Seattle Portrait Photographer

BLINK Conference || Never Stop Learning

I love traveling, exploring new places, meeting new people… But man, there is NO place like home.

A year ago this November I had the awesome opportunity to speak at the BLINK Conference, ran by the lovely and talented (and dear friends) Ike & Tash Photography and Motion, which took place in Scottsdale, Arizona. I had a blast meeting so many talented photographers from around the country and having the opportunity to speak on one areas\ of photography that I love and am passionate about.  As a Portrait and Wedding Photographer, one aspect that I truly love is Newborn Photography and being an advocate and voice for newborn safety.

BLINK 2014 | Seattle WA Wedding Photographer

Shortly after attending BLINK in 2014, Latasha asked me to join the BLINK 2015 Team as the Conference | Attendee Coordinator. A little side note about me, I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Organizational Communication, which has a heavy emphasis in Business Leadership. My personality is “see a need, fill a need.” I thrive on schedules and lists, organization and workflow, and I love, love, love those nitty gritty behind the scenes details of event management; and of course, most importantly, I love people. This is probably why I love shooting weddings so much and assist my bride and grooms in make sure their wedding days run smoothly… But that is another blog post. :)

BLINK Conference || Woodinville WA Wedding Photographer

This year, BLINK touched ground in Austin, Texas and took place at the Lone Star Court Resort. I loved this hotel! So much character and Texas charm in one location! From the bright orange rocking chairs on the decks, to the relaxing fire pits, it was the perfect location for a boutique conference of 65+ creatives.

Heading to the conference I knew my days would be long and filled with helping make the conference run smoothly. And let me tell you, the team of ladies I had the opportunity of working with ROCKED it. Just sayin'. Annie, Emma, Catrena, Juliete - you know who are! :) I also knew the speakers would be excellent. What I didn't know is that I would walk away from the conference with a new direction and clearer vision for my business. 

There were three speakers in particular that lit a fire where I have been needing it. I believe businesses ebb and flow. They hit peaks and they hit times of building. There are times when we can relax and times when we need to hit the pavement and begin running. And this was that running moment for me. To assume that I had "arrived" because I have spoken on many platforms or because I am an educator would be placing my ego in front of humility. I never want to assume that I am "safe" or that I can slack off. And to be honest - I had hit a frustrating moment personally within in my business, and hadn't understood why, until now. But those frustrating moments are what fuel me to work harder and begin dreaming and building a better tomorrow.

We have ALL been in this place. And let me just say, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. If you are in that place of frustration, use it to fuel your passion. Begin digging deeper into what needs to change. Change is not a bad thing. It can be extremely scary - but it often times leads to moments of GREAT success and GREAT opportunities.

Mary & Justin Marantz, Leah Remillet, and Katelyn James were the gasoline to the the fire I have been needing this year. Their content was inspiring and motivating. They brought back an excitement and momentum that I have been needing. 

I left for the BLINK conference frustrated and not sure how to navigate a few things that I had felt shifting. And I left with a new passion, new motivation, and most importantly, new DREAMS.

I have been in business over 8 years, 9 if you count the first year I spent researching, business planning, and writing down my dreams, hopes, and plans. I have watched hundreds of photographers over these 9 years come and go quickly from this industry because it is NOT easy. And I had felt as though I had hit a wall. That I was the "old photographer." And I am SO thankful for the words and kick in the booty I was needing to push past those frustrations and begin planning new things again.

2016 better watch out. There's a new Michelle Newell in town!

I don't know who you are - what your dreams are - what you are striving for. But NEVER stop learning. Never stop challenging yourself. NEVER - STOP - DREAMING. 

Understanding Safety Within Newborn Sessions

I think it is pretty obvious by now that I love what I do. :) I have been a professional photographer going on 8 years and still can't believe I have the opportunity to do this as my career. It is by NO means "easy" to own your own business. I don't get to lounge around photographing people while someone feeds me grapes. I have to hustle and work hard to pay my bills like the rest of humanity. But I am getting off topic...  That's for another blog post. Ha! :)

As mentioned, I have been a professional photographer for 8 years. That number seems crazy to me. || EIGHT YEARS || I have loved every moment of it! These eight years have opened so many doors to be able to share one of my passions, which is safety within newborn sessions. I have had the opportunity to speak at Photography Conferences on this topic as well as teach many Newborn Workshops and 1:1 Newborn Mentoring classes. In 2011 I wrote my first Guide to Newborn Safety, which has been sold worldwide to help educate and assist aspiring newborn photographers on their journey within their career. Then, in 2014 my second guide to newborn photography was released to further on the quest to teach those who want to pursue a career as a newborn photographer. It has been a wild ride to say the least, but an awesome one at that.

I want this post to help continue that education for aspiring newborn photographers, but also help educate parents considering a newborn photographer and what to look for in finding a baby safe newborn photographer.

I remember being a new parent and practically spraying hand sanitizer on anyone who came within a few feet of my daughter. I would do ANYTHING (and still will) to keep her safe from harms way. And I approach each newborn session in this same way.

Prior to a newborn session, each client receives a copy of my Newborn Session - What to Expect PDF (available to purchase here for photographers) which answers questions from room temperature, when to schedule baby boys post circumcision, to what to wear. It also discusses our studio safety practices and how we go about sessions.

This is an awesome tool I love using with my parents because it alleviates questions and worries they may have for their new little one. The more information I can provide my clients, the better. You can never over-communicate/educate your clients. I also have a "Newborn Safety" section on my website within my portfolio to show parents the type of safety measures I take within newborn sessions. And for the photographer wanting to understand HOW a session flow might take place and the intricate details of safety, you may purchase my Newborn Guide with full details.

One of my favorite images to do is the above cradle position. This image is taken with baby laying on my beanbag while the daddy's arms in a cradle position around baby. I have had clients ask me how I get a baby to stay slung in the dad's arms, and I show them an example of the image so they understand baby is never in harms way.

During newborn sessions I also take the time to explain to parents my process for posing as I prepare and ask Dad or Mom to assist me when needed, like the composite below.  I love seeing their enthusiasm to help and then see the edited version of the image later on.

My goal for each session is for my parents to leave knowing their baby was in good hands. That they came feeling prepared from the information I provided them and not anxious in having their baby's portraits taken. As new parents, they have enough to worry about, and a newborn session [with me] should always be relaxing and enjoyable. They should leave excited and anticipating their images.

I am so grateful to have photographed hundreds of these tiny humans. To be a part of such little bit of their journey into this world is a privilege and an honor - and I take it extremely seriously. I love what I do!