Newborn baby with his dog

newborn baby boy

This is the reason for which you want your baby to be as young as possible for his/her newborn photo. They sleep more, are a lot more mellow, and have flawless skin…This newborn session consisted of approximately 10 different successful poses and outfits….The session was very relaxing for all parties, and the baby slept through most of it.

Little girl on the beach

Siblings portrait

Portrait of a pregnant couple at home

Newborn baby photo on a motorcycle

These are no ordinary portraits. From the moment I met them I knew that they would have some of the most original belly and newborn images. The baby just a few days old takes a nap on his mom’s motorcycle.

Pregnant woman with the view of the Monterey Bay.

While most people prefer to have their portrait taken on the beautiful Santa Cruz and bay area beaches, this beautiful mom requested the redwoods. Luckily, I have access to a spot that has the best of both worlds. This very unique location is up the Santa Cruz hills with the redwoods and the view of the Bay on the background.

Pregnant woman at the beach

Toddler on a garden

sibblings portrait

Seabright beach belly portrait

Beach pregnancy photo

newborn baby with opened eys

9 day old newborn baby photo

Beautiful pregnant woman on Seabright beach

Glowing image of a pregnant woman

These are two of my best glowing maternity photos. Santa Cruz beaches and its beautiful sunsets really make the best background for these kind of images.

Pregnant photo of a single mom

portrait of a pregnant woman doing yoga

It is always so rewarding to me to see new-moms-to-be taking care of themselves in holistic ways. I guess Santa Cruz sets the scene for this.

This mama at 38 weeks of pregnancy asked me to take her photos while doing yoga, a great idea for moms that want their photo taken by themselves and a perfect way to energetically connect with the baby, it really was a beautiful session.

perfect pregnant portrait

While pregnant, I was lucky to be able to take self-portraits or ask my husband (a very talented photographer) to take my picture.  However, if I wasn’t a photographer,  hiring one would have been a budget stretch with all the baby-to-come related expenses.

Every pregnant woman deserves a good image to be able to look back at those amazing belly moments.  That’s why I want to share my most fundamental rules for taking great maternity portraits.  The best news of all is that by living in Santa Cruz, moms-to-be have the best landscapes for perfect outdoor shots, from the ocean to the redwoods. Follow my advice and you’ll be able to get the shot that your belly very much deserves.

1. Lighting

Probably the most important ingredient for a good photo is lighting.  Most would think that a gorgeous sunny warm afternoon is the best time for great photos.  However, as nice as those days are, they are not ideal for photos (at least not in the middle of the day).

The best time to take pictures on a beautiful sunny day is sunset. During the early afternoon, the sun is directly above your head or somewhere high up enough to create harsh shadows; these shadows are strong enough to hinder all softness in an image and will make you frown.

At sunset time, the sun is right in front of you (as long as you are facing west), filling every feature and detail of your face with tender light.

Even better are the 20 minutes after sunset.  By then the light is pinkish, soft, nostalgic, and most importantly, you won’t be frowning.  Forget the flash and let this soft light do the magic!

An overcast day is also great option if you want to take photos earlier in the day and not worry about the sun’s position.  Cloudy days don’t create as many shadows as sunny days do.

2. Learn about your camera ahead of time.

Most cameras, even if they are small point and shoots, have semi manual settings. Read about the basic settings for your camera and practice using them at home.  If you don’t have an instructions manual, try finding an online tutorial for your camera model.  What you want to achieve are good lighted photos without a flash.  The settings that would allow for this (if available) are:

ISO: a relatively high ISO will allow to take photos in poor light conditions without a flash and without blur.  Too high of an ISO can cause a lot of graininess, so there’s a middle ground to be had.

Aperture: The smaller the aperture number the more light will come in the image.

Shutter Speed: You want at least a shutter speed of 150 or higher.

Another super important feature to learn in your camera is the self-timer. This will allow you to set the camera on a tripod just the way you want it without help. Although for this I strongly recommend to get your partner involved, we don’t want a very pregnant belly running back and forth! Ask your partner to pose for you, set the photo frame where you want the photo, go stand next to your partner and make him/her be the one to push the button and rush back to pose.

3. Scope the location

The issue with the perfect lighting is that it lasts little (especially if you don’t have a professional camera). So you want to make sure you know what kind of shot you want and where. Scope the location ahead of time, arrive an hour or so before sunset to make sure you get the photo-shoot going in the right direction and pick the best spots.

4. Get a tripod or ask a friend or relative to help (and make them read this)

Borrow a tripod if you don’t have one,  or ask a close friend or relative to help with the session. Make sure that they learn the basic settings for your camera and practice a bit before the photo-shoot.

5. Background and patience

Think your photo through. Look at the frame, do you really want those cars driving by on the background? or all those electric wires? or those tourists with visors? position yourself in a spot where you’ll have the least amount of non-photogenic or irrelevant elements and be patient, wait for the joggers to leave the frame, reposition if necessary, it’ll be worth it.

6. Respectfully refuse passers-by help

Perfect lighting by sunset doesn’t last long.  As sunset nears, respectfully avoid allowing kind passers-by to take your photo – you can thank them and explain that your are trying to learn how to use your camera. If you allow a stranger to take the photos, the most likely scenario is that they won’t know what they are doing other than pressing a button, you’ve put a lot more thought into this than anyone else so be confident.

7. Create a memory

Why do you want these photos?  As a mom, I know it wasn’t just because I felt like a gorgeous pregnant woman (which I was!) but because I wanted to look back to these moments, the story of the how most amazing person I’ve ever met (my son) got to this world.

Think about your reasons for the photos while you are taking them, look at your belly, think about “the day” as you look into the horizon, kiss your partner with all that love that brought you to this moment.

Make it a special day, if you have a partner take it as a date, go for dinner after sunset and enjoy the evening as much as  you can, you’ll value the memories when looking at the images.

If you don’t have a partner go with a very close friend, parents, or whoever is going to be an important part in your baby’s life.

8. Dimension

Most portraits are better when taken at chest height or lower. This gives the image a bit more perspective than a simple flat photo. Think about it, if you take the photo from face height or higher, you’ll probably miss the beautiful sky, showing mostly floor space on the back, you may also miss the pretty mountains, or the board walk rides! Plus these kind of sights are always a better contrast to the main object of the photos, you!

9. Clothing.

You are pregnant, you are beautiful, and every curvy line is too, you need to show that off! it won’t last much longer…wear clothes that show your curves, avoid loose fitting garments, show belly if necessary. Of course you want to be yourself, so make sure that whatever you wear feels like yourself.

10. Get inspired.

Go online and look for other maternity photos.  A great resource is pinterest. Make sure you limit yourself to only a few favorite shots.  Allow room for creativity though, use this as a tool to get inspired instead of trying to recreate someone else’s photo. Most importantly is to be realistic, maybe the shot you want doesn’t work with the location or lighting that you chose so be selective.

So go ahead and schedule your very own photo-shoot and have fun! check the weather though, you don’t want to end up shivering while trying to show off the belly. And please, if this helps you as much as I hope, share the outcome with with me!!!!

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newborn-baby-girl-photo-inspiration-santa-cruz-county-felton-scotts-valley (1 of 2)

Maternity Photo Santa Cruz Beach







January 20th, 2013 – It was about 4:30 pm, I found myself running through the house looking for every single item I’d plan we may need to take out for your first walk. It was then when I realized it wasn’t about the carrier, the jacket, or the blanket; it was the fact that we were still so new at this, and you, well, we were celebrating your 1st week of life.

It was also your first sunset and in a way it was for us as well, a whole new life, a whole new family. We were struggling trying to figure out if your legs were ok being so cramped in the carrier…or if a little bit of cold air would do you any harm…or if you would get too warm wearing your winter jacket.  That day now seems so far away, it happened so fast, people always say “they grow so fast” and even though it sounds cliche, it is so shockingly true.

During that first week I learned that a newborn can already smile at day two, that love can simply burst out in one small moment, the kind of love that you can’t explain or imagine and that there are still moments in my adult life that make me feel like Christmas morning.  Our life had just gotten so much better and so much scarier.  I immediately knew I wasn’t the same, no more survival trips, no more extreme sports without helmets, no more traveling to scary places, no more voluntary uncertainty.  For the first time in 8 years together, David and I were settled, had a “home town,” and were planning on becoming home owners.

So there we were, in front of the sunset staring at a sleeping you instead of the horizon, trying to figure out who this sweet little boy would become. For myself I could at last tell that I knew exactly who I was, that all these years had brought me to the moment where I could happily tell you “I was meant to be your mother”, that every lesson I learned in life made more sense now.

As I write this, 1 year later, you are taking your morning nap. I keep tearing over the keyboard hoping that one day many years from now you’ll also tear when reading this.

Who have you become so far? In all honesty, you are not the easiest kid to mother; you still do not sleep through the night and refuse to take a bottle, added to that that you are too strong for a baby your age, very hard to tame…you don’t like to be told what to do or how to do it, stubborn like both of your parents. You have the sweetest little cry, you are very chatty and active but rather shy with other kids.  3 months ago you started giving me kisses on request, you go absolutely NUTS over bath time and pop-up books.  Every morning you wake me up, often with a cry, but always turn to this amazingly cute cuddly baby that gives smiles and hugs.  You have the need to scratch any surface and to pet my hair and your dad’s beard, love playing chase, and waving your hands when you approve of something.  These last couple of weeks you’ve been nodding your head “NO”, constantly calling out for “Dada”, although when you are upset you usually want “mama.”  You like to hang out on stairs going up and down non stop and for the longest time you would NOT breastfeed in public.  You have such a contagious laugh and are always creating sound effects for every move you take or game you play.  Some of your favorite foods are pickles, zucchini, and carrots, but for some reason you don’t quite get fruits. You are so cute I can’t believe you are mine, your eyes, your crazy scientist hair, your smile…

Soon you’ll be walking, and with that I know that every single step will be in the opposite direction of us, just to follow whatever it is you want to lick, explore, and be. Life will take you further and further away from being our baby, you’ll move out of my bed, stop needing my smell to sleep, will want to play with other kids all the time, and having us around will eventually seem lame…I am so in awe seeing you grow, thank you for coming into our lives, you are so much more amazing than any dream I ever had!



Family photoshoot