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Like so many things, newborn sessions look different these days, in our post-Covid world. While previously the majority of my newborn sessions took place within the first two weeks after a baby’s arrival (or even in the first 48-hours for those who opted for hospital sessions), now many of my clients are understandably choosing to wait until two months or longer to have that first session (if they have one at all). I thought this week I’d take a minute to share a) my tips for taking your own newborn photos at home, b) my safety policies for taking in-home sessions for newborns, and c) highlights from some of my favorite newborn sessions from the past year or two.

If you are choosing to wait before having professional newborn photos taken, please don’t let that stop you from taking some portraits on your own at home! You’ll always love having those images from when they were teeny tiny, even if they are only taken on your phone. Here are my top tips to get the best possible images on your own:

  1. Set up in an area with abundant natural light, for example: on any soft surface (couch, bed, ottoman, etc.) across from a window. Bonus points if the room you are in has light/neutral colored walls to help bounce that light!

  2. Make your home warmer than usual - in the summer, turn off the AC if you can bear it for a few minutes, and in the winter, crank up that heat. If you’re feeling overheated... your baby probably loves it and will sleep more soundly during your photos (sleepy babies = easier to pose and photograph!)

  3. Lay your baby on their side, with their legs/feet angled slightly away from you - this will help you make sure that you don’t have an unflattering up-the-nose angle in your photos :)

If you’re feeling ready to have a photographer in your home for photos, here are the safety policies I consider for all indoor sessions, but especially for newborn sessions:

  1. I will wear a face covering at all times.

  2. I will thoroughly wash and sanitize my hands both before I leave my home for your session and again immediately upon arrival. I bring sanitizer with me and use abundantly.

  3. I maintain social distance, and will coach you through positioning your baby when needed (rather than doing so myself - it’s tough to resist the urge to cuddle your babies, but I know it’s for the best!)

  4. In contrast to timing suggestions pre-Covid, I now recommend waiting until two weeks after you come home from the hospital, at earliest. This gives you time to isolate and self-quarantine as a family after your hospital stay.

  5. As with all sessions indoor or out, if I (or anyone in my immediate family) present symptoms or come in contact with someone who has tested positive, I will notify you immediately to reschedule, and ask that you do the same.

If you have any questions about either taking your own newborn photos at home, or scheduling a professional session with me, please be in touch! I’d love to talk with you.

This past weekend I hosted another round of my classic portrait minis - I l-o-v-e these sweet little sessions! They were originally inspired by a client (hi, Kelli!) who asked if I could do a special edit style for one of her images, to match photos she had taken years ago of her now oldest daughter. When I shared those images on social media, so many of you fell in love with the timeless look, and from there, classic portrait minis were born!

I plan to offer these sessions two or three times a year, with the next round happening on April 18th - in time to get your files/prints ready for Mother’s Day Gifts. I consider these portraits to be the perfect gift for just about *any* grandparent (let’s be real, all they ever want is photos of their favorites, right?). OR - set up a session to treat yourself, because a mom can only have so many bath bombs or scented candles.

The sessions are designed for individual children (not ideal for bitty babies; must be able to sit on their own), and are 10 minutes long. The session fee is $125, and while you do need to schedule a separate session for each child, I will take complimentary “sibling” photos for you between their sessions (in the time I’d normally reserve for disinfecting the space between families). You also receive a credit for a free 8x10 print for each session (because these photos in particular are at their best when printed and framed).

Check out the scheduling page here if you’d like to sign up for April’s session (and please remember that your reservation is not finalized until your deposit is received), and be in touch with any questions!

PS: I’m going to spill a little secret. When you sign up for classic portrait minis, in addition to your five black and whites, you’re also going to get some bonus color shots, because they’re just too cute not to share, and I can’t help myself! Examples from last weekend’s sessions are below...

Happy New Year! If your new year has already started with too many resolutions, then you likely don’t want to add one more thing to your to-do list. But this very quick way to create and print a family photo yearbook from last year (or any other year, should you prefer to not immortalize 2020 in print) will make you feel super accomplished - in ten minutes or less.

While my “big” family yearbooks are a more complicated work-in-progress that I’ll share more about in next month’s #febphotofix (follow my Instagram @alisonfopeano for details), I also print these smaller snapshot books every year and they couldn’t be easier.

If you’re like me, your personal instagram account serves as a digital version of your family yearbook or a baby book for your children... while I never got around to putting pen to paper in my twins’ baby book beyond the first week or two, I can still find when they cut their first tooth, took their first steps, or said their first words if I scroll through my Instagram feed. But I don’t expect twenty years from now to be scrolling through digital images when I want to reminisce - I’d much rather hold those memories in my hands. If you’re like my husband and only use Instagram to browse, not post, you can still use this system, it will just be a little less “quick”.

Enter Chatbooks - and please know this post is not sponsored in any way; they have no clue who I am, other than one of many customers. By using Chatbooks, I’m able to quickly and easily print my Instagram feed into a beautiful photo book. Below you’ll find the very easy steps to creating your own book, promo codes for $10 off your first book, and my favorite things about using this method.

How to Create Your Family Photo Yearbook using Chatbooks

(more of a visual learner? you can find step-by-step video instructions in my Instagram Highlights)

  1. Download the Chatbooks app and create an account (I believe you can also do this through their website, but I find it easy to do on the app)

  2. Connect to your photos - I post all of my favorite photos in Instagram so that’s a no-brainer for me, but you can choose whichever service(s) you prefer including: the Camera Roll on your phone, Instagram, Facebook, Google Photos, Tinybeans, SmugMug, Flickr, or Dropbox. Choose one or multiple.

  3. Select the “add book” button (bottom center of app) and choose your book type. The books I create are “standard photo books”, 6” x 6”, hardcover, white.

  4. Tap your preferred source (e.g., Instagram)

  5. Select your photos - I select every photo from whatever year I’m printing - the app will automatically put the photos in chronological order for you after you select. You can choose to not select some images, if something you posted or shared doesn’t quite fit into the ‘story’ of your family’s year (e.g., I had a few election reminder posts that I chose to not include in our 2020 printed book)

  6. Once you’ve selected at least 30 photos, you’ll have a button pop up that says “Add ## Photos” and the cost - hit that!

  7. Your book is in place! Click on “Book Options” to add a title (I am boring and just use our last name and the year as the title for each yearbook), and select “Page Layout” to find settings for captions, locations, and dates (I choose to include the captions and dates on my pages, but not locations - all personal preference!)

  8. Select “Edit Cover” to choose an image for the cover or opt from a ton of ‘designer’ covers (extra cost of $2-3).

  9. Scroll through images and make adjustments if you’d like in terms of arrangement (click and drag) - sometimes I swap things around if it’s a multi-picture post, etc., or if I want the caption to the left instead of the right on a longer-caption post, etc.

  10. When you’re happy with the layout, click add to cart. Easy peasy! I ordered my 2020 yearbook in the morning on January 1st and received an email on the the 6th that it had shipped and should arrive by the 13th.

Want a promo code to save $10 off your first book? Use mine (and again, this is not a sponsored post - they offer promo codes to all customers in thanks for referring friends): W2NGWAU4 (no expiration date). They are also currently having a sale on photo yearbooks - you can save 15% using code BYE2020 now through January 10th (valid even if you’ve ordered books from them in the past).

The total cost of your book will vary based on how many photos you print - to give you a general idea, my book for 2020 cost $56.92 after tax, shipping, and the 15% promo. My previous years were a bit more (because the younger the twins were, the more photos I was taking!!), and some years (2015 and 2016 - my twins’ first two years of life) I had to split between two volumes because I just had too much to print - but it was worth it to have a physical copy of these memories.

What I Love About This System

  1. No culling and sorting - I don’t have to go through my photos and choose which ones to use because I’ve essentially already done that throughout the year by deciding what I deem ‘worthy’ of posting on Instagram. If it’s worthy to share on my insta, then it’s worthy to be in the book. If you don’t use Instagram regularly in this way, you can still use this process and pull photos from your camera roll or another source, it just may take a little bit longer to do.

  2. Fast - not only is it fast to create the book (and I’m a bit fussy and generally rearrange things a bit before finalizing), but the turnaround time is fast, too. From ordering to receiving, I’ll have my book in less than two weeks. That might not seem quick in our world of 2-day shipping, but for a completely custom book, I think it’s great.

  3. Easy - I find the app to be fairly intuitive and I love that the dates and captions can be automatically added - no more wondering, when was this photo taken? Where were we here? What was going on? etc (how many photos do you have of yourself from childhood and you don’t even know how old you are in the pic?? I know I have quite a few where I could be “somewhere between 7 and 9”. Total mystery).

  4. Quality - I have ordered a total of nine books (not counting a few softcover books I had ordered previously for vacation pictures and the twins’ first birthday), and the quality is consistent.

  5. Size - I like the smaller 6” size - it’s great for both kid and adult hands, and a nice complimentary size to the larger books I also print. If this is the only family photo book you plan to print for each year, you might opt for one of their larger sizes. Whatever you like best!

  6. Value - To have nearly 190 photos printed - along with the date and a caption for each - and bound for less than $60 is a great value. I could spend about the same to have crummy one hour photo prints made*... but they wouldn’t be bound, wouldn’t have the date, and the quality would be far inferior. (*please don’t do this. If you want/need loose prints, I’ll share more next month about my best practices for printing photos!)

  7. Backup - Having a printed version of my favorite digital photos is just another backup for these favorite images - the originals are on my phone, the first backup is in my Instagram account itself, and the printed book is my final, and honestly probably most secure, hard-copy backup.

Get started on your family photo yearbook! You’ll feel so accomplished to check it off your list, and will probably be inspired to print some for years even farther past as well. Tag me in your posts (@alisonfopeano) once you have them in hand - I can’t wait to see what you create!

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