Birth Photography Costs | Pensacola, FL + Mobile, AL

So you want to hire a birth photographer! Excellent choice. You've done your research, know who's work you love and why you want a birth photographer. You know the things to ask before hiring a birth photographer...but how much is it all going to cost?

Brace yourself. 

A reputable and experienced birth photographer isn't cheap. The average cost of birth photography runs from $1500-$3500 depending on the level of services offered. In general, you should expect to pay as much as you would for a reputable and experienced wedding photographer in your area. Did your eyes just pop out of your head? How could it possibly cost THAT MUCH to come and snap a few pictures for an hour or so? Stick with me and let's unpack that

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BIRTH IS UNPREDICTABLE

It is impossible to time arrival so that your photographer is only there for the moment of delivery or just after. I, like most birth photographers, aim to arrive in your birth space near the transition phase of labor (approximately 6-7cm dilated). This gives us the most assurance that we will not miss the delivery, but that you are still far enough along in your labor that birth that we aren't hanging around thru periods of little activity or when you are trying to rest. Still, once your birth photographer arrives, there is no way for her to know if she is going to be there for 4 hours or 24 hours.

In general, labor progresses at a rate of about 1 cm per hour, but this isn't a hard, fast rule. Every woman is different, every baby is different and every labor is different. I've had mamas fly thru and go from 5cm to here's-your-baby in an hour. I've also had mamas push for 3 hours. Your birth photographer has to charge enough to account for the possibility that she may be working for 24 hours straight.

Pricing is usually fixed so that you don’t have to worry about additional costs if your labor stalls or takes much longer than expected.

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THE WORK ISN’T DONE WHEN WE LEAVE THE BIRTH

The time we spend capturing your birth is only a small part of the process it takes to make your images great. Hospital lighting is pretty awful, and it takes quite a bit of time editing your images to turn them into the magical memories we deliver. We have fancy cameras capable of recording much better pictures than smart phones and the average camera marketed to consumers, but the real work is still done in post processing.

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RUNNING A LEGITIMATE BUSINESS COSTS MONEY

Equipment maintenance, backup equipment, licensing fees, taxes...these are expenses that every small business incurs. Not to mention the expenses that come along with always being on-call: backup photographers, on-call childcare providers, etc. We have to make sure we are taking in enough to run a sustainable business, meet our commitments to clients, AND make a living.

Why should that matter to you? Because the last thing you want at 38 weeks pregnant is to get a refund and a ‘no-longer-in-business’ email from the person you were expecting to capture your birth, have your photographer fall ill or their only camera fail or break in the middle of your birth (with no backups), or (worse) to call when you go into labor and receive no answer at all.

It is important to protect your investment by hiring a photographer who is running a legal and sustainable business.

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WE HAVE FAMILIES TOO

Yes, we birth photographers LOVE what we do so much that it rarely feels like work. Still, it's a job that requires sacrifice, mostly from the people who love us. We plan family time and vacations around the 3-4 weeks that we are on-call for our clients, miss holidays and other important events to attend births, and generally put you before our own families. Yes, we absolutely feel privileged to do the work we do, but ultimately this is our JOB. We do it to help support our families financially and we have to make an adequate wage to continue to offer the services we do.

The key thing to take away from this is that the old saying ‘you get what you pay for’ always rings true. Photographers who do not charge within that average range are likely not earning enough to account for their business costs and personal salary. They will eventually find themselves in situations where they are unable (or unmotivated) to keep the commitments they have made to clients and ultimately, go out of business altogether. I’ve seen it more times than I can count. You don’t want to be the client who’s ball gets dropped.

Keep reading for some tips on how to get the birth photographer of your dreams…

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HOW TO MAKE IT WORK FINANCIALLY

If you desire birth photography, we really want to do everything we can to make sure you have it. Here are a few things you can do or ask about that can help soften the blow to your bank account.

1. Start saving BEFORE you are pregnant. If you know you'll want it, start putting funds aside for it NOW. It really doesn't take long to accumulate enough savings to make the expense so much more palatable when the time comes. 

2. Reach out to your favorite photographer early. I promise, we won't think you're crazy for emailing us to say "I'm not actually pregnant yet but...". We'll happily send over all of our information, friend you on social media, and be waiting for the moment we get to celebrate with you over the pregnancy announcement. 

3. Ask for a gift registry listing. You have friends a family out there that are going to want to shower you with gifts. Let them know how much birth photography means to you. I’m more than happy to set up a page where friends and family can directly contribute any amount they choose toward your birth photography package. Share it on social media, you never know who might feel inclined to bless you with a little something. Dollars add up!

4. Ask for a payment plan. Most birth photographers are moms too. We know how expensive preparing for a baby can be. We also know how much having pictures from your birth will mean to you when all is said and done. It is our greatest joy to be able to give a mama back the memories of the moments she missed or has forgotten about. We don’t want money to be the reason you miss this opportunity to begin building a history for your family and a legacy of love for your tiny little human. 

5. Opt for a Fresh 48 instead. This birth space session is a truly fantastic alternative to actual birth coverage. It is a shorter session, (scheduled during business hours) within 48 hours of delivery. The investment for a Fresh 48 is significantly less than birth photography, but the resulting images can still feel very similar as we are able to capture many of the same moments and details of the birth space. In fact, all of the images in this post are from a Fresh 48.

 

4 Baby Items to Splurge On

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 for your baby. It's so easy to end up with a ton of (EXPENSIVE) things that you didn't get enough use out of to justify the cost. Then again, there is also a lot of cheap crap out there that looks like a great deal, but really isn't...stuff that falls apart long before it should or leaves you frustrated with it's actual functionality (or lack thereof). There are also the things you will skip thinking, I don't NEED that, and end up really wishing you'd had it because it would have made life so much easier. 

Here are the top four baby items that I whole heartedly believe are worth spending your hard earned money on. 

 

1) A Co-Sleeper

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. It was worth every penny. If I had to do it again, I'd get a Dock-A-Tot

 

2) A Kick Ass Stroller

Do yourself a favor...skip the travel system. If there is one place to splurge on a baby gadget, the stroller is it. Go for the Mercedes, not the Kia. After a frustrating experience with a Chicco travel system, I went for the Baby Jogger City Versa on the second go round. The maneuverability was incredible. And when the frame started wobbling on me after 2.5 years, Baby Jogger replaced my discontinued Versa with an upgrade to the City Select. My son is 3 and a half and we still use it every day. My sister has a Thule that is pretty great too. She does a lot of hiking, and it handles off road really well. If I needed a double stroller, I'd probably go with a BOB. The are so much easier to push (and run with) when you have double the weight.

 

3) A Durable Diaper Bag

Walk thru the baby section of Target and Babies R Us and you'll be overwhelmed with options for diaper bags. As pretty and functional as they look, 9 times out of 10 they fall apart before your baby is 6 months old. They also aren't likely to clean up well or neatly hold everything you might need (especially if you're an over packer like me). I'm a HUGE fan of Ju-Ju-Be diaper bags. They are super durable, MACHINE WASHABLE, donated in an antimicrobial, and functionally well thought out. You can go read all about them here.

I loved the Be All for the first year. It held ALL my junk like a champ. (Now it's my range bag...All the old guys at the shooting range get a huge kick out of how girly I am.) After the first year I downsized to the Be Classy (shown here). It's so smart and beautiful. I'm still carrying it regularly despite no longer really needing a diaper bag. 

 

4) A Ring Sling

Baby wearing is awesome. Having your baby close, but your hands free? Invaluable. Keeping strangers from touching your baby when you're out? Totally! But I was SO disenchanted with straps, buckles, yards of fabric that took 45 minutes to wind around my body (while the ends dragged all over the ground...gross), and big bulky carriers that were too cumbersome to keep with me all the time. I initially found baby wearing to be inconvenient, time consuming, uncomfortable and HOT (Hello...Florida!). Then I discovered Sakura Bloom ring slings and my game was changed. Quick to pop on, easy to transport (aka, shove into a diaper bag), and non-claustrophobic. Not to mention, they are so beautiful and feminine. I loved it so much I bought a second one.

 

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BONUS SPLURGE: A GREAT PHOTOGRAPHER!

Come on, you know I couldn't end this post without a shameless photography plug. But in all seriousness, I really regret not hiring a birth and newborn photographer when my first baby was born. It's part of the reason I do what I do.

I didn't dare make the same mistake when my second came along. I treasure those images so much, because his birth didn't go as planned. I didn't get to hold him or even see him for more than a few seconds before he was whisked away for a stint in the NICU. I'm not sure i would remember what he looked like in those first moments if I hadn't had someone there to capture it. Sure, my husband took pictures and video on his phone, but he didn't back them up and we lost them ALL. He was a month old before I felt up to doing a newborn session, but I am so glad I didn't just skip it all together. I love having those candid pictures of my family at home and all of those little details of my son's infancy.  

Those moments pass you by so quickly, usually in a sleep deprived haze. You can never go back and capture them again, so it's WORTH the expense. Just do it.

What baby items were you glad you splurged on? Is there anything you regret NOT splurging on? Share your words wisdom in the comments.


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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. 

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.

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

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

Willa's First Night Out | Los Angeles Newborn Photographer

In January, I hauled myself and a backpack full of camera gear across the country to Los Angeles, CA to visit my sister, her hubs, and (mostly) my brand new baby niece, Willa. 

I kept hearing all about how LA weather is amazing and it never rains, and so naturally, I was prepared to be in non-stop photographer mode. I was lied to. It rained the first three days of my 5-day trip. Womp-womp. I can't complain too much, as that left ample time for baby snuggles, and I still came home with a ton of images of Willa (and her parents). Finally the rain stopped and we were able to get out on my last night in town. The images from this night are my favorite. 

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Katie and Gavin took Willa on her first walk around the neighborhood, while I stalked them like paparazzi. Afterwards, we went out for dinner and a little shopping. Highlights include new parents struggling to figure out the stroller for the first time, baby wearing, an impromptu stop in a record store, and Willa sleeping in every single shot. What a beautiful representation of real life with your first baby, when things are still easy enough that your life can pretty much continue on as you've known it...plus a tiny sidekick and a car full of newfound necessities.

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This is a can't miss video, so go ahead and press play.

Leave a comment below to let Katie and Gavin, know how much you've enjoyed being a part of their first family adventure. Then click BOOK A SESSION and take me along to capture YOUR next family adventure.


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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

Grayson | Pensacola Newborn Photography

Grayson's newborn session has been buried in my blogging backlog from earlier this year. With the session having a decidedly Holiday feeling, it made more sense to me to wait and share it closer to Christmas...rather June when I wrote it. It's a favorite, so I am excited that it is finally time! (Happy belated 1st birthday G!) 

Pensacola Newborn Photographer, Christmas newborn session

Back when I worked a 9-5, I met this super sweet writer who was also named Natalie. We would cross paths at the office every now and then. I even spotted her in my OB's office once when we were both pregnant (I was feeling awfully nauseated that day Natalie, so I hope you'll understand why I didn't make the effort to say 'Hi'). It is awfully nerve wracking being a non-writer and writing for a writer, but I have put off this blog post far too long. So, here it goes. No proofing in your head while you read this, okay Natalie? 😉

I was so excited when Natalie contacted me for a newborn/family session for baby number 2. With Natalie due close to Christmas, we scheduled for January. Baby Grayson however, had other plans. He showed up almost a full month early. Luckily, another baby on my schedule was very late in arriving and swapping their scheduled dates worked out perfectly!

This session was dreamy. Natalie and Brandon's home had ample natural light and the perfect mix of comfortable, stylish decor. It felt put together, but lived in. And they were so CHILL thru the whole shoot. Sessions with infants and young children can unravel pretty quickly if mom and dad get upset about baby crying or big brothers and sisters acting out. So major props to N & B for keeping their cool, and going with the flow when baby Grayson wouldn't stop crying and big brother Baylen wanted nothing to do with me.

Baylen did eventually come around. He and I happen to share a birthday. He must have sensed that I was a kindred spirit, because we became best friends. And I fed him candy. Lots of candy. Every time he held out his hand like this and asked me for it:

Pensacola Newborn Photographer, Christmas newborn session

Click play below to see the sweet slideshow, and don't forget to leave Natalie and Brandon a little comment below. They just need 50 to earn a free 8x10 mounted print (a $40 value).

Thank you for reading and watching! Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


Natalie Zepp Photography, Pensacola Birth Photographer, Pensacola Family Photographer, Pensacola boudoir Photographer, Pensacola maternity photographer, pensacola newborn photographer

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

Latham James | Navarre Newborn Photographer

Latham's neutral, travel themed nursery is the stuff my photography dreams are made of. Clean, simple, gray walls. Can I just tell you how much I LOVE gray walls (white was too!)? They make colors and skin tones so perfect, and give indoor images such a bright, airy feel. I also love how the nursery decor reflects their family's passion for travel. Jimmy and Tavia are travel bloggers, and their blog, Big Brave Nomad, is all about traveling with kids. A lifestyle nursery for our lifestyle newborn session? YES PLEASE!

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travel nursery, navarre newborn photographer
travel nursery, navarre newborn photographer
travel nursery, navarre newborn photographer
travel nursery, navarre newborn photographer
travel nursery, navarre newborn photographer
travel nursery, navarre newborn photographer
travel nursery, navarre newborn photographer
travel nursery, navarre newborn photographer

Check out the highlights and watch the slideshow at the end of the post! Latham was easy-peasy. He snoozed pretty much our entire session. Big sister Charletta, was more challenging and not interested in pictures (or baby brother) at all. Jimmy and Tavia did a picture perfect job managing this. They kept their cool, focused on the baby, playing, and having fun. Most importantly, they didn't try to cajole her into pictures. The resulting images capture so much of her spunky little personality. Eventually she came around and gave us one or two sweet moments with Latham. And, of course, she was ALL IN for shots with those wonderful cookies, made by an incredibly talented friend.

Press play below for even more of this sweet family. And stay tuned, because I also shot Latham's birth...and it was epic. Tavia asked me for the newborn session first, so we're breaking all the rules and going out of order.

Don't forget to leave a comment below to help Tavia and Jimmy earn a FREE 8X10 mounted print from their session (a $40.00 value). 50 commenters are needed for a freebie.

Thank you for reading and watching!


Natalie Zepp Photography, Pensacola Birth Photographer, Pensacola Family Photographer, Pensacola boudoir Photographer, Pensacola maternity photographer, pensacola newborn photographer

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