Maine West COVID Prom 2020

Maine West COVID Prom 2020

Usually at this time of the year you can see groups of kids in front of neighborhood houses all dressed up and ready to celebrate with friends. This year is looking a little different. High School seniors are having to improvise and make their own fun. I got together with their aunt to help bring these two a fun evening. It wasn’t prom, but it will be a night that they wont forget. Tons of laughs, lots of honks and cheers from passersby and some good stories to tell. 

We made a special stop to take a photograph under our favorite local restaurant who then let us dance under their lights. Special thanks to the Beacon Tap in Des Plaines and to all the passersby who wished this kids well and made them feel special, one even gave them some posing direction! When life gives you a big huge container of lemons, make some lemonade and dance around like these two! 

Take a look at our evening: 

 

If you want to document your own 2020 events during COVID, Click here for ideas and pricing options. 

Pandemic Baby

Pandemic Baby

Meet Fiona. Her Mom and Dad waited very patiently for this little miracle.Then they brought her home during a pandemic. Talk about waiting to make a large entrance into the world! This cutie will hear pandemic stories over and over for years. She will go to school with other pandemic babies and they can compare stories and pandemic baby books. I am thrilled to be able to contribute to documenting this start for Fiona and her parents.

There are so many to-dos and preparations as a first time parent. New parents plan and prep and then scour the internet wondering what they forgot to do and what more then can check off before their baby arrives. Up until now, planning for a pandemic has never been on the list. No one has ever told new parents to plan for their partner to be the only one allowed in the hospital with you. The internet says to accept help after, they do not say to plan on your parents, siblings and best friends stuck on the other side of the glass waving through the window to sneak a peak at the new addition. No one said make sure you have twice as much toilet paper as you usually do because you might get stuck with that one ply stuff!

No one said that you wouldn’t be able to have newborn portraits in the hospital or with in the first two weeks of life. Of course safety and health are first priority, but it’s ok to be a little frustrated as these are moments that fly by. They are only this tiny for such a short period.

 

As I promised and posted and shared over and over with new parents through the shelter in place; you will get sweet baby portraits even if they are well past two weeks old. Fiona was 6 weeks when I finally met her and during my time with her we were able to get perfect posed portraits, lifestyle documentation showing their first quarantined weeks at home as well as some open eyed images showing off that big personality. It feels like the perfect mix to me.

This was my first newborn session after the COVID shelter in place. I put on my mask and stocked up on hand sanitizer. We started with some lifestyle photos in their home and then wrapped her up, rocked her to sleep and took some posed portraits.

Following the posed portraits, Mom dressed her up in her fancy name shirt (all these cute outfits and nowhere to go!) and we snapped a few inside. As you can see, Fiona showed off a lot of expression at this time. We then headed outside where a few of the welcome home decorations still hung and were able to capture some family portraits. Front porch photos have become trendy during this time but they have always been a standard in my portfolio. This is an important image. Your child’s first home will be special to them and to the parents, take this at any age whether it is trending or not.

If you have ever been a model, you know that it is hard work. Fiona needed a meal break so we hung out and waited for her to give us the go ahead. A bottle, burp and some snuggles later and she was ready for a few more.

These three have spent 6 weeks (even more by now!) together behind this glass. Staying safe, keeping healthy, getting to know each other and figuering out this parenting thing. This was a must have shot to document this very bizarre and totally unprepared time they made it through.

One last moment in the home with mom and a special onsie that Fiona was ecstatic to wear. As I look back now this was the only time we got a HUGE smile out of her that day. Sometimes kids just know.

Have a baby during the pandemic? Contact me today and we can discuss your first portrait session.

Quarantine Birthday

Quarantine Birthday

 I think it is safe to assume we all know someone that has celebrated a birthday in quarantine. or lock down. or while sheltering in place. Whatever you want to call it, most of us have either wished someone a birthday from a distance or accepted birthday wishes over a zoom call. When I asked my soon-to-be 18 year old if he had anything he wanted to do for his birthday, he replied ‘I know what I don’t want. I do not want a parade.” If you know him, this is no surprise. 

Both my teenagers have been stir crazy (me too!), the golf course was opening this weekend and it was going to be 78 degrees on his birthday. All of these facts got me thinking and I decided to put together a hunt to get them outside to COVID appropriate destinations. 

I started with a list of what we are currently allowed and able to do: pick up food, be at a forest preserve, golf in a pair, go into a store, stop in a friends front yard. I contacted three people I knew he would like to see and booked them for golf at 5, lunch at 2 and a front yard stop at 3:30. I then filled in the course making sure to have activities before each stop that were flexible with time and that I could pause them at if needed. Turning 18 meant he could buy lotto tickets, so I added that as an activity. I then added his High School on to the list because he is graduating this year and his elementary school as a stop just for fun. 

I made a list of ways to deliver clues: puzzles, geocache/gps coordinates, pop balloons, rebus puzzle, recreate a photo from younger days, crosswords, cryptograms. 

 

I started at the end and worked my way back making sure to account for drive times. Here is what I ended up with:

Both the birthday boy and his sister started with envelopes at the breakfast (shown above by the vase). One said ‘It’s your 18th birthday’ and the other ‘Your brother is 18 today! Inside both it said:

 Your day of fun starts here: Make sure to observe all COVID rules and guidelines. Bring a mask and use santizier every time you get back in the car. Keep your hands away from your face.

 I didn’t plan to write a blog post but thankfully I snapped some phone photos a long the way.

They scrambled to get ready. When they got in the car, they found a plastic camo easter egg with their first clue:

 

542 flags for 542 graduates front and center.  

You will find your first clue by one flag that represents you. 

The High School had put out flags for the seniors. I had placed a camo easter egg a few flags in.

In that egg was the next clue: 

 

 

You are 18! You can now: 

Open a bank account

Vote!

Go sky diving

Get selected for jury duty

Sue someone

Buy fireworks

Get married

Get a credit card

Go to jail

 

And the only one that you can do today:

Buy a lotto ticket!

Take the 10.00 hidden in your glove compartment to the gas station and get your first scratch offs. 

Send me a text with your scratched off lotto tickets for your next clue. 

 

When he sent me the lotto ticket, I replied:

Look under your seat for your next clue. 

I had taped a photo under the front seat. The photo showed him in line on his elementary school blacktop in second grade. When he arrived at the location in the picture he found GPS coordinates.

 

I have been taking my kids geocaching since they were small so they were no stranger on how to get to this next spot. .  

When they arrived to the coordinates about 10 minutes away in a forest preserve, they found another camo egg by a tree. Inside the egg was a coupon for a local pizza place and the clue:

Hopefully by now you are ready for a snack: 

Head here and ask for an order for Kelly

Don’t forget to sanitize & then sanitize again before you eat. 

 But DO NOT go in until 2. 

Otherwise you will miss a familiar face in the parking lot. 

Head over to the Prairie Lakes parking lot to responsibly socialize 🙂

Telling him to wait until 2pm allowed a buffer of time. If he found the cache early, he would still wait and not miss his friend. 

The pizza place was more than happy to participate. They even took a photo and shared. I had ordered a pizza for him, his sister and the friend meeting them so they all had their own order and could eat from their cars in the parking lot. 

(The outdoor space mentioned, Prairie Lakes, was not open and I didn’t check that. Tip: Assume nothing and check all the spots 🙂 

 

I asked the pizza place to write his next clue on the pizza box:

When you are through, 

Stop home and POP your way to the next clue. 

Someone has a surprise for you

I told his sister there was no rush to move on to the next clue and to enjoy the fresh air for as long as they wanted. 

 

 

When he arrived home he realized that he needed to find something to pop. His sister remembered commenting earlier on the fact that Mom put balloons outside so everyone would know it was his birthday. Realizing this was part of the hunt they grabbed them and popped them. Out came 12 letters on paper and they moved them around until they made sense. They formed two names and headed to that house. 

I sent this photo rebus clue via text to the person he was meeting before and told them they could print it out or just text it to them when it was time to move on. Again this was another time where he could hang out in the front yard and socialize for a short time (or a long time) depending on how the schedule was going.

This clue says ‘Meat @ Gulf Center’. These kind of clues you have to know your kid. Mine plays hockey and that is the center position. They later told me they were a little hung up on the @ (they were usuing ‘to’), but they eventually figuered it out.

He ended his day playing a round of golf The Golf Center. The Golf Center was open for pairs and they ran into no one else while golfing because they had the tee times spread out. 

After this he arrived home, we had dinner and a fire and called it a night. 

In order to make this work I got everything ready and set it up in the morning before my kids woke up. And you have teenagers who have adjusted to a COVID sleep schedule you know that I pretty much had all day to do this. I wrote on a piece of paper and taped to each egg that I put in a public space: ‘Do not remove. Part of Birthday Hunt 5/2/20’ in hopes that it would help people leave it alone if they came across it. However the places I put the clues I did not anticipate anyone coming across them. 

I cleaned out the car so that the first egg clue would be obvious and then stuck the egg in the cup holder. I packed a soft cooler with water and La Croix so they would have this through the hunt and for lunch. I also taped the photo under the seat and then placed money in the glove box for the lotto tickets making sure it wouldn’t be seen until directed in the clue.

I drove to the High School to place the egg by the flag, the forest preserve to place the egg at the coordinates and then I checked the coordinates to make sure they worked. (my kids said that the phone coordinates do not dial in the location enough and a GPS should be used. If you do not use a GPS then give an additional clue with the coordinates such as: look for large tree where path intersects) I went to the elementary school and wrote the coordinates in chalk and then headed home to blow up the balloons with letters in them and hang out front. I then placed the order for the pizza and asked for it to be ready at 2pm with the clue wirtten. 

I didn’t expect my kids to enjoy this as much as they did. I am sure the fact that they have not been very social or out in so long played a role in the enjoyment. I think this would work for anyone, any age! Copy this hunt exactly, change it up, make one long hunt to end at a dinner or lead to one awesome present. If you create one, I’d love to see it so make sure to share! 

 

Ages and Stages to photograph in year one.

Ages and Stages to photograph in year one.

The first year flies by, let’s take a look at some fun stages and ages to document. But before we do, I cannot stress enough to communicate with your photographer goals that you have for the first year or two. This times flies by and you can easily loose track of the time. If your photographer knows what you are working toward they can keep you on track. My clients love the baby plan because that insures that they will get two major stages in the first year: sitting and first birthday plus bonus Christmas and Easter sessions. If you are working to create a wall gallery or an album, it is important to let your photographer know that to keep the work cohesive and take into consideration when photographing. 

3 months old

Sure she may seem big at 3 months but this is such a fleeting stage. It is a great stage to capture as she starts to move, works on tummy time and genuinely put a big smile on her face. 

This might be your first time in the photo studio and if so, it is an excellent time. At this age a cute onsie is the perfect outfit as it allows those chunky thighs to be shown off. 

 

3 months old

7 months old

6-9 months old will focus on crawling, sitting and maybe standing. She will probably be scooting and rolling over the studio backdrop, laughing and giggling easily at all the silly faces I make at them.

This is a fun age when they laugh easily, love to play peek-a-boo but they can’t get very far too fast. 

7 months old

7 months old

Turning one! This is a fun milestone. They are often walking or standing on their own by now. Many parents like to end the session with a cake smash or other fun way to celebrate the first year. 

Donut smashes and pasta parties as well as balloons, fun shirts and their favorite stuffed friends all are great ways to personalize the first birthday portrait session. 

This is also an excellent time for a family portrait! 

 

One year old - Cake Smash

One year old - Pasta Smash

One year old - Donut Smash

One year old - Family Portrait

What is the best age for newborn portraits?

What is the best age for newborn portraits?

In a perfect situation, a soon-to-be parent would contact me in their second trimester, or early in their third, and would book the session. We would reserve the babies due date and the parents would contact me after they deliver. With in the next 14 days the family would come in to the studio or I would come to their home for their newborn session. We would meet 3-5 days later, place the order and have everything up in their home two weeks after their ordering date. We would then book the baby plan and schedule a sitter, one year and an 18 month session to create an amazing art piece for the family. 

But we all know that life rarley goes as planned. Sometimes babies need to stay in the hospital longer than normal. Mom may need more time off after delivery. Babies who enter families through adoption do not typically do so until 6 weeks and that should never mean that you forgo the first portrait. Maybe the parents didn’t know they wanted newborn portraits… or maybe they just didn’t want that newborn age documented. 

Instead of talking about what age you can photograph newborns at, let’s talk about what different stages may look like and what you can expect. Because we can photograph babies at any age! 

7 days old

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In the first two weeks baby will be flexible and like to mimic positions from in the womb. They will not have peeling skin or baby acne yet. They generally sleep well if the pre-session prep is followed and they love to be swaddled. 

If you are reading this before your baby is born and your want portraits with that fresh newborn skin, tiny features and super flexible poses then call and book your session ASAP to guarantee a spot and have all the preparations in order. 

3 weeks old

I would still consider the 3-5 week period to be a ‘newborn’ portrait. They still love a good swaddle and even though they are not quite as flexible they will still often easily allow us to pose them in some more traditional newborn poses such as their hands under their chin. Anything more would be determined by the baby and what they feel comfortable doing.

Older babies have a little more pudge and rolls. They often sleep really well if they arrive on a full belly and the prep guide has been followed.  

4 weeks old

4 weeks old

5.5 weeks old

6 weeks old

At 6 weeks they start to loose that newborn look, are awake more and are beginning to develop their personality. They make eye contact and have sweet expressions which we will focus on during the session. At this age your baby will heavily guide our session. 

Typically by this age they will not be able to be posed in any curled up newborn poses nor will they fit on the traditional newborn props and sets. They will however still fit in our basket set ups for a sweet close up. We commonly can get one of them sleeping near the end of the session after being worn out and swaddled.

 

6 weeks old, looking up at her big brother

6 weeks old

Remember, just because you miss what has been marked today as the ‘perfect newborn portrait window,’ does not mean you do not take portraits. A portrait has no time constraints. It documents that specific time in your life and your babies life. Every moment is special. Take the portrait at any time that is perfect for you. 

6 weeks old

6 weeks old

Can I still send out announcements even if my baby is older?

YES! Absolutley. You make your own rules. Everyone on your mailing list will be excited to receive a photo of the newest addition 4 weeks or 4 months after they arrive. They are just happy to have a card to put up on their fridge! 

 

3 months old

Are you past the new baby phase? Click below to read about the ages and stages to photograph during babies first year, 3 months and older. 

 

 

7 Reasons to Book Your Newborn Portraits BEFORE your Due Date

7 Reasons to Book Your Newborn Portraits BEFORE your Due Date

They are only tiny for so long, don’t wait until after your baby is born! 

I just talked to two parents who said they wished they knew to book their newborn photo session before their due date arrived. We were able to get them in but they still wish they would have known to book ahead of time. This isn’t something you want to leave to the last minute and here are a 7 good reasons not to wait to book your session AND a fabulous bonus for booking with our studio early. 

1.  Time Flies By. 
I know, I know… it seems like you have so much time to get everything done, but 40 weeks flies by. Parents get busy the closer to delivery. Take care of everything you can early on.
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2.  High Quality Newborn Portraiture is in High Demand. 
There are tons of people to take your pictures, but high quality newborn portraiture is in high demand right now. If you wait until after your baby is born you may not have the luxury of choosing your preferred photographer, or you may not be able to get in right away. Newborn photography isn’t something you can repeat, you want to get it right the first time. 
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3.  Booking Early Secures Ideal Newborn Photo Time. 
It is ideal to get baby in before two weeks of life, although later time can be accommodated, this time is before baby acne sets in, their skin peels and while they are still very sleepy. Booking your due date means that your photographer and you have communication established and you have a spot on the calendar. 
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4.  You have No Idea When Baby will Arrive! 
They may arrive early and if they do, you will be happy that you are prepared with your photographer and all you have to do is send a message that you have checked in to the hospital. You do not want to be calling around for photographers when you are in the hospital. 

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5.  You Get to Establish a Relationship with your Photographer.
This is so important! You don’t just want to take the first one you find on google or the cheapest. These photos are your baby’s first photos, this may be your baby’s first outing, newborn portraits may be your first outing. You want to make sure you are with someone you trust and someone who will understand how important this is. All of my newborn clients have already provided me with nursery photos and color schemes before delivery. I already know a little about them and baby even if we didn’t do a maternity session. They have literature and they know how to prepare for the session well before baby arrives. 
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6.  Maternity Portraiture Add-ons.
Speaking of maternity, that is another great reason to book your due date. Most photographers, like myself, offer complimentary maternity add-ons. So if you are thinking of a maternity session, think newborn too! 
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7.  Bonus Items!
Some photographers also offer early booking incentives as well, like Kelly Fitzgerald Studio. With us you get some awesome extras for booking early because we love to spoil our clients and share with them the things we love too!
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