Themed Cake Smash Sessions || Austin, TX Baby Photographer

Cake smash sessions are my JAM! It took me awhile to get on the bandwagon but once I found Baby Dream Backdrops there was no turning back. Now I’m borderline obsessed with these super themed sessions.

These backdrops are very high quality fleece fabric so they are easy to store, don’t take up a lot of room, and are pretty much wrinkle-free. They have just about any theme you could imagine and are constantly adding new drops. The best thing about them is how life-like they are when photographed. With the majority of the props being on the actual drop, I only need to add a few extra props to blend the foreground into the background and VOILA! Beautiful, elaborate sets.

Don’t get me wrong…I do love the simple, minimalistic cakesmashes too. I’ll save those for another post. But if you want a specific theme, check out some of my recent smashes for some ideas. WARNING - this post is seriously photo heavy! Don’t scroll too fast or you’ll miss some epic cuteness! And make sure to scroll to the end for a special offer!

toy story cake smash
moana cake smash
woodland creatures cake smash
harry potter cake smash
candy store cake smash
farm tractor cake smash
top gun cake smash
world traveler cake smash
cookie monster cake smash
winter wonderland cake smash
taco smash
girl wild one cake smash
superhero cake smash
ice cream cake smash
grandma's porch cake smash

Did you make it this far? I told you it was photo-heavy. 😂 Which one was your favorite? Do you have another theme in mind for your baby’s cake smash session? Let’s start planning and make your (Baby)dreams come true!

As a thank you for reading my blog all the way to the end, I’m offering a $50 discount off for the first session booked for each of the following themes.

random backdrops



Baby Lawson || Austin, TX Newborn Photography

I honestly can’t imagine loving my job more than I do. Baby Lawson and his family were so fun to work with.

newborn family portraits

Working with siblings that are toddlers is always hit or miss. Big sister Charlotte is only 2 1/2 but she was amazing at following directions. And the way she loved on her little brother was OMG soooo beyond cute! ❤️

newborn boy toddler girl sibling

How cool is it that I had a cream and gray outfit for him that perfectly matched the dress big Sis came in? I love when everything falls into place so easily.

newborn boy Austin Texas photography

He was such a good sleeper and allowed us to get a nice variety of poses and props for his gallery.

newborn boy Austin Texas newborn portrait studio
Lawson’s perfect little parts make an adorable collage.

How did I get so lucky to be able to do this every day? I don’t know but let’s keep it going….everybody keep making more babies! 😝

Baby Cohen || Austin, TX Newborn Photography

newborn in bucket

Baby Cohen was another dream baby that slept straight through his session. I haven’t had too many of those lately so it’s reassuring to go back over galleries and remember the ones that went super smooth. 🤪

I love chubby little baby butts and the little back rolls. Cohen also had a lot of different expressions which were all equally adorable.

2019-05-26_0002.jpg

You know it’s a good session when you get 2 outfits on the beanbag (and NOT because poop or pee happened!) 😂

newborn boy in bed prop

He was such a little snuggle-bug! Looking at these makes me want to take a nap and snuggle with my puppy too! 😍

Baby Mercy || Austin, TX Newborn Photography

Baby Mercy is what I like to call a baby unicorn. A magical, mystical beast disguised as a beautiful newborn baby that is perfect in every way. Coming from a photographer that means a super sleepy, squishy, posable baby that sleeps straight through her session. And hits every pose like a pro.

Gorgeous in every color combo but this yellow is to-die-for! 💛💜

Gorgeous in every color combo but this yellow is to-die-for! 💛💜

Now don’t get me wrong…I love every baby I meet. Even the grumpy and fussy babies. When they come in that just means I get more snuggling time! I could think of way worse issues to have for a job, kwim?

She really perfected every pose I put her in!

She really perfected every pose I put her in!

This was a Petite Newborn session which takes no more than 2 hours. If the baby is hungry or gassy or just fussy, we may end up with more wrapped/swaddled poses in order to fill up the gallery with images. But with a unicorn baby we can knock out so much variety in a short period of time.

Fussy babies sometimes need to be swaddled more for their photos but these rare little unicorns get to show off with just a loose wrap. 🦄

Fussy babies sometimes need to be swaddled more for their photos but these rare little unicorns get to show off with just a loose wrap. 🦄

Those beautiful curls! Moms never want to cover baby’s curls with a bonnet but sometimes I beg (just a little) to get in a shot or two because COME ON! It’s freakin’ adorable!!! 😍

Those beautiful curls! Moms never want to cover baby’s curls with a bonnet but sometimes I beg (just a little) to get in a shot or two because COME ON! It’s freakin’ adorable!!! 😍

At the end of the session I was cooing and telling her how awesome she was and I got this big smile! 😍

At the end of the session I was cooing and telling her how awesome she was and I got this big smile! 😍

Then I immediately got the ‘ok, we’re done here’ look. 😂

Then I immediately got the ‘ok, we’re done here’ look. 😂

These babies are very, very rare, so don’t get discouraged if your baby isn’t a unicorn for her session. It’s really shocking to me when I meet one! I do a happy dance after every newborn session (no really, I do. I love them so much!) But I do an extra little jig when I get a unicorn!

Prop Shout - Out

Yellow wrap, bonnet and blanket - Peach Stitch

White romper with flowers on back - Lovely Baby Photo Props

Pink knit romper and bonnet - Paturici Pentru Pitici

Baby Madden || Austin, TX Newborn Photography

baby boy rainbow baby

This little peanut rocked his newborn session. He was a pro poser! We moved so smoothly from one prop to the next and through all of the beanbag poses and I didn’t want to give him back to mom. 😂

I love you to the moon and back! 🌙✨

I love you to the moon and back! 🌙✨

newborn photography Austin Texas
newborn beanbag poses Austin Texas

Madden’s family are big baseball fans. Look how tiny he is in dad’s glove! 💙

newborn boy in baseball glove

I had a record run of 13 baby boys in a row. (I wonder what was in the water 9 months ago? 😝) Fingers crossed Baby Madden starts another record run of super sleepy babies!

My Love/Hate Relationship with Bluebonnet Season || Austin, TX Photography

baby sticking out tongue bluebonnets

I LOVE wildflowers. Especially bluish-purple ones. And I love when winter is over (even though it’s really not that bad here in Austin). So this means I also love bluebonnets. I think if I said I didn’t love them I’d get kicked out of Texas. 😂 What I don’t love are family mini sessions. I DO love my clients and I DO love taking their family portraits for them, but it’s the hassle of scheduling the dang sessions and then getting rained out and having to reschedule, sometimes more than once, that I could definitely do without.

This year I announced ‘Spring Family Sessions’ in February and noted that I did not guarantee there would be bluebonnets because we were booking so far in advance. My sessions sold out pretty quickly even with this disclaimer. As we got closer to the dates I realized the bluebonnets would be at their peak during my session dates, so there was no way I wasn’t going to use them. So I scouted for the perfect locations (great flowers, great lighting, not crowded, easy access). Then I started to get excited for the sessions.

Then, rain. 🌧

And more rain. Lots of rain. Lots of rain but the kind of rain that just might stop but maybe won’t so don’t change your plans just yet. You know, Texas rain. 😩Ugh.

The first weekend looked iffy but we ended up getting the sessions done. We even had sun, although it was a bit chilly. The second week we weren’t so lucky. A full weekend of sessions needed to be rescheduled. These sessions ended up getting moved all over the calendar, sometimes two times…it was kind of a nightmare. But I’m happy to say we got them all done! Even the ones that got pushed back so far that the bluebonnets were struggling to hang in there and needed a little Photoshop help. 😬We even got lucky with some bonus Indian Blanket patches.

Soooo, although I had a great time during the actual sessions and I love how all of the images turned out, I can certainly say I am happy this season is D.O.N.E.! 🤗


2019 JDP Bluebonnet Session Locations

J.J. Pickle Research Campus - 3925 Braker Lane., Austin, T 78758

Brushy Creek Park - 3300 Brushy Creek Rd., Cedar Park, TX  78613

Barton Springs - 2201 Barton Springs Rd., Austin, TX 78704

St. Edwards University - 3001 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704

McKinney Falls State Park - 5808 McKinney Falls Pkwy, Austin, TX 78744

Random patch - corner of Palm Valley Blvd & A.W. Grimes in Round Rock

Top 6 Newborn Photography Beanbag Poses with Safety Tips

newborn with bear huck finn pose

When photographing newborns my goal is to get a nice variety of poses and angles with the least amount of disruption for the baby. These disruptions are what I call ‘transitions’ - changing baby’s clothes, moving from one prop or position to another, being passed from one person to another, etc. Over the years I’ve worked on my ‘flow’ for the session to limit these transitions and get a nice variety for your gallery.

**Now is a great time to add my endorsement for using a pacifier/binky/soother/nooky/whatever-you-call-it during these poses. Using the pacifier for the few seconds or minute between poses really helps some babies handle transitioning better than without one. They aren’t using it long enough to acquire a dependency on it or to cause any type of nipple confusion. However, I’m totally down if the parents don’t want to use one.**

In addition to many prop poses, wrapped poses, and parent/sibling poses, part of the photography session includes poses on a big beanbag. Here are some examples of the standard poses with some safety tips and in the order I do them to limit the transitions.

Bum Up/Tushy Up

I almost always start with Bum Up pose. The babies usually love this position so they settle quickly and fall into the deep sleep we need them to be in. They don’t experience the Moro (startle) reflex when in this position so that also helps them to stay asleep. I have the baby in this position for multiple shots including different angles and some closeups.

When in this position I want the baby’s hand under their cheek and their fingers to be flat and relaxed. I tuck the back foot up under their bum so we can see the cute little toes. And I want them squished up with their elbow touching their knee so we get all of those adorable little back rolls. The proper positioning is achieved using posing pillows placed under the blankets. Be aware that the baby’s hands and feet aren’t turning purple due to improper placement and lack of circulation.

bum tushy up newborn beanbag pose

Side Lying

Next I do just a slight little turn so that the baby is lying on his/her side. The back hand gets swooped up so it’s flat with the other hand and under the cheek, knees together and feet either together or crossed at the ankles. With this pose I get a forward shot, a top down shot, and a close-up of the face. Again, watch for circulation to the hands.

side lying newborn beanbag pose

Taco/Womb Pose

I don’t like the word ‘womb’ and I love tacos so this will always be the Taco pose for me. However, the Taco pose doesn’t love me that much. It is my nemesis. I’ve attended workshops with some of the top newborn photographers and studied every tutorial I could get my hands on but still struggle getting this pose perfect. I’ve been told I’m a little too critical of myself but it is what it is. I’ve also only seen a handful of Taco poses, (even from the big named photographers) that I thought looked cute. It’s a tricky pose. Granted, it’s the position most babies have been in for the last 9 months, but sometimes it just looks too weird to me. But I keep trying. So if you don’t get a Taco pose in your gallery, now you know why.

To get into this pose I swoop the baby’s legs up under them, crossing the feet at the ankles so all 10 little toes poke out. Their head will be positioned on the posing pillow so that their weight is evenly distributed and they aren’t putting any pressure on their chest or belly.

taco womb newborn beanbag pose

Huck Finn

Why is this called Huck Finn you ask? I don’t know. I imagine Huck Finn lying on his back in the sun after painting the fence with a piece of straw in his mouth, but I Googled Huck Finn images and can’t find anything like that. So I have no idea where the name came from. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

So from Taco pose, I roll the baby onto his back, keeping his legs tucked in but bending at the knees comfortably. I like to place the front hand (to the camera) down by his side and the back hand holding his foot or placed on his chest so that it’s visible to the camera. This is also a cute pose for holding a little stuffed animal. Babies will easily startle in this position so I need to keep my hands firmly on him, holding his arms and legs in position until I feel him relax. Then s-l-o-w-l-y raise my hands just a bit to ensure he doesn’t startle. Then keep my fingers crossed he doesn’t startle while I move to get the shot (it happens OFTEN). For this pose I put a posing pillow under the baby’s tush which utilizes gravity to help keep his legs curled up. Then a slight angle to the camera makes it look like he’s lying flat. I like this shot from the side and from top down.

huck finn newborn beanbag pose

Head/Chin on Hands

Next I place the baby’s hands under her chin as I roll her back onto her belly for one of my favorite poses, Chin on Hands. Baby’s hands should be relaxed and comfortably placed under the baby’s chin (not neck) with a posing pillow used to prop her up. An assistant should be used to hold the baby’s head steady (they can raise their hand briefly while I take the shot or I can Photoshop their hand out of the picture).

chin on hands safety newborn pose
chin on hands newborn beanbag pose

Froggy

And last, but certainly not least, we transition to the Froggy pose. This is a very popular pose but one of the most challenging. At this point in the workflow I can tell if a baby is going to tolerate attempting this pose or not. He needs to be deep asleep. So I always ask my parents if they want this position because there’s no use in even trying if the parents don’t really want it. An assistant or a parent needs to help with this pose. I will place the babies hands on his cheeks and hold his elbows together with one hand while I reposition his legs and feet. Then my assistant/parent will hold the baby’s head with one hand and their wrists with the other hand. They take one hand away and I take a shot. Then they put that hand back and take the other away and I take another shot. Then I photoshop the 2 together for the Froggy position. NEVER try to balance the baby without someone’s hands on them!! For one, their head is too heavy for them to be supporting on their own and two, we don’t want them to topple over, even if it is a soft beanbag, possibly causing injury to their neck or spine.

froggy newborn pose showing safety
froggy newborn beanbag pose

And because I don’t think I have enough photos in this blog post (#sarcasm) I’m going to show some random, baby-led poses that I’ve captured over the years. One is a semi-popular pose some call ‘Timber’ because it looks like the baby fell over from the Froggy pose. I like to call it the ‘Home Alone’. See if you can guess which one I’m talking about. Another that I’ve done on occasion I like to call ‘The Dude’ pose. The others are just cute poses the baby ended up in that I thought were worth capturing.

random unnamed newborn beanbag poses

These poses are staples in the newborn portrait session and take a lot of practice to perfect. I may not always get them perfect but I always get them done safely and comfortably, and luckily the babies are always super cute so I can’t really go wrong. 😜 If the baby isn’t comfortable or doesn’t want to move into a certain position, we skip it and try something new.

So what’s your favorite pose? Let me know in the comments below!



Sarah the Warrior Princess || Austin, TX Child Photography

Meet April’s JDP Warrior Princess - Sassy Sarah!

annie warrior heart princess

This little cutie came in with her parents for a family session and she pretty much ran the show. She started off shy for about…oh I don’t know…maybe 5 minutes. Then she was IN CHARGE.

family studio portraits

Once she got comfortable she kept moving all of the little props in the studio. I would set up a little stool and then she would move it and go get something else. Then she’d give me about 10 seconds to get a picture before she decided it was time to change it again. 😂

cook children's hospital heart patient
❤️Those pigtails and that smile! ❤️

❤️Those pigtails and that smile! ❤️

Sarah’s Story

At 24 hours old, Sarah failed her oxygen test. After an x-ray her doctors decided she needed to be transported from Killeen to Ft Worth. Sarah and her family spent 6 weeks at Cook Children’s Hospital awaiting surgery, healthy enough to wait but not healthy enough to come home to the ranch. At 8 weeks she had her first open heart surgery to put in a shunt. The shunt gave more blood flow to her pulmonary artery in hopes of growing her artery. She spent 3 weeks in cardiac ICU and then came home. After 6 months, the doctors determined she was ready to have the shunt out and put in a bovine implant from her heart to her pulmonary artery.

While she is doing ok now, her arteries keep narrowing making her right side of her heart work harder than it should. She will need more intervention. She also doesn't have a pulmonary valve so she has at least one more open heart surgery in her future, hopefully as a teenager.

Advice from Sarah’s parents

Ask questions and ask a lot questions to her entire care team. We didn’t ask enough in the beginning and I wish we had. And join support groups. It really helps to know you're not alone.

Shout out from Sarah’s parents

Dr. Tam, her cardiac surgeon. He does amazing work with very very little hearts. He has the praise of his entire hospital, from nurses to security guards.

Dr. Leavy, NICU at Cook Children’s Hospital. He definitely did a great job keeping us up to date and integrated in her care while in NICU.

The CICU doctors at Cook Children's Hospital. They were amazingly attentive and knew my daughter in and out. They took her into consideration with every decision and you can tell they really care.

Children’s Heart Foundation™️ - Texas

DONATE to Children’s Heart Foundation™️


We celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in the studio too. The chair was by far her favorite prop. 💚

We celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in the studio too. The chair was by far her favorite prop. 💚

“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.

Baby Tatum || Austin, TX Newborn Photography

smiling newborn girl in purple

What’s better than having a beautiful baby girl in the studio for her newborn session?

When that beautiful baby girl is the little sister of a handsome baby boy you photographed 2 years ago!

I love when my clients come back to see me as their family grows. I feel very connected to my families and getting the opportunity to see them again is very rewarding. I especially love seeing the personality of the older siblings as they grow up and take on their new role as big brother or sister. Baby Tatum’s big brother, Porter, was pictured on my first set of business cards. 😊

My first business card when I decided to specialize in newborn photography.

My first business card when I decided to specialize in newborn photography.

Getting siblings to participate in the photoshoot is always interesting. Sometimes they are extremely cooperative, sometimes they are not at ALL cooperative, and sometimes it just takes a little sweet talk and bribing. Porter wasn’t overly thrilled with the idea, but he did an awesome job!

Sibling photos with toddlers is challenging but so worth it!

Sibling photos with toddlers is challenging but so worth it!

This session couldn’t have gone any better. Baby Tatum gave me a ton of smiles, slept straight through her session, and we got some super adorable prop set-ups. Check out the highlights from our session!

newborn girl in purple swaddle with bonnet
counting sheep newborn on bed
newborn girl beanbag poses
newborn girl family poses
I love making a collage of all of the special little baby parts!

I love making a collage of all of the special little baby parts!

Baby’s first spa day! 💗

Baby’s first spa day! 💗

Thank you Louise family for trusting me with these precious memories! I hope we get to create many more together! 💜




Why Do We Want Newborns to Sleep for Their Session?

“Look at those big beautiful eyes! And that gorgeous smile! I want my baby to be awake so we can get these kinds of shots!”, says every parent. Unfortunately those shots are very rare and impossible to predict. Here’s a little behind-the-scenes knowledge to give you a better idea of what happens at a session and what to expect.

This is what we call ‘hitting the jackpot’!

This is what we call ‘hitting the jackpot’!

The photos you see of newborns wide-eyed, looking straight into the camera and/or smiling are split-second, against-all-odds, extremely lucky, ‘OMG did that just happen?’ shots. They are soooo not the norm. I would guess in 9 out of 10 of those images the baby is actually asleep, got a little gas and opened their eyes for a millisecond. It’s very rare. And it’s very exciting when it happens!

But if you want ‘posed’ newborn photos, you can’t expect to get them if your baby is awake. You would be much better suited with a lifestyle session, with the baby in a natural environment, doing baby things, and being awake or asleep, happy or sad, etc.

Lifestyle images that work with awake newborns.

Lifestyle images that work with awake newborns.

If you are trying to get actual poses chances are they aren’t going to look good if the baby is awake. Even super chill babies squirm around with their arms flailing all over the place, smack themselves in the face, kick their legs out, stick their tongue out, look every which way but at the camera…you get the picture (hehe, get it? the picture?) Here are a few examples of attempts with awake babies (names withheld to protect the innocent 😜).

Trying to pose awake newborns - not gonna happen.

Trying to pose awake newborns - not gonna happen.

Now, one consolation if you just desperately want awake shots is to swaddle the baby up nice and tight. This way they can’t wiggle around so much so they won’t look like little aliens. And with enough patience, the baby will eventually look towards the camera and we’ll get the shot.

Another possibility for posed photos with awake babies is to include the parents. When you are holding the baby they don’t tend to wiggle around as much. But most likely we’ll have to take a lot of shots and hope we get one where the baby’s arms, legs and eyes are doing something that looks nice in a photo, or wrap them up again.

dad holding newborn son

So let’s get these babies sleepy!

Your photographer will give you some tips on how to prepare for your newborn session. Try your best to follow these instructions. Most photographers will want a baby with a full belly. Then they will warn you that the studio is going to be very warm. They will probably highly suggest bringing a pacifier, even if your baby doesn’t regularly use one. We also want the least amount of ‘transitions’ as possible. Transitions include removing baby from the carseat; removing clothing from the baby; putting clothing back on the baby; changing diapers; being passed from one person to another; and being moved from one prop or position to another. Every one of these transitions lessens the likelihood of baby falling into a deep sleep. And all of the transitions cause the baby to burn more calories and therefore need to eat sooner or more often then expected. A pacifier helps keep baby soothed and calm during these transitions. I’m not a doctor (really?) but I’ve talked to enough nurses and pediatricians and read enough articles to know that if you don’t want your baby to use a pacifier, using it for a few brief moments during the newborn session is not going to affect them in the long term. Unless your pediatrician is very strict about it or your baby has some serious issues like a tongue-tie, I highly suggest bringing one for your photographer to use. But, with that said, I fully respect your decision if you choose not to. Follow all of these instructions, and keep your fingers crossed, and we’ll have a nice sleepy baby for the session.

tl/dr - If you want newborn photos of your baby awake, choose a lifestyle session or expect them to be swaddled. Or wish for the equivalent of a winning lottery ticket! 😂And even better, plan on coming back for a Tummy Time milestone session and get all the smiles!

tummy time milestone baby smiling

Love, Jessica

💜💜💜

What to Expect at Your In-Home Newborn Session || Austin, TX Newborn Photography

Froggy pose shot at an in-home session.

Froggy pose shot at an in-home session.

Everything You Need to Know About Your In-Home Newborn Session With Jessica Doffing Photography, LLC

Congratulations on your new little one! I hope you are as excited for your newborn session as I am. I really can’t express how much I love what I do and I want you to love your photos as much as you love your baby. Well, maybe not quite as much, but I want you to love them a LOT.

Let’s go over some tips to help you prepare for your session and discuss all the details about the session so you know what to expect. Sorry this is a long one! I tried not to babble too much but there is a lot of information to go over. 😬

(If you are booking a studio session check out last week’s blog post HERE)

  • Book your session ASAP - Hopefully, if you are reading this, you’ve already done this step. If not, I would suggest booking ASAP. If you are in your 2nd trimester I can pretty much guarantee I will have availability. After that it’s kinda hit and miss. There are certain weeks that fill up quickly (I swear I’m going to start following the moon cycle or something to see if there is a correlation!) and then there are others that I have openings up to the last minute. But to be safe you will want to book your photographer as early as possible so you aren’t left scrambling to find one at the last minute.

  • Schedule session within first 2 weeks - Unless there are extenuating circumstances, newborn sessions are typically scheduled within the first 2 weeks. When you book your session I will tentatively put you on my calendar 7-10 days from your due date. Then we will just keep in touch and adjust that if you deliver early or late. Just shoot me a quick email if you have any updates (changed due date, scheduled to be induced, scheduled c-section, etc) and then again when you have the baby. Let me know within a day or two so we have the most flexibility to get you set up within those first two weeks.

  • Fill out questionnaire - Once the baby is here I will send you a questionnaire to get your preferences for the photos. I’ll ask for the baby’s height and weight and a bunch of questions about the little details. You will tell me your style, your favorite colors, what poses and props you like or don’t like, and if there is anything specific you are are wanting. Please note, you do NOT need to buy anything for the session. However, if you have something sentimental or extremely unique that you want included (your grandfather’s cowboy boots or a blanket knitted by your favorite aunt) , just let me know. It’ll be very helpful if you send me a photo of the item prior to the session. But please don’t go out and buy outfits for your baby’s session. The outfits I have available are designed specifically for newborn photographers. Most are made to be worn without a diaper, unlike store-bought newborn clothing which tends to be very loose and bulky. This allows us to show off just how tiny your baby is and focus on details like those chubby little back rolls and the adorable little fingers and toes. I have hundreds of outfits to choose from and I will bring a variety for you to choose from based off of your preferences.

  • Avoid spicy food if you are breastfeeding - A day or two before your session - If you are breastfeeding, avoid dairy, spicy foods, and any other gassy foods for 24 hours before the shoot. The number one reason newborns are fussy is because they have upset tummies. Calm tummies = calm babies.

  • Keep baby on his/her regular schedule - I typically start my newborn sessions at 10am. I just ask that you keep your baby on their regular schedule. Don’t worry about trying to keep them awake beforehand or adjust their eating schedule so they eat right before the session. I’ve learned over the years that none of that really helps. First, it puts undo stress on the parents, who are already a little stressed and sleep-deprived. Second, babies need to do things on their own time, not ours, so I won’t ask that you do anything different. I will ask that you give the baby a bath (just a sponge bath is fine). Particularly check their little toes and make sure there isn’t a lot of fuzz stuck up in them. Have the baby dressed in something that snaps or ties and doesn’t have to come off over their head like a onesie. We want clothing removal to be as easy as possible.

  • When I arrive (if we are doing posed portraits) - We will take a few minutes to decide the best place to set up camp. I do not need a large space for my equipment. A small bedroom or office is ideal. I also bring my own lighting equipment so a darker room is best. I have a small beanbag system that I use for posing the baby on and I will have bags of blankets and wrap and clothing and other things. It’ll kinda look like I’m moving in. :D It will take me 15-20 minutes to get everything set up so this is an ideal time to feed the baby if needed.

  • When I arrive (if we are doing lifestyle portraits) - We will take a few minutes to check out the room we plan on shooting in, usually the master bedroom, nursery, living room, or outdoors. In most cases we will use natural lighting for lifestyle photos but I will determine if additional lighting is needed.

  • What to have available - If we are doing a lifestyle session we will use your baby’s own clothing or swaddles. I suggest parents and sibling be dressed in neutral clothing (no loud colors or bold prints and no graphic tees or logos). For the posed newborn photos I bring everything needed. I also highly suggest having a pacifier on hand, even if you don’t regularly use one. The best kind is the one you usually get in the hospital (Avent Soother) because they don’t leave red marks on the babies face - Please see FAQs below if you are concerned about using a pacifier.

  • Starting the session - If you have older siblings that will be in the photos we will usually start with them first. Once they are finished with their photos they can go about their day day playing, eating, napping, etc. Then we will continue with some parent photos. If we will be doing posed newborn photos we will move on to them next. If we are doing a full lifestyle session we will move on to the candid/lifestyle photos.

  • During the session - For lifestyle photos I will follow you and your family documenting your interactions with your baby. Feeding, snuggling, bathing, snuggling, changing, snuggling, etc. For posed photos we will make sure the baby has a full tummy and is sleepy before we start. I will usually start with the baby swaddled up in a prop. This helps the baby get into a deep sleep so that we can work down to a cute outfit or naked shots posed on the beanbag.

Set up in the playroom. Big sister was using my props and pillows to do a session with her stuffed animals. 😍

Set up in the playroom. Big sister was using my props and pillows to do a session with her stuffed animals. 😍

  • After the session - I love to share a sneak peek from your session on my Facebook page within a day or two. Even if you don’t have a Facebook account you can still view my page online. If you do not want your images shared online just let me know and I won’t. It will take up to two weeks to get your finished online gallery. From this gallery you will be able to download the images to your computer. I suggest you back up those files to a second location like an external hard drive or a cloud-based storage. You will also have a link to the gallery that you can share with friends and family. Professional grade prints and canvases can be purchased directly from the gallery or you can take your digital files to a printer of your choice. My recommendation is Mpix.com online or Precision Camera on Anderson Lane. If you print from another vendor I can not guarantee that the quality and colors of the images will be accurate.

  • Don’t stop there! Now is the time to sign up for my Grow With Me package if you haven’t already. Let’s document those first milestones throughout the year - tummy time, sitting up, and of course, an epic one year old cakesmash!

FAQs

How long will the session last? I don’t really put a time limit on the session. It could be anywhere from 2.5 - 4 hours. If the baby is a super sound sleeper, has a full belly, and we are doing a full lifestyle session we can possibly get done in 2.5 hours. Doing the posed portion adds time to the session because I need to set up and break down extra equipment plus we normally need to take a break or two to feed, clean up, and/or snuggle, so the average time is around 3-3.5 hours. If the baby is super fussy it could take up to 4 hours to get all of the images I need. If we hit the 4 hour mark and I haven’t gotten enough images I will ask that we reschedule for another time. This has only happened twice in the last four years and those babies had serious gas and reflux issues.

Do I need to clean my house? No! You have so much going on there is no need to stress about cleaning your home before I come over. I’ve seen it all! :D If you are doing a lifestyle session you may want to straighten up a bit. A big one is your bedside tables if we will be shooting on the master bed. But any straightening up that really needs to be done for the photos can be done right then and there….just scooting some stuff around so they aren’t in the shot. But please, don’t stress about cleaning up!

Can we do an in-home session if we live in an apartment? Yes, for sure. Lifestyle photos may be a little more restricted but posed photos are no problem at all. I don’t need much room at all to set up. And if the lighting isn’t ideal for lifestyle photos I can always supplement with studio lighting.

What if I don’t want my baby to use a pacifier? If you are adamant against using a pacifier we won’t use one. If your doctor has advised against it or if your baby has a serious latching issue or is tongue-tied, I totally understand. However, if you just don’t want your baby to use one regularly I still highly suggest you bring one. Sometimes this is the only thing that saves a session and allows us to get the photos we want. I’m not a doctor (duh) but I’ve talked to enough pediatricians and nurses and read enough articles to confidently say that using one only during the session will not cause nipple confusion or cause them to become dependent on it. When transitioning the baby from one pose to another, if they aren’t sound asleep they will likely want to suck just to soothe. This could be only 10-15 seconds long and then I pop it back out. Even if we use the pacifier for a few minutes while I rock him/her back to sleep, it won’t have any long-term effects. But, no worries, if you still don’t want to use one we won’t.

before after Photoshop

My baby has really flakey skin/bad acne/stork bites/conehead/etc. What should I do? Nothing! Don’t worry about it at all. All babies have some of these issues and they are easily (well some aren’t that easy) fixed with Photoshop. I spend more time editing the photos then I do taking them, if that gives you an idea of how much work goes into them. Don’t try to fix anything. A lot of times trying to remedy something actually makes it worse, so just let it be.

Ok, so I think I’ve babbled enough. If you have a question that I didn’t answer please don’t hesitate to email or call me. The more you know about me and my process, the more comfortable you will be at your session. See you soon!

Love, Jessica 💜

What to Expect at Your Studio Newborn Session || Austin, TX Newborn Photography

newborn girl sleeping pink

Everything You Need to Know About Your Studio Newborn Session With Jessica Doffing Photography, LLC

Congratulations on your new little one! I hope you are as excited for your newborn session as I am. I really can’t express how much I love what I do and I want you to love your photos as much as you love your baby. Well, maybe not quite as much, but I want you to love them a LOT.

Let’s go over some tips to help you prepare for your session and discuss all the details about the session so you know what to expect. Sorry this is a long one! I tried not to babble too much but there is a lot of information to go over. 😬

(If you are booking an in-home session check out next week’s blog post - HERE)

  • Book your session ASAP - Hopefully, if you are reading this, you’ve already done this step. If not, I would suggest booking ASAP. If you are in your 2nd trimester I can pretty much guarantee I will have availability. After that it’s kinda hit and miss. There are certain weeks that fill up quickly (I swear I’m going to start following the moon cycle or something to see if there is a correlation!) and then there are others that I have openings up to the last minute. But to be safe you will want to book your photographer as early as possible so you aren’t left scrambling to find one at the last minute.

  • Schedule session within first 2 weeks - Unless there are extenuating circumstances, newborn sessions are typically scheduled within the first 2 weeks. When you book your session I will tentatively put you on my calendar 7-10 days from your due date. Then we will just keep in touch and adjust that if you deliver early or late. Just shoot me a quick email if you have any updates (changed due date, scheduled to be induced, scheduled c-section, etc) and then again when you have the baby. Let me know within a day or two so we have the most flexibility to get you set up within those first two weeks.

  • Fill out questionnaire - Once the baby is here I will send you a questionnaire to get your preferences for the photos. I’ll ask for the baby’s height and weight and a bunch of questions about the little details. You will tell me your style, your favorite colors, what poses and props you like or don’t like, and if there is anything specific your are wanting. Please note, you do NOT need to bring anything to the session except for your adorable new baby. However, if you have something sentimental or extremely unique that you want included (your grandfather’s cowboy boots or a blanket knitted by your favorite aunt) , just let me know. It’ll be very helpful if you send me a photo of the item prior to the session. But please don’t go out and buy outfits for your baby’s session. The outfits I have available are designed specifically for newborn photographers. Most are made to be worn without a diaper, unlike store-bought newborn clothing which tends to be very loose and bulky. This allows us to show off just how tiny your baby is and focus on details like those chubby little back rolls and the adorable little fingers and toes. And I have hundreds of outfits to choose from! And wraps, and bonnets, and headbands, and cute fluffy things, and do-dads, and and and…. I got a lot of stuff. 😊

  • Avoid spicy food if you are breastfeeding - A day or two before your session - If you are breastfeeding, avoid dairy, spicy foods, and any other gassy foods for 24 hours before the shoot. The number one reason newborns are fussy is because they have upset tummies. Calm tummies = calm babies.

  • Keep baby on his/her regular schedule - I typically start my newborn sessions at 10am. I just ask that you keep your baby on their regular schedule. Don’t worry about trying to keep them awake beforehand or adjust their eating schedule so they eat right before the session. I’ve learned over the years that none of that really helps. First, it puts undo stress on the parents, who are already a little stressed and sleep-deprived. Second, babies need to do things on their own time, not ours, so I won’t ask that you do anything different. I will ask that you give the baby a bath (just a sponge bath is fine). Particularly check their little toes and make sure there isn’t a lot of fuzz stuck up in them. Have the baby dressed in something that snaps or ties and doesn’t have to come off over their head like a onesie. We want clothing removal to be as easy as possible.

  • What to bring - As I said previously, there is no need to bring anything except the baby, but there actually are a few more things to bring. I often have new parents forget something because they aren’t accustomed to going out yet with the baby. So here are a few things to make sure you pack in your bag:

    • diapers

    • wipes

    • gauze and vaseline if you have a recently circumcised boy

    • a pacifier - preferably the kind you got in the hospital (Avent Soother) because they don’t leave red marks on the babies face - Please see FAQs below if you are concerned about using a pacifer

    • 2-3 extra bottles if you are formula feeding

    • 1-2 formula bottles if you are supplementing breast milk with formula

    • a drink and snack for yourself

    • any special mementos you want to include in the photos

  • Starting the session - When you arrive at the studio we will sit down and chat for a bit about how the baby is doing, where they are at in their schedule (when they slept and ate) and I will get a feel for how we should start the session. Throughout the session we will do photos with the baby swaddled, in props, posed on a large beanbag, and with parents/siblings. I’m pretty good at ‘reading’ a baby and knowing which part of the session we should do at which time. For instance, if the baby is awake but will fall back asleep easily I will swaddle her up and start with some easy prop shots. While we get those first shots she will most likely fall back asleep and then we will be able to move onto the posed shots where she really needs to be sound asleep.

  • During the session - Aside from having your photo taken with your baby or breastfeeding, there isn’t much else you will have to do during the session. Plan on having a couple of hours to sit back and relax a bit. Oh, and be warned, it will be very warm in the studio. Dress accordingly. The more I can do for the baby the better because it limits the number of transitions which affects how deeply the baby will be able to fall asleep. If the baby is already awake, these transitions aren’t important. But if the baby is asleep, each transition puts us closer to an awake, cranky baby. Getting out of the carseat is a transition. Passing the baby from one person to another is a transition. Changing a diaper. Feeding. Changing clothing. Moving from one prop to another or one pose to another. In order to keep the baby as comfortable (and sleepy) as possible, we want to limit as many transitions as we can. For that reason, it’s best that I swaddle and rock him back to sleep after you feed him so that I can smoothly transition him into the next position for a photo. Sometimes I will put an outfit on him, then swaddle him in a wrap over top so that when he falls asleep during the wrapped photos, I can carefully unwrap him and move into the shots with the outfit without another transition in between. I would also like to note that these transitions actually cause babies to burn more calories then usual and therefore get hungry sooner then you’d expect. So be prepared to feed your baby a little more then usual.

  • After the session - I love to share a sneak peek from your session on my Facebook page within a day or two. Even if you don’t have a Facebook account you can still view my page online. If you do not want your images shared online just let me know and I won’t. It will take up to two weeks to get your finished online gallery. From this gallery you will be able to download the images to your computer. I suggest you back up those files to a second location like an external hard drive or a cloud-based storage. You will also have a link to the gallery that you can share with friends and family. Professional grade prints and canvases can be purchased directly from the gallery or you can take your digital files to a printer of your choice. My recommendation is Mpix.com online or Precision Camera on Anderson Lane. If you print from another vendor I can not guarantee that the quality and colors of the images will be accurate.

  • Don’t stop there! Now is the time to sign up for my Grow With Me package if you haven’t already. Let’s document those first milestones throughout the year - tummy time, sitting up, and of course, an epic one year old cakesmash!

FAQs

How long will the session last? I don’t really put a time limit on the session. It could be anywhere from 2 - 4 hours. If the baby is a super sound sleeper and has a full belly we can get done in 2 - 2.5 hours. But that’s kind of rare. We normally need to take a break or two to feed, clean up, and/or snuggle, so the average time is around 3-3.5 hours. If the baby is super fussy it could take up to 4 hours to get all of the images I need. If we hit the 4 hour mark and I haven’t gotten enough images I will ask that we reschedule for another time. This has only happened twice in the last four years and those babies had serious gas and reflux issues. (EDIT TO ADD - A Petite Session will take no longer than 2 hours)

big brother with baby sister

What if I have older children I want in some photos? If you have older siblings that will be involved in the photos I try to get those done at the beginning of the session. If the sibling needs more time to warm up to the idea, we may start with just the baby. After the sibling is finished with their photos I ask that a family member either take them back home, to a park, or out to lunch for a special treat. It gets reallllly boring for the kiddos. In most cases, trying to occupy a restless toddler/child is stressful and we don’t want that during your session. If taking the sibling away is not an option, I do have a small area with a tv and room to play, but s/he will need to be supervised at all times.

What if I don’t want my baby to use a pacifier? If you are adamant against using a pacifier we won’t use one. If your doctor has advised against it or if your baby has a serious latching issue or is tongue-tied, I totally understand. However, if you just don’t want your baby to use one regularly I still highly suggest you bring one. Sometimes this is the only thing that saves a session and allows us to get the photos we want. I’m not a doctor (duh) but I’ve talked to enough pediatricians and nurses and read enough articles to confidently say that using one only during the session will not cause nipple confusion or cause them to become dependent on it. When transitioning the baby from one pose to another, if they aren’t sound asleep they will likely want to suck just to soothe. This could be only 10-15 seconds long and then I pop it back out. Even if we use the pacifier for a few minutes while I rock him/her back to sleep, it won’t have any long-term effects. But, no worries, if you still don’t want to use one we won’t.

before after Photoshop

My baby has really flakey skin/bad acne/stork bites/conehead/etc. What should I do? Nothing! Don’t worry about it at all. All babies have some of these issues and they are easily (well some aren’t that easy) fixed with Photoshop. I spend more time editing the photos then I do taking them, if that gives you an idea of how much work goes into them. Don’t try to fix anything. A lot of times trying to remedy something actually makes it worse, so just let it be.


Ok, so I think I’ve babbled enough. If you have a question that I didn’t answer please don’t hesitate to email or call me. The more you know about me and my process, the more comfortable you will be at your session. See you soon!

Love, Jessica 💜