Happy Birthday Corban | Pensacola Birth Photography

Rebekah is another one of those friends that I've had with me before we were even earthside. Our moms were pregnant with us together (are are still besties).

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We've been in and out of touch over the years (mostly because she is forever picking up and moving away), but the roots run deep despite the changing of the seasons. And we've always reconnected...most frequently over babies. A whole continent apart (Florida to Alaska), we've encouraged each other thru big life choices, miscarriages, those scary early days of pregnancy after a miscarriage...

Then there was that time she sent me a message (from Hawaii) to say she was 5 weeks pregnant with her second baby, to which I replied I was also 5 weeks pregnant with my second baby. Talk about history repeating! We had our boys just a couple of weeks apart and in the same hospital, with the same doctor no less. I went first though, so obviously I wasn't able to photograph her birth then...actually no one was able to, because he was nearly born in the parking lot. 

We didn't have super high hopes that I would make it in time for #3. Nonetheless Bekah, promised to call me and I promised to try and be there. When the call came, we ended up having plenty of time. Even Corban's exit from the womb was slow...almost languid. Which made for some pretty incredible pictures that I can't ever show you. What I can show you is still pretty amazing and beautiful. Everybody, meet Corban:

Shout out to midwife Jenny Allen, doula Amber Roman (Belly to Cradle), and the wonderful nurses at Baptist Hospital for making sure I had time, space, and light to capture all of the important moments. And of course, to dad Scott, who kept us all laughing...even when I caught him crying. 

Don't forget to leave a comment below to help earn Scott & Rebekah a free 8x10 mounted print from this session. 


Photo credit: Indie Pearl Photography

Natalie is a lifestyle family photographer serving Pensacola, FL and surrounding areas. With a passion for capturing candid family moments, she specializes in birth and newborn lifestyle photography. Natalie lives in Pensacola with her husband and two (very difficult to photograph) children. Besides photography, she has a passion for modern sewing projects and graphic design. 

Photo Credit: Indie Pearl Photography

Glamping with the Carlsons | Milton Family Photographer

Jimmy and Tavia are lovers of travel, adventure, hiking, and camping. You might think having kids would change that, but expanding their family by two hasn't slowed them down one bit. They even run a blog, Big Brave Nomad, recounting their wanderings and providing tips on traveling with little ones in tow. 

When baby Latham turned one last month, Tavia asked how we might incorporate something travel related into his cake smash session. I mean, if you're going to shell out the dollars for a first birthday/family session, you might as well get something you can also use for your biz too, right? Right! 

Knowing their love of camping and exploring the outdoors, I suggested a lifestyle session built around a camping trip. Nature walks, roasting hot dogs and marshmallows over a blazing fire...that kind of thing. 

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I won't lie and say I haven't been dreaming up a family camping lifestyle session for a while now. I'm so freaking lucky to have clients like the Carlsons, who totally trust my vision and are 100% on board when I pitch an idea like booking a glamping tent at Coldwater Gardens in Milton for their session. I also won't lie and say that I am not completely obsessed with this little oasis in the middle of nowhere. OBSESSED. 

In addition to the glamping tents, the accommodations include beach camping on the river, eco-cabins, an incredible modern tree house. Everything is so stylish and well maintained. We had such a great time glamping, hiking the nature trails, playing on the playground, and exploring the gardens and green houses. 

Click play below to check out the full story of our outdoor adventure.

The cake smash was also pretty epic. Those shots didn't exactly fit into the story for the video slideshow, so here they are on their own. The smash cake is a simple chantilly cake from Publix. As a bonus, it came free with a giant full sized cake. Which was great, because Latham crawled over, sat in, and smashed rocks into his cake. 

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Apparently, one year old boys get mad when you won't let them eat their cake covered rocks. To cheer him up, leave a comment below. Once 50 people have commented I will send the Calrsons a FREE 8X10 mounted print of one of my favorite images from their session.

If you haven't already, make sure you hop on over here to watch Latham's birth story and here for his newborn session. I can't believe it's been a whole year! Happy Birthday little man!


Photo credit: Indie Pearl Photography

Natalie is a lifestyle family photographer serving Pensacola, FL and surrounding areas. With a passion for capturing candid family moments, she specializes in birth and newborn lifestyle photography. Natalie lives in Pensacola with her husband and two (very difficult to photograph) children. Besides photography, she has a passion for modern sewing projects and graphic design. 

Photo Credit: Indie Pearl Photography

Colegrove Family Vacation | Pensacola Beach Photographer

The Colegrove crew came all the way from South Carolina this summer to spend a week on Pensacola Beach. With six kids ranging in ages from 8 to 23 years old, they have reached that point in a family's existence where it is difficult to get everyone together at the same time. 

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Mama Tanya was smart to capitalize on a family beach vacation and snag some photos of them on the beach, having fun before they headed back to the real world.

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We had one of those ethereal sunsets on the cusp of a storm. Beautifully soft and glowy, with interesting clouds. 

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There were seagulls EVERYWHERE, flocking in and out of all of our pictures. I love how the birds echo the movements of the family.

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One of the middle brothers suggested we end out session with a race. The resulting images are joyous, carefree, and easily my most favorite of the entire session.

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Leave a comment for the Colegroves. Once 50 people have commented, I will send them a FREE 8X12 print of my favorite image from their session. 


Photo credit: Indie Pearl Photography

Natalie is a lifestyle family photographer serving Pensacola, FL and surrounding areas. With a passion for capturing candid family moments, she specializes in birth and newborn lifestyle photography. Natalie lives in Pensacola with her husband and two (very difficult to photograph) children. Besides photography, she has a passion for modern sewing projects and graphic design. 

Photo Credit: Indie Pearl Photography

How To: Choose A DSLR Camera

Clients so often ask me for help choosing a camera. I totally get it. There are SO MANY options out there and it's really hard to know what to pick. Especially if you don't know much about cameras. So I thought I would take a minute to walk you thru choosing a camera (and lenses!) to fit your needs, and follow it up with some entry level DSLR recommendations. 

CONSIDER YOUR NEEDS
First, you have consider your needs for a camera and lens. What kind of pictures do you want to take? Of whom or what do you want to take pictures? Do you want room to grow and learn more about photography? What is your budget? 

If you just want something that fits in your back pocket for snapshots, well...to be honest, you can stop reading this article. I don't know much about point and shoot cameras. However, if you want to capture portraits of your babies with that nice blurred out background and start to have more control over the images you produce, you don't want a point and shoot camera. You want a DSLR, which stands for digital single-lens reflex camera. Simply put, a DSLR is just a camera that uses mirrors and interchangeable lenses to give the camera operator more control over the final image. They also offer a better image quality and response time.

Photo credit: Rae Marshall Photography

Photo credit: Rae Marshall Photography

TEST DRIVE DSLRs
Now that you know you want a DSLR, the question becomes which brand to choose? Nikon and Canon are the industry leaders, and Sony is making some major waves with it's line of mirrorless DSLRs. The most important thing to note when buying your first DSLR is that you are making an initial investment into a camera system you will want to stick with for the long haul. Once you begin to add additional lenses to your kit, switching to another system becomes expensive. So I encourage you not to waste your time trying to research which brand is "better". Instead, go to a camera store, actually put your hands on the cameras you are considering, and figure out what is better for YOU by asking yourself these questions: 

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  1. Do I like the ergonomics?
    This is the way the camera feels in your hands and at your eye, and your ability to maneuver the dials and buttons easily. Pay attention to anything that annoys you. Are the controls for changing aperture, shutter speed, and ISO intuitive for you? Maybe you don't yet know what these terms are or why you would want to be able to manipulate these variables. If that's the case, ask a staff member to show you how to make those changes and take note of any maneuvers that feel clunky or are not intuitive. Story time: When I went to buy my first DSLR, I felt pretty sure I would go with a Canon and went to Best Buy to test drive it. I couldn't for the life of me figure out how to change the aperture. I picked up a Nikon D40 and was able to figure out how to change all three variables in seconds. That small matter made me a Nikon user, and I haven't looked back.
     
  2. Does it fit my lifestyle?
    This is really the decision between a traditional DSLR and a mirrorless DSLR. Mirrorless DSLRs are smaller, lighter, and easier to travel with. For me that translate to being more apt to taking the camera with me. However, some of the controls are internal (or done via the menu on the LCD screen), which often frustrates me. Traditional DSLRs are larger and heavier, but the controls are external. I find external controls easier to use, which means I am less likely to use it in auto mode when I do take it with me.

SKIP THE KIT
You'll notice when you buy a DSLR, it comes in a two piece kit: the body and a lens. The body is the part of the camera with all of the controls and the LCD screen. The lens that typically comes packaged with the body is generally referred to as the "kit lens". What you might not know is that you can (AND SHOULD!) buy camera body only. Sure getting a zoom lens with your body may sound like a great deal, but it really isn't. While the kit lens isn't total junk, it won't get you the more professional looking results you are probably looking for. Once you learn about and purchase the lenses that do you will NEVER use that kit lens again.

My suggestion would be to purchase a body only and a 50mm lens with a maximum aperture of f/1.4 or f/1.8 (this is denoted on the lens itself as 50mm1:1.4 or 50mm1:1.8). Another great option is a 35mm lens. Most photo enthusiasts start off with a 50mm, but I personally prefer the 35mm focal length for my work. Either way, a small aperture number (or f-stop) is important to achieving the depth of field you will need to separate your subject from the background (aka getting a blurred out background)

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CONSIDER LENSES
The first thing to consider when choosing a lens is the focal length. Think back to what you are wanting to photograph. If your primary objective is to capture some great portraits and candids of your kids and family (and I am going to assume it is), I recommend starting with a focal length of 50mm or 35mm. Personally, I am a big fan of the wider field of view that the 35mm provides. This allows me to stay closer to my kids in public spaces and be able to frame the shot I want in tighter spaces where I can't physically back up further. 

The next thing to consider is the maximum aperture of the lens. The aperture is the opening in the lens that lets light into the camera. The smaller the aperture number (also called an f-stop), the bigger the opening in that lens can be. Aperture also controls depth of field. Depth of field is how much your scene is in focus. The smaller the f-stop, the bigger the opening, the less depth of field. This means that when you shoot at an aperture with a low number (1.4, 1.8, 2...) less of your scene will be in focus. Which is how we achieve that nice blurry background (called bokeh). I know, that is a super fast overview of some really confusing technical information. But this article is long already, so I am going to stop there. 

Suffice it to say, that some zoom lenses (like the kit lenses) sport a variable maximum aperture (The aperture on kit lenses typically ranges from f/3.5-f/5.6). This means that the maximum aperture changes depending on how far in or out you zoom. These lenses make it pretty hard to get nice bokeh and, if you are shooting in manual mode, make exposing correctly super frustrating. (Hence why I advocate buying a body only over the kit.) The other options is a fixed maximum aperture. Zoom lenses with a fixed aperture tend to run over $1000, so the best option for someone just getting started is to pick up a prime lens like the 50mm or 35mm. Prime lenses have both a fixed focal length (it doesn't zoom) and a fixed aperture. 


RECOMMENDED ENTRY LEVEL CAMERAS & LENSES
Now that I've glossed over the how to's, I'll get to what you really came here for. The camera advice. I'm linking up my picks for 2017's best budget friendly cameras for Nikon, Canon, and Sony that will allow you to start getting the more professional looking results you want. I'm also providing links to the lenses I suggest starting out with over the kit lens.

1) Nikon D3400 $349

In my opinion, Nikon's ergonomics are superior to Canon's. People say that Nikon was built by photographers while Canon was built by engineers, meaning Nikons are typically more intuitive and easier for beginners to use and learn. They also tend to have an edge when it comes to the metering and auto focus systems, which impacts whether or not your photos come out properly exposed and in focus. Nikon also seems to have a better compatibility with off brand lenses. I LOVE Sigma's Art lens line for my Nikons, and I frequently hear about problems that Canon users are having relating to those lenses. Here are my recommendations for a lens to go with this (or any other) Nikon body: Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4G $396.95, Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G $216.95, and Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G $166.95. One caveat on the 35mm lens listed. This lens only works on a DX body. If you are buying a full frame (or FX) camera body, make sure you only buy lenses with "FX" in the description. FX lenses work on both DX and FX bodies. If you know you will want to upgrade to a full frame camera eventually, I recommend getting the Sigma 35mm F1.4 Art DG HSM lens for Nikon $899. Pricey, but well worth it!

 

2) Canon EOS Rebel T7i (aka EOS 800D) $749

Not being a Canon shooter, I really can't tell you a whole lot about the line. I'm relying on reviews I have read. I can say that Canon's entry level bodies always seems to be more expensive than Nikon's, but this one packs some nifty features like an articulating touch screen, an excellent live view auto focus system, and 4K video. One huge point for Canon is that, in general, they have a wider variety of lenses and that are usually less expensive than their Nikon counterparts. Here are my recommendations for a lens to go with this (or any other) Canon body: Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM $329, Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM $127.50, Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS USM $549. 

 

3) Sony A6000 $448.00

Sony's A6000 is a mirrorless DSLR that was first released in 2014. While there are newer iterations of this camera, my research clearly suggests that they have not been improved enough over the A6000 to justify the crazy difference in price. This thing is super light compared to traditional DSLRs and I have been seriously considering picking one up for my own personal use. Well known photographer and gear product guru, Gary Fong has a fantastic video class on this camera and all it can do. It's over an hour long, but really great insight if you are interested in buying and getting the most out of this little power house. Click play on the video below. My lens recommendations for this camera are: Sony SEL50F18 50mm f/1.8 $298, Sony SEL35F18 35mm f/1.8 $448, and Sony SEL-20F28 E-Mount 20mm F2.8 $348. 

Whew! It's hard to pack in the information I think you should know, without getting too technical for the parent that's really new to photography. I hope this was helpful without being too overwhelming. If you have any questions, please comment. 

And if you are interested in learning more about how to use that fancy new camera to get better photos of your kids, I have a Mom Workshop coming up in January. There are only 10 seats available, so click here to snag your spot!

Special thanks to Rae Marshall Photography for the picture of my and my Nikon.


4 Must Haves For New Moms

With an endless array of functional gadgets and gorgeous baby paraphenaila out there, it can be really hard to figure out what to invest in before your baby arrives, and what can wait until you have a better handle on what your needs are.

I was the first of my peers to get married and begin having babies. I always knew I would be. I've wanted a baby of my own since I was 5. The downfall of going first is that there is no one around to give you relevant advice. Sure there are women like your mom, or maybe a sister...but baby stuff evolves fast these days and advice from women that had a baby, even just a year or so ago is likely already dated. It's so easy to end up with a ton of things you never actually use and not enough of the items that you really needed.

I like to think that being a birth and newborn photographer gives me an edge on the advice front. I am constantly surrounded by brand new babies and getting to check out all of the cool new things available to moms...all the things that would have made life with my little ones easier. One thing I always say when asked for advice, is that you don't need a lot of the stuff you think you do. Start with a few essentials and wait until you are settled into a routine with baby to figure out what else you really need. Here are my top four items to have on hand to get you thru that first week or so you spend cocooned at home, resting and recovering.

 

1) A secure portable sleeping surface for baby

With my first baby I thought all I'd need was a crib. WRONG. In those first few weeks of new motherhood, I found it really hard to get any rest myself when I had to get up every few hours to retrieve baby from the crib. The second time around I got wise. I bought a co-sleeper that attached to my bed. It was so great to have my baby right there next to me, but on his own sleeping surface. And it had wheels, so when my legs got so swollen (thanks pre-eclampsia) that I couldn't climb into the bed, I wheeled him out to the living room where I could sleep on the couch. If I had to do it again, I'd get a Dock-A-Tot

 

2) Zip up sleepers

Stock up on zippered sleepers in NB and 0-3 months. If it doesn't have a zipper, SKIP IT. The last thing you want to do with a fragile, wiggly baby in your fog of sleep deprivation, is snap snaps, button buttons, and navigate a floppy head thru a neck hole. Zippered sleepers are your best friend. Save the cute stuff with snaps and buttons for when you go out...or just invest in more cute sleepers. These are pretty much the only things my son ever wore until about 3 months or so. I love how easy they make life. Also, I try really hard to keep my babies in fitted clothing without characters, graphics, and text so that they are always photo-ready. These fit the bill.

 

3) A GREAT nursing pillow

Everyone puts a Boppy on their registry these days. And they are great for nursing bigger babies, tummy time, and a place to park a your precious bundle (if you don't have a Dock-A Tot). What they aren't so great for is nursing a tiny newborn. Until baby has more mass, the Boppy just doesn't come up high enough to take any of the load off your arms. I suggest instead the My Brest Friend. Unfortunate name, amazing pillow. This thing straps around you and allows you to put the pillow ledge right where YOU need it to support baby's weight. It creates such a sturdy little ledge for baby, that you could even walk around with it while nursing. If that wasn't enough of a reason, it has a back pillow built in for mom. It's not pretty and the name is embarrassing, but it was a serious hero when it came to saving my back and arms. And for c-section mamas, it keeps all pressure off your incision site.

 

4) Bottles

Even if you're breastfeeding and don't think you'll need them. Buy a few single packs of different kinds of bottles (or better yet, ask friends if they have any they have outgrown and buy new nipples). You just never know when you might need one. Even though cleaning them is a massive pain in the butt, I'll recommend Dr. Brown's for breastfeeding moms. They are the only brand I found that makes a preemie nipple, which has a much slower flow than any other bottle you can buy. That's key for helping to keep your supply up and baby from refusing the breast. Also if your baby suffers from reflux a slower flow helps to manage the spit up. Trust me, my son made me an expert in infant reflux.

 

Obviously, there are other things you will need, but these were the four major things that made my second postpartum experience so much easier than my first. You live and learn right?

Do you have a particular item that you wouldn't have wanted to live without in those few weeks at home with a newborn? Share your wisdom in the comments.

The Roberts Family | Pensacola Beach Vacation

Have I mentioned how special it makes me feel to continue to photograph families as they grow? There is nothing better than starting in the delivery room or those first couple of weeks at home with a newborn, and being asked back again and again to continue to document the same family's story. 

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The Roberts family lived here in Pensacola when baby Andres was born. I photographed him as a newborn, but shortly after they packed up and moved to Texas.

Harry is a in the reserves and when his annual training brought him back to Pensacola, Rosa decided she and Andy would tag along and spend the week at the beach. And she called me to see if we might be able to squeeze in a family photo session on Pensacola Beach while they were here. 

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I was crazy booked, but Rosa was willing to muster her boys for a sunrise sesh (and y'all must know by now how much I love a sunrise session) so we set the date. 

The date came and brought stormy skies. As foreboding as that seem, I actually really LOVE storms. Storms always add so much depth and moodiness to beach photos. We arrived before first light and were graced with a beautiful show of sun breaking thru the rain darkened clouds. We got about an hour before the rain rolled in on us, soaking us all in the last few minutes. But I think the results were well worth getting a little wet before breakfast. 

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I can't believe Andy is 2 already!

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Okay. THIS just melts my heart. My daughter used to smoosh mine and my husband's heads together for kisses. I have a strikingly similar image from one of our own family photo sessions when she was 2.

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Can we talk about Rosa's dress for a minute!?!?! If this was not just the most lovely and whimsical wardrobe choice...! From here on out I'll be requiring every woman or girl being photographed on the beach to wear long, lacy, gauzy dresses or skirts in neutral colors. So frickin' gorgeous!

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Great job on the boys too. Andy in a plaid and Harry in a subtle coordinating pattern in the same color scheme. They are perfectly Pinable.

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Little man ALMOST got my lens with those sandy little fingers. But I'm quick.

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So I broke from NZP tradition this time and went with  a gallery style post instead of a slideshow. Let me know how you feel about it. Do you prefer to scroll thru or watch with music? If you don't have an opinion either way, be sure to leave a comment for the Roberts fam. Once 50 people have commented, they will received a FREE 8x12 print of my favorite image from their session. 


Photo credit: Indie Pearl Photography

Natalie is a lifestyle family photographer serving Pensacola, FL and surrounding areas. With a passion for capturing candid family moments, she specializes in birth and newborn lifestyle photography. Natalie lives in Pensacola with her husband and two (very difficult to photograph) children. Besides photography, she has a passion for modern sewing projects and graphic design. 

Photo Credit: Indie Pearl Photography

Basic Invite | Product Review

Can we talk about paper goods for a bit? I love, love, LOVE the idea of sending out party invitations, birth announcements, and holiday cards by snail mail. It just feels like such a grown up thing to do. However, I am so incredibly particular about quality and deign, that always come up short trying to find a card template that fits my style and the image I want to use.

Now don't get me wrong, there are some beautifully designed templates out there. But it seems that every time I find one I love, there is something that doesn't fit. Usually it's that the colors in the template don't go with the colors in my photo, or the text is in the wrong place for my photo, or I don't love the font. The worst is when I finally find my unicorn template and place an order, only to have the cards come in and leave me disappointed by the print quality.

The lack of template customization and poor print quality is so frustrating. I've wasted days of my life scouring the internet for card template. Only to give up and design something myself to have printed by a professional lab...or planning to. Then never actually finding the time to sit down and do it. I've sent out holiday cards exactly ONCE...ever.

So when a representative from Basic Invite contacted me about reviewing their product, I was pretty skeptical. I told her that I could never recommend a product that didn't meet my (ridiculously high) standards, and that I would first need to order samples with my images on them to ensure the quality was up to snuff. 

My ordering experience was pretty smooth. The site is easy to use and there are so many options for EVERYTHING. And I am a girl that loves endless options. I got my sample order placed and waited on pins and needles hoping the print and paper quality would be all I hoped for. When my package arrived, I could hardly wait to rip it opened and see...

And the cards were BEAUTIFUL! The colors, contrast, and brightness of my images were on par with what I would expect from the pro print labs I use. The ink colors of the other design elements printed true to the color swatches on the website. The details and texture of the paper are perfect. Suffice it to say, I am in love! There is really too much to say and show, so I decided to do a video review of the products I ordered. This first video is a quick overview of the customization process for one of the birth announcements I ordered.

Next up is an in-depth review and a look at all of the different card samples I ordered. I went with two birth announcements, a first birthday invite and it's matching thank you card, and two Christmas Cards

I really hope that this review has been helpful to those of you searching endlessly for the perfect paper goods. Basic Invite really has something special and the quality to back it up. In addition to the card samples I ordered, they offer wedding invitations and save-the-dates, other birthday invitations, party invitations, stationary, and printable products. All completely customizable with gorgeous, lux paper options. I'll just leave you with a quick overview few of my favorite features. 

Almost Unlimited Colors - Basic Invite is one of the few websites that allows customers almost unlimited color options with instant previews online. Once you select a design you can change the color of each element on the card to over 180 different color options so you can make sure the card is exactly how you want it down to the littlest detail. This is what really sets Basic Invite apart from almost any other online stationery company and is for me was the biggest draw. Fonts can also be changed and text moved around to ensure perfect placement!

Custom Samples - Basic Invite is one of the few websites that allows customers the ability to order a printed sample of their actual invitation so they can see exactly how it will print as well as the paper quality before they ever have to place their final order. Add on additional samples in different paper options to see what you like best.

Over 40 Different Colors of Envelopes - Basic Invite is just as colorful with envelopes as they are with invitations. Customers can choose from over 40 different colors when it comes to their envelopes so that they can make their invitation stand out even before it is opened. Custom envelope liners add another layer of luxury detail. All envelopes are peel and seal so the envelopes can be quickly and securely closed. No licking!

Free Address Collection Service - Use the free address collection service to request your addresses with just three simple steps. Share a link, collect addresses, and get free envelope printing. WHAT?!??!! I don't have to hand address 100 envelopes? SIGN. ME. UP!

How do you feel about ordering announcements and invites online? Are you as picky as I am? Share your previous experiences with me and let me know if you're planning to try Basic Invite this year. I'd sure love to see what you order too! Slap a picture in the comments.


Photo credit: Indie Pearl Photography

Natalie is a lifestyle family photographer serving Pensacola, FL and surrounding areas. With a passion for capturing candid family moments, she specializes in birth and newborn lifestyle photography. Natalie lives in Pensacola with her husband and two (very difficult to photograph) children. Besides photography, she has a passion for modern sewing projects and graphic design. 

Photo Credit: Indie Pearl Photography

Cafe Beignet | New Orleans Family Photographer

In New Orleans, at least for a non-local, it just isn't possible to start the day without beignets. And as many times as I have been over the years, I've never considered going anywhere other than Cafe du Monde. But this time, after a late night at my sister's rehearsal dinner, we weren't keen on the idea of the crowds that Cafe du Monde draws. I happened to see that Cafe Beignet was just around the corner from our hotel, on Royal Street. The reviews touted it as far better than Cafe du Monde, so we decided to give it a shot. 

And I'm never going anywhere else for beignets ever again! Not only were the beignets awesome, but the real food breakfast menu (eggs, meats, fruit) was a hit with my husband. AND THEY HAVE COFFEE! Actual, strong, life giving, drip coffee. Not the watery chicory swill du Monde slings. 

But the best part was the courtyard. A sweet little Parisian bistro style courtyard, right on the street, with the most glorious morning light. I would have been happy to photograph my way thru breakfast rather than eat, but my husband gets totally embarrassed and annoyed by my obsession with photographing. He was convinced that everyone else in front of my lens was outrageously irritated by my giant camera pointed in their general direction. To which I told him (loudly, in case anyone actually was irritated) that everyone in the background is blurred out. It's called bokeh and my iPhone, while far less conspicuous, would capture innocent bystanders in FAR greater detail. 

This race track, disguised as a semi truck, was Jack-Jack's ring bearer gift. He refused to go anywhere without it for the remainder of the weekend.

This race track, disguised as a semi truck, was Jack-Jack's ring bearer gift. He refused to go anywhere without it for the remainder of the weekend.

Because good parents make their kids eat fruit before pastries. 

Because good parents make their kids eat fruit before pastries. 

What do you think? Is that guy in the background looking at me incredulously for continuing to point my camera his way? Or maybe he's chatting with his breakfast companion or picking up a phone call? Do I care? Nope.

What do you think? Is that guy in the background looking at me incredulously for continuing to point my camera his way? Or maybe he's chatting with his breakfast companion or picking up a phone call? Do I care?

Nope.

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This face! 

This face! 

Isla can't eat anything without getting it ALL OVER her face. Look how far up her cheek those strawberry stains go!

Isla can't eat anything without getting it ALL OVER her face. Look how far up her cheek those strawberry stains go!

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cafe-beignet-new-orleans
Note to self: No more black shirts in NOLA.

Note to self: No more black shirts in NOLA.

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It took some convincing to get this one to eat his beignet. 

It took some convincing to get this one to eat his beignet. 

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Photo credit: Indie Pearl Photography

Natalie is a lifestyle family photographer serving Pensacola, FL and surrounding areas. With a passion for capturing candid family moments, she specializes in birth and newborn lifestyle photography. Natalie lives in Pensacola with her husband and two (very difficult to photograph) children. Besides photography, she has a passion for modern sewing projects and graphic design. 

Photo Credit: Indie Pearl Photography

Schwarz Family Farewell | Pensacola Family Photographer

It feels pretty bittersweet to be blogging my last session with the Schwarz family before the Navy takes them back to San Diego.  Katie and Steven really wanted to plan a session to celebrate their time in Pensacola and capture some of the activities they enjoy here. Ultimately, we identified the Naval Aviation Museum and Fort Barrancas as favorite spots for family outings. 

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We knew we'd want to get to the museum as soon as they opened for the best chance of avoiding crowds. So, with Fort Barrancas not being open early enough to explore before the sun is too high and harsh, we settled on exploring the Advanced Redoubt. Katie also mentioned that Steven has started a little Saturday morning tradition of bringing home donuts for breakfast and we decided to incorporate a little breakfast picnic into our time at the Redoubt. 

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Seriously guys. I can't even express how much I love working with the Schwarz family. They are unfailingly relaxed and genuinely happy to be exactly who they are in front of the camera. They never look to me for directions or ask 'what should we do next'. No one worries if the Declan throws dirt or Rylee carries a stuffed puppy around for the whole session. They just set off on whatever adventure we've planned, roll with whatever happens, engage with each other, and treat our time together just like any other fun family day. 

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Life changes so rapidly and traditions shift and change as kids get older. Who knows how long it will be before Rylee is saying to them, "Remember how Dad used to go and get donuts for us every Saturday?" 

These little things you do together, that you can't imagine not going on forever, will eventually be phased out. Lazy Saturday breakfasts will give way to the mad rush and a pop tart in the car on the way to soccer games. Time spent playing and exploring as a family will one day be eclipsed by part-time jobs and hanging out with friends.

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This time that you have to capture your family really and truly enjoying everyday life together is short. One day they will be way too cool for dance parties on a museum catwalk...too cool for you parents.

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So take a page from the Schwarz family book. Embrace the imperfection and make it a point to have your everyday moments documented. Eat donuts. Get dirty. Dance in public. Just plan to celebrate and showcase whomever your family is right in THIS moment. 

Speaking of moments, take one now to leave a comment for Katie and Steven so they can earn a print from this adorable session. Once 50 people have commented, the Schwarz family will receive a FREE mounted 8x12 print. Whoo hoo!

P.S. Katie is also the talent behind my gorgeous logo and brand visuals. She was nothing less than amazing to work with and just totally got my vision. If you need an awesome graphic designer, check her out at Katie Schwarz Design


Photo credit: Indie Pearl Photography

Natalie is a lifestyle family photographer serving Pensacola, FL and surrounding areas. With a passion for capturing candid family moments, she specializes in birth and newborn lifestyle photography. Natalie lives in Pensacola with her husband and two (very difficult to photograph) children. Besides photography, she has a passion for modern sewing projects and graphic design. 

Photo Credit: Indie Pearl Photography

Hello, Alice! | Pensacola Birth Photographer

Baby Alice's due date was a day like any other. I got up early that Sunday morning to squeeze in a little work before church. I didn't think much of it being a client's due date...because honestly, it's pretty uncommon for babies to be born on their due date. Then, a little after 5AM, I heard a crash of thunder. I checked the weather and, sure enough, thunderstorms...Not that I was surprised. My weather app hasn't seen the sun icon more than a few days all summer.

But, as anyone that spends time in Labor & Delivery can attest, thunderstorms (and full moons) bring on the babies. Maybe today would be the day after all. 

Around 8am I stopped working to start getting ready for church, when my phone went off. A text from Marin! She was in labor! Later John mentioned that her water had broken at 5:25AM...right about the time I was sitting in my office, listening to the sky rumble and betting I would be attending a birth soon.

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Marin is also a photographer, so she's familiar with the impact that light has on an image. It's essential in any form, but the most coveted form of light for a photographer is natural light. Natural light yields the most beautiful skin tones and range of shadows, and Marin and I had been crossing our fingers for months that baby Alice would decide to come while the sun was still in the sky. Now, this doesn't tend to matter much in a hospital. Doctors like to be able see everything and light up the room like Christmas, effectively drowning out any window light that happens to be available. However, baby Alice was set to be delivered at home. In a kitchen with enormous windows. And with labor starting at 5:25AM I was pretty hopeful that she'd make it before the sun went down. 

Despite the midwives' initial estimation of a delivery after dark, Marin just powered thru labor. I arrived, as requested, a little before 3PM and Alice made her way into the still beautifully lit world a little under 2 hours later! 

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Her timing couldn't have been more perfect. We even still had time to capture snuggles (and pizza) in the bed with the last little bit of window light for the day. And everyone made it home in time for the Game of Thrones season premier. I like to think that Alice must have know that her mommy is Sansa Stark's doppelgänger and didn't want to miss the show.

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Be sure to grab a box of tissues before you settle in to watch the story of baby Alice's home birth. Seriously, get the tissues. I guarantee you won't make it thru the next 6 minutes without needing at least one. Marin said that even John cried (more than she did) when they previewed the slideshow last night.

Incredible right? I think my favorite part was when the pizza delivery guys showed up, just as Marin was getting ready to push, with pizza boxes that said "JOIN THE FAMILY". Those perfectly unplanned (and slightly comical) moments add so much depth to a story. OH! And Marin's adorable mama, Coral. I can't even type her name without tearing up over her obvious excitement and awe over watching her daughter become a mother and meeting her first grandchild.

Now that you're all bleary eyed and sniffling, please take a minute to tell Marin & John what an amazing job they did bringing Alice into the world and how beautiful their new family is. After 50 people have commented, I will gift them with a mounted 8x12 print from their session.

Special thanks to Stand & Deliver Midwifery for their top notch work caring for this family and working with me to ensure every moment was captured. 


Photo credit: Indie Pearl Photography

Natalie is a lifestyle family photographer serving Pensacola, FL and surrounding areas. With a passion for capturing candid family moments, she specializes in birth and newborn lifestyle photography. Natalie lives in Pensacola with her husband and two (very difficult to photograph) children. Besides photography, she has a passion for modern sewing projects and graphic design. 

Photo Credit: Indie Pearl Photography

New Orleans Rehearsal Dinner | Napoleon House

Here is the next installment in our New Orleans Wedding Weekend extravaganza, the rehearsal dinner at Napoleon House. My brother-in-law's family threw a rocking' party. The tiny courtyard was crammed with family and friends, a jazz band, good food, and the most incredible cupcakes i've ever tasted. It was LOUD, babies stayed up late, we danced and second lined, and my camera was passed around so much that I'm not sure who took half of these pictures. Honestly, this was the most fun night of the entire trip. Click any square to see the whole image.


Photo credit: Indie Pearl Photography

Natalie is a lifestyle family photographer serving Pensacola, FL and surrounding areas. With a passion for capturing candid family moments, she specializes in birth and newborn lifestyle photography. Natalie lives in Pensacola with her husband and two (very difficult to photograph) children. Besides photography, she has a passion for modern sewing projects and graphic design. 

Photo Credit: Indie Pearl Photography

Liam's Lifestyle Mini | Pensacola Newborn Photographer

I'm not going to lie. I had some big expectations for Liam's newborn session. Big sister Emma set the bar high, being practically comatose thru her entire newborn session (see that here). She was hands down the easiest baby I have ever worked with.

Liam wasn't so keen to sleep for us (unless he was being held) and only begrudgingly tolerated being wrapped. But in the end, we were able to get a few adorable snaps that only mildly look like he's trying to bust his way out. 

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pensacola mommy & me, lifestyle mini studio mini, photography pensacola, pensacola photographer
pensacola mommy & me, lifestyle mini studio mini, photography pensacola, pensacola photographer
pensacola mommy & me, lifestyle mini studio mini, photography pensacola, pensacola photographer
pensacola mommy & me, lifestyle mini studio mini, photography pensacola, pensacola photographer
pensacola mommy & me, lifestyle mini studio mini, photography pensacola, pensacola photographer
pensacola mommy & me, lifestyle mini studio mini, photography pensacola, pensacola photographer
pensacola mommy & me, lifestyle mini studio mini, photography pensacola, pensacola photographer
pensacola mommy & me, lifestyle mini studio mini, photography pensacola, pensacola photographer

Readers, please take a moment to leave a comment for this sweet family. When 50 people have commented, I will gift them with a mounted 8x10 image from their session (a $40.00 value).


Photo credit: Indie Pearl Photography

Natalie is a lifestyle family photographer serving Pensacola, FL and surrounding areas. With a passion for capturing candid family moments, she specializes in birth and newborn lifestyle photography. Natalie lives in Pensacola with her husband and two (very difficult to photograph) children. Besides photography, she has a passion for modern sewing projects and graphic design. 

Photo Credit: Indie Pearl Photography

Workman Family Vacation | Pensacola Beach Photographer

The Workman family has a sweet Father's Day tradition. Sadly, almost 2 years ago they lost Dad. As you can imagine, after such a loss, Father's Day might be a pretty difficult holiday. However, Mom (Dana) decided they would continue to celebrate him fiercely, and instituted and annual Father's Day vacation and photoshoot to honor his memory. 

This year, they chose Pensacola Beach and me to capture the essence of their vacation and a beautiful memorial to Dad. Check out a few of the highlights and then click play on the slideshow below for even more of their family fun.

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pensacola mommy & me, lifestyle mini studio mini, photography pensacola, pensacola photographer
pensacola mommy & me, lifestyle mini studio mini, photography pensacola, pensacola photographer

The kids wrote messages in the sand to Daddy.

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And they remember Daddy by choosing a photograph to be photographed with, Last year they chose their favorite picture with Dad. This year, they chose pictured that captured a moment they thought Daddy would be incredibly proud of them for. 

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I am so in awe of this amazing woman. It must take a truckload of courage and strength of will to put on that happy face every day, parenting a son and twin girls, and never letting them forget how much they were (and are still) loved by their Daddy. And for fixing an ice maker ALL BY HERSELF (that was her picture). And she does it all with such a gentle grace and genuinely joyful heart.

Go on and click play.

Readers, please take a moment to celebrate with us and leave a comment for supermom Dana and these three amazing kids. When 50 people have commented, I will gift them with a mounted 8x10 image from their session (a $40.00 value).


Photo credit: Indie Pearl Photography

Natalie is a lifestyle family photographer serving Pensacola, FL and surrounding areas. With a passion for capturing candid family moments, she specializes in birth and newborn lifestyle photography. Natalie lives in Pensacola with her husband and two (very difficult to photograph) children. Besides photography, she has a passion for modern sewing projects and graphic design. 

Photo Credit: Indie Pearl Photography

New Orleans Wedding Rehearsal | New Orleans Pharmacy Museum

In April, my only sister got married and asked me to be her Maid of Honor. (Yes, MAID. So what if I'm married...I'm not labeling myself a 'matron'.)

Then, to my profound horror, she advised me that she did not want to hire a wedding photographer or spend any time posing for any pictures. That the candid shots everyone took on their phones would be sufficient. All I can say to that is: #$#%@&!@!*!!!!! ?????

The dreamer in me that wanted to try and pull double duty MOH/Photographer (triple duty if you count wrangling my kids...the ring bearer and flower girl). I mean, a bohemian New Orleans courtyard wedding? Exclusively documentary style? Hello dream! But the realist in me knew I would never be able to divide my attention so many ways. Ultimately, I convinced her to hire the best wedding photographer I know, Melissa Wilson, and contented myself with covering the rest of the weekend.

Check out the rehearsal in the courtyard of the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum. Images in the grid can be clicked to expand.

Next up is the wildly fun rehearsal dinner at Napoleon House.


Photo credit: Indie Pearl Photography

Natalie is a lifestyle family photographer serving Pensacola, FL and surrounding areas. With a passion for capturing candid family moments, she specializes in birth and newborn lifestyle photography. Natalie lives in Pensacola with her husband and two (very difficult to photograph) children. Besides photography, she has a passion for modern sewing projects and graphic design. 

Photo Credit: Indie Pearl Photography

Happy Birthday Liam | Pensacola Birth Photographer

A few weeks ago, I was privileged to be back with the Herman family for the birth of baby Liam at Pensacola's Sacred Heart Hospital. I first met Shannon and Joe when I photographed their daughter Emma's birth 2 years ago. (If you missed that, be sure to check it out here.) Meeting them, the kids, and Shannon's parents in L&D triage again was like a fun family reunion.

Labor & Delivery was quiet. We had triage all to ourselves, the kids had the run of the place, the nurses had time to chat, and even Dr. Medlock hung out with us for a while. The waiting room and recovery were also ghost towns and the morning just seemed to fly by. Once Liam was born, vitals done, and the siblings and grandparents met, we were quickly swept into a postpartum room! I was so surprised by how fast everything went that I didn't even realize we were leaving L&D. It was very cool to be able to capture the family moving down the halls and into their room. 

AND! I had a chance to hold baby Liam while mom and dad got settled.

And if you know me, you know that I LIVE to hold newborns.

Anyway, here are a few highlight, but don't forget to scroll down, watch the slideshow for the full story. Also take a moment to leave a comment at the end of the post.

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Click play on the slideshow below to see so much more. Please also take just a moment to click "comment" at the end of this post, and leave Shannon & Joe a sweet word. Once 50 people have commented, they will have their choice of images for an FREE 8x10 mounted print!

A special thanks to my hero labor and delivery nurse, Angie, for (once again) saving the day and manning my back-up camera in the OR. One day we'll get Sacred Heart to start letting photographers into the operating theater again. Until then, I am so blessed to have talented nurses willing to be my wing women.


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Natalie is a lifestyle family photographer serving Pensacola, FL and surrounding areas. With a passion for capturing candid family moments, she specializes in birth and newborn lifestyle photography. Natalie lives in Pensacola with her husband and two (very difficult to photograph) children. Besides photography, she has a passion for modern sewing projects and graphic design. 

Photo credit: Indie Pearl Photography

Arden's Newborn Lifestyle | Pensacola Photographer

The McDonalds are back, with their third baby girl...Arden Grace.

Everything about this family is just gorgeous. Gorgeous faces, gorgeous home, gorgeous style, and gorgeous hearts for each other and for the Lord. They are so lively, connected, and put together. I could seriously photograph them all. day. long. 

With two rambunctious girls and a newborn, you would probably expect a family/newborn session to be rather chaotic. Most mamas anticipate toddlers being uncooperative and ask me how we will ever manage to get any good pictures. Honestly though, the lifestyle approach is the solution too all of that, and this family always nails it. Here's why.

1. They plan activities that will engage the kids in something special, important, or fun. Bathing the baby, strumming on Daddy's heirloom guitar, reading favorite books together.

2. They go with the flow. I know it is hard to know that your kids will likely be uncooperative during the short time that you have to get in the pictures you are hoping for. But nothing derails that faster than trying to force a toddler to do something they don't want to do. So give them time to warm up to me. Feed them if they are hungry. Let them make their own choices and jump on the bed. And ignore them when they want to be left alone. 

3. Daddy keeps a pocket full of Jelly Beans. Keeping a small (not-messy or crumbly) treat in a pocket is an excellent distraction that entices little ones to slow down and stick close to the action. 

4. Bonus style tip: Wear simple, comfortable clothing that coordinates with your house and any special items you want to incorporate in your session. Don't try too hard and have back-up shirts for Mom and Dad ready, just in case baby spits up on you. Audrey is a pro at selecting wardrobe. I'm thinking maybe I should hire her as a freelance pre-session style consultant. 

Play the slideshow below to check out the rest of this gorgeous session. Then please take a moment to scroll down and leave a comment. Because once 50 people have commented on the blog post, I will gift Audrey & John with an 8x10 mounted print from their session. Who doesn't love a print?!


Natalie is a lifestyle family photographer serving Pensacola, FL and surrounding areas. With a passion for capturing candid family moments, she specializes in birth and newborn lifestyle photography. Natalie lives in Pensacola with her husband and two (very difficult to photograph) children. Besides photography, she has a passion for modern sewing projects and graphic design. 

Photo credit: Indie Pearl Photography

Fitness Maternity Lifestyle | Fort Walton Beach Photographer

Could there be anything more satisfying to a lifestyle photographer than a client that says, "I just want you to capture everything that's real"? Of course, incorporating the places you frequent and activities you love is the whole point of this lifestyle trend, but it is so rare to find a client that is on board for a purely documentary style session...that isn't a birth.

Jenny was so excited to just have fun with her maternity session and to capture all of the effort and sweat she has put into maintaining a strong body throughout her pregnancy. She and her husband Sean planed for me to document their pre-planned workout at an open air fit pad on Hurlburt Field, FL. 

She told me that she didn't want to try and hide the fact that lifting, especially while pregnant, is freaking hard work. (Even if she did make it look easy enough that I feel like a wimpy loser baby!)

In the end, I was able to rope them into a few more directed images. And Sean really rallied, after a grueling workout, to climb a rope and hang upside down for an impressive amount of time...as I directed Jenny to swing him toward the best light for an adorable Spiderman kiss. 

Check out the highlights from this fitness maternity session in the slideshow below. And don't forget to leave a quick comment to help Jenny & Sean earn a print from their session. They need 50 people to comment to earn a free mounted 8x10 image. 


Natalie is a lifestyle family photographer serving Pensacola, FL and surrounding areas. With a passion for capturing candid family moments, she specializes in birth and newborn lifestyle photography. Natalie lives in Pensacola with her husband and two (very difficult to photograph) children. Besides photography, she has a passion for modern sewing projects and graphic design. 

Photo credit: Indie Pearl Photography