As a professional photographer I believe in continuing education and invest a lot of time and $ in professional forums and workshops. As you know back in January I went to sunny Santa Barbara for my first ever National Association of Professional Children Photographers (NAPCP) photography retreat – if you have not seen the pictures from that trip you can see them here. I came back recharged and full of great ideas, one of which was to apply to be a NAPCP Ambassador. And guess what – I was selected to be an Ambassador! What does that mean, you may ask? According to NAPCP, Ambassadors “take an active role in building thriving communities of artists committed to growing their skills, their artistry, and their business.” You know that I love to network, meet new people and teach (you can check out my mentoring services right here!) so as you can imagine I am pretty excited about this opportunity!
I recently hosted my first NAPCP meeting where I got together with fellow NJ photographers and it was pretty awesome! We met at my Ridgewood studio one morning -it was great to meet new people (a couple of Ridgewood photographers that I’ve heard about but never met in person and a few photographers who just reached out to me) and a few ‘old’ friends. We talked about everything under the sun – balancing work and family, our kids, business and of course photography. I cannot wait to host more of these meetings!
And if you are a children or a family photographer in Bergen County (or anywhere else in New Jersey) and would like to meet a group of likeminded photographers email me and I will send you an invite to our next meeting!
Are you expecting a new bundle of joy and wondering what’s the best time to hold a newborn photo session? You may’ve heard that you need to do a newborn session as soon as possible after the baby is born – usually within first 10 days. And I would definitely agree with that – if you would like to have sleepy cuddly posed baby images, that is. A few days after the birth babies are still sleeping most of the time (although for a lot of them this sleeping occurs mostly during daytime hours and not at night!), are very moldable and that’s a perfect time to capture beautiful images of sleeping newborns.
My Bergen county photography studio, located in Ridgewood, is perfect for these types of sessions – it has great natural light (and studio lighting equipment for cloudy days), lots of space for everybody to spread out and plenty of props to choose from. With these sessions I focus primary on the baby (and capture all beautiful details of them!) but there are also plenty of images with parents, brothers and sisters and a grandparents if they are there for the session.
If posed studio newborn images are not what you are looking for, then a great alternative is an at-home lifestyle photo session. These photo sessions are very different from Ridgewood studio newborn sessions that I offer. With these sessions the focus is on the family – snuggling up with the new baby in the family room, rocking her to sleep in her nursery, hanging out on a big family bed together. If you spent time setting up and decorating the baby’s nursery, if you have special meaningful pieces of furniture or art that you would like to include in the session – this is a great session to do that. And if you have other children then this is the session I would definitely recommend over a studio newborn session because we would also be able to capture your other kid(s) in their natural habitat – playing with their toys, reading their favorite books, monkeying around – and doing all their favorite things. Think of this session as a family session with a newborn focus:)
I recommend scheduling lifestyle family photo sessions about 6-8 weeks after the baby is born. By this time the baby is more alert and awake and makes more eye contact and has a lot more personality. Some of them even smile when they look at their parent – and who would not want to capture their babies first smiles on camera?! Waiting a bit after the birth also gives parents (especially the Moms) a bit more time to recover from delivery and get settled into a life with a newborn.
So the type of a newborn photo session you should choose really depends on the type of images you would like me to capture. But I promise you that you will be happy with the results no matter the session type:)
This Ridgewood family opted for an at-home lifestyle photo session at their home. We were going back and forth about the timing of it and in the end they took my advice and scheduled it for when baby G. was about 8 weeks old. The parents absolutely loved the images we captured!
There was lots of laughter:
There were beautiful moments shared between these parents:
and a stunning little girl:
There was plenty of time for big brother G. to play with his dad:
and some quality Daddy/Daughter time:
and there was enough time hang out and read together as a family of four:
I absolutely loved meeting this family for their Ridgewood family session and cannot wait to watch these kids grow!
Last year after my kids slumber party I was so burned out and exhausted that I swore that it was a one time thing. Well, fast forward a year, and all they wanted to do for their birthday was to have another slumber party!
This time I had help of my friend Christine of Christine Paul Events who is an amazingly talented (and pretty famous!) NYC event planner. She met with the girls, who showed up to their ‘consult’ with their chromebooks and lots of ideas, took their vision and made it a reality. And I have to say that this party turned out better than I ever could’ve imagined – not that I ever doubted Christine’s magic!
I knew that I did NOT want to do it at our house – I could not handle a day of cleaning up after a day (and quite possibly a sleepless night) of partying. So Christine did her research and found a perfect venue – Woodcliff Lake Hilton – with an in-door pool (and who does not like to swim in the middle of the winter!) and ‘parlor’ rooms, that worked out great for our slumber party. She thought and planned everything to the last detail – I thought I was a type A person but I realized I was nothing compared to her:) And after over a month of planning, hours of shopping (some items came backs as far as the UK!) and setting up (with help of two dear friends!) the day was finally here!
There was a beautifully decorated tea party table:
complete with flower bouquets in teapots and tea sandwiches with ‘Be Tempted’ and ‘Take One’ and ‘How Scrumptious’ labels:
‘drink me’ bottles and fine china tea set gift favors,
flower crowns and bunny headbands for the girls to wear at the party and to take home:
There was strawberry milk:
and an ice-cream sundae bar:
two birthday cakes:
and different popcorn (for the movie portion of the party) with bags in Mia and Alexa’s favorite colors:
There were hours and hours and hours of research (mostly by Christine), of shopping and prepping, but the look of amazement of the girls faces and as they walked in and took it all in, while A Very Happy Unbirthday To You song was playing, made it all worth it:
There was ribbon cutting:
and pink lemonade tea cups clinking:
And then there was swimming (lots and lots of it):
followed by a dessert extravaganza:
and blowing out of candles:
and of course a party would not be complete without popcorn and a movie:
My second favorite part of the party (the first being seeing my kids faces full of amazement) was changing into my PJs, getting room service and watching a movie with a dear friend who volunteered to help me chaperone this event:
My dreams of the girls sleeping past 8 AM did not materialize – they were up bright and early playing games and watching shows. At that point I was so weak and tired that I gave in and fed them breakfast of cupcakes and cake – please don’t judge!
And by 10 AM all of the kids were picked up by their parents and I collapsed on a couch at home and promised myself that for next year’s party I will keep it simple and do a dinner and a movie with a few of their friends. We will see if that happens…:)
Given that we all love to travel we always go away on the girls’ birthday – sometimes it is a long trip (think sunny Caribbean) and other times it is a weekend get-away. This year the girls birthday fell at the tail end of a school break and after spending close to a week skiing we decided that finishing up the week and celebrating Mia and Alexa’s birthday with a weekend stay in the city was the way to go. We told them that they needed to plan it out and that we would do everything they wanted – all my kids wanted to do was to go to Central Park and to a museum! And that’s just what we did!
My kids LOVE Central Park and no matter how many times they’ve been there, they always have a blast! Our hotel was right on Central Park South so after an early check in we went to explore the park. The weather gods smiled at us – it was 60+ degrees at the end of February – a perfect day to explore.
There was a long discussion among them regarding which museum to go to – Natural History (Mia’s preference) or the Met (Alexa’s choice – she is a bit obsessed with Percy Jackson books and wanted to check our the Greek section). Their negotiations did not go far as they got distracted playing chess and climbing every rock there was.
For a brief moment they agreed to go to Central Park zoo but changed their minds once we got there and wanted to see the Alice in Wonderland statue; they climbed on every statue they saw on the way there:)
After spending to close to 5 hours in the park we got back to the hotel, changed and headed over to dinner at one of our old favs – Rue 57 (their clams are to die for!)
And after dinner was time for the girls birthday present – their first broadway show! I chose Aladdin and we all LOVED it!
And the next morning there was gift unwrapping :
skype call with their cousins:
a carriage ride through the park:
And tea at the Plaza!
And we ended this birthday weekend with a quick trip to Brooklyn to my parents to pick up Millie, get more birthday presents and eat a birthday cake lovingly made by my Mom! When we asked the girls which birthday weekend they liked better – this weekend in the city or last year’s birthday weekend to Grey Wolf Lodge they both said that staying in the city was their favorite! They are my children after all:)
On February 26th my girls turned 9…. I still remember that day in the hospital when I was on bed rest, 31 weeks pregnant, and my doctor came in at 5 AM asked where Victor was (he slept in the hospital with me every night I was there for over a week!) and said that today was the day we would meet our girls. I cried because I was not ready, I cried because I thought I failed my babies (I had pre-eclampsia and they had to deliver the girls early before it became too dangerous for me), I cried because my parents were not in the country (thinking that they had two months before the girl’s arrival date, they went abroad for a vacation), I cried because I knew how many things could go wrong with premature babies. But fast forward nine years and Victor and I have these two amazing, smart, funny, creative, and all around wonderful girls!
And true to our tradition, every year I take the girls to my studio, along with their favorite books and toys for their Birthday photo session.
And like I do with my Milestone studio photo sessions (weather permitting) we went outside to capture the girls in their natural habitat – with their ripsticks!
I love looking through images from the girls’ birthday photo sessions, seeing how much they’ve changed, what books and toys they loved at each age. This was the reason why I introduced Studio Milestones sessions – I want other parents to be able to have that as well. So if you want to capture who your kid at the time of their birthday take advantage of this great offering.