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Tips for overcoming the pre-session nerves (and we all get them!)

If you're like most people (including me), the idea of getting in front of a camera is a little bit terrifying. There's a lot of pressure, and suddenly you're self-conscious and awkward so then you get anxious, and before you know it you've got a gallery of photos where you look like an extra from Revenge of the Nerds (if you don't get the reference, I encourage you to check that movie out - it's a cult classic).

So…how do you get over those nerves and get into a self-confident, I’m a bad-ass headspace? There are a few things you can do, actually. Check out these tips below:

First, it's important to communicate with whomever you're working with beforehand. If I'm your photographer, tell me what you're worried about. I've got a few tricks up my sleeve to help with nerves, but more importantly I'm here to listen to what you need. This session is all about making you look & feel your best, so that's what we're going to do.

Don't laugh, but I recommend that you take some time to practice posing and facial expressions in front of a mirror. You're going to feel like a crazy person, but I promise, it will help you feel more comfortable and confident in front of the camera. The more you know and understand what your body can do, the more you can control it. Same with your expressions. A lot of why we feel awkward in front of the camera is just not knowing "what to do" with ourselves. If you practice ahead of time and learn to control your facial and body movements, you'll feel TONS more comfortable once I raise the camera to my eye.

Choosing the right outfit can also make a big difference in how you feel during the shoot. Wear something that makes you feel confident and comfortable, and avoid anything that is too tight or restrictive. For a more in-depth exploration into styling yourself (and your partner) for your photo session, check out my Instagram feed for some quick tips, or send me an email and let me know you'd love to see my styling guide. I'm happy to share!

If you booked a solo session and you're terrified you'll make a fool of yourself, bring a friend along! They can be your cheerleader, your security blanket, your comic relief - whatever you need!

Having someone you're comfortable with can make the difference between dreading your photo session and laughing all the way through it. And that, my friend, is what makes excellent pictures.

Think of what you'd do to comfort a friend or loved one who was feeling nervous - and do those things for yourself. Need some ideas?

* Take yourself out for a fancy coffee (or tea, if you prefer)

* Go for a walk in Nature (fresh air is sooooo good for the soul!)

* Put on your favorite playlist and turn up the volume (and consider sharing that playlist with me so we can listen to it during the shoot!)

It's natural when you're nervous to hold your breath, but if you focus on breathing - controlling your breath - your nerves will calm themselves and you'll be relaxed and ready for your closeup!

Finally, try to have fun and enjoy the experience! Remember that I'm here to bring out and capture you at your best, and I will guide you through the process to ensure we get the best results. Dance it out if you feel yourself getting stiff, laugh it off if you feel like you're being awkward and weird (you'll be in good company because that's how I am 90% of the time), and always - always - let me know if you need a little boost. I promise...I've got you!

Nancy Dinsmore is a Gainesville, Florida-based photographer specializing in Lifestyle Engagement, Maternity, and Newborn Photography.

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  • Writer's pictureNancy Dinsmore

When your newborn session isn't as glamorous as you imagined

There’s an expectation that newborn photo sessions are magical and perfect and full of dreamy moments. Nobody cries, nobody poops on the props, and the pictures are all perfect.

I’d love to say that’s how it really goes, but I’d be lying.

A newborn baby sleeping with her hand by her face
Sound Asleep

Everybody cries — the baby, the parents, sometimes even the photographer. There will be pooping incidents. And while there will be perfect pictures, there will be just as many imperfect ones. There’s no such thing as an uneventful newborn session.

And you know what? That’s okay!!

Photographers are prepared for this, and pretty much nothing fazes us anymore, so if you’re worried your session is going to be epically messy or chaotic, or the baby won’t cooperate…don’t be. I promise, we’ll make it work.

A newborn baby lying on a pillow with baby's breath

One thing I like to do is help parents be as prepared as possible, so nobody panics when things get a little wonky. In addition to my session guide, we’ll have lots of conversations about what to expect — and what not to — and I’m always here to answer any questions parents may have.

Another thing I do to increase the chances of still getting the best photos possible is schedule the session for no less than two hours. Even if we’re doing the session in your home, Baby is going to need breaks to feed, to be changed, to settle down. Each of these things can take up to 20 minutes, and if you only have a one-hour session, you’ve just lost all of it to taking care of Baby’s needs. So we give ourselves extra time. Trust me, I am not in a hurry.

A crying baby wearing a white top and a pink-trimmed tutu
Not Having It

When I did my first newborn session, the baby was not having any of it. She shrieked and cried and fussed for about half an hour before she finally settled down long enough for me to get some pictures. Mom and Dad were mortified, but honestly — what is a newborn supposed to do but sleep, feed, and cry? All we can do is wait it out and keep trying.

Same with diaper (or no diaper) accidents. They are going to happen. I always have puppy training pads with me, which I tuck under the blankets when we lay baby down or wrap them up. I’ll have a change of clothes with me — and I’d recommend that the parents do, as well.

a baby sleeping on a white furry with a black dog beside her
Baby & Dog

And as for Baby staying asleep…well, if wishes were horses, and all that. Honestly, Baby is in charge and it’s our job to adapt to their needs, so if Baby doesn’t want to sleep, then we work with it. Honestly I like it when they’re awake (as long as they’re not screaming, haha). The interaction between Baby and parents is even sweeter when there’s eye contact (and have you noticed all that wisdom in those newborn eyes? ::GUSH!::

The bottom line is this: You’ve got to suspend any and all expectations for how your newborn session will or should go. It’s entirely up to Baby. So while I can’t promise a super smooth session, I can promise you some beautiful, emotive, and precious photos. And in the end, that’s what we’re here for, right?

Nancy Dinsmore is a Gainesville, Florida-based photographer specializing in Lifestyle Engagement, Maternity, and Newborn Photography.

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  • Writer's pictureNancy Dinsmore

You guys...I am in love with doing maternity sessions. With each one I do, I fall even harder, and this session from June just had me swooning.

Both mom and dad are huge Gator fans, and they wanted their photo session to show their love for their favorite team and their new baby, so we chose a few locations around the UF campus to shoot.

We started at the iconic Baughman Center, and despite the heat and humidity, we got off to a magical start. I pointed them toward a cluster of rocks on the lawn beside the chapel, and before I could lift my camera to my eye, they were posed and ready! I honestly didn't have to direct them much at all - they were absolute naturals.

Man sitting on a rock with his pregnant wife leaning back

The unique architecture of the chapel made the perfect backdrop for this session, and her blue (ahem...Gator blue) dress just popped, making her the star of the session (which she should be!). And, if you know me at all, you won't be surprised to learn that I actually squealed when I caught the first shot of this gorgeous mama-to-be framed within the shadows and stunning lines of the entrance. It could not have been more perfect.

Pregnant woman in a blue dress standing in front of the Baughman Center

Dad and mom to be embracing under some trees outside the Baughman Center

From there, we found a cute little bridge, where the dappled light landed perfectly, so we grabbed a few shots there before moving to the hill to get some more intimate moments with the lake in the background.

Couple sitting on a blanket holding a baseball themed onesie

And honestly, is this baby Gator uniform NOT the cutest thing ever??

UF Gator onesie and baby shoes

Afterward, we shuttled down the road a bit to a boardwalk that led to a lookout over the lake, by which time the sunlight was getting more golden, and the way it glowed and glittered around them was nothing short of romantic. The white dress she changed into fit the mood perfectly, too, but I swear we didn't even plan it!

Couple looking at each other holding baby shoes

Also... just look at the way they look at each other! Could it be any more precious??

I can't express enough how grateful I am to have been a part of their maternity journey. Recording these precious memories was an absolute privilege, and I truly had a blast capturing their unique love story. It's sessions like these that remind me why I fell in love with photography in the first place - the ability to freeze fleeing moments and allow them to be cherished for a lifetime.

Couple by a lake at sunset

So, friends, if you or someone you know is expecting and looking for a lighthearted and fun maternity photography experience, I would be absolutely thrilled to be a part of it. Because let's be honest - there's nothing quite as awe-inspiring than the journey to parenthood, and I would be honored to help capture those irreplaceable moments.

Until next time, keep embracing the laughter, cherishing the love, and always looking for the magic in every day.

graphic of author's signature

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