Combining Sights and Sounds To Curate Unique Memories

On this recent session I had the opportunity to capture the sights and sounds of life with baby Penley and her loving moms.

Creating an Audio Portrait for this family was a very special experience for them (and for me).

Since I know that life changes so quickly, especially with little ones, I thought it would be valuable to provide Chelsea and Kerry with a final Audio Portrait that represents and reflects their life right now. I wanted them to be able to watch their slideshow years from now and feel exactly how they felt while their little girl was making all of her fun noises, crawling around  house as her dog brothers took advantage of her leftover scraps of food. I knew it would be valuable to Penley to have later in life as well. We can all take snippets of videos, photos, etc., but I wanted this to be a curated piece that represented them in an artful, thoughtful way. I can’t get over Penley’s little growl and I am in love with those big beautiful brown eyes. 

I’m so inspired by creating these audio portraits for my clients. This format really allows me to dive deeper into connection on every level, and honestly that’s a huge part of why I do what I do.

Here’s what Chelsea had to say about her Audio Portrait experience:

"Norah’s creativity shines in the Audio Portrait she did for us, which so beautifully captures our baby girl’s personality and character at 8 months old. It’s amazing how she was able to deliver such a personal and touching piece— from the audio arrangement to the photo arrangement, each second of the video holds the potential for a smile or shed a tear of joy. Photographs are wonderful but having a piece like this, with a story and voices built into it, and that is so shareable and is just the right length to watch over and over again, is truly special. Norah crafted something that we intend to play at every one of our daughter’s birthday celebrations, every graduation, when she gets engaged, and married, and has babies herself!"

Tips for Flying with Kids This Holiday Season

tips for traveling with kids Jessica Rockowitz

Thanksgiving and the holiday season is a time for us to gather with family and friends, eat delicious food, and celebrate all that we’re thankful for. Though the traditions and meaning behind holidays are important, there is no doubt that they can still be considered a stressful time of year. Traveling with kids requires a lot of headspace and patience, especially when you have younger kids who require tons of equipment like strollers and diapers. As a mom of three who has traveled across the country for family gatherings many times with kids in tow, here are some of my best tips for flying with kids:

Choose your plane times strategically. Do your kids still nap? Are they happiest in the morning? It might be worth the extra splurge, if applicable, to decrease your stress level and choose flights that work best for your family’s schedule. That way everyone is stress-free and well-rested during travel time.

Dress appropriately. Have you ever seen how tiny those plane bathrooms are? Now is not the time for elaborate buttons or zippers. Dress your kids in comfortable clothing that can be easily removed or swapped. Choose shoes that are easy to slip on and off, and make sure that you have some socks for chilly feet -- not to mention that planes aren't the cleanest of spaces.

Babywear over dragging the stroller. Save yourself the hassle of going through security and having yet another item to drag to the gate. Check your stroller or even better, borrow one from a friend or family member while you’re visiting your destination. Wear your baby instead! You’ll be hands-free, and with less items to keep track of.

Bring the sanitizer. Airplanes are notoriously filled with germs. Make sure you travel with hand sanitizer so you can wipe down little hands during the flight.

Pack a Busy Bag with new toys. My daughter and I used to fly at least four times a year from coast to coast. I always ran to Target the week of a flight and bought her a bunch of new, low cost toys and other items to keep her busy. Our lineup for each flight included: a new coloring book, play-doh or clay, magnetic dolls, sticker books, a few new books that fit in her backpack, and one new movie. This was back in the era of portable DVD players! Now that we have iPads, you can just download a new movie or show series for the plane ride. You do not have to spend a lot of money to keep your kids entertained. Scope out the Dollar Spot at Target, rent movies on Amazon or iTunes to keep costs lower, and borrow books from the library!

If you can, get the baby a seat. I know that kids under two are free, and it’s amazing to save the money – but if you can swing it, having that extra seat is priceless. Having a space to keep my kids in their carseats helped make the flight much smoother, not to mention that it’s much safer. However, I have had to travel without an extra seat plenty of times, too, and we survived!

Prepare for any discomfort. Do you have a child who is prone to nausea? Consider chatting with your pediatrician about remedies you can turn to before and during the flight. Do your child’s ears pop? Make sure you’re stocked up on chewing gum, and request bottled water during take off and landing to swallow. Prepare for the discomforts of flight, because you never know which ones your child will be susceptible to.

Pack extra diapers, and don’t forget the trash bag. You just never know how many diapers you’ll truly need, and having a few plastic grocery bags and ziplock bags – just in case – might end up being the best decision you’ve ever made.

Stock up on snacks. Everyone has different philosophies on this. I used to treat any plane ride like a vacation, which meant letting my kids choose some fun junk food that I wouldn’t normally allow them to have. I found that this kept them quieter and well behaved, but some people find the opposite to be true. Do what works best for your family, but do anticipate that your kids are going to need a lot of snacks! It’s better to overpack and be safe on this one.

Remember that this too shall pass. Sometimes we do everything that we possibly can, and flights still go terribly. Maybe it’s a screaming baby or an overtired, whiny kid, but inevitably, some flights just won’t go your way. Give yourself grace and know that not only will you likely never see any of these people again, but you and your kids are human! Now go pour yourself a glass of wine and hand them off to the in-laws.

What do you think, Austin parents? Are you traveling with your kids this holiday season?

 

About the Author:

Jessica Rockowitz

Jessica is an East Coast girl originally from Boston, MA but recently transplated to Austin, TX. She is a Content Manager and Brand Strategist, helping businesses with their social media presence, SEO, and brand strategy. When she’s not busy blogging or strategizing, you can catch her chasing around her three busy kids and rescue fur baby. You can also follow her antics on her personal blog or Instagram.

Tips for Introducing Your Dog to Your New Baby

  Tips for Introducing Pet to New Baby

There is nothing quite like your first baby, especially if that precious bundle happens to have four legs and a coat of fur. Caring for a dog can help prepare parents for the responsibilities that go along with new parenthood, but sometimes parents-to-be can feel overwhelmed by the thought of introducing their pet to the new baby. Here are some great tips for a smooth transition:

 

Plan Ahead

If you haven't had your dog enrolled in obedience or training classes, now is the time to do so. Small behaviors that might seem harmless now, like jumping up onto your lap, can become tougher to handle when you're very pregnant or holding a baby. Try to get your pet familiar with children as much as possible, too. They are tinier and more unpredictable (not to mention louder!) than adults, so taking your dog to a friend's house with small children or to the park to acclimate him or her to small kids can be helpful. Just make sure you're always there to supervise, and be sure to take it slow.

Another important part of planning ahead is knowing who is going to take care of your dog when you go into labor. Do you have a trusted friend or family member who is going to be able to feed and walk your pup? If you're worried about being able to juggle both your dog and a newborn, a doggy daycare environment is a great idea for your pet to get socialization and burn energy while you are acclimating to your new role as a parent. If you're interested in this, start looking early and send your dog somewhat regularly so he or she is accustomed to the environment when your baby arrives.

 

The First Smell

While you're still in the hospital, consider asking your partner or a trusted friend or family member to bring home a blanket or bodysuit that was used by the baby so your dog can grow accustomed to the smell. When you take your baby home, your dog will recognize his or her scent.

When you first come home, your dog will likely greet you very enthusiastically. When he or she is calm, bring your new baby out of the carrier and sit with them -- then slowly call your dog over. Allow your dog to standby and be part of the action when you're talking to your baby and changing diapers, too. Remember that no matter how docile your dog is, you should never leave your dog and baby unsupervised together.

 

Set Boundaries.

It's ok to have designated baby gates in your home for areas that you want to declare a pet-free zone for your new baby. Make sure your dog also has plenty of access to his or her own toys and treats so that they're less tempted to chew on baby's items. Teach your baby from a young age to be gentle with your pet, and remember to never leave the two of them together unsupervised.

Do you have any tips that you'd like to share? 

 

Tips for Introducing Your New Baby to Pet

About the Author: Jessica is an East Coast girl recently transplanted to Austin, Texas where she lives with her husband, their three human children, and their rescue fur baby. She is an OB Nurse Educator by background, but has worked as a freelance writer, content manager, and brand strategist for the past few years and loves every minute of it. You can follow her on her personal blog or Instagram profile. 

Austin Bluebonnet Family Session

Austin Bluebonnet Family Pictures Austin Bluebonnet Family Photos

Austin bluebonnet family photos were new to me when I first moved to Austin, Texas several years ago. I didn’t realize how much of a tradition they have become during a Texas spring.

I don’t hold mini sessions or even promote bluebonnet portraits at this point, mostly because I love photographing my clients in and around their homes. However, when one of my favorite Austin clients asked to arrange a spring session in the flowers with their new baby, I was more than up for the project.

Photographing clients on the side of the highway, which is where the flowers tend to be, isn’t preferable to me because it doesn’t feel safe. It's also not usually very peaceful or magical. Luckily after much searching, I discovered a sweet patch of flowers where everyone could be safe during our session.

Unfortunately, there were serious storms brewing the entire weekend of our scheduled session, and we had to make the best of the weather while it wasn’t pouring. Side note: Texas weather always keeps us location photographers on our toes! To make things more interesting, the baby wasn’t in a super smiley mood in the beginning of the session -- no matter what his parents or I did, he wasn’t feelin’ it.

It happens.

I worked as hard as I could to change my perspective and attempt to make funny and interesting sights and sounds to capture the baby’s attention.

While we did capture some adorable images without the baby in super-smile-mode, I knew the mom and dad preferred beautiful images with their baby where he was the happy child they knew him to be. I suggested moving to a soft blanket (not fur for anyone wondering) on the ground, and something about the change in perspective completely shifted the baby’s mood. It was like magic.

Now on the blanket, mom, dad, and baby stayed for a bit while I remained perched on my ladder, capturing what was unfolding below.

I was happy with the results. I love the sea of blue, as well as the contrast of colors in clothing with the soft light. From where I stood, baby was overcome with joy and a significant sense of wonder. He was basically bursting with excitement.

I love how baby looks at his mom and dad (and flowers) with such curiosity and interest. I love how much his parents absolutely adore him.

Backgrounds matter with photography, of course. But for me, the real magic doesn’t so much come from the flowers or the background, but from what’s happening in and around them. The moments exchanged, the real connection that takes place in front of my camera -- that’s magical to me.

 

Why am I a photographer? {Children and Pet Photographer, Austin, TX and Santa Fe, NM}

Being a photographer isn't much of a choice for me. Photography picked ME. (Kind of like all of my adopted dogs and cats did). I fell in love with photography for the magic of it–for the many possibilities to create and connect through my view finder. While the format of photography has changed dramatically from my days of rolling film onto reels, the magic hasn't changed a bit. Sure, owning a business has its challenges, but I can't really imagine not creating photographs. As a result of my profession I get to play and interact with incredible children and animals and meet amazing people–even make some new friends. Through that process I have the opportunity to create images that allow my clients to linger in the present moment just a little bit longer–as their new baby coos and drools, as they hold on extra tightly to one another and while their pets gaze longingly into their eyes... this is the magic. Time certainly doesn't stand still, but artful photographs can certainly help it pause just a little; help us to spend a moment or two reminiscing and feel warm and fuzzy. (For the record, I'm not ashamed of being a warm and fuzzy photographer.) As I work hard to photograph and produce the final artwork for all of my unique clients this holiday season I am most definitley thankful to be part of this magical art form. The photographs I am sharing today are from a recent portrait session with a dear family in Santa Fe. I loved spending time with them at a park nearby their home as well as capturing images of their beloved pets at their home.

Norah Levine is an Austin based children portrait photographer and pet photographer. She photographs in homes and on location. She also travels to Santa Fe, New Mexico frequently for sessions. Please view her website for more details www.norahlevinephotography.com

Family Portraits in Austin and Santa Fe: Change is Here to Stay

Good news! Family photos are different than they used to be. Having a family portrait taken doesn't have to look exactly the same as it did last year and the year before. (Or the same as your neighbors' for that matter). And why should it? You and your family aren't the same as you were years ago.  I believe family portraits should be artful documentations with playful interactions that are truly personal and unique to each family. Every family is different, so when I am asked to create a portrait my approach always varies. I was asked to photograph this couple with their one-year-old baby and their yellow labrador retriever  in a way that really documented their casual and loving spirit as a family. As I do with each of my clients, I spent some time with mom to find out more about what it was she and her husband were looking for with their session. She told me that their son had just recently celebrated his first birthday and they were looking to capture a portrait of him with the rest of the family. They wanted creative images of their son at this special stage in his life. I especially loved the baby's reactiveness to his mom and and dad as they played and the look of admiration his parents' eyes. The baby's curiosity of his dad's guitar sparked some playful images and I was pleased to stick around to capture  "bath time" memories.

I was grateful to be able to photograph this family in a relaxed manner that allowed them to be themselves; to forget what a family portrait was supposed to look like and to embrace a more meaningful and authentic series of images they could hold onto for a lifetime.

Norah Levine is an Austin children portrait photographer and pet photographer. She photographs in homes and on location. She also travels to Santa Fe, New Mexico frequently for sessions. Please view her website for more details www.norahlevinephotography.com

1 Year Old Portraits by Norah Levine in Austin and Santa Fe

When I receive an inquiry about creating 1 year old portraits I'm always excited... This is certainly a fun age to photograph, as little girls and boys are just starting to express their own personalities. I love their actions and reactions, their giggles and uninhibited exclamations of emotion. With this fresh, young energy there are also challenges with photographing 1 year olds. I'd say the single most difficult aspect is that they are usually incredibly mobile and never seem to hold still! This makes for a very active session for both myself and the parents. The session I'm sharing today was especially fun. The parents were such kind people and really wanted me to capture their daughter's beautiful personality in her 1 year portraits. We started indoors in her room and then moved the session outdoors for a more natural setting. I spent a lot of time in the crouched position for this session! This "little wonder" had a tremendous sense of curiosity. I just LOVE her big brown eyes and expression.

Sometimes I play more of an active participation in creating portraits, while at other times I play the role of observer. It is this change in perspective that allows me to present a variety of images to the parents. In some of the images from this session I wanted to show how tiny this little girl was in comparison to her parents. I enjoyed capturing images of this family walking hand in hand with their shadows extending before them- two long shadows and one short!  I am so glad they had me capture this special time in their lives as their little girl is growing so quickly!

Norah Levine is an Austin children portrait photographer and pet photographer. She photographs in homes and on location. She also travels to Santa Fe, New Mexico frequently for sessions. Please view her website for more details www.norahlevinephotography.com

Feels fresh like a newborn baby, Austin, Texas.

I'm pleased to present Nicolette, a delicate newborn baby here in Austin,  just 18 days old in these photographs. Looking at these images puts me right back to the moment I captured them. Tiny figures, tiny toes, wispy eyelashes and the fresh scent of a baby just gives me goose bumps. Photographing Nicolette was such a pure joy.  Just 18 days old! Normally I recommend photographing newborns no older than 10 days, but circumstances didn't allow for that to happen with Nicolette. The reason for photographing newborns earlier than 10 days is that they are able to fall into a very deep sleep, allowing me to photograph them and pose them without waking them. In the very first days, babies still have a strong tendency to curl their legs in, which is really sweet for photographs. Like all the photographing I love to do, patience is a key element to success and I was very pleased with the way the results of the session. It is an honor to be able to work with families during this exciting time in their lives. We had to wait for the baby to fall deep enough asleep for me to be able to photograph her. This took some time, but eventually she fell into in a deep slumber and allowed me to work with her in a few adorable poses. Nicolette's mother had purchased some precious newborn hats that she wanted her new little girl to wear for her session. (Etsy.com) For this session I used studio lighting equipment, which I set up in their home as mom was finishing the baby's feeding. Sometimes I use natural light, but for this session I chose studio lighting as my tool.  I photographed Nicolette in her home. It was convenient and comforting for the parents to not have to worry about packing up the baby and bringing her to a studio. We spent time in the comfort of their home amongst all of the things they needed for the baby and I think this was of tremendous value to the parents.

There is something extremely peaceful about photographing newborns. Sure, there are not so peaceful moments– like when the baby is unsettled, or when they have an accident (hey-that's par for the course and it doesn't bother me at ALL!) As a photographer, a peaceful demeanor is a must in this situation especially, despite the possible hic-ups. In order to soothe the baby I have to be calm and have a relaxed energy. The more calm I am, the more the baby can feel that energy during these session. And since the mother is always associated with food, it usually works best if I handle the baby for the posing as mom watches from a short distance as she keeps an eye on her new baby. It is important to me that everyone is comfortable, safe, and happy during these sessions. Nicolette's parents are delighted to have these high quality images to artfully treasure this important stage in their baby's life.

Thank you, Erin and Kyle for allowing me to create and share these images of  your amazing baby girl. Here's to an incredible first year!

 

Norah Levine is an Austin children portrait photographer and pet photographer. She photographs in homes and on location. She also travels to Santa Fe, New Mexico frequently for sessions. Please view her website for more details www.norahlevinephotography.com