Bits of Magic Image Studio

Frequently Asked Questions

Thank you for considering me as your photographer.  The following information should help answer the majority of questions you may have about booking a session with Bits of Magic Image Studio.  If you find you have more questions after reading this FAQ, please let me know and I’ll do my very best to answer them for you.

 

Services, Booking, and Payment

My photo services are all-inclusive. I've designed my pricing and my package offerings to still be reasonably affordable for the majority of families. I do not require a sitting fee, or purchase of prints and products as is very common in the industry because it doesn't suit my business style, and I know I fill a need for consumers who are looking for a less complicated option while still getting beautiful and artistically executed imagery.  Payment in full is due at time of booking.  This eliminates any pressure to keep track of formalities at a future date.  Once your booking is complete, we will touch base as your session nears.  There's no fretting about contracts and payments because it will already be taken care of.  All you have to do is arrive at the agreed upon location, and have a good time.

Galleries

Every client receives a digital gallery within 4-6 weeks of your session containing a minimum number of images dependent on your session type.   Your gallery may contain more images, but never less.  You will be provided a download password so you can download and print your images.  I try my best to provide guidance on print options to ensure your prints are as beautiful as I have tried to make them be.   You can also order prints and products from your gallery from my trusted professional print lab as a convenience.  You can also share the link to your gallery with friends and family who can order digital files, prints and products for themselves.  This makes getting images to distant family members easier.  Your gallery will always feature the very best images from your session. 

My studio policy is not to provide my clients unedited or RAW images.  I only ever want to present you with a finished piece of artwork.  Unedited and RAW images are equivalent to looking at concept sketches, tubes of paint, and a blank canvas.  You see where the painter is planning on going, but you cannot actually imagine the final painting by looking at the tools, tubes of color and roughly sketched ideas.  Trust that I will provide you with the most cherished and beautiful memories I can, with nothing precious left on the film table.

Maternity Sessions

If you have a vision, let's discuss making it come true. 

I offer on-location and studio maternity sessions.  Sessions are about 60 minutes on average.  Your session allows you to be photographed in two different looks or outfits.  Clients are welcome to choose their own wardrobe, or we can discuss my collection of maternity gowns and fabric wrap options.  You can also add on a makeup artist for your session if you wish to have a more pampered day and a more glamorous look.  Dads and partners are welcome in your session.  Siblings are also welcome, though we will discuss ages and temperament in order to plan as best we can for a successful session. 

Sessions can be scheduled any point after your belly has passed your breast line in profile.  For most mothers this is sometime around 28 weeks or later.  Please check with your care team that you're ok to do a photo session.  Photo sessions can require more energy than expected from a mama.  Walking, posing, and wardrobe changes can all take an unexpected toll on you this late in your pregnancy, and so we want to make sure you're covering all of your bases for your health and the health of your baby.  Make sure to eat before your session, and bring a hardy snack and water with you to your session.  Most importantly, always communicate.  We are a team in the image creating process and if you need to eat, sit, stand, stop...anything...just say so.

You can book just a maternity session, or you can book a Bump to Baby session which will bundle your maternity session and your newborn session together.  Bump to Baby packages offer a price break and allows you to make the arrangements for both of these important sessions in one quick, easy booking.  Once you're booked, all you have left to do is be photographed and wait for your galleries to be delivered.

Newborns

Newborn sessions are a very specialized type of photography session. Photographing newborns requires an understanding of baby's needs and temperament, handling safety, baby posing, image styling, and between 2-3 hours of shooting time just to create the unedited photos. When all of those factors are taken into consideration, you can see how the investment starts to make more sense.

When is the best time to do a newborn session?  When scheduling in advance of baby’s arrival, I generally suggest we schedule a tentative date on the weekend that is about 5+ days out from your EDD. (5 days allows past your EDD allows time for your milk to come in should you deliver on your due date.) If you deliver early or late, we can look to see if we need to adjust to a new date. 5-14 days is the most ideal window for newborn photography whenever possible. Setting the tentative date makes sure that I keep room for you on my calendar and allows me to keep the "uncertainty" factor in mind as I'm filing in my calendar around your EDD time period. We will touch base as baby’s arrival nears and all we have to do is wait for baby to arrive for the final date confirmation.  I generally schedule newborns at 10am. Most newborns nurse heavily at night/early morning so they will tend to sleep pretty soundly in the mid-morning which makes them easier to work with.

I didn't book in advance of delivering.  Can I still book a newborn session?  If I have room in my schedule, of course!  Many of my clients make the decision to purchase a newborn photo session in the 11th hour.  If I have room in my schedule, or can make room, I'm happy to do so.  I will answer you honestly, and set appropriate expectations.

My baby is more than 14 days old.  Can I still book a newborn session?  I’m happy to photograph babies older than 2 weeks. Life happens and sometimes parents can’t arrange for photos during the first 2 weeks. After the first two weeks, babies can be a little less curly, a bit more active, more awake, and more aware; but I’ve had success with getting sleepy baby poses for babies up to 6 weeks old. After 6 weeks, baby tends to be more wakeful, wiggly, and aware; and the session flows somewhere between a newborn session and a 3 month milestone session.

How do I choose between booking an in-home versus a studio session?  There are several factors to consider, but I will start by saying that my personal preference is in the studio. It is a more controlled environment for light and temperature, and I have all of my props at hand versus having to choose a limited selection of items, load up my car, unload my car, set up in an unknown environment - then do it all again in reverse. However! This isn't about me. This is about you and your family. I am a mother of 3, and know how overwhelming the early days can feel. The upside is you will be able to relax for most of the session in either location. Feeding baby when needed will be the biggest responsibility for mom. I may recruit Dad to be a spotter if I need an extra set of hands. Things to consider when deciding where you would like your session:

  1. My home studio is located near the Santa Clara/San Jose boarder (near the San Jose Municipal Rose Garden).
  2. Think about your home.
    • I try to shoot newborns with available light. If you do not get a lot of light into your home, that may be a factor to consider.
    • Space. I have photographed in some tight spaces. I find that a 5' x 10' (or so) sized space near a window is most ideal. If in combination with the consideration of the light of your home, you have a tight space, which may be another consideration.
    • Parking and Access. Do you live in a high density living community? Can I park reasonably near your home and carry 1-2 loads of gear with moderate effort to your home?

How long will the session last?  Newborn sessions are a very specialized type of photography session. Photographing newborns requires an understanding of baby's needs and temperament, handling safety, baby posing and image styling, and between 2-3 hours of shooting time just to create the unedited photos. Baby's mood will control the flow and efficiency of the photo session. If baby gets wonderfully milk drunk and sleeps deeply, we could be done within 2 hours! If baby is fussy or a cluster feeder, we may need to take frequent breaks for feeding or to settle baby; and the session can be closer to 3 hours. Patience is a virtue in all baby photography. I have only had a few sessions go long and that was because the parents didn't follow my advice for preparing for their photo session which got us off on the wrong foot. I will provide you with everything I can think of to help you get ready for a successful session, no matter the location. And I will also remind you a couple of days ahead of your session as well. I have only had to reschedule one baby to date.  The little guy was constantly “hangry” and we couldn’t settle him using all the tricks I know.  That can happen, although rarely.  If we happen to fact that scenario, we’ll discuss our options.  But, again, it has only happened once to me in 5 years of newborns. 

Can you do "this" pose with my baby?  I believe in keeping baby’s safety at the forefront of my work. I practice simple and safe posing. There are many poses popular in newborn photography right now which I do not do. I want to make sure that I get beautiful images using simple poses that will not stress baby or put baby in a potentially risky situation. I also am conscious of exposing baby to illness. I am vaccinated for pertussis, flu, and pneumonia. Also, I have a rescheduling clause in my contract to help protect your family and my studio against spreading any illness. If I am exposed to illness of if someone in your family is, we will work to reschedule the session to minimize the risks. My portfolio is the best place to check to see how I pose babies.  When in doubt, please ask about a pose and I will answer you honestly. 

Do you have fun props for my session?   I have outfits, hats, and wraps for baby. I will be sending you a questionnaire that will help me plan your session props, backgrounds and accessories based on your color preferences, essentially. Newborns tend to "swim" in regular newborn outfits as they are so small and squishy that store bought outfits tend to appear too big and awkward, especially in photos, so I have wraps and other clothing designed for newborn photography. I generally get two to three setups: 2 beanbag looks and a basket most sessions.  I usually work my parent images very quickly at either the beginning or the end of the session depending on baby's mood and awakeness. I only do one outfit for parents as the baby's images take up the majority of the time of the session.   

My parents are in town.  Can they be photographed?  Yes.  Grandparents are welcome to come with you and be photographed with baby as part of the family images.  Siblings are welcome as well.  Toddler-aged siblings are always the trickiest, so if you have a little, big brother or sister, please let me know their age(s) and we will strategize how best to work with the sibling(s) and their limited attention spans.

What do I get with from my session?  My package includes a minimum of 15 personally curated, hand-edited, high resolution, digital image delivered via internet gallery. What that means is you may receive more than 15 images, but never less. Most of my clients receive more (20-25), but I never promise an exact number greater than 15. The other purpose of the newborn questionnaire is to gather baby's name and birth information to craft your birth announcement. I will take one of your images and turn it into a custom designed birth announcement that you can print and send, or email to friends and family.  I also take a different image and create a digital word art piece. This image is designed with the idea that you may want to print it in larger format for hanging on the wall of your home or in baby's room. I will also create a digital HD video birth announcement from your session which you can share with friends and family.  Bump to Baby clients will have their video story reflect both the maternity session as part of their birth announcement video.  I do my best to deliver the image announcement and a couple of teaser images within the first week of your session. After that, your whole collection will be delivered within 4-6 weeks. (I do aim for sooner if I can, but I have three toddlers and a day job, so I want to set a realistic expectation for both my clients and myself.) You can download your gallery and/or order prints and products directly from your gallery on a self-serve basis. This option is for convenience and ensured product quality, but you are not required to purchase anything further unless you choose to.  I provide some simple guidance for printing your images when I deliver your gallery.

1 Year Milestone / Cake Smashes

One of my favorite sessions after meeting baby is the 1 year birthday session!  Seeing your tiny human grow into a small child trying to explore the world is always heartwarming. 

Do I have to come to your studio?  Although most of my milestone sessions and cake smashes are done in studio, I'm happy to discuss other locations as well.  Most people prefer my studio mostly because the mess stays behind.  I have done 1 year sessions and smashes on location as well, so we can definitely discuss option.

Do I have to do a cake smash?  No.  You're welcome to book just a 1 year milestone session which is a little cheaper as there's no cake and no mess.

Do I provide the cake?  No.  I have a fantastic baker I work with who creates smash cakes for me based on the set design I work with you to create.  She bakes wonderful standard cakes, but she can also create vegan, gluten free, or sugar free cakes if you desire one of those options.  Any cake that survives, you're welcome to take home with you.  If there is a reason you prefer to provide our own cake, please let me know and we can discuss the situation.

Do you provide outfits?  At this time, I do not provide wardrobe for these sessions, as a general rule.  I do have a couple of tulle toddler dresses I'd be happy to bring out for your session if you're interested, but I don't have a true wardrobe to choose from for your little ones.  My parents are allowed to bring two outfits for baby.  The first half of the session is just portraits.  The second half of the session is the cake smash.  I advise against tutus for the cake smash session as it will be nearly impossible to get buttercream out of it later, unless you don't mind a one-time use of a tutu.  I'm happy to help you with wardrobe questions.  I am also happy to do anything with the exception of naked baby for the smash section of your session.  Cute Etsy outfit, plain bodysuit, just a diaper...it's up to you.

What else do I need to know to prepare for an infant smash session?  I always recommend that every baby have a cake experience BEFORE their session.  This can be a slice of cake or a cupcake.  Babies can be texture averse.  If they haven't felt and tasted cake before, babies can become upset by the thick, sticky, mess that doesn't come off of their hands, and they will usually start to cry instead of dig into their cake. 

I recommend bringing a sippy cup of water.  The sweetness of the cake will make them thirsty, so it's best to have a sippy cup of water with you and ready for when baby wants it.  Alongside the sippy cup, I recommend having some finger snacks with you.  Fishy crackers, Cheerios, yogurt melts are all good examples of finger snacks.  These snacks can be used during the portrait session as either a distraction or a reward, as needed. 

Bring a plastic bag that will fit soiled clothing so you can take home the cake covered outfit.  I have a sink and make sure there is a wash cloth, towel, and baby soap to give your little one a quick wash down after the smash.  Make sure to bring an extra diaper or two and an outfit to go home in, as well. 

Can I get a family portrait?  If I know in advance, we can plan for it.  Most of my sets for cake smashes are only about 5 feet high, so it helps to discuss your desire for family portraits in advance so I can plan for it.  We would include them in the 1st half of the session. 

Adult Cake Smashes

What if I want to book an adult cake smash?  I LOVE adult cake smashes.  If we, as adults, don't celebrate ourselves...who else will, right?  I'll do adult cake smashes for any milestone birthday or just because.  We can discuss your vision and make it come true. 

I do offer a deluxe Glam Milestone Smash.  This is where you'll bring your best dress/outfit; we get you a fancy cake; and bring in a hair and make-up artist for your session.  

Terrific and 21? Forever 29?  Flirty and 30?  Fabulous and 40?  Phenomenal and 50?  Sassy and 60?  You think of it, we can collaborate to make it happen.