Studio Motherhood Minis ~ Kokomo Indiana Photographer

Alright alright alright. I already told this story the other day on Facebook. But it’s a good story so I’m going to share it on the blog too 😉

What an emotional week it has been.

Want to hear a cool story? 

I was overjoyed last month when we got to reopen the studio after our covid 19 shutdown. We have had 29 sessions in the last 28 days! It has been go go go go ever since & I couldn’t be happier to see you all again.

I sure do miss my kids when I’m working though & this year has been particularly hard because we decided that Benji was our last.

Which means, slowly over the last few weeks, we’ve been de-baby proofing the house. Something I thought I would enjoy, but turns out, it hurts like the dickens. 

We put away the heirloom glass baby bottles, we took down the crib, we sorted the newborn clothes, we got rid of the sippy cups, we went through the tiny hospital mementos, we updated the baby books & now we’ve taken down the baby gates. 

Huge milestones that I’m so happy about but also very bittersweet. I knew Benji was likely our last, so I pushed for all of the pregnancy and newborn goals that I knew I wanted, one of which was to have a successful breastfeeding journey, something that I was unable to do with my older two littles. Benji and I made it to 15 glorious months and it’s still one of my favorite “milestones” that I was able to experience in motherhood.

This week I was prepping the studio for a motherhood mini & as I heard my clients coming up the stairs, I also heard a familiar voice that I couldn’t quite place. 

Chelsy walked in with her kiddos & there was something so familiar about her that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I immediately felt a sense of calm but I had no idea why. 

I had to ask her how we knew one another. She looked so familiar but I didn’t recognize her name.

Chelsy was one of my lactation consultants. In the early bleary days of Benji’s life, when we were struggling with those hourly feeds, painful latches, a lip & tongue tie diagnosis, a failure to thrive outcome, I cried & cried & cried in her office, desperate to know why my body couldn’t feed my baby the way I wanted it to. For the third time. I knew Benji was likely our last & I wanted so badly to have a successful breastfeeding journey with him.

With Chelsy’s support, we got there. I was able to nurse Benji for those 15 months because of her. After 5 weeks of sitting in her office, countless weighted feeds & questions, after 5 weeks of support, she got us there. 

It was such a joy filled session. Not only to watch Chelsy interact with her own little ones, but to be in the presence of a Mom that I owed so much too. To see her again, in the midst of putting away “baby hood” for our family and being reminded of those blissful nursing days that I’ve come to remember and love.

Chelsy, was such a joy to see you again and to preserve your memories of motherhood. Thank you for helping me preserve mine 🖤

Chelsie & Evan ~ The Kokomo Hobson ~ Indiana Wedding Photographer

There are so many cool stories tied into this blog, I don’t even know where to start!

Chelsie & Evan’s wedding day was ah-mazing. It was our first ever leap year wedding and was the last wedding we had the pleasure to photograph as wedding photographers before Covid-19 appeared(go awayyyyy Covid and Carole Baskin!).

It was also our first wedding at The Kokomo Hobson, which is not only a DREAM wedding venue, it’s also run by the sweetest staff. Two of which (Bo & Kura I’m looking at you!) just had the cutest baby and we were able to photograph her newborn photography session back in January.

Soooo remember Chelsie & Evan’s surprise engagement session from last year? Click here to read the full story, but basically Evan surprised Chelsie by proposing to her during a family photography session we had together in Logansport Indiana at France Park and it was the sweetest thing ever!

From then on, I KNEW their wedding day was going to be one of my favorites. Their general compassion towards others and their love for one other is obvious to everyone that knows them. And I knew their wedding day would be filled with true emotions that ran deep.

My favorite part of the day? Their vows.

Chelsie and Evan decided to read their vow privately, only to each other, and to share standards vows during their ceremony in front of guests. It was the most private of moments that I felt so honored to be a fly on the wall for. Evan had the biggest tears streaming down his face and Chelsie’s smiles were just as big, if not bigger.

Their wedding is by far one of my favorites yet and I can’t wait to see where life takes them. Congratulations Chelsie & Evan!

Wedding Photography: Jessica Newton Photography
Wedding Venue: The Hobson
Vow Stationary: La Pomme et la Pipe
Flowers: Full Flowers shop on Etsy
Bridesmaids Dresses: David’s Bridal
Wedding Dress: Luxe Redux Bridal
Invitations: Louie’s Tux Shop
Tux: Louie’s Tux Shop
Groomsmen Gifts: Urban Farmhouse Tampa
Garland on the tables: Heller Nursery in Decatur
Cake: Sheri’s Edible Art

Baby Lyrah ~ Kokomo Indiana Newborn Photography

Can I just say one thing? DREAM BABY.

Lyrah came into the studio fully prepared(thanks to her parents dedication in using our newborn prep guide) and she was soooo sleepy. She slept through her entire session and we were able to get so. many. setups. during her session.

My favorite part of the session may be the neutral rainbow backdrop that we created. Her mama had written in her session questionnaire that she’d like to use rainbows for Lyrah’s session, but after talking she decided that it didn’t go with Lyrah’s skin tone. So we tried something new and created a beautiful skin toned rainbow and it turned out perfect!

Here are out favorites. Want to book your own session? Contact me here.

Joy.

I’ll never forget this time.

It’s weird to *know* when you’re living history. I mean sure, we document our lives and we all have a history. But to know we are living moments, memories, times that will actually be in a history book? Something that our children and grandchildren will read about?

Man.

Something weirder is that I can without a doubt say that this has been the worst and best time of my life.

Someone compared the feeling to grief, and I think that’s not a far cry from it. We’ve all lost something here. But we’ve also gained something else in the process.

When the numbers of covid cases started creeping up in the world, when it finally made it’s way into the United States, when the first case showed up in Kokomo, when Kokomo announced the closure of the schools, when the city posted an ordinance of the temporary closure of all non-essential businesses…it felt like my life was over.

Last year was so good to us. So good that I cried. so. stinking. much. because I couldn’t believe that this was our life and because I was so scared to lose it. It was so good, that it was too good.

I must have told Jon this a million times about how scared I was for it all to end. For it to be gone. For something to finally swoop in and ruin our happily ever after.

Thoughts the last couple weeks:

“This is it. This is what I’ve been fearing.”

“The other shoe has finally dropped”

“How are we going to tell the kids?”

“How am I going to teach the kids?”

“What if one of us dies?”

“What if someone we know dies?”

“How are we going to keep our kids safe?”

“How are we going to keep each other safe?”

“How am I going to keep my business from going under?”

“How are all of our small business friends going to recover?”

“How is Kokomo(which has FINALLY started to grow) going to recover?”

“How are WE going to recover?”

Needless to say, the inside of my head has not been a pleasant place to live. I’ve been crabby, moody, and walking around feeling pretty much hopeless.

But wouldn’t you know it. After about a week something started creeping on in, just like she always does.

Joy.

I didn’t think she would come around. I’ve been pretty unhappy the last two weeks. But as I was sitting the other day in my own pitty party, praying, trying to squeeze in just a few minutes of silence after what had been an overwhelming day, and wondering how we were going to get through this, that still small voice showed up.

“Jessica. If you had chosen to take this time off, you’d have been happy about it.”

Dang it.

Don’t you hate it when you realize that you’ve been sour for no reason? Or said something angrily to someone and then realize that YOU are the one that made the mistake?

If you told me that I’d get to take off three weeks to spend with my kids, to do the things that I love, to make homemade play dough, to play in the dirt, to race paper boats, to catch up on the endless pile of laundry, to read a book, to take a long bath, to have fun…I would have been overjoyed.

But because this was something out of my control and something that significantly impacts our family financially, I was hopeless.

Two weeks ago, I was handed a gift.

Just because it’s a bad time, doesn’t mean it isn’t a good time too. Joy can be found in any place, regardless of our circumstances. We just have to look for her.

Joy

She found me. Because I let her.

And I’m so glad I did.



Tips for Photographing Your Newborn ~ Kokomo Indiana Photographer

A virus(he who shall not be named!) is taking over. It’s caused uncertainty for parents everywhere but we want to alleviate just a tiny bit of that uncertainty. We want to help.

Right now hospitals are closing it’s doors to visitors, including photographers, which may mean that your scheduled Fresh 48 session with us has been cancelled. But that doesn’t mean that you have to walk away from the hospital without memories of your baby.

Here are some tips from us on how to photograph your newborn baby at the hospital if your photographer can not attend your birth/fresh 48 session.

1). Prepare your camera.

Whether it’s an iphone or DSLR, make sure that your lens is clean. A dirty lens will create hazy images. We want crisp clean images, so be sure to wipe down your camera lens or your phone lens so that it is free of oils and smudges. A warm damp cloth works well.

2). Time your session.

The best time of day to photograph your baby is going to be in the daytime. If the sky is overcast, you can photograph your baby almost any time while the sun is out. If the sky is clear and sunny, it’s best to wait until the sun is highest in the sky and not shining directly into your window with sun beams.

Be sure to raise any blinds on the window and turn off all lights in the room, so that the only light coming in is from the window. It will be dark, don’t worry, window light is sufficient.

3). Prepare your baby.

Feed your baby prior to the session. This way Baby will have a full tummy and they’ll be more likely to stay calm while you are taking photos. And if not, no worries! If you start taking photos of your baby and they cry, comfort them and/or offer some more food until they are happy or asleep.

4). Dressing baby.

Take photos of baby swaddled and photos of baby unswaddled.

We recommend using the plain white hospital issued newborn outfits. These are nostalgic and represent your time with baby in the hospital.

When swaddling, keep in mind that nurses are the *best* swaddlers. If you need help, they are happy to assist. For photos the swaddle should be nice and snug around baby, and not around their face so that you can see their sweet little cheeks and chin. We also recommend utilizing the hospital issued blanket as a swaddle or any Aiden + Anais muslin swaddle.

5). Placing baby.

Clean up any loose clothing items, gifts, belongings, etc. away from the window so they will not be in the photographs. Wheel the bassinet as close to the window as you can and lock the wheels.

There are multiple ways that you can position baby but for the most beautiful shadows I recommend having the back of Baby’s head facing the window, so that the light falls down and across their face. You can also lay the bassinet flat against the window lengthwise for a lovely silhouette shot.

6). Focus.

Between each photo, check your focus. It’d be awful to take all these beautiful photos but for them to be fuzzy. Focus on Baby’s eyes whenever taking photos of their face.

7). Details.

Don’t forget them. Details mean so so so very much years later. Get as close to those little eyelashes as you can. Take photos of their ears, their wrinkly hands, their sweet little cow like, and their blushy toes. Added details of the bassinet name card, your room number, and your birthing suite hallways are also great details to have as remember your time at the hospital.

I hope this is helpful! Just remember to add your camera to your hospital to go bag, get lots of rest before photographing your baby, and have fun. Stay safe and healthy, we will see you all very soon!

–Jessica

Why I don’t use live animals for photography sessions. A cautionary tale of animal abuse.

Easter! It can’t get here soon enough. For me Easter means spring time, chocolate easter bunnies, colorful tulips, fluffy easter dresses, handsome pastel bow ties, and a reflection on my faith.

But as a photographer, it also now means something else. Live animal Easter photography sessions.

I see them everywhere. A cute toddler holding a cute fluffy bunny or cuddling a ducking. A baby adoringly looking into a box of tiny baby chicks. And it makes me well…anxious. Actually our sweet golden retriever Poppy’s face (as seen in the photo above) is an accurate description of how it makes me feel.

Because as an avid animal lover and pet owner and farmers daughter, there are a lot of reasons why live animal photography sessions are a really bad idea.

If you are considering hiring a photographer over Easter, please read below. There are steps that you can take to ensure your safety for an adorable easter session and to ensure that no animals are harmed in the process.

Here are my reasonings on why I do not offer live animal photography sessions(with the exception to a client’s pets) and why the only little easter bunny I’ll ever photograph is the one below 😉

1) It’s illegal if you don’t have a license.

A license is required by the USDA every time live animals are used in a photography session. This doesn’t apply for pets, but it does apply when using animals that are not pets for commercial gain. An inspection of the photography business and session location is required and the fee varies depending on the amount of animals being used. Sometimes a inspector also must be present during the photography sessions depending on the state.

2) It’s not safe (for the animals)

Tiny bunnies, chicks and ducklings are usually the most used animals for Easter photos. These tiny creatures have very delicate features and bone structures and they simply aren’t meant for hours of handling. Tiny duckling wings, little chicky feet, delicate bunny ears…Most mini session events for Easter photos run at least two hours in length, sometimes up to 8 hours a day. The animals will pass through multiple children’s hands which is not only exhausting for the baby animals, it’s also dangerous. Small children, toddlers especially, simply don’t understand how to hold tiny animals.

Children may become overly excited and squeeze a tiny chick too tightly. They may drop a busy squirmy bunny on accident. They may squish a tiny duckling if they move too quickly in their seat. You may even remember the Mercer Harris Photography incident from two years ago(don’t google it, it’ll only make you angry) where children are seen in the photos holding bunnies by their ears, photographed throwing ducklings into a lake, and even one child bite-kissing a rabbit.

This is in my opinion at NO fault of the little ones. Some small children are simply too young to understand how to hold tiny animals, especially if they’ve never held one before. And because there is no way to know or regulate which children know how to handle live animals and which ones don’t, we have decided to not take the risk.

3. It’s not safe (for the kids).

Unless the photographer using the live animals has taken each of the animals to the vet to have them checked out, and examined, there’s no way to know if the animals are healthy. And even if they are healthy, often times small farm animals can carry any number of germs and communicable diseases. Tularemia or “rabbit fever” is common in bunnies and almost all farm animals carry salmonella in their claws.

And not only diseases but small untamed animals can physically harm participating little ones. Bunnies are easily startled when handled by children. They can panic, especially if they are not pets that have been properly handled. When they do panic, they scratch and it hurts something fierce. With a scratch and the combination of salmonella in bunny toes, your little one could end up with an infection. And out of 10+ children holding the same bunny in the same day….it’s only a matter of when someone will get scratched, not if.

Also poop. It happens. Everyone has to go and there will be poop at some point during someones Easter animal session. Animal feces also contain germy germs and unless that animal is pet living in your home, you’re being introduced to the possibility of some not so nice bacteria. Something to consider.

4. They add to already overcrowded animal shelters.

Each year at Easter, animal shelters like the Kokomo Humane Society see a large increase in the amount of surrendered animals and it’s typically small farm animals and bunnies. Easter photography sessions are only adding to this problem if the photographer using the live animals does not intend to love and keep them.

Where are the animals going to go when the sessions are over? Does the photographer have a plan? Ducklings and chicks are not allowed as pets within zoned city limits here in Kokomo and in most other city limits as well. They are meant to be raised by a loving family with a property where they can run free and live their fullest ducky chicky lives.

Bunnies can make great pets, but they require a lot of love, attention, and regular handling. They also require regular vet visits and have special needs just like any other pet.

5. I could be fined and lose my business. Even if I have a permit.

Even if I have an inspection and a license form the USDA, if any animals are harmed(God forbid), it’s considered to be animal abuse and there is a hefty fine. Not only that, the USDA can ban me from actively doing business permanently. It’s just. not. worth it.

So How Do I Still Get Those Cute Easter Photos?

1. Don’t hire a photographer using live animals. There are quite a few photographers that can photoshop in “fake” animals that can sit right next to your little one and appear real when they actually aren’t. Contact your photographer and ask them if they are using live animals or a “composite” of fake animals.

2. Find a photographer with an adorable animal free Easter setup that you love. They are everywhere. Easter is colorful and beautiful and bright, exactly as it is and gorgeous photos can be taken without animals ever being in the pictures.

3. If you really really really want live animals in your shoot, ask the photographer for proof of their license from the USDA, ask for proof of a healthy vet visit(even if they are pets), and ask the photographer what will happen to the animals after the session is over. Also require a signed contract for your session and ask how the photographer plans to protects your little ones and the animals throughout the session.

Happy Easter! Here are my own little sweet peas from last year’s Easter Sunday <3

Baby Bolinger ~ Kokomo, Indiana Newborn Photographer

The BEST thing about winter? Snuggly winter babies.

It’s about this time of year that I really start missing spring. The flowers and the fresh air, oooooooh how I wish for those things after being stuck inside for so long. But my goodness do I look forward to seeing babies at the studio during this time.

Seeing a wee babe on a cold winter day is *just* what the heart needs. So new. So beautiful. All the hope, peace, and joy for new things to come. The reminder that the world is always moving, always changing, and that even in winter some of life’s most beautiful moments take place.

Here are some of my favorite’s from little Eleanora’s jewel toned newborn session and her parents portraits with our milky white lifestyle studio bed.

Baby Avery’s 6 Month Milestone ~ Kokomo Indiana Photographer

Every time I see Avery I just want to squeeeeeeeze her! She is *such* a happy baby. With quite the personality too.

I’ve been lucky enough to see her every 3 months since her mama booked a Grow With Me Plan and I can not wait to see her again for her 12 month session this spring!

She loves loves loves her mama and despite all the smiles in the pictures, the only person that could *really* get her to smile was definitely her mama. See my favorites from her session below.

Lauren & Jem ~ Catey Heritage Farms Barn Wedding ~ Peru Indiana

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When I meet up with potential bride & grooms for their initial consult, I can typically tell right away if it’s going to work out.

We only take on so many weddings per year to ensure that we are at the top of our game, so we meet with couples prior to anyone signing on, just to make sure we are all a good fit for one another. We want to make sure that we are all on the same page, and that our personalities blend well to ensure a seamless wedding day.

So I sat down at Starbucks, getting my things together for the meeting, and I get a text from Lauren that says:

“So so sorry, we are running a little bit behind! A fox stole one of our chickens and we had to chase it down and save it. We will be there as soon as we can.”

Aside from the text message being incredibly sweet, 1) to let me know they’d be late and 2) that a very happy chicken was now safe, it was a key indicator that this was a couple that I wanted to work with. Lauren cared about her wedding day but also cared equally about her farm animals, and the meeting would have to wait. Obviously I agreed with this decision, so I waited until they were able to make it.

Said chickens for reference 😉

Not long after, L&J arrived and began telling me about their dream wedding day. A day filled with no stress, good friends, and family. On the farm that they had taken on together, Catey Heritage, where they grow their own organic flowers and produce with happy healthy chickens that roam the farm(see their engagement session and more about their farm here). A whole roasted pig for the reception, overflowing charcuterie boards, held around a bon fire, under the moonlight, ordering Pizza King for late night snacks, with great local beer.

Sign. Me. Up.

But the kicker for me was when they left. Our meeting ended and when we headed out, Jem looked down and realized that he had accidentally tracked mud from his shoes all through the Kokomo Starbucks when they came in. It was from chasing the fox and he felt terrible for getting the floor dirty. I said something like “Oh I’m sure this happens all the time and it obviously wasn’t intentional. You had bigger things to worry about just before coming in” And he said “I know but I used to work in food service. It’s a hard job and I’m sure they already mopped for the day.”

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In the short few minutes I got to know Lauren & Jem, I knew that their wedding would be the highlight of my year. Because they loved one another deeply and because they cared. They were good people.

Don’t get me wrong, I love fancy bouquets, elegant wedding decor, and a beautiful bride and groom. I love all of my couples. But I *LOVE* good people. Because their wedding days reflect who they are and wedding days are that much sweeter because of it.

My text message to my 2nd photographer to let her know about the wedding we had just booked was something along the lines of “OMG BEST WEDDING IN OCTOBER 2019. NICEST PEOPLE EVER, ON THEIR ORGANIC FLOWER FARM. BON FIRES. CHICKENS. PIZZA.”

I can happily tell you that their wedding day was absolutely a highlight of my 2019 and it was everything they thought it would be(with a few fun hiccups thrown in).

Lauren & Jem, it was an honor to get to be your wedding photographers. We love every image that we took and your wedding day was one that we will always remember. Thanks for letting us tag along on one of the most memorable days of your life!

In case anyone is curious, Lauren & Jem run Catey Heritage Farms in Peru Indiana and not only do they grow some killer produce, they are now booking weddings for 2020 at their wedding barn! You can find out more here: https://www.cateyheritage.com

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Look at that little tear coming out of Dad’s eye! Teared up myself for this one.
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They made canned jams, salsas, and pickles as their favors. So much love.
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In-Home Studio Newborn Photography ~ Fishers Indiana Photographer

It is chilly chilly chilly out today and you know what that means? In-home newborn sessions!

One of my favorite things to offer new parents is the luxury(and often times necessity) of an in-home newborn session. This time of year, it is so so so cold out. Bringing a newborn out of the house on a normal day usually involves quite a bit of shuffling, packing, more shuffling, and more packing. Bringing a newborn out of the house during the winter means even more shuffling and packing with a ton of blankets, car seat covers, and the added worries of trudging through the snow and icy roads with a baby in tow.

In-home newborn sessions take all of the packing and prep work out of your hands and into ours! We bring everything to you. We pack up our traveling newborn setup, props, backdrops, outfits, headbands, etc. and bring them right to your door. You’ll have everything you need for Baby from the comfort of your home and we will setup our traveling studio right in the living room or in baby’s nursery where you can watch us work.

Crew’s parents decided early on that an in-home session worked best for them and they opted for a mini series. We did their maternity session just before fall hit and Crew was born just a couple months later with quite the adoring big sister. We set up in Crews nursery and you never would have known that his session took place there instead of the studio. His mama and daddy stayed close by, sipped some coffee, and relaxed while we did the rest.

Here are some of my favorites. Thanks Connor family for letting us snuggle your sweet boy! Can not wait to watch him grow <3