Lynchburg Pregnancy Pictures | Ashley

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Ashley's Maternity

at the studio

I'll confess, it has taken me a while to get this beautiful session on the blog because I wasn't quite sure how I would express my respect and admiration for this beautiful lady. Ashley is a local photographer, but before she had made the jump into full time photography, she spent a season as a stay-at-home-mom with her beautiful daughter Emerson. During this time, I was trying my best to find a healthy balance between work and parenting (wait - I'm still trying to find that! ha)! I would see Ashley out at the park or at local mom-centered events (with my toddler Sunday in tow) and I noticed how Ashley was parenting Emmie. I quickly identified that we parented our daughters very similarly and I wondered if she would be interested in making extra income while at home with her little girl. So, I took a bold step and inquired with Ashley about possibly helping me with childcare for Sunday and she said yes! 

Ashley was one of the first people who took care of Sunday outside of our home. She would send me snapshots of her day with our girls while I would plug away at work. I'll never forget them learning to talk together, hearing stories of them learning conflict-resolution skills, and the week they were BOTH potty training! Ha! Our little girls are only 5 days apart, so they had a lot of developmental milestones right around the same time. We made a lot of fun memories together, one of which pops up in my Facebook newsfeed regularly of that time we took the girls to breakfast at Market at Main in downtown, Lynchburg. (Thanks to Lynchburg Family for featuring our girls' picture!)

Throughout that season I was able to get to know Ashley even better and I grew to respect her on a deeper level. She is truly as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside. As she has grown her photography business over the years I've had the privilege of spending work days with Ashley, joining her at networking events and in small group atmospheres. But more than that, I've continually been on the receiving end of Ashley's kind words, endless support and encouragement, and even little gifts of appreciation. I simply adore this lady!

When she shared with me that she was expecting again I knew I just had to find a way to get her in front of my camera! I was so excited the day she came into the studio for her maternity session. Here are a few of my favorite pictures of our time together. We may have spent most of our time together talking, but, that's just what we do! Ha!

 

Isn't she just beautiful? Her little man has made his arrival and I'll admit I am struggling with some big time baby fever as I see her embrace every single bit of those early weeks this time around! Motherhood is such a wild ride and it is an honor to get to experience it alongside friends like Ashley. Thank you, friend, for taking the time to come into the studio and let me photograph such a precious season of your life!! 

 

If you're pregnant and looking for a maternity and newborn photographer, I would love to work with you to create images you will cherish for a lifetime. Contact me and if you'd like, we can set up a no-obligation consultation here in the studio to answer any questions you may have.


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ONE QUICK THING BEFORE YOU GO

Have you grabbed your copy of my latest guide? It's my top 10 tips to help you prep for the perfect photo session and it's free!

ps. your download also includes a print-friendly version to save ink ♥


Liz Cook is a familybirth and wedding photographer in Central Virginia. She loves to photograph emotional and discreet birth stories, the details of parenthood, and fun and easygoing couples in love.

Bedford Newborn Photographer | Calvin's Studio Session

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Calvin's Newborn Session

at the studio

When Linda reached out to me to book a newborn session with me, I was so excited! I knew she had been waiting for this season of life and I was so excited to finally have the opportunity to work with her! After she secured her session with her retainer fee and contract, she contacted me and asked to add on hair and makeup services as well since she thought she might feel overwhelmed and tired as a brand new mama. (Good thinking, Linda!) Clients can add on hair and makeup services as late as right after their baby has been born, so I was happy to accommodate Linda's request! I sent over the newborn session preparation guide so she'd have all the information she needed to prepare for her session before her baby arrived. My preparation guide has helpful suggestions for all members of the family. Most clients grab a few things from their own wardrobe and bring them along, and either I or our HMU stylist help select the final choices at the studio. I have a portable steamer on hand to help with any wrinkles also, so there is no need to stress out about ironing everything perfectly before you leave your home.

Linda and her husband Andrew drove their newborn baby, Calvin, over two hours to the studio the morning of their session. They arrived early and Linda was able to change and then feed baby Calvin before our hair and makeup artist arrived. I am always happy to invite clients into the studio up to twenty minutes before their session so there is time to feed and change their baby if necessary. As soon as Calvin was finished eating, he quickly fell into a deep sleep and I was able to grab a variety of portraits of him alone. While this was happening, Linda took her time looking through the studio wardrobe and she settled on two different dresses with the help of our stylist who had arrived. The scene that unfolded next just made me so happy! Mom began her pampering experience by settling into the hair and makeup chair, baby was sleeping well and being supervised, and dad was able to relax just enough to nod off and get in a quick nap on the couch! 

Once Linda was dressed and ready, I finished with Calvin's portraits alone so we could begin pictures of the two of them together. We let Andrew continue to sleep while I photographed mama and son portraits. Once those were complete, we gently woke him up to change his clothes and join us for the rest of the session. Calvin just continued to sleep so peacefully and we were able to finish the session up quicker than we expected! 

Overall, it was a relaxing and calm session that produced some of my favorite recent portraits! Below are a few of my top choices from their gallery of 90+ pictures they received just a few weeks later. 

Are you expecting and ready to book your newborn session? I am currently booking sessions as far out as early fall 2018. Newborn sessions are best scheduled before your baby has arrived. If you have waited until the last minute, please contact me - if I am able to fit you in, I will! I don't want you to miss out on the opportunity to have this short and sweet season of life documented. 

All newborn sessions include the use of the studio wardrobe, a complimentary styling consultation to discuss the look and feel you desire for your session, as well as my exclusive client preparation guide. On site hair and make-up services are also available with our stylist so that you feel relaxed, confident and beautiful at your session. I make the process of preparing for your session simple and seamless, so you can focus on your first priority, taking care of your newborn baby. Contact me today to reserve your session.

Liz Cook is a baby, family and wedding photographer in Central Virginia. She loves to photograph emotional and discreet birth stories, the details of parenthood, and fun and easygoing couples in love.

Lynchburg Family Photographer | Spring Mini Sessions

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Spring Mini Sessions

at the field

Spring Mini Session booking is NOW OPEN! 

A mini session is a condensed photo shoot, perfect for when you are hoping for a few specific captures. These mini sessions are designed to provide you with a quick glimpse into your life during this season. These sessions are ideal for families with very young children and/or those on a budget who still want the Liz Cook Photography experience. 

I am so excited to share that the 2018 Spring Family Mini Sessions will be held at the field setting! Sessions will last about 20 minutes long and will be held near sunset this year. There are only three session slots each day to ensure you have the best possible available light for your portraits!

Your Session Includes:

  • exclusive client preparation guide
  • private styling appointment with Liz at the studio
  • optional hair and make-up add-on
  • 20 minutes of shooting time with Liz at the field location
  • 10+ final high-resolution images
  • online gallery for downloading and purchasing images
  • all high-resolution digital images available to download + print release

How It Works:

  • Schedule your session for one of the date and times available below.
  • Receive your Exclusive Client Preparation Guide and link to schedule your private styling appointment with Liz in an email
  • Arrive for your session, spend time with your family enjoying one another, laughing, playing and snuggling. 
  • Approximately two weeks after your session, you will receive an online gallery of 10+ final images to download as high-resolution digital downloads.
  • Enjoy sharing and treasuring your final portraits for years to come!

Book Your Session Now!


I tend to receive a lot of similar questions regarding mini sessions, so here are a few answers to the most commonly asked ones: 

do we get the digital images from our session? 

Yes! You will receive a link to download all of your images in their highest possible quality. In addition, you will receive a Limited Print Release to use when you print your pictures. A Limited Print Release allows you to download all of the pictures and print them at your preferred print location. However, Liz Cook Photography will retain the full Copyrights which means you are not permitted to alter/edit the images, sell them, or submit them to any publications or contests without prior written approval from Liz Cook Photography. 

where do you suggest we print our pictures?

I highly recommend the best printer in town, Lynchburg Photoworks!

do i have to book a different time slot for each of my children?

Noooo. Please don't. :) However, if you have more than three children coming, I highly recommend adding an additional child option (for a total of 4) OR if you have more than 4 children, book two back-to-back time slots to ensure plenty of shooting time for each child. 

what should we wear for these pictures?

Upon booking your session, you will receive an Exclusive Session Preparation Guide to help you with this process. In addition, every booked session also includes the option to schedule an in-person styling consultation with me at the studio before your session date. I recommend choosing comfortable, neutral clothing (as seen in the example images above) to guarantee timeless portraits. 

Do you have a question? We have answers! If you're on the fence, shoot an email to liz@liz-cook.com with any questions and I'll get back to you as soon as possible! 

This special offer is for 2018 Spring Mini Sessions only.
No cash value. No product substitutions will be allowed. No refunds.

Liz Cook is a baby, family and wedding photographer in Central Virginia. She loves to photograph emotional and discreet birth stories, the details of parenthood, and fun and easygoing couples in love.

Gretna Newborn Photographer | Peter's Lifestyle Session at Home

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Peter's Lifestyle Newborn Session

At Home

Not long after this little guy came to see me at my natural light studio in Lynchburg, VA for his newborn session, I made the one hour trip out to his home in Gretna, VA to capture what life looks like for his family now that he has made his arrival. In-home newborn sessions are reserved for clients who book 3 or more photo sessions with me in their baby's first year.

Peter's parents are absolute naturals with him and I really enjoyed capturing the connection between each of them. Did you know I have also had the pleasure of photographing Adam and Lee Ann's engagement session, wedding, annual family portraits, maternity pictures, and Peter's birth story? Here's what Adam recently shared about working with me on a google review

"We have been using Liz for almost 5 years now, and could not think of using anyone else. From our wedding to the birth of our first child, the results have been nothing but amazing. Not only is her work stunning, but her personality is second to none. She has a way of making you feel comfortable and at ease, which I didn’t think was possible. Our most recent experience with Liz was for birth/newborn photography and we could not have been more pleased. From the delivery room to our son’s first years, the images Liz has captured are moments we will never get back, and an investment that will be cherished forever." - Adam W.

The goal of my photo sessions is always to create beautiful imagery while also providing a relaxing environment for everyone involved, but this time I have to give all the credit to Adam and Lee Ann for the relaxing atmosphere! Don't you just want to take a nap in this beautiful nursery?

Here are a few of my favorites from our time together!

 

Are you expecting and ready to book your newborn session? I am currently booking sessions as far out as early fall 2018. Newborn sessions are best scheduled before your baby has arrived. If you have waited until the last minute, please contact me - if I am able to fit you in, I will! I don't want you to miss out on the opportunity to have this short and sweet season of life documented. 

All newborn sessions include the use of the studio wardrobe, a styling consultation to discuss the look and feel you desire for your session, as well as my exclusive client preparation guide. On site hair and make-up services are also available with our stylist so that you feel relaxed, confident and beautiful at your session. I make the process of preparing for your session simple and seamless, so you can focus on your first priority, taking care of your newborn baby. Contact me today to reserve your session.

Liz Cook is a baby, family and wedding photographer in Central Virginia. She loves to photograph emotional and discreet birth stories, the details of parenthood, and fun and easygoing couples in love.

For Photographers: Plan Your Own Personal Business Retreat

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My First Personal Business Retreat

My Reflections

Last month I went on my first Personal Business Retreat after hearing the idea from my girl Lashonda and reading a little more about a personal retreat here and here. Recently, I have also picked up on a new-ish trend of batch working: the practice of batching important tasks like scheduling social media posts, writing for blogs and other publications, and taking care of office maintenance tasks. So as 2017 was wrapping up and I was in the midst of a lot of personal reflecting, I decided one of my goals for 2018 would be to experiment with a personal retreat as well as batch working. Why not do both at the same time?! :)

I planned my getaway for one night away from my family as I knew this would probably be as much as I could get away with without having other people involved (i.e. accountability). I scheduled it at the same time I knew my husband would also be out of town, as I knew this would be the easiest way to offer the least disruption in our household. I arranged for the girls to be with their Grandma and since their dad was already out of town, he wouldn’t have to miss any of us anymore than he already did. :) The timing worked out great!

It didn’t take me long to know exactly what I was going to do on my retreat. My blog had been silent for over six months and I was ready to bring it back to life! While I know it isn’t ideal for any small business owner to let their blog be silent, I was still receiving a healthy amount of work and marketing my business didn’t have to be at the top of my priority list during that season of my business. Sometimes we walk through periods of life when we are forced to make decisions and let things go, and in retrospect, I honestly wish I had given myself more grace about my silent blog all that time. But no matter, I was excited at the new opportunity to have time to bring life back to my little corner of the internet!

During the few days leading up to the retreat I brainstormed a list of all of the sessions over the past year or two that I wanted to share on my blog. I simply jotted them in the notes app on my phone as they came to me (as you will see below, I was parenting while preparing for this trip). Eventually, I copied and pasted my little list into a google document and categorized and scheduled them strategically based on my 2018 marketing plan. All of this helped me know exactly what I would be working on while on my retreat.

Also during the week leading up to the retreat, it snowed and my kids were out of school 4 out of 5 days. Due to this, my house was in utter chaos once the weekend arrived. I also had to reschedule a session due to the snow to the morning of my retreat day. And, to top things off, the morning I was supposed to leave for the retreat, my mother in law let me know she was sick and it would be better to find someone else to take care of them. Ahh! While I was able to work it all out and still shoot the session too, it was a whirlwind and I ended up arriving to the hotel about 3 hours later than I had hoped I would. I came very close to canceling the retreat altogether, and the truth is, the only reason I didn’t was because I would have had to give up my payment for the hotel room. But let me tell you - mom guilt was HEAVY that day, for sure! I left my house a wreck, my kids with one babysitter with plans to transition to another a few hours later, and an overall sense of “You don’t deserve to go be alone in a nice hotel room right now with this craziness going on.”

But I am so. glad. I. went!!!

 

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Once I arrived and settled into my room, I got right to work! I started writing and keywording and resizing pictures for the blog. I designed a fancy Instastory template to use to share my blog posts (follow me on Instagram to get a glimpse!), wrote out a specific marketing plan for the upcoming six weeks of content as well as a general marketing plan for the next 6 months, and even created monthly blogging templates to use on google drive for the next round of batch writing!

I worked pretty late into the night (for me, anyway) but still woke up with enough time to knock out more work in the morning. I was sad to hear that a late check out at this particular hotel was only 30 minutes later than their normal check out. In the end, I didn’t get the full 24 hours I originally thought I would for this retreat, but I still got in a lot of work and that’s what it was all about!

Will I do this again?

Absolutely. I knocked out almost two full months of content creation for business marketing purposes in less than 24 hours. This was absolutely worth my time and it was also very rejuvenating! I left feeling excited to share all that I had worked on as well as eager to come back and do it all over again soon!

Having content pre-written and ready to share also gives me the confidence to start sharing more about my business and brand on social media in general. Since I have a plan and I know the upcoming story I plan to share, I am no longer afraid to share all the in-between moments in fear that they won’t lead to any follow-up! It’s been so fun already!

What I’ll Do Differently

I did invite a friend to meet me for dinner and while that was a fun little interruption, I didn’t have the discipline to end dinner when I should have. I lost a good amount of time socializing that I could have spent getting more writing done. Of course a personal retreat can be whatever you want it to be and there’s nothing wrong with socializing. But, in this case, I really wanted to put my head down and get some writing done during this time away. Dinner was lovely, but next time I’ll just order in and try to stay focused at the task at hand.

 

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I do think I would benefit from a longer retreat, possibly 2-3 days. I think with more time I could squeeze in a little more rest and rejuvenation. However, I am not at a place where I can justify that much time away from my family four times a year. And I’ve already decided, at the pace I was able to work, it looks like this will be a quarterly activity.

So I think a good compromise here is that next time I will try to find a hotel with either a jaccuzi hot tub in the pool area, or I’ll request a honeymoon suite with a large jacuzzi tub. No joke. I love a long, warm bath as a form of rest and rejuvenation in the midst of a lot of work, and it’s a must-have for me on any future retreat. In the future, it’ll be a priority when booking a place to stay.

Quick Tips For A Successful Business Retreat

  • I’d recommend going somewhere at least 20+ minutes away. I went to a nearby hotel (one of my favorites!) and I think being a little further down the road would have helped clear my mind a little more and not worry so much about what was going on at home.
  • Book through Expedia.com (low prices) and pass on the travel insurance - so once you’ve booked it, you’re in! There’s no cancelling now!
  • Use the Do Not Disturb function on your phone. When you arrive, let your tribe know where you are, your room number, and tell them to call the hotel in case of an emergency. Then put your phone on Do Not Disturb and put the door hanger on your hotel room door as well.
  • Close your email. Weekends aren’t the time to respond to client emails anyway! Take it from me. I received one email and one text that both distracted me greatly from the task at hand. Next time there won’t be any “just in case” check-ins! Not worth it!
  • Take Breaks! I set an alarm on my phone for every 50 minutes. (It’s pretty easy. I just said “Siri, set an alarm in 50 minutes.”) Get up, walk around. Or, grab another bottle of water and your laptop and move to the lobby. Whatever it takes to get a breather!
  • Have a back-up plan for childcare in place just in case your Plan A falls through.
  • Decide what your goals are for your retreat ahead of time and do as much prep work as possible to help get the most out of your time away.

What To Pack

  • Laptop, charger and any external hard drives needed
  • Cell phone & charger
  • A bluetooth speaker or your favorite headphones
  • Your favorite snacks and drinks
  • Favorite coffee fixings to use with your in-room coffee maker
  • Comfy clothes (that are appropriate enough to wear in the halls of a hotel)
  • Swim or workout attire to make the most of any hotel amenities
  • Your own pillow if you like to take it with you

 

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One Last Thing

I will say that one unexpected challenge I encountered from this retreat was not being able to turn my brain off after I returned home. I continued to work on content creation for a few days after my return, even though I had a million other things to take care of. It felt like once my brain started rolling, it was nearly impossible to stop it! Eventually I got all of my thoughts and ideas written down and organized in a way that I felt safe enough to walk away and turn my brain off for a while. But it did take me a few days to settle everything down in my mind! :)

In Conclusion

Overall, this retreat was a huge success and I already have another one on the calendar! I am excited to churn out some more content and possibly begin work on some fun new projects!

Have you ever considered a personal business retreat? If so, what are some of the things you would work on while away? I'd love to hear from you in the comments!

 

Note: All photos of the hotel in this post were snagged directly from their website. :) I take no credit!

Liz Cook is a familybirth and wedding photographer in Central Virginia. She loves to photograph emotional and discreet birth stories, the details of parenthood, and fun and easygoing couples in love.