Sweet Caroline | Centreville, VA Newborn Photographer

newborn photographer fairfax va

I hope you guys aren’t getting tired of newborn photos, because I have a whole slew of sessions still to blog!  Pulling this newborn photography session out of the March archives.  🙂 This little gem completely lived up to her … Continue reading

Late 2012 in Review – Newborn Photos

Hi!  Just a quick post to let you see what I was up to from about August through December (besides moving!).  These are just the highlights from the newborn photography sessions.  I’ll be sharing some family photos soon, too! August: … Continue reading

this little Light of mine | Northern Virginia Infant Photographer

“And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good…”

I am not sure how many of you have met the Light sisters.  If you have, then you’ll know that they are pretty, well, fantastic.   If you don’t know them, think of the most wonderful, fun, lovely, hilarious, thoughtful, beautiful person you know and multiply that person by three and you would be close.

I was blessed in life by growing up across the street from the four brightest balls of sunshine that have walked the Earth.  I cannot help but smile whenever I think about them and the years of good times that we have shared.  🙂

The best thing about wonderful people is that they have a tendency to make wonderful babies.  I was excited that Ann, the eldest of the Light sisters, and I were able to meet up again last weekend when she traveled up from Florida to our hometown of Mechanicsville, VA when I also was down visiting my mom for her birthday (Happy Birthday, Mom!).  This was the first time I was able to meet Ann’s four-month-old son, Tripp.  What a sweetheart!  I am so in love with him.  He was making silly noises and funny faces the entire time.  We were all three totally cracking up!   I also love that Ann’s last name is now Green, so Tripp is a Green Light, which is just perfect!

We were in a little girl’s room at her mom’s house, and I thought the “Puppy Love” poster on the wall was too funny!  Decided to incorporate it….

We also went into their backyard to take some photos of Tripp outside!

Please note!  The above photo  is a composite of the two photos below.  If you try this at home, please never take your hands off of the bucket!

To watch Ann’s slideshow, click here!

Ann, I miss you already!  Hope to see you again soon!

Waiting for a Girl Like You

I had the unique opportunity last month to photograph the labor of one of the women who had signed up to be one of the models for my maternity model search in April.  I cannot describe how exciting it was!  I did not get to witness the actual delivery – she arrived a full 24 hours after I took these photos, but she did arrive healthy and beautiful (to a very tired mama)!

This was such an amazing experience for me, and I’m thrilled to be able to share these with you, too!

The reason that Andrea’s birth took much longer than it would have normally is that her baby was turned face up, toward her belly, instead of face down. She was having terrible back labor pain.

She preferred the warm bath to help ease the pain of the contractions.

Her husband was so doting.  It was touching to watch how his eyes showed both his pride and concern.  He was so excited!

Just before I was about to leave for the day, they decided to try to turn the baby.  I cannot recall what this method is called, but basically they took a large cloth and brought it up under her belly while she was on all fours with her hips wide apart.  The midwife’s assistant then held both ends in her hands and began rocking her belly with small even tugs, with every 4th tug a bit stronger on one side.

After about 10 minutes of this, Andrea said she felt the baby turn.  They helped her sit up and checked the heartbeat, which had moved to the other side!  Success!

We were all so happy!  What a rush!

I’m so thankful to Andrea and Andrew for allowing me to photograph part of this momentous journey for them.

From Andrea, “Thank you for these pictures- they’re fantastic! I just wish Livy was in them! Olivia Ann was born at 4:36pm on Friday, April 20th. She was bigger than we all expected- 8 lbs 13oz and 21 3/4 in long. She latched on almost immediately and has been eating well since! She is super healthy.”  Isn’t that one of the best happy endings ever!?  I love it!

Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo

My devoted fans, I’m sorry to have kept you waiting so long for this post!  It has been a wild ride over the past few weeks, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now!  (No jokes about trains, please!)

As you remember, I attended Photoshop World two weekends ago, and promised a Photoshop-centric post to show you some before and after photos.  This was a really fun post to put together!

Okay, where to start? How about with what I can do outside of Photoshop?  This first before and after is of my daughter (also the first photo you’ll see if you go to my website.)  Wow, take a look at that before image!  She looks practically beaten up!  Let’s see… we have a bruise on the forehead, snotty nose, cracked lips, scratches, furrowed brow and blotchy skin.

Using Adobe Lightroom only, I smoothed the skin, healed the blotches, bruises, furrow, and lip cracks, and sharpened the eyelashes.  Then, I applied a color preset from One Willow Presets to make it a little more interesting.  I love the aqua blue eyes against the light pink lips!

This took much longer than it seems.  I probably spent 15 minutes retouching this in Lightroom, which is about 14 more minutes than anyone wants to spend on one photo, but the expression in her eyes drew me in, and once I start editing a photo, I keep going until I am happy with it.

There’s a better tool that I use to retouch called Portrait Professional.  This one takes about 2-3 minutes per photo and is a plug-in for Photoshop and Lightroom.  I’m sensitive about which photos to show that I’ve used this tool on, because this plugin can do some pretty amazing things, like slim faces, remove wrinkles, and really make eyes pop.  So I’ve chosen a pretty simple one here, to just demonstrate the eye part, and you’ll have to trust me on the other aspects.  😉

She’s my niece.  Isn’t she soo cute?!  See what I mean about the eyes?  Pretty cool, huh?  You may notice her skin is a little smoother on the right, too, though I didn’t focus on that for this demonstration.

Okay, so you may be wondering, if you can do all of this without Photoshop, why the heck do you need Photoshop?  Well, let me just show you…

Adding texture can add a little pizazz to photos.  Basically, you just take a jpg of a texture, like the one below… I think, though I’m not positive, that I got this from Jessica Drossin Textures in her freebies section a year ago.  It was definitely in a freebie section somewhere.  If anyone knows where it came from, please let me know so I can attribute proper credit.  File name is as originally downloaded.

Where was I?  So you take the texture and open it in a layer above your photo, then select either “overlay” or “soft light” as the blend mode (try both then pick the one you like).  This will usually make the skin look textured as well, so then I paint onto the texture layer using the same color as the layer to remove the texture from the skin (one of several possible methods – there are some YouTube how-to videos on this).

Here’s the before and after:

Creates a bit of a vintage look here.  I also have textures that make the photos look like paintings on canvas.  Pretty cool!  I don’t do too much with textures, but I have fun playing with them now and then.

What else?  Oh yes, making people look thinner.  This does depend entirely on the photo, but I can usually make love handles disappear.

The photo below is of me from last summer.  As if it wasn’t bad enough that the camera adds 10 pounds, my shirt was not helping matters, so I used the liquify filter in Photoshop to push down the shirt wrinkles on my right side (your left).

Thanks to my hubby for taking this photo of me!

Stray hairs are really annoying, and also more painful to fix than you might expect.  However, I’m happy to do it by request for my clients, because it really can make a big difference in a photo, like the one below where I removed the hair that was falling into mom’s eye.

I very, very rarely do head swapping, but sometimes it’s worth the time it takes.  The photo below is of my two children from September, and I liked both of the original photos, but wanted them both looking at the camera.  I copied my daughter’s head from the top-right photo and moved it over the head on the bottom-right.  The photo on the left is now a large canvas in my house (and part of the banner for this blog!).  Click on the image to see them larger.

One of the most frequent questions I’ve been asked is how I get photos with newborn babies heads in their hands up on their elbows.  Well, I originally did it by setting them up in little tripods and taking some quick snaps, but this left little time to compose a shot.  So instead, I’ve moved to doing this in Photoshop.

The photo below is a composite of two photos and is done very similarly to how I do the head swaps.  First, I take a photo while one of the parents holds the arms together, then I take a photo while they hold the head in place, and finally, I merge the two together – top half of baby and bottom half of baby.  I wish I had the before and after images to show you of this, but I’m pretty good at only keeping only the photos I show my clients (disk space gets expensive, you know?) so I no longer have the originals.  However, you can find YouTube videos on how this is done as well.

I feel a little like Penn & Teller giving away how I do my tricks, but it was fun to pull back the curtain a little to show you how it’s all done!

Now what I’m wondering is when someone is going to invent a Photoshop filter to help clean up my messy house?  🙂

Take it Easy

Oh my goodness, I am exhausted.  I have really been pushing myself lately.  I feel like each minute of every day has a scheduled item attached to it and any variance from that schedule causes me crazy stress.

This afternoon, I decided to make myself a chai latte for a mid-day perk, but when I pulled the steaming mug from the microwave, it struck the lip of the turntable, and it spilled all over my face, my clothes, and my kitchen.  After thinking a few curse words, I set about cleaning up the kitchen, all the while thinking, “I really don’t have time for this!”

Since I have been so busy lately, I’ve come up with this thing where, when I feel like something has gone wrong, I try to find some good in it.  I mean, otherwise, I’ll just sit there and cry (and I’ve done my share of that, too).  So today, as I was cleaning the sticky chai from the floor with my Method lavender all-purpose spray, I thought, “Well, hey, at least my kitchen smells good now!” It was something!  I also took about 30 seconds in the shower to just love the warm water.

Here is my real escape… sleeping babies.  You cannot look at a sleeping baby and not feel a little bit relaxed, right?

Here are some from a recent session with beautiful little Alina, only a week old!

I feel better already!  I hope the rest of your week is perfectly relaxing (mine, too). We deserve it, don’t we?!

Do the Jitterbug

I’m totally cracking up writing this post because my husband said I could “not write a blog about that song. It is absolutely ridiculous.” Oh yeah?  Watch me!

I don’t think we actually had an official prom song, but I do remember that at least half of the people there went crazy and jumped onto the floor when Wham’s “Jitterbug “song was played.

I actually had a pretty crabby evening tonight… running errands with two kids in tow is not fun, but then I started talking to my husband about high school and proms.  I looked this song up on You Tube, and we both started dancing regardless of my bad mood and his being all feverish and sickly with a cold.  Here, you try – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vlCRcR50aI8.  See, you’re smiling now, too, right?

So the reason this all came up is that I had the honor of photographing a high school friends’ newborn son two weekends ago.    As if photographing newborns wasn’t fun enough, it was so great seeing Michelle Donachy Knisley again after so many years and also talking shop with her (because she’s a photographer, too!  Visit her site!).

Just like the Jitterbug song, photos of newborns make me smile no matter how rotten my afternoon has been.  🙂  Here is Mr. Nolan Knisley!

He was born 4 weeks early and was only around 5 pounds when I photographed him!  Look how small he is in his daddy’s hands!

Love how his arms and legs are all stacked up!  More photos of Nolan will be posted to Facebook, too, so look for more there!

Before I go, I wanted to give you an update on the contest!  I hit my goal of 500 fans and then some!  At the time of writing this, I’m up to 530!  🙂  Thanks to everyone who helped make this happen!  I will definitely be giving away TWO free photo shoots on February 5th, so if you haven’t entered already, you can do so on this post.  Thanks again and good luck to you!

P.S.  My husband just admitted that he was impressed with how deftly I was able to tie the Jitterbug song into a photography blog.  Props to me!

When You Say Nothing At All

My husband and I used to have monthly “State of the Union” talks to go over our finances and plan the month ahead.  That was before we had kids.  Now, he’s lucky to get me for 10 minutes while I’m making dinner.  But we did make time on New Years Day to sit and talk about our goals for the year, and it was wonderful!  I am so jazzed about this year and everything that awaits us!

I want to make it good for you, too, so read on to learn about a new contest I’m hosting.  You could win one of TWO free photo shoots!

But before we move forward (keeping you in suspense), I want to go back and show you some of the photos I took at the end of 2011.  The fall was wonderfully busy for me, so I got a little behind on sharing photos of the families I had the good fortune to photograph.  It’s probably going to take a few weeks to get them all up for you, but I’ll post some here and some on Facebook, so check in when you get a chance!

This is the Carter-Minnemeyer family.  I photographed them in November with their 3-month old son, Rowan.  I really love these photos because they just wanted everything simple and relaxed.  We used only their bedroom comforter, a black blanket, an heirloom quilt and a boppy to give these photos as natural an air as possible.  How’d we do?

Love the silhouette!

Okay, I know you’re thinking… didn’t she say something about a contest?!  Yes!  Here goes!  It’s the “500 Fan Frenzy!”  I want to get to 500 fans on Facebook by February 5th.  If I do, I’m going to give away $500 in prizes (two photo shoots worth $250 each – covers the session fee and a $25 gift certificate to use on prints!).  If I don’t, I’ll still give away one session, so there’s going to be at least one winner!

Here’s how to enter:

1. Go to http://www.facebook.com/rebeccadanzenbakerphotography and click the “Like” button.  Then come back here and leave a comment that says something like, “I liked your page!.”  (or “I already liked your page!” if you’re already a fan.)

That’s it!  Well, that was simple!  Once I get 500 fans, I’ll count up all the comments, go to random.org and “draw” the winning comment.

Hey, want to earn an extra entry?  Sure you do!  Here’s how:

2. Change your Facebook status to something like “Help @Rebecca Danzenbaker Photography reach 500 fans by February 5th and you could win $500 in prizes.  Check out http://www.lyricalphotography.net for more info.” (What’s with the @ symbol?  If you type it in (instead of pasting it), it will link to my fan page to help your friends quickly “like” it and get us closer to our goal!)

3. After you do that, come back here and leave a separate, second comment saying something like “I posted your contest on my status.”  This second comment is your second entry.

Thank you so much and good luck!

P.S. As if FREE wasn’t incentive enough to enter for a photo shoot, here’s a heartbreaking true story shared by a fellow photographer about how valuable family photos are.

P.P.S. Ahh, forgot a few minor details.  I will contact the winner via email.  Session must take place before July 30, 2012 and be within the Greater DC or Richmond area.  This contest is not sponsored by Facebook.