We spent a seamlessly magical morning with them as we converted their bedroom into a studio. Their large window provided some soft light on that cloudy morning in December. We also brought our own LED light to supplement the window light. It provides a constant, quiet light source so not to startle the newborn the way a flashing bulb can, so we were set for a calm morning. And that’s what we got – a dreamy photo session with a couple who is madly in love with their Indi.
Katie and her husband, Jimmy, have been together for nine years, married for three, and are expecting their first child in October. Alex and I joined the two of them on Labor Day (ironically!) to photograph Katie at a private residence near downtown Raleigh.
It was an honor and a lot of fun to be there with them for this very important photo session. I also have the pleasure and privilege of being Katie’s doula for the birth.
Katie is a cardiac nurse at a local hospital. Through her nursing experience helping people die peacefully, she believes that big life transitions deserve respect, reverence and supportive love. So they decided to seek out a doula for encouragement during this important transitional time along with support in labor. I was lucky that Katie and Jimmy reached out to me at Heart in Hands Doula Services to provide them with that support during her birth journey.
Being able to use my decades of experience as a professional photographer to record this moment in her life also has an added benefit for both of us. “It’s great that you can offer these services together, to allow more time to get to know one another,” Katie noted.
It’s definitely a nice, casual way to become more familiar with each other before the birth.
We photographed Katie in a variety of poses in a number of places around the area. She was radiant, and perseverant, as the afternoon was steamy and a bit buggy. Her exquisite belly was done freehand in henna by the brilliantly-talented Stephanie Hallmark of Sparkle Body Arts.
The result: Pure beauty.
For many, a massage is a great way to release tension, relax and recalibrate. Donna Zubrod, owner of Seven Generations Massage & Birth, in Cary, NC is certainly a massage expert, trust us.
She does so much more, however, as part of her practice. Donna employs different techniques to aide in pelvic health and abdominal therapy. She provides pre and peri-natal massage and pre-conception massage to aide in fertility, and she is a DONA certified Birth Doula as well. The connection she has with her clients is obvious as she has a corner of her space dedicated to photo cards of healthy newborns that she knows.
“I’m trying to create a pleasant atmosphere here instead of a clinical setting,” says Donna.
With that attitude in mind, we sought to show the spirit with which Donna works and reveal the energy of her working area. We did that by looking closely at the details in the room that bring feeling to Donna’s space, and by using the natural light that came through the two large windows that created a strong, soft glow. Our model was Betsy Huljev, who, along with Donna, is a member of the Triangle Holistic Birth Collective.
Donna works primarily with women who are preparing to conceive, those actually preparing for birth, and women who have already given birth.
“I’ve helped women during pregnancy be better connected to their belly and their baby which I firmly believe has lead to more positive birth outcomes,” explains Donna.
She says she has also helped couples conceive who had been told that it was unlikely they would conceive on their own without outside intervention.
“And I’ve really helped with postpartum healing and women going through a lot of the challenges of menopause in terms of complications due to pelvic organ prolapse and digestive issues,” she says.
“I do this because I’m trying to bring awareness of how important your physical, emotional and spiritual wellness is as you are preparing to have children, while you are pregnant and the time thereafter,” she added.
Donna also has specialized training in the Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy®, which are beneficial for everybody, women and men, of all ages, according to Zubrod.
“I help clients who are in various stages of their life with the kind of healing that they need for reproductive and digestive wellness as well as relief from muscle aches and pains,” she says.
“I have a lot of training and I customize a session based on what their needs are. But I believe that in a lot of the work that I do, I’m trying to empower my clients to take better care of themselves. The root of all the work that I do is to provide instruction in self-care techniques that they can continue at home,” she says.
Donna says the inspiration for the name Seven Generations Massage & Birth came to her when she discovered a sculpture in Montana titled “Seven Generations.”
“I was struck when I saw it because I realized that how we take care of ourselves today affects future generations. So how I am, and my wellness today, has a lot to do with my ancestors before me and how those women, and men, took care of themselves,” she says.
“So I’m trying to start at this point here and pay it forward.”
A nice headshot is a good thing to have and they come in all different flavors. We like to use soft, flattering light. Sometimes that comes from a window, or an overcast day, and sometimes we’ll create it on our own. We’ve found that a large Octabox gives us the light that we’re looking for. It’s an adaptor that shoots light through a soft, white piece of octagon-shaped fabric. We’ll bring a reflector and one or two strobes with 47-inch Octaboxes to a shoot. Depending on the existing light, we’ll either use them as fill or main lights. Sometimes we’ll use one to fill and put the other behind and to the side of the person as a soft rim light to separate them from the background. And the softness of the light is relative to the size of the light source and it’s proximity to the person being photographed. The bigger/closer, the softer the light. Each situation is unique, but the goal of creating a softly lit photograph remains the same.
Regardless of the lighting though, it’s the expression that comes through the person that makes for a successful shoot. A good relationship between the people on both sides of the camera is important to getting the most out of a headshot and we try to create an easy-going atmosphere that keeps everyone comfortable and connected.
Above are a few examples of some headshots we’ve photographed over the years. Feel free to ask any questions about technique or approach and we’ll be happy to answer.
Thanks for looking!