Little Mr P I’ve been Photographing since before he was born, beginning with his parent’s maternity session at Tyler State Park a little more than a year ago. He is one of my Baby planners and I’ve had the pleasure of watching him grow this fist year. Recently I photographed his first birthday portraits and cake smash in my Bucks County portrait studio. He was absolutely wonderful, giving me a full range of different expressions and smashing his cake like a pro. Here are a few of my favorite images from Mr. P’s first birthday portraits.
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Cake Smash Session
Funny story... I actually photographed this little guy's cousin last year for her first birthday, the same time I was working with Mr. J's mom to set up a first year plan for him. I did think it was interesting that I had two clients with the same last name, but didn't think of it much further than that. Turned out they were in fact related and didn't even realize they were both using Wonderland Portrait Boutique. How's that for a coincidence?
Over the past year I've photographed this little guy from before birth all the way to this session that we photographed his first birthday portraits and cake smash. His big brother tagged along to this session so we popped him in for one or two shots as well. During the whole session, big brother knew that there was a cake waiting for the end and did not miss a chance to remind his mom and I how much he wanted some of that cake! The cake was absolutely gorgeous as well, it was custom made by the Birthday Boy's aunt. I was really impressed by the quality and the work put into it, because making beautiful cakes is not her full time profession (I know, can you believe that?)!
Mr. J did fantastic for his formal shots, not missing a chance to show off how well he is walking now either. It never seizes to amaze me how quickly they go from a newborn to a walking little person full of smiles and energy. It really feels like yesterday that we were photographing his newborn portraits. He was not shy when it came to the cake either, these boys are definitely fans of eating cake. Mr. J did stop and look at his mom with the expression of "Really? I can play with this and get messy? Are you sure Mom?", but as soon as she encouraged him to go ahead he dove right in and thoroughly enjoyed his birthday cake. Check out and enjoy the adorable-ness that is Baby J.
Seriously how stinkin' adorable is this cake?!?
One last image to leave you with, that will hopefully make you chuckle as much as it made me. This is big brother's hand reaching for a little left over cake once baby J was done with it. He's one funny kid.
I recently posed a question to my Facebook followers.
"What’s the most overwhelming thing about having your photo taken?"
Majority of them stated, getting their children to cooperate. One of my long term clients wrote this: "Mine use to be child behavior, but now that you do my pictures it's so easy. Sometimes it's better just to walk away and let you do you thing. They always come out better that way!"
Now honestly I didn't pay her to write that (even though it sounds that way), but I am going to share the advice that I gave her many moons ago. This is one of my biggest tips, even though I have a ton, but I'm leading with the biggie.
Children are very sensitive beings, which I'm sure you know. If you're happy, they get happy. If you're sad, they get sad. If you're excited, they get excited. If your stressed , they get stressed. Let me repeat that last one again, for effect. If you're stressed, THEY GET STRESSED.
So lets touch on this one a little bit further. Mom's train of thought :: Oh My Goodness Bobby better sit still in one spot and listen to this photographer. He better smile. He better not embarrass me. What if he is rude? What if he just ignores her? I'm going to take away his iPad time if he's not good, I swear:: Or, well, something along those lines at least. So the day of your session arrives and now these thoughts have been rolling around in your head for a while, the scary fuzzy purple monster, known as stress, is growing. You can feel the anxiety expanding. You hit my studio doorway or our meeting place at the park and it's oozing from your pours. I can feel it and so can your child.
Let's first address what "good" means for a portrait session with Wonderland Portrait Boutique. For me, I want your child to be him or herself. Every kid has their own unique personality, and I want to see it. All normal rules go out the window during a session. For example a few weeks ago I told a child put their feet on my couch with shoes on! Eek! She looked at her mom for approval as I said "I'm sure this is a no no at home, but that is why I bought a faux Leather couch, I can wipe it down." Mom nodded at her with approval, she happily popped her feet up. The only times I will really expect parents to correct a child is if they are doing something dangerous. If your two year old wiggles out of the pose I put him in, you don't need to correct them and threaten to take away their post session treat. That is just how a two year old is, and I know that I will have to continually put them back into a pose. When a kid is having a good time at a session they get silly and wiggly, it comes with the territory. On the opposite end are shy children. Shy kiddos generally just need a little bit of time to open up and get comfortable. With these children I find that I just need to speak softer to and play some silly games to gain their trust. All children go through stages, they just hit them at different times. I try to always be adaptable to each child's personality.
So now let's talk about that scary purple monster mom (or dad) has been carrying around for the last two weeks. When it comes to children's photography you can't have any lofty expectations of Gap Ads. All the children on my website and facebook page are normal kids, I never work with professional models. All these children are showing off their own authentic personalities. I've learned that asking a bright bubbly child to pose with a serious face doesn't always work out. Same thing with a shy child, they aren't going to be comfortable being photographed in a very populated location. You know your child better than anyone. Who are they? Do they love books? Would they like to show off their action figure collection? What is it about Bobby that make him who he is?
Once my long term client (mentioned above), realized her son is just a little funny man she was ok with the silly banter between he and I. He is allowed talk back to me during a session. Obviously, all parents want their kids to be respectful to adults, and he is, when we aren't shooting a session. When he's in front of my camera, he knows it's ok to call me a poopie head and he loves it, of course taking full advantage. Honestly, he makes me laugh so hard during sessions now, the things he comes up with are hilarious. That is him, that is his personality.
I am by no means a child psychologist, I've just seen a lot of kids in the last 12 years, and I've picked up on the trends. I've seen parents loose their cool way too often and I've found most of the problem is the parent's expectation. Most folks are on Pinterest now and see these amazing fun poses and images. The thing that non photographers have to remember is you can't compare your everyday to someone else's highlight reel. That is exactly what Pinterest is, a Highlight reel, it's the best of the best. I'm not saying that Pinterest worthy sessions aren't a possibility, what I'm saying is that expecting to duplicate an exact pose and expression isn't always a realistic goal. Letting your kids be themselves is going to yield your best result.
Parents striving for a "perfect" portrait often stress themselves out, which the child feels and acts appropriately to something they feel is now scary. They want to grab mom or dad's leg or be held. Every one of those parents says to me "I don't know why he is acting this way, he's never done this before". It's that common, I honestly hear it often. I don't want to come a across as I'm telling people how to parent their kids. I want my clients to have the best possible portraits. I know what it takes to have a successful session and I realize that parents want this information.
A successful session starts with getting your child involved and excited. Since this post is already pretty long, I've decided to make this advice the subject of my next newsletter. I'm going to send my top tips for a successful session directly to you. Click here to sign up for my Newsletter to ensure you will receive all these tips.
I've had a lot of babies and birthdays in the studio recently. I've had six month baby milestone sessions, newborns, and this little guy for his birthday. He was super funny and was a fantastic little model. He sat and posed for a good long while, then he realized he could get up and go, at that point the chase was on. One is a very busy age, when everything needs to be discovered, so this was no surprise. The surprise came when we sat him down in front of his cake he sat there enthralled with his cake. He attempted to stuffed handful after handful of that blue icing right in his mouth, but much to our delight missed the mark a few times, getting it all over his face. Dad helped him dive past the icing into the actual cake and oh boy did little man love that. At that point he was grabbing handfuls of cake, totally in the cake eating zone, it was as if nothing could break his focus. Normally, I have babies who play in and eat the cake for a little while and then get bored of it, Mom had to practically tear him away when it was time to clean up. This little guys really cracked me up with his laser focus on the cake. Check out his awesome model shots followed by some cake destruction.
In the past year I've had a few of my regular clients move away because work was transferring them. This family is one of those families, they are moving over seas to Europe in the next few weeks. Mom contacted me early for her little one's first birthday session because of this. I've known mom and dad for years and photographed them before their little girl arrived last year and in previous years for holiday cards. (See last years Maternity Session Here) I'm excited for them as they begin a new adventure but I'm also a little sad because I know I will only get to see their family grow from a distance, through Facebook and what not. I was so happy to be able to photograph Little Miss G's first birthday before they took their big trip across the pond to their next adventure. She did fantastic. She wasn't in the least bit worried about getting messy and loved the cake. That being said it was a bit of a challenge for mom to get all the cakes off as she kept some clutched in her hand, Maybe a snack for later I suppose? I had one Wonderland Family move across the country this past Fall. While I love seeing the fun pictures they post from their new home in California, it's also kind of sad for me. I know that I missed out on their youngest's first birthday, and sadly I don't know anyone in their area so I was unable to refer them any photographers. I know another Wonderland Family who will be moving south in the next month or two. They will be too far to visit my studio for regular sessions but we've decided maybe we can get together when I'm on my annual vacation in North Carolina, as that will be just a short drive for them.
All of my Wonderland Families are special to me, I like to think of every single one as a friend, and I truly miss them. I wish all of them luck in the next chapters of their lives and I plea to them, keep posting updates to Facebook and Instagram. I can't wait to see who your little people grow up to be.
I just love the sessions that the kids get to be a little messy and don't have to worry about sitting and smiling. Much more personality happens during these sessions than any other. This little lady was full of personality! We started off in an adorable little ruffle outfit that mom had purchased for her first birthday picture specifically. Minutes before we got started my new vintage sofa arrived, I was super excited to use it and it looks amazing with her outfit. Miss A thought sitting on a couch wasn't as fun as standing, so I made sure mom was right next to her at all times for safety. Miss A was so funny, once she was down off the couch she was quite the mover and shaker, I think they have a little track star on there hands. While we were using the floor and the fuzzy rug, she crawled quickly right toward me and nearly down the lens barrel, she had me laughing! Once it was time to move onto the cake smash and get messy the real fun started. She almost couldn't believe we put the whole cake in front of her and she was allow to just play, and play she did. There was pink icing everywhere, on her legs, on her toes, her belly, and maybe even a little in her hair. She finger painted with it and created quite the art piece on the floor as well. She had a blast getting messy!
Time passes so quickly the older you get, I remember when summer vacation felt like months not just a few weeks, and it's true what they say about babies being grown before you know it.
It feels like just yesterday that I was photographing this little fella's newborn portraits. I almost couldn't believe that it was time to start planning for his first birthday. His mom and I go way back, (like "back before taking a school bus" type back) So finding out she was pregnant last year literally made me squeal and jump up and down, while people stared at me, but I didn't care. Getting to see this little guy grow up has been a real pleasure, always pleasant and happy, even when he has the occasional cold or is getting a new tooth. He is now especially happy when he is escaping, he has reached toddler stage and he's a quick little dude. Most of the cake smash he was trying to crawl away and toward me to get my camera, poor dad left with cake all over him just from trying to catch Mr.B. He did some damage to the cake but Thanks to Dad did not get his icing covered hands all over my camera lens. Thankfully the Studio shower came in handy once again, I can't imagine how many baby wipes we would have gone through just to get him clean!
Enjoy Mr. B's First Birthday Portraits!
For this week's blog post I decided to do something a little bit different. Instead of just sharing a few images from a session posted as a blog board, I'm also sharing the entire slideshow, with all the images from the session. A slideshow like this one comes with every regular package purchased and is included on the portrait disk that comes with that package. What is really cool about them (and what this little lady's mom will be doing) is that you can play your slideshow during your party to share it with your friends and family.
I felt like this is the perfect session to share with all of you via slideshow. Miss L was by far my messiest cake smasher to date, I've never had a mom tell me their child sneezed out icing the next day, till this! I'm so glad I made the move into a building with a shower, if we would have had to wipe her down with baby wipes (like we used to do), we really would have been there a while. The shower at the studio came in handy after little L got done having a blast and snacking on her cake. Miss L also came with a few fabulous fluffy outfits that we photographed first, just in case that blue icing turned her smurfy. Formals are always first and then we smash cake. So Please sit back and enjoy Little Miss L's Slideshow.
[vimeo 89307944 w=500 h=281] <p><a href="http://vimeo.com/89307944">Ms. L's 1st Birthday</a> from <a href="http://vimeo.com/user19787406">Wonderland Portrait</a> on <a href="https://vimeo.com">Vimeo</a>.</p>
Well It seems that birthday season is in full swing at the studio lately, I've had a ton of first and second birthday boys and girls in for their portraits. It's very exciting to see how big each of these kiddos are getting, some of them I've even photographed as Newborns which is even more exciting for me. This little love bug and I got the pleasure of meeting this past Christmas, so she may look familiar from my Facebook page. Miss M is now celebrating her second birthday. Her theme this year is Commotion in the Ocean,to go along with her favorite book (like really how cute is that?!). I love "different" themes, they always challenge me creatively. I had a little trouble at first with the ocean theme, I've seen mermaids and fish done before, but this was just different. Mom sent me the invitation to work from and the ideas started flowing. I pulled the entire background design out of my noggin and set out to find items to help bring to life what I saw in my head. I knew I wanted to make this special for her, we were attempting a second birthday cake smash, which isn't often done, so it had to be special. So a little paint and paper and about an hour or two and we had an under the sea set.
This little one always cracks me up when I see her, she's a pip. As I set up for the first shots she followed me around the studio not wanting to miss a trick, and kept asking mom "Where's Dana?" when I left the room. Of course she is two now so she is always on the move, which made for a very quick formal session. We really got some great shots that day, and I think everyone had a good time, I know I did.