The shutdown…

My neighbor mentioned to me the other day that the food pantry she volunteers at has been nearly cleaned out because of so many government employees seeking help. 

My husband, thankfully, is still working and getting paid, because his agency’s budget is separate. And I’ve been truly grateful for that. But until she mentioned it, it hadn’t really occurred to me JUST HOW EASILY it could’ve affected us. After all, he HAS been furloughed before. How did we get so lucky this time?

We donate to food pantries regularly, as there is ALWAYS a need. But now there is an unusually large burden on these services. So, I’m making donations of non-perishables, personal care products, household products, etc. to one of our food nearby pantries (and there are several. See here)

And I want to encourage everyone who is able to do the same!! And as a THANK YOU, I want to offer part of my services (as a portrait photographer) to families that step up to help! 
🙋‍♀️ 🙋‍♀️ 🙋‍♀️ 👏 👏 👏

Here’s the deal…

FOR EVERY 1 POUND OF FOOD/GOODS THAT YOU DONATE, YOU WILL RECEIVE $5 TOWARD A FUTURE PORTRAIT SESSION FOR YOUR FAMILY! UP TO 30 POUNDS! 

(I’ll do the math: 30 pounds of food X $5 = $150) 😉
Yup. That can be up to $150 off any SLP portrait session! 

To put that in perspective, I EASILY filled half a paper grocery bag with some extras from our cabinets and it was 15 pounds! 😳😀

And you don’t have to book a session now. Just know that you’ll have a gift credit waiting for you when your family is ready for portraits. 

HERE’S WHAT YOU DO!
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1. Collect extras from your cupboards or visit the grocery store.

THINGS THE FOOD PANTRIES NEED MOST: 
BREAKFAST CEREAL(!!!) & OTHER BREAKFAST ITEMS, SOUPS, NOODLES, SPAGHETTI SAUCE, PB & J, LAUNDRY DETERGENT, PERSONAL CARE ITEMS (LIKE SHAMPOO, TOOTHPASTE, ETC).

2. Bring your donation to the SLP home studio. (Just message me for my address).

3. I’ll weigh your donation and present you with your gift card! (And I’ll drop off your donation for you!) 🙂

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I WOULD LOVE IT IF YOU’D SHARE THIS POST OR TAG PEOPLE!  
THANKS EVERYONE!

newborn baby in a bowl with tiny teddy bear

I often hear the questions, “When is the best time to book newborn photos?” and also, “When is the best time to TAKE newborn photos?”  And there are two very different answers to these questions…

When should you BOOK a newborn session?

When should you BOOK a newborn session? As soon as you know you’re expecting!  🙂  Well, it may not be completely necessary to book that early, however it’s a great time to begin looking for newborn photographers near you and decide on what type of artwork you’re looking for!  And booking (meaning paying any deposit required to secure your date on your photographer’s schedule) is best done– at the latest– during your second trimester.  The closer you get to baby’s due date, the more likely the photographer will be completely booked during that time.  It’s first reserved, first served- so be sure to snag your slot early on!

But WHEN do we HOLD the photo session?

That’s typically done within baby’s first two weeks of life!  During their first 7-14 days or so, babies are still VERY sleepy and very flexible- just like they were in the womb.  This new-ness is what allows them to be molded into those adorable, curly, womb-like features that highlights all their tiny, precious features.  It also means they will likely sleep for the majority of their session (expect for nursing breaks, diaper changes, and mommy or daddy snuggle breaks, of course!) A sleeping baby is simply easier to photograph and allows the photographer to capture a wider variety of images for their families.

Types of newborn photo sessions

The types of images created by newborn photographers has come to be as diverse as the babies themselves.  But typically, you’ll see a couple of styles:  There’s a traditional portrait session- like of baby Harry here- that uses custom styled set-ups to capture beautifully-lit images of baby, and their family.

There are also sessions that are considered more “Lifestyle,” meaning they are captured just as they’re happening, their surrounding environment included- either in your home or in the hospital.  With a Fresh 48 Hospital session– pictured below- your photographer captures the brand-newness of your baby and your family-  right in your hospital room.

newborn baby still in hospital wrap

Whatever style you prefer, it’s never too early to get in touch with the photographer whose work you love and tell them you’d like to get on their calendar for the month that you’re due.  In fact, the earlier, the better for YOU.  Those first couple days home from the hospital, you will most likely feel like you’ve lost all brain function.  Seriously- I can speak from experience!  Having your baby’s session all planned is going to be SUCH a relief for you at an exhausting time of your new lives.  Waiting until after baby arrives to try and choose a photographer is always harder and more stressful.  So, I encourage parents to book their session when baby is still in mom’s belly, because not only does it make a better experience for YOU, it is simply easier and less stressful on you during an already life-changing period of time.

Booking your newborn session with SLP

When you choose to book your newborn’s very first portraits with Sarah Lake Photography, I will essentially block of a period of several days around your due date (since we know we can’t really county on baby to come on the day we have planned!) And after baby is born, we then finalize your date and time to bring baby to the studio- which is usually around baby’s second week. 🙂

Furthermore, I only schedule a limited number of newborns each month.  This allows me to enough time to plan and customize for each of my clients, schedule around early babies, late babies, c-sections and the like.   rainbow baby girl with headband

I only book a limited number of newborns each month, as I am committed to giving each of my clients an amazing experience and the very best customer service.  After the care and safety of my tiny subjects, my clients are my number one priority.  I am so grateful for their trust in allowing me to capture their families and for supporting my business of doing what I love!

I you have any questions about a newborn session with SLP, please drop me a line here!  I’m more than happy to help!

To see our newborn session details and options, just click here!

Happy Fall y’all!  Well, not QUITE yet, but it’s definitely on its way!  Now that my family has returned from a wonderful month in Michigan spending time with grandparents and cousins, and school has once again started, it feels like things are back to normal again.  And for me, that means back to working full time at SLP!  And it just so happens that my favorite season is upon us:  Fall Family Portraits!  Fall is, by far, the most popular time for families to book family portrait sessions.  Why?  Beautiful fall colors… crisp, cool weather… less humidity to mess with Mama’s hairdo… Fall’s the best!  I was lucky enough to capture this adorable Maryland family this summer, and I can’t begin to tell you the joy it brought me to create these images for them.  This session made me so excited to think about the amazing fall portraits that will be happening soon!

On another more practical note, this session was an ideal example of WHAT TO WEAR for your family photos.  Momma here did an amazing job of styling her family! I might be biased (because blue is my favorite color) but I truly love how the family’s wardrobe finished off their images in the most beautiful way. It took what could have been nice photographs and made them amazing.

What did Mom do that works so well??  She chose similar tones for everyone. (Or is it intensities?)  You know, everyone was in light colors- a combination of whites, creams, and blues.  Everyone’s clothing complemented everyone else’s beautifully.  There wasn’t a bold or dark color stuck in somewhere.  (Not that you can’t do “bold” colors for portraits… you absolutely can!  See our Pinterest board, or our next blog post on Wardrobe tips for family portraits!)  But here, the soft, neutral tones are a never-fail no-brainer for pulled-together portraits.   😉

I hope you enjoy this sweet family’s session as much as I did shooting it!  I cannot help but smile when I see those adorable innocent little faces and their toothy grins.  And they’re not even mine!  I can just imagine the joy that Mom and Dad get from these.  And what an honor that is for ME to be a part of that- I am so blessed to do what I do!

little girl running and giggling little siblings smiling little girl sitting on stool mom and daughter holding hands while walking little girl hugging her baby brother baby boy in bowtie smiling family of four smiling daddy holding daughter in the air mom and dad holding their little children

family sitting on blanket daddy holding daughter

For more details and info about our on-location family sessions, visit our pricing page here.

Newborn Portrait Session- Sarah Lake Photography

I am still a little in awe of this gorgeous woman and her brand new baby girl- she arrived to my Waldorf studio with little Kensley looking amazing already and as you can see- made my job super easy!  (But don’t worry, moms, if you feel like a puffy, exhausted train wreck after your baby is born (I know I did!).  When I capture you with your tiny brand new babe, I can bring out the very best “you” in your portraits- both by posing, as well as editing.)  😉

This Momma, though… Stunning.

woman of color with baby girlAnd her little baby girl truly fit so perfectly in her arms.  I just visited her the other day (several weeks after this session) to deliver Mom her fine art pieces, and Kensley- now going on 2 months old- is way too big to be held like this anymore!  It’s no secret that babies grow quickly, yet somehow I’m still shocked EVERY time I see them.  This is the only time in your babies’ lives that they change this quickly… doubling their size in mere weeks.  THIS is why we capture them so tiny.  THIS is what’s hardest to remember after it passes.  I am so thankful that I was able to create these images for K and baby Kensley, as she will never be able to go back to this time.   woman of color with baby girl

African American newborn baby girl smiling baby girl sleeping on tiny bed newborn baby girl in pink and gray

Welcome to the world Baby Kensley!

A mere 9 years has passed since we had our first baby, but I already feel a bit like a granny in a rocking chair talking about all the gadgets and baby products they make for newborns and babies today. I swear, in less than a decade there have been so many inventions for expecting moms and newborns it’s hard to keep track of them all, let alone truly understand which ones you really need!
Like most experienced moms (i.e. moms who survived toddlerhood), I feel like some sort of expert on the baby stuff, though mastery of the actual raising-a-small-human thing still seems to elude me.  So, for funsies, I thought I’d write a post that might be helpful to all those new moms and dads out there! I get to meet so many soon-to-become parents in my business, it reminds me of what a stressful and exhilarating time having your fist baby can be. I’m hoping this list of things MY FAMILY found essential might come in handy for brand-new parents and make something overwhelming a bit more manageable.  🙂

6 BABY ITEMS YOU NEVER KNEW YOU NEEDED

1.   A pack-n-play!

I hear a lot of new parents ask if they really need a pack-n-play.  Technically, no…. as long as baby has a safe place to sleep like a crib, bassinet, or even a “Moses basket”, but from my own experience? YES!

Here’s why: They can be your baby’s first bassinet/bedside sleeper. They are a portable travel crib. They now are super simple and easy to set up. They make a great safe place for baby to play when you’re cleaning/working around the house.  And lastly, for all of these perks they’re relatively inexpensive. That is to say, all you need is a basic pack-n-play in the $60-80 range (not double that!) Little mobiles and such are cute, but just get one with the adjustable bottom- meaning you can raise the sleeping surface up high during those first few weeks so you can easily reach baby over the edge of your bed.  After using it those first few weeks bedside, and throwing in the car for a road trip or hotel stay or two, you’ll see why they were such a handy invention!

2.  Piddle pads

When we were registering for baby things with our first child, I wondered if people purchase a half a dozen or more of those cute and soft changing pad covers for a changing table (if you have one).  I mean, even though my experience as a child care quality consultant taught me that a waterproof, sanitizable surface (meaning an unpleasant plastic/vinyl mat) is the most appropriate surface to change a baby, I didn’t really want something like that in my own little angel’s beautiful nursery.  😛  However, my little angel peed all over her lovely soft changing mat cover the minute I removed her diaper! Solution? I bought some of those cotton flannel waterproof sheet savers from Babies-R-Us and cut them into quarters- the perfect size to lay on top of the changing pad cover and soak up any little surprises!  When peed on, they were FAR easier to swap out with a clean one and gave me FAR less laundry to wash than those bulky (and pricier) changing pad covers. Far less expensive from the start, too, since I bought one sheet saver and made four piddle pads from it!  They were also small enough to stash in the diaper bag to give yourself a clean place to lay baby when changing diapers on the run.

3.  A DOULA!

Though not a product from stores, this is the one essential you never knew you needed BEFORE baby is born! For those of you who don’t know, a doula is a person who supports you before, during and after labor. To me, a doula is a lot like a labor COACH. They don’t deliver your baby (your midwife or doctor does that) but they support YOU- physically, mentally, and emotionally- during the entire process of bringing your baby earthside, and some also provide POSTPARTUM support!  Now, don’t make the mistake of thinking doulas are an unnecessary luxury that only hipster moms use. They are, in fact,  AMAZING.

After meeting a doula who attended our birthing classes (and loving with her sweet, friendly personality) my husband and I decided we wanted to hire a doula for our second baby.

And MAN am I glad we did. Long story short: My second labor was MUCH shorter than my first (five hours from start to baby) and the Army medical center where I was to deliver was SO busy with laboring moms that I couldn’t get the epidural I so desperately wanted- Anesthesia was literally backlogged!  So, I had to labor on my own (90 minutes of that in the hallway!) Thank GOODNESS our doula Doris Ann was there with us! I mean, I wasn’t completely alone- my husband was there- but with all due respect to that wonderful man, he’s pretty much useless in the delivery room!

Of course, I had the option of getting painkillers, but I told Doris Ann beforehand (at one of our pre-birth coffee dates) that I did NOT want to take IV drugs. So she helped encourage me to labor without them if I could. She massaged my back, helped me walk when I needed to, breathe and mediatate when I needed to, and conveyed my wishes to the doctors whenever my husband was too nervous to do so himself. I ended up making it through labor without any pain medication or epidural whatsoever, pushing for just 4 1/2 minutes!

Although I never INTENDED to have a natural childbirth, I am so glad now that I was able to (just like Doris Ann told me I’d be).  She knew that I was adamant about NOT having IV drugs administered, so she helped me realize my own ability to get through labor on my own.  She never pushed me one way or the other to have one type of labor over another. She supported the decisions that I made BEFOREHAND and help me see it through to the very sweet end.  I will forever be grateful to her for having such a wonderful birthing experience!

4.  Swaddle wraps!

Although many parents might say you don’t need anything other than a blanket to swaddle a baby (and technically they’d be right), those swaddle wraps are a wonderful thing for the sleep-deprived deliriously tired parent trying to swaddle a baby back to sleep in the middle of the night. We bought a couple of these things. We swaddled our baby with a flannel receiving blanket or whatever we had, but when baby kept wriggling the blankets loose, we realized these wraps kept that little baby burrito snug and wrapped all night long; well, at least until her next feeding!  It doesnt matter how sloppily you swaddle baby in their blanket, one of these wrapped and velcroed around them keeps them snug and happy without ever coming unraveled.

5.  A cradle swing.

As legend in my family goes, I was a fussy baby. (Or is the word “rotten”?)  I mean, there is a reason that I’m the baby in the family- my parents say they didn’t want to have another after I came!  My mom says that the ONLY thing that would soothe me during one of my terrible crying jags was a swing. It was one of those swings with a crank on the side that you had to keep cranking over and over again. I think she said they went through 2 or 3 swings in my first year! Anyway, the electric versions now are pretty great- they’re not only adorable and cozy (and far quieter!), you can choose to have baby swing front-to-back, or side-to-side, like a cradle. Our munchkins definitely preferred the latter. They were SOOOOO content in their swings- falling asleep in them nearly every time.  As they grew, we needed to replace the swing with their crib when it was actually nap time, but during those first several weeks that are so exhausting, the swing was a lifesaver.

6.  A Diaper Genie

I once saw this item on an article written about things you don’t need for baby. And I totally disagree!  Although you don’t HAVE to get a diaper genie- (You could always choose to carry the dirty diaper to your bathroom, or -God forbid- your kitchen trash, but you then will have to smell that smell anytime you walk into those rooms.  So, you could put them in a sealed trash container so you can’t smell them 20 minutes later… Hmmm… that would be a pain to have to unlatch some container every time you have a dirty diaper (which is umpteen times a day).  Wouldn’t it be nice if there was some type of trash can that you can put right next to the changing table, that is sealed so you can’t smell it, yet easy to open- even hands-free?  Well, there is such a thing: It’s called a diaper genie!  😛  And the reason so many are for sale in yard sales?  Not because they’re useless, but because- thank the heavens above- babies all WILL eventually stop using diapers. (So, have faith potty training parents!)


Anyway, that is MY list of things you never knew you needed for baby!  Agree?  Disagree?  I’d love to know what y’all think!  Feel free to comment with YOUR favorite baby things below.  Parents- especially new parents- need all the help they can get!

S i g n   U p !