar background, like this white fluff. With a few quick and simple shots at the end of a session, I now have an endless assortment of beautiful backgrounds to play with. These two are using the same newborn image in the composite.

I think this is super pretty how it's shot through the flowers...like a bird's eye view of the nest.

I think this is super pretty how it's shot through the flowers...like a bird's eye view of the nest.

I like the simplicity of this one and how the circles just draw your eye straight to the baby.

I like the simplicity of this one and how the circles just draw your eye straight to the baby.

Some of the backgrounds are super simple and sweet, making the focus on the baby with just a little embellishment.

LOVE!

LOVE!

And then there are more elaborate backgrounds that are just beautiful works of art, but adding the baby makes it that much more special!

I think this is the background that really sucked me in. My favorite color is purple and I just love everything about this setup!

I think this is the background that really sucked me in. My favorite color is purple and I just love everything about this setup!

My little Grinch heart is even getting excited for Christmas this year just because of the composites I get to do!&nbsp;

My little Grinch heart is even getting excited for Christmas this year just because of the composites I get to do! 

Another favorite. It's super pretty but can be used for boys or girls.

Another favorite. It's super pretty but can be used for boys or girls.

I wasn't sure I'd like the feathers but I ended up loving this!

I wasn't sure I'd like the feathers but I ended up loving this!

So if you have a newborn session coming up be prepared for a few surprises to show up in your gallery! :) And if you have any special requests, definitely let me know in your session questionnaire so I can search for the perfect backdrop for you.

newborn_green_bowl

Austin, TX Wedding Photographer :: New Orleans Destination Wedding

Back in March I photographed a beautiful wedding in New Orleans (well actually, Napoleonville) at the Madewood Plantation Home. Being the photographer for Evelyn and Todd's wedding was even more special for me because my daughter, Aly, was the maid of honor. It was a great little get-away for everyone.

Cool facts - this plantation house is the set for the new movie 'The Beguiled' and for part of Beyoncé's video 'Lemonade'.

Cool facts - this plantation house is the set for the new movie 'The Beguiled' and for part of Beyoncé's video 'Lemonade'.

They are one degree of separation from Beyoncé's butt!

They are one degree of separation from Beyoncé's butt!

The ceremony and reception were both very elegant and sophisticated, mixed in with some Prince (I was so stoked to hear the officiant start off with "Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life"), 80's music, and a cardboard cutout of the Queen.

Madewood_Plantation_Wedding

The details and decorations were beautiful and very touching. Most epic was Evelyn's dress. "My mother wore her mother's dress, which she bought in 1960. My mom painstakingly removed the Alencon lace and beading from the original dress, which was now starting to fall apart and show it's age, and then hand tacked it to my crepe chiffon dress. My mom designed, hand beaded and sewed, and altered my dress. I always wanted to use the lace from the old dress to make something new, and she far surpassed what I had envisioned before I ever got engaged. It was also FAR better made and more affordable than pretty much everything else I was looking at. Plus it was incredibly comfortable and had pockets where I put my grandfather's handkerchief."

Madewood_Plantation_Wedding
Madewood_Wedding_Details
Gorgeous cake by  Kats Cakes  and flowers by  Iris Floral .&nbsp;

Gorgeous cake by Kats Cakes and flowers by Iris Floral

I could go on and on and on, raving about how beautiful and sweet and warm and happy and lovely everything was on this day, but I will stop and leave you with a few more photos instead. Congratulations Evelyn and Todd! May you live in a world of never-ending happiness. <3

Madewood_plantation_wedding
Madewood_Plantation_Wedding
Madewood_Plantation_Wedding

Austin, TX Maternity Session :: Chasing Arthur Around Butler Park

It was so fun meeting this fun family and chasing big-brother-to-be, Arthur, around Butler Park in downtown Austin. Like literally chasing :D

Austin_Texas_Butler_Park_Maternity_3

This is my favorite spot to bring families with toddlers because there is so much space to run around, and so many interesting things...hills, turtles, big bad wolves, the moon, ants...the list goes on and on. It feels like we're just playing but I get to capture the perfect moment every once in a while.

Looking for turtles in the pond.

Looking for turtles in the pond.

Giving his baby sister a little love.

Giving his baby sister a little love.

And BAM....got the look and the smile!

And BAM....got the look and the smile!

I love it once the little ones warm up to me. I get high fives and hugs and lots of fun shots like these. Don't you just love the matching TACOS shirts? This is Austin, you know? ;P

I love it once the little ones warm up to me. I get high fives and hugs and lots of fun shots like these. Don't you just love the matching TACOS shirts? This is Austin, you know? ;P

The best part about bringing toddlers to this park is the splash pad! So. Much. Fun. Excuse me while I overshare on pics.

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Discovering how to make footprints :)

Discovering how to make footprints :)

Abby and Matt, thank you for choosing me as your photographer. I cannot wait to see y'all again when you become a party of four!

Austin, TX Newborn Portrait Session :: Twin Baby Longhorns

Everyone, meet Audrey and Eddie. I had the pleasure of meeting and photographing them when they were just 7 weeks old. I was so excited when Mom told me they wanted some UT photos. I had been dying to use my little Longhorn cheerleader and football player Build-a-Bear outfits. Yup, that's right...they are from Build-a-Bear. So cute!

Are they not the cutest little Longhorns you ever saw?

Are they not the cutest little Longhorns you ever saw?

Getting those shots was not very easy. Aubrey kept smacking Eddie in the face and waking him up so I had to tuck their arms in between them. It's extra funny because Mom says during her monthly ultrasounds, Eddie always had a foot or his rear in Audrey's face. So she's getting him back now! :D

Wrapped babies can't beat each other up, so we got a few of those.&nbsp;

Wrapped babies can't beat each other up, so we got a few of those. 

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Below is one of my favorite shots to date. I just can't handle how precious they are.

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Thank you Nicole and Edward for inviting me into your home to photograph your sweet little babies. I can't wait to see them again!


Jessica Doffing Photography specializes in studio-quality portraits from the comfort of your own home. Contact me for more information or to book a session.