Austin Newborn Photographer

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.

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. 

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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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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.

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GAH I have the cutest clients!

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  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!

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.

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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

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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.

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.