Does the thought of planning a photo session and everything that goes with it drive you into panic? Relax, I’ve got you! Last month, I was chatting with a fellow mom at a social event. I told her what I did and she responded by telling me that she’s never had a professional photo shoot with her family, that everyone online just looks so perfect, and the process seemed too overwhelming. Let me be the first (of I’m sure many) to tell you, what appears online is not real life. Instagram is a highlight reel; even when I share a tough parenting moment in my captions, it’s always paired with a beautiful photo.

Below, are some tips that I give my clients to help alleviate some stress when it comes to planning their photo sessions. Leave your thoughts in the comments and let me know if you’ve done anything that’s not on the list!

  1. Mom (or the primary person scheduling the photo session) choose your outfit first. It’s easy to get drawn into something cute you see for your child, believe me, I know. But kids have many more outfit choices than adults, so to help answer the question, ‘What do we wear?’ start with what looks and feels best on you.
  2. Make sure everyone is well-rested. Ideally, parents like to plan around nap time and I do my best to work with your schedule and mine to make this happen, but it doesn’t always work out that way. Making sure kids aren’t cranky is key to a successful family session. And if all else fails, move onto number 3.
  3. Don’t be afraid to bribe your kids. I would be lying if I said I never promised a fro-yo run after a photo session with my own kids if they promised to listen and behave for the photographer. Don’t be afraid to bring snacks to your session and give them to your child when necessary. Just make sure it’s nothing messy or that will turn their hands and teeth a different shade!
  4. Let go of perfection. I tell my girls every day that perfection is boring. When you look back at your photos, you want to remember your child just as they are, spunky personality and all! Let them be themselves, and I promise you, you will leave the session with memorable images of your family.
  5. Have a favorite activity. Can’t think of anything? I will give you something to do! Many of my sessions are spent running, chasing, and exploring the environment around us. Sometimes we play tag, other times, we dish out compliments. Photographing your family genuinely interacting with each other is what I love most about my job.

When you book a signature session with The Framed Narrative, all clients receive a full guide on what to expect and how to prepare for their session.

What is a Smash Cake Session?

A smash cake session is a milestone photo opportunity celebrating a baby’s one year birthday. Typically, your little one eats/smashes/gets messy with cake! It’s a fun and simple way for your child to experiment with something new. Turning one is a big deal, so this photoshoot is a great way to capture this season of life. Scroll down to see what the session all entails at our Milwaukee studio!

What to Expect During The Session

Smash cake sessions will take place at our Milwaukee studio. After you book a session with us, you will receive an email on what to expect and how to plan. A few weeks before the session, you and I will work together to come up with a theme, decorations, and an overall look for your photoshoot. On the day you come into the studio, we will take a few photos of just your child, give them the cake and let them have fun and enjoy all its deliciousness! Because I love to photograph parents with their children, I stronglyencourage the parents to get in on the fun as well, so plan accordingly. Want one less thing to carry with you? Order from our exclusive cake partner and get the smash cake delivered right to the studio!

Milwaukee Smash Cake Session
Smash Cake Session
Smash Cake Photo Session

Interested in a photoshoot or want to know more? Click the button below to get more details on booking a session!

The Framed Narrative

2022 was a big year. I finally had the opportunity to travel for fun again and started the year off with a trip to St. Martin with my mom. I wanted to take her somewhere nice and relaxing as a thank you for everything she’s done to support me and St. Martin exceeded all expectations. As I write this out now and it’s a crisp 30 degrees outside, I can’t help but want to be back there. Our time mostly consisted of laying on the beach, reading books and enjoying the local food and drinks! We did manage to fit in a hike and island tour.

I opened a studio. In late February, I was casually browsing the internet one afternoon and came across a listing that would become my Milwaukee Eastside studio space. I called a friend of mine who deals with commercial real estate and he and I toured it, I told him the vision I had in mind and he said that he thought it could work. A few weeks later, I was signing a lease and receiving the keys to my first studio space.

 Over the next few months, I worked with a contractor to demo the space and turn it into the vision I had in my head. After many lessons learned, some tears, and lots of deep breathing, I hosted an open house for all my family and friends in September and it was so comforting to have so much love and support from those around me.

I got more time back with my girls. In the middle of July, their dad left for a 6 month deployment, leaving me to be a full-time single parent. It was definitely an adjustment for everyone, but just as it was challenging to balance it all, it was equally, if not more, joyful to have this time with them. Having been deployed myself over the span of 10 years, I’ve missed a lot of time with them so I looked at this time as a way to kind of make up for that.

Milwaukee Family Photographer
Photo by N. Love Photography

I met so many new babies. I photographed so many new babies this year. I LOVE lifestyle newborn photography. I love capturing those precious memories of the first few months at home snuggled up with a new baby, where there is no concept of time.

Milwaukee Newborn photography

I photographed my last wedding. In the middle of this year, Maria Campbell Photography became The Framed Narrative, which means “a story within a story”. I had a few reasons behind the name change, but ultimately I wanted to rebrand and letting go of weddings was part of that. 2020 was a pivotal year for me personally. I was learning how to navigate life as a newly single mom, leaving one identity behind while embracing another, and realizing what really mattered to me. For the past 6 years, I’ve been so blessed and honored to be part of a couple’s most important day, but capturing motherhood, newborn babies and family sessions are what truly lit me up. I went from being with my girls every weekend to now only having them two weekends a month and I found myself saying no to a lot of weddings because the inquiries were falling on my time with them.

Milwaukee Photographer

So there it is, 2022 in a nutshell and to say it flew by would be an understatement. I’m very much looking forward to all the big changes that are coming in 2023. Thanks for reading, being part of it all and stay tuned!

A newborn lifestyle session is completely different than at the studio. First of all, it is done in the comfort of your own home. Secondly, there is very little posing or props involved. Moments happen organically, as they do in real life, and I’m there to document them so that you can look back 6 months, 12 months, 10 years from now and remember those early days of when your baby fit into the nook of your arm or slept for hours on end on your chest.

I’ve heard some hesitation with lifestyle shoots like, “The lighting isn’t good enough” or “Our home isn’t decorated” but all of that is workable and sometimes even welcome. I’m there to document your life in real time. Below, I’ve included some tips on how to help you prepare for your lifestyle newborn shoot. I also send out a questionnaire and correspond with all of my clients so that we both know what to expect come session day. That also gives us another opportunity to address any concerns that you might have.

Find the light. Watch the light in your home, specifically in areas where we plan to shoot the most (typically this includes the living room/family room, nursery, and master bedroom). Shut the lights off in your home and see when you have the most natural light in each of these rooms. That will help us determine what time of day will be best to photograph in.

Let go of imperfect. Let go of the idea of having a “picture perfect” house (you just had a baby or you’re about to) and picture perfect siblings. I’m there to capture your life in real time. I don’t want your child looking at the camera. Babies cry and kids run around. That is life and that is your life right now. Embrace the chaos and don’t stress out about it. There’s beauty in every moment.

Pick your outfits carefully. There are some instances where wording on a t-shirt works. But trying to get a toddler to sit still so that we can see his “big brother” t-shirt may be an impossible feat. Neutrals tend to photograph best in home. Pair simple basics with texture and overlays. I typically tell moms to plan their outfits first and then coordinate the family’s outfit around that. If you want to infuse bold colors into your session, kids and accessories are where it’s done best. Another thing to think about is nail polish. While I love a fun and bold manicure, it can be distracting when it comes to newborn photographs, so try to keep the nails as natural as possible.

Relax and have fun! This is your family so relax! The camera knows when you’re tense, so just relax and pretend like there’s no one else there. I will let you know if I need you to look at the camera.

Want some tips on how to take your own newborn photos at the hospital? Click HERE to download my free guide!

Back in September, I hosted an open house and officially opened up my studio for business! Thank you so much to all of those who came out to support me. I had so much fun going through the cards and little messages you all wrote. 

A special thank you goes out to my mom and my sister for helping me (but actually doing it!) with the charcuterie cups and the photo stand. And a big thanks goes out to my significant other for helping me hang all the shelves and photos. You guys are truly amazing and I most definitely couldn’t have done it without you.

Now let’s chat about the studio! The build out was a whole process and I learned so much along the way. Pulling permits, scheduling city inspections and finding contractors were all things that were new to me. The space had been vacant for 3 years before I came along and it was a massage area off of a spa which used to be next door. Carpet was replaced with LVP flooring, walls were torn down and painted and drop ceiling tiles were brought down to really open the space up. Although there were some tears to be had, I couldn’t be more happy with how it turned out!

A lot of people have asked me, “What will you be using the studio for?” I will be using the studio for maternity, family and newborn sessions, senior portraits, and branding and headshot sessions. It will also be nice to have an alternate indoor spot just in case weather is inclement. For the past 5 years I’ve gotten by with renting space from other photographers as needed, but a few times space has been double booked, therefore causing me to have to reschedule with clients. Because of how my business is transitioning out of weddings and leaning into motherhood and family portraits, I felt it was time to have a studio to call my own. 

Last month my oldest daughter turned TEN! 10 years of parenting fails and parenting wins. 10 years of feeling like my heart is going to explode with so much love and hope for this girl. 10 years of wondering if I’m doing this right. Through the years I’ve learned parenting is not for the faint of heart. From the time you see the first positive pregnancy test until eternity, you will worry about your children. Each stage of life has brought both its own set of joys as well as fears and has taught me so much about life and myself. Here are the top 5 things I’ve learned in my last 10 ten years of parenting. 

1. Unconditional love. The love you have for your significant other is completely different than the love you have for your child; there is nothing I wouldn’t do for my children. There is simply nothing like the bond between a mother and a child.

2. Finding joy in every day. Sometimes my oldest gets caught up in a cycle of negativity (like the time I asked her how gym class was and she listed all the sports she didn’t like) so to start our day off, I’ve created a positive songs playlist we listen to on the way to school. It’s taught me to be more optimistic and teach her to find the good in situations. 

3. Making memories > things. Every year we go through the toys and throw away/donate so much STUFF. I’ve learned that making memories, like our yearly Nutcracker outing, vacations and taking her to Chicago for her first Broadway musical, has more staying power than buying them all the things. 

4. Be silly. Dance parties in the kitchen, car karaoke and dancing at local live bands are all part of our routine. I love that these kids fully embrace the saying of “dance like nobody’s watching.” They are truly themselves in every way possible and have taught me to be more of the same way. 

5. No two children are alike. If you decide to have more than one child, you will quickly find that each one is unique. How I parent my first child is completely different from how I parent my second. 

Life these these two is anything but dull. They test my patience, challenge me to think in new ways, and make me want to be a better version of myself. The title ‘Mom’ was something I never knew I wanted untilI I became one and it truly is the best.

I love getting to photograph growing families, especially when your paths have crossed through major life events. Keith and I met in the Air National Guard. He’s my realtor and he helped me find the home my girls and I currently reside in. He’s my go-to person when it comes to business questions and it was such a pleasure getting to meet his wife, Cryssy, and their adorable daughter. The family will be welcoming a sweet baby boy in the next few months and I can’t wait to meet him!



‘Tis the season and LOVE is in the air! I was never one to celebrate Valentine’s Day, but the girls love it and, well, I love them. So here we are-buying heart shaped earrings, t-shirts and getting flowers delivered for the big holiday. If you’re coupled up, here are some fun things you can do together during the month of February (and really all year long) that don’t involve a Netflix binge!


  1.  Make a fancy Dinner together. I love to cook. So anytime I get to cook for someone else, other than my kids, it brings me happiness. I like to either look up a recipe or order a meal ready to prepare from one of the meal delivery services like Blue Apron. (not an affiliate link, it’s just one of my favorites!) Have kiddos at home? Make them a special kid friendly meal earlier in the night and off to bed they go so that ‘date night in’ can commence.
  2. Make a Playlist together. Have a road trip coming up or planning a night in? Make a playlist to go along with your activity. My partner and I use Spotify to make playlists for car trips together and it’s so fun to see what each of us adds to it. You can learn a lot about someone through their music choices!
  3. Start your own bookclub. I saw this idea on one of the Peloton instructor’s Instagram page, so I can’t take credit for it, but I loved the idea! You each take turns reading a different book, switch mid-month and talk about the 2 books at the end of the month. I thought this was such a cute idea. Reading not your thing? You can also do this with audiobooks!
  4. Turn The TV off. Talk. Challenge each other to Wordle. Play a game. It’s so easy to sink into the couch and binge a show (it can be fun too!), but try and take at least 15 minutes of uninterrupted time to chat about your day, or anything really.
  5. Keep a running list. Last year, I got the best invite my organized, little heart could’ve ever desired…An invite to a google spreadsheet called “Cool Shit”. I had met my match. A list of date ideas, restaurants and other fun things we want to do together. I love discovering new restaurants and bars and adding them to our list. That way, when it comes down to the dreaded question, “Where do you want to eat tonight?” We consult the list!

What other date night/couple ideas do you have? Sound off below!


Am I making time to blog right now?! You bet I am and it feels so good to be back, doing what I love to do: WRITING! As some of you know, I was deployed late last summer into early Fall. When I got home, all I wanted to do was snuggle my girls and catch up on life and all that I missed, so that meant limiting my Fall sessions. I can’t wait to see all of my favorite families soon, but for now I’ll share the goodness that is my sister and my sweet niece. Aren’t they adorable?! We found the best field near our house and had so much fun!