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!
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.
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!
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!
Interested in a photoshoot or want to know more? Click the button below to get more details on booking a session!
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.
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.
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.
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.
My 2019 was one of my busiest seasons so far. I had the opportunity to photograph a destination wedding, work with some talented, local vendors, and check out quite a few of Southeastern Wisconsin’s best wedding venues. I also had the honor of working with some of the sweetest couples. From small and intimate to large and lively, I covered just about every type of wedding. Except a brunch wedding, I definitely want to photograph a brunch wedding! Here’s a run down of some of my favorite moments of the 2019 wedding season.
3. The Sanger House Gardens. As a little girl, I was a big fan of the movie & book, ‘The Secret Garden.’ This is kind of what this place reminds me of. John and Millie had a very small and intimate wedding reception here, hosting mostly family and a few very close friends. I can honestly say this was the only wedding that I’ve photographed where I actually cried. I’m pretty good at keeping my emotions in check! Millie’s touching speech about John and her daughters really hit home for me. If you’re looking for a mansion style wedding, definitely check out The Sanger House.
4. The ‘Til Death sign at The Ivy House. This place offers so many “Instagramable” photo ops but this one is by far my favorite. I’m so excited to be back at the Ivy House this May!
5. Dog-friendly venue spaces. When Kyle and Ali told me that they wanted to include their pup, Jax, in their wedding at Birch, I was all for it. I love dogs and I really do love when couples incorporate them into their wedding. I photographed two weddings this year where the couples incorporated their pups and I love that Birch is a dog-friendly venue!
6. Villa Filomena. Another Milwaukee mansion that doesn’t disappoint. I loved everything about Dave and Alexis’s wedding. The day was absolutely perfect and personal in every way. From the handmade hair piece to the game themed reception decor, this couple put their personal touch on every aspect of their wedding and they did it in a very tasteful way.
7. Carving out time for sunset photos. There are a few reasons I love when your wedding timeline allows for sunset photos. First, it’s my chance to pull you away for just a few minutes to really soak up your time as husband and wife. It gives couples a chance to check in with one another and make sure everything is going well, and many couples appreciate the “breath of fresh air” after visiting with lots of loved ones during the day.
8. Brides with a sense of humor. Cassaundra contacted me a few days before her wedding and explained to me how she wanted to play a practical joke on Craig, her husband to be. They were planning on doing a first look, but instead of seeing his bride when he turned around, Cassaundra worked with Craig’s best man to give him a good laugh and relieve any nerves he might have about seeing Cassaundra for their first look. The two enjoyed a “real” first look afterward and it was perfect.
9. Dessert Bars. Not everyone loves cake (I get it, but I don’t…). When you’re not big on wedding cake, hosting a dessert bar is another great option and Miss Molly’s does not disappoint. These brownies were the best I’ve ever had. I’ve worked with Molly for a styled shoot and now for a real wedding and I hear nothing but great things from anyone who eats these delicious baked goods.
10. Vingettes and champagne parades. When your mom owns a rustic and chic decor and home furnishing store in the Third Ward, you better be ready for an amazing wedding day set up! Terry set up vignettes around their property for Alex and Garrett’s gorgeous backyard wedding. When I was photographing the details, I kept thinking about how I wanted to put some of the decor into my new home! This wedding was so wonderfully done in many ways, I can’t wait to share more from their day. Alex and Garrett also did something I’ve never seen any couple do before. They led a champagne parade from their ceremony site to where the guests were to enjoy cocktail hour! That’s definitely a parade I want to be part of.
This past week, I sat down with my sister to talk to her about all things babies. She’s a first time mom and I wanted to talk to her about how life has changed since bringing little Stella into the world. Scroll down for the interview-it’s a good one!
Q. What’s one thing you’ve learned about babies since having Stella that you never knew before?
A.Babies let you know what they need. Even though they can’t talk, you really learn their cries and the difference between a hungry cry or a dirty diaper cry or I just want to be held cry.
Q. What’s the best part about becoming a mom?
A. Everything she does amazes me, I still think, I’m a mom? And what I really mean by that is when I see her developing into her own personality, and discovering the world around her I’m just amazed by everything she does because I created her.
Q. And on the flip side, what has been the most challenging part?
A. The sleepless nights. Thankfully those are fewer these days, but she’s getting teeth and when she’s in pain, it’s no fun for anyone.
Q. Tell me one thing that you miss about your pre-baby days.
A. Honestly it’s hard to remember life before Stella, but sometimes I miss being able to come and go as I wish. Now I plan my outings based on her napping and eating schedule.
Q. What was mom right about?
A. To trust your mommy instincts. She told me kids come with the answers. I wasn’t sure what she meant by that until Stella was here and I learned to trust my gut when dealing with decisions regarding my daughter.
Q. What advice would you give expecting, first-time moms right now?
A.Enjoy and cherish every moment, the beginning is a learning curve for everyone but it gets easier, don’t let mom guilt get the best of you… know the most important thing you can give your child is love and as long as you’re doing that, you’re doing a pretty good job!
Sam and Ian welcomed baby Jax toward the end of December! By far, the best Christmas gift anyone could ever receive. He was absolutely perfect during the session and barely made a sound. Sam and Ian, you two have this parenting thing down! Congrats again on your baby boy, he’s absolutely precious!
Jess & Chirag celebrated their October nuptials with their closest family and friends during an intimate, New York City wedding. Chirag is originally from India and all of his family still lives there. The two planned on traveling back to his country to have their big Indian wedding (a first time visit for Jess) but they still wanted to celebrate with Jess’s family and all of their New York friends.
For a city with such a crazy, “on the go” vibe, the weekend was very laid back. Their wedding festivities kicked off on Friday evening when Jess hosted a henna party in their apartment. It was a great opportunity for me to get to know these two on a more personal level. Their friends and family are so wonderful and I feel like I’m best friends with Jess’s grandma. She was quite the storyteller and we got along wonderfully!
I can honestly say that I loved everything about Jess and Chirag’s wedding day. The two got ready together in their NYC apartment. The details were on point and her dress was simple but gorgeous. An absolutely perfect choice for an unseasonably warm October day. Although there were a few hiccups throughout the day, Jess and Chirag handled everything with such grace and just laughed it off. Things like having a ceremony start almost an hour late and having no music to walk down the aisle to couldn’t sent someone into a meltdown, but these two just laughed as their friends and family hummed, “Here comes the bride” as Jess walked into the room. The couple wrote their own vows which were very heartfelt. There was even a Game of Thrones reference thrown into Chirag’s.
Jess and Chirag had their ceremony at the historical 3 West Club in the gorgeous Solarium room, which opened up to a patio that overlooked St. Patrick’s Cathedral. After the ceremony, everyone headed to Tarallucci E Vino for dinner and polenta party. I highly recommend checking this place out if you’re in the NYC area. The food was phenomenal and the cheese display was out of this world amazing. I can’t even begin to describe. Just scroll down to see its’ awesomeness. As a girl from Wisconsin and lover of cheese (and wine), my heart skipped a beat.
I asked the couple what they were looking forward to most about being married, and they said “just being together”. Having nothing to do but hang out on the weekends and to start their lives together. Congratulations to Jess and Chirag and thank you so much for asking me to be part of your amazing day and the start of your new journey as husband and wife!
Vendors that helped make this day amazing:
Wedding Dress: BHLDN
Florals: Alma Floral Design
Ceremony: 3 West Club
Reception: Tarallucci E Vino