Posts in business
Martha Stewart feature! Danielle’s tips for taking milestone photos of your baby

I am feeling incredibly excited to have been featured on Martha Stewart, “5 Precious Keepsakes to Capture Your Baby’s Milestones“! The article includes my do-it-yourself tips for taking your own milestone photos at home. Plus, my own daughter’s adorable 7 month photo is included!

Check out the article for creative ways to help you capture the many milestones of your little one’s first year. And use my tips to document this fleeting, precious time in your baby’s life!

During’s Macie’s first year, I got asked a lot where the milestone blanket featured in the article is from. It is a BatzKids blanket. Here is the full year of Macie’s monthly blanket photos! Use my tips from the article to get creative and take pictures of your little one on a blanket 🙂   

Check out my previous feature on Martha Stewart, How to Make a Dazzling No Sew Tutu!

Behind the Scenes: Hanging a Gallery Wall of Framed Portraits

Clients often come into the Maryland photography studio with a vision of how they would like to display their favorite images in their home. And others don't have any idea of how they'd like to display their images, and that's ok!  Design is part of our process. Some don't have a lot of wall space and prefer prints and albums to look through, some want a statement piece to admire in the nursery, and others envision a gallery wall of framed portraits lining the hall.  No matter what works best for you and your family, it is my job to help you figure it out and make it happen! Using my camera, I make sure to capture beautiful images of the special times in your life. But beyond that, it is my goal for each family that I photograph to truly love their portraits and take home a piece of art to display and enjoy daily. As I busy mom of little children I can relate to the 'craziness and chaos' of life.  Time is limited and those images you said you would get around to printing are still waiting, years later. That is why I make it a priority to work with each client to deliver a finished product for you and your children to enjoy right away. And if you order a gallery of frames, we will even hang it for you!

My personal favorite photographs of my children are the ones that I have printed and get to look at every day. Nothing beats actually holding, touching and looking at a printed image.

Want to see what I'm talking about?  Here are some behind the scenes images of a recent gallery wall that we created and installed for a client. We did the portrait taking and design but left the artwork hanging to the expert Meredith Forte, of Frame Avenue Design, for a smooth and easy installation.

This gallery wall of images is framed in a white natural barn wood. Their family of four is proudly displayed on the stairway, bringing memories and joy each and every time it is walked by.

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If you want to see more behind the scenes of finished prints and products, check out @danisaraphoto on instagram

The Best Time to Professionally Photograph your Baby’s First Year Milestones

The Best Time to Professionally Photograph your Baby’s First Year Milestones

I get sad thinking about the fact that both of my children have grown into toddlers already. I love the baby stage so much I would almost consider having another baby just to experience it again (don't tell my husband!)  A baby's first year is such an exciting, fast, and exhausting stage of life for parents. There are so many milestones that happen  – they grow and change so fast!  Some of my absolute favorite images of my children are from birth to one year old.

A baby's first year is a great time to invest in the experience of a professional portrait session and the memories of photographs that you can’t replicate yourself. All babies are different and hit milestones at different ages and stages. Generally speaking, the age of the baby can dictate what types of photographs you can achieve.  Adjustments for premature babies or babies on their own schedule can always be made.

Here are my tips for the best time to hire a professional to photograph your baby's first year.

Newborn sessions are best within the first two weeks after birth (5-14 days old). During this time, newborns are super sleepy. If they have a full belly and are tired, they typically don’t mind being moved around without waking. They are more likely to prefer to curl up into the ‘womb-like’ positions they are used to and stay asleep for longer stretches.  It is not only the ideal time to pose your baby in the curly, squishy poses everyone loves, but to also capture natural portraits of stretching, yawning, and sleepy little smiles. This is a time to reflect on the true, untouched expression of your baby as themselves. Professional photographers who are experienced working with newborns know how to capture this special time in an artful and beautiful way.

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It is best to contact a photographer while you are pregnant so you have time to plan and prepare before your baby arrives! 

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After the newborn stage, the next age for baby portraits is around 3-4 months old. This is when babies have good head control for adorable tummy time images! This is a great stage to photograph because they are still so very ‘baby’ but are laughing and smiling and starting to show their true personality. Babies at this age tire quickly so you can easily capture adorable sleeping baby photos at this age as well.

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The 6 month to 9 month range is a fantastic time for milestone portraits. Right when baby is able to sit up unassisted, but they are not yet crawling, is ideal. Babies are so giggly, smiley and easily amused at this age by everything around them.  If your baby is not yet sitting on their own, it’s best to wait another month or two until they are comfortable sitting. They also love exploring and grabbing their feet and hands. This is such a happy stage for baby!

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Of course, the First Birthday is a milestone that is so important! You and your baby are celebrating your first year together! At 12 months old, your baby is becoming a toddler. They are doing all sorts of activities at this stage.  It is a fun time to capture them standing on their feet, clapping, walking, laughing, and just being silly with all that is around them. Since a birthday calls for cake, photographing your baby eating their first birthday cake usually results in some hilariously messy and memorable photos!

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Danielle Sara Photography specializes in all the stages of baby's first year our beautiful Rockville, Maryland studio! We also offer a baby's first year portrait package so you don't miss a moment.

Hanging a Wall Gallery and an Interview with Frame Avenue Design

Do you have framed photos in storage, a canvas leaning against a wall waiting to be hung, or old disks/CD's/USB drives collecting dust in a drawer?  If your answer is "YES" - you need to keep reading!

Our interview today is with Meredith Forte of Frame Avenue Design.  We chose Meredith to interview because we truly believe in the importance of printing pictures and displaying them on your walls. Meredith is a rockstar when it comes to hanging artwork!  Danielle Sara Photography clients typically come to our studio and fall in love with the boutique product line we provide and the full-service experience.  We always enjoy the process of working with clients to create the perfect wall art pieces for their spaces. We even take it a step further to create multiple image gallery walls. Once that wall art is delivered, Meredith is our go-to gal for hanging up the wall art in our client's homes!  Learn more about Meredith and her business and see a start to finish project that she completed for us below.

Meredith Forte

 Frame Avenue Design (established in 2001)

Picture Framing, Picture Hanging and Wall Design

www.frameavenuedesign.com @framemastermer   www.facebook.com/FrameAvenue

What is the one thing you love most about hanging photography on the wall?

Memories. I love it when a client looks at their picture on the wall and I see them smile. It’s nostalgic for them. It takes them back to that moment in time.

What is your best piece of advice for someone who wants to hang one image/frame themselves or a wall gallery of frames themselves?

There are a couple of options for clients looking to hang and frame family pics. After deciding on a wall space, you can choose to display one BIG piece (around 30” x 40”), OR multiple pieces in a gallery wall. I tell my clients to look at examples on Pinterest to see what style they like most. I usually hang big pieces over sofas, beds or in the dining room and reserve gallery walls for hallways and bedrooms.

What happens if I hire you to hang my artwork?

When you hire me to hang your artwork, we first set a day and time for me to come to your home. Depending on the amount of pictures to be hung, I generally tell my clients to allow one to two hours for hang time. If you’re not sure on an arrangement for your pictures, I will guide you in proper placement.

How do you manage running a successful business and having a family?

Hard work and balance. I am in a fortunate situation that I run my business from home and my framing studio is in my basement. My daughters will often play arts and crafts while I work which is great because I get to hang out with them while I’m framing. It really means a lot for me to teach my children the importance of being a female business owner and to have the strength and courage to anything they put their minds to.

What is your favorite project you’ve worked on?

I have worked on so many great projects, I don’t think I have a single favorite. My greatest thrill is taking a blank wall space and creating one cohesive art piece...all from scratch. For most of the gallery walls I work on, the client has no idea where to begin, but ideas are already running through my head. The great benefit of working with me is that we meet in your home so I get a chance to see your style and what type of environment the frames will be hung in. It makes the process more of a personal experience. I have my clients email me all the artwork they love and I narrow it down to a select few. We decide on a layout, frame and then in no time they are installed on your wall. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing the look on your client’s face and the sparkle in their eyes as they stand back and see the final product.

What’s in your toolbox?

Everything a girl with a toolbox needs:) Hammer, nails, measuring tape, level, love notes from my kids, pencils...ya know the youzhe.

Can you show us some of your work?  

Sure! The below shows a multi-image gallery wall that I worked on with Danielle.  She used images from this family's session to create different wall layout options using her design software. When the frames arrived, I laid them out on the floor based on the design so I could measure and make final arrangements for hanging. The last image shows the frames hung in the hallway of their home.  Below that, the first image is an impactful array of artwork and the second one is a symmetrical layout using simple white mats with white frames. I love the finished products from each of these different options.

 

 

Meredith is offering 20% off any gallery wall package in April! 

My Top Ten List of Favorite Newborn and Baby Products

As a newborn and baby photographer I meet a lot of Moms and Dads! I love chatting away with my clients during their sessions about all sorts of stuff from feeding to sleeping and soothing to siblings, and everything in between. Being a mom of two little ones myself (4 year old and 1 year old), I can easily relate to all of the parents who walk through my studio doors. If you are a mom-to-be, a first time mom, or a seasoned pro, it doesn't hurt to hear what works or doesn't work for others. During those 2am crying sessions - I would be willing to try anything!  I realize there are tons of baby lists out there, but I wanted to create a list of items from my personal experience, both at the studio and at home, so that it might help others. I put together my very own Top Ten List of Favorite Newborn and Baby Products. This is my personal list. What worked for us may not work for your little one, but it is certainly worth a shot, right? 😉  

Baby Shusher - I recently discovered this and love it! I use the Baby Shusher miracle machine during my newborn sessions at the studio. The rhythmic "shush" sound is amazing!  There is also an APP you can download to your phone. Makes a great gift for newborns!  

Sound Machine  -   We used the HoMedics Sound Machine for both kids during bedtime and naps once they were napping in their cribs.  For them, it helped to provide a consistent sleeping environment so they knew it was time for bed. And for my daughter it drowns out the screaming sounds of my toddler while she is trying to sleep.  I personally prefer the calming Ocean setting.

Wipes Warmer -   The Munchkin Mist Wipe Warmer definitely makes for a better diaper changing experience.  It's especially nice to use in the middle of the night when you want to disturb baby as little as possible. A warm wipe is way more comforting than being woken up with a cold, wet wipe on your butt :) I highly recommend.

 
Swaddles - By far one of the most important newborn items to have! We had success with my son using the Miracle Blanket Velcro Swaddle.   He stayed nice and cozy and wasn't able to wake himself up with his flying arms. Make sure it has velcro - so much easier, faster, and safer than traditional swaddle blankets.
My daughter on the other hand, just wanted to break free her little hands!  We used this Love Dream Swaddle for her and she loved it. It allowed her to sleep in her favorite position with her arms up and a bit more room. She slept much better once she wasn't trying to Houdini herself out of the other swaddles.  Not to mention she looked so adorable in it, like a little butterfly!
 
California Baby Lotion -  My daughter had horrible baby acne starting around 4 weeks old. All of the typical remedies to clear it up were not working.  The  Calendula Cream from California Baby worked wonders!  I applied twice a day, sometimes more, and within a week her skin was back to normal. It's natural, organic, non greasy and it smells delicious!

Baby Einstein Toy -  When baby is a bit older, 3 months+, this music box toy is a must-have. Just try it, you'll thank me.

Diaper Rash Cream - Maybe it's a little strange to put this on my top ten list :) but Boudreaux's Butt Paste is the only cream that worked the fastest and most preventative for us.

Baby Carrier -  I used the Baby K'Tan Wrap for both kids. Its pretty much dummy proof and easy to get on by yourself. It's made from a t-shirt material so very comfortable for mom and baby.

 

Swing - At times the only thing that works to calm a fussy baby is movement. We had the Fisher Price Lamb Swing and it worked for us. It was cozy, could be rotated in different directions, and the height gave baby a nice vantage point to see what was going on.

 

 

 

 

If you have suggestions of things that you think were absolutely necessary during the first few weeks and beyond, please comment here or on the FB page to share your experience and help out a fellow mom!