Located in SANTA ANA, California US

Name: Jennifer McNeil

Representing: Jennifer McNeil Photography

# of Years Experience: 17

While sleeping babies 1-3 weeks old is what I photograph most often, this 3 month old came in full of smiles and I loved it! I'm always happy to photograph older babies for a newborn session and my swaddled style lends itself to that well.

The most important thing to learn when beginning to photograph newborns is safety.

Tell us about yourself. What do you love doing in your spare time? What inspired you to newborn photography and do you photograph other genre’s in your business?

I am a lover of coffee, a good book, and all things art. In my spare moments, I most often spend time outside with my children – riding bikes to the local coffee shop, doing arts and crafts or Lego, or snuggling up to read. I also enjoy yoga during my own time and small crafts to keep my hands busy while I veg out watching TV – like doodling or cross-stitch. When my nephew was born nearly 13 years ago, I fell completely in love. I was amazed by his tiny features and delicateness, all while he could scream so loudly! I spend a week with my sister helping out, and my main job was to soothe him. This gave me a sense of calm and peace and I immediately wanted to find work as a newborn photographer. Instead of going it alone, I worked for another company for 5 years which ended up being the best thing for me as it allowed me to gain a lot of skill and experience before adding newborns to my own business offerings.

How would you describe your photography style? What inspires your work?

Color is often my inspiration and I have a lot of it in my work. My goal is to bring joy to my images with the use of color, celebrating this time in the family’s life while they await, or welcome a new baby. My editing style is clean and simple, creating true to life colors in images that will be enjoyed for generations.

What is one piece of advice you’d give to someone starting a newborn photography business?

The most important thing to learn when beginning to photograph newborns is safety. I was fortunate enough to be trained in a hospital setting, surrounded by nurses who I utilized daily for guidance with safety and comfort of babies. Practice is the best thing to gain skill and confidence in such things as posing and wrapping a newborn in a swaddle – so learn what you can by reading or watching videos, then practice on a doll or baby. The foundations of swaddling and soothing have stayed with me for years and I definitely would not be where I am now without that strong foundation and repetitive practice.

What camera do you use? What are your favourite lenses and what’s typically in your camera bag?

I use a Canon 6D Mark II with a 24-70mm lens. This is my everything lens because of the amazing versatility it gives.

What is your favorite place to hold sessions and why?Where do you photograph most of your sessions? (in studio? on location?)

My studio is my absolute favorite place to be. Everything I need is within reach and we can be creative with styling. That said, I also love a silhouette against the sunset at the beautiful beaches of Southern California!

Tell us about starting your business, and what played a key role in developing a profitable income.

Knowing my hard costs and overhead expenses played a key part in determining what to charge in order to remain profitable. The pricing you set doesn’t have to make sense to anyone besides your business and your clients. I made sure to offer high quality, high value products as well, steering away from the shoot and burn model I began with, and that lead to increased sales and profitability as well.

Growing pains: tell us about some of your challenges you have faced in your business, and how you overcame them.

Being self employed can be a roller coaster. My team is me, so when my personal life sends me a curveball, it’s easy to get sidetracked. This is a constant challenge that I am still working to overcome – some of what has helped is outsourcing tasks that can be done by others, and educating my children on what it means for me to run a business, and sometimes not be able to play. When I’ve felt most overwhelmed and busy with work, I find that making a plan for a week or two out with my kids gives us all something to look forward to – then I can dedicate that time to them and not be distracted by my business.

What should clients expect when working with you?

When clients book in, they know they can trust me not only to create beautiful images, but to do so in a way that is safe and respectful to them, their body and their baby. I guide my clients every step of the way planning with them for the styling of each session, the timeline, and ultimately helping them determine the best way to enjoy the images. Sessions are long, but we take breaks, chat, laugh, and have a great time together as the time passes quickly. After everything is edited, we sit back down together for an ordering appointment – this is their chance to view all the images, choose their favorites, and select products. Every client comes away from the experience with tangible artwork that is ready to display.

Siblings are one of my favorite things to capture during newborn sessions. The way they light up knowing they're now a big brother or big sister is magical. This sweet big sis was also photographed by me when she was a newborn, and it's been so fun to watch her grow into this new role.

Grandparents are welcome to be part of every newborn session in my studio. This family had their parents visiting from India, and they were full of joy being able to capture these 3 generations of women.

Every rainbow baby is incredibly special. This one happens to be the youngest in a family I've been photographing since before I started my business. The best feeling in the world is when people trust me enough to share their story, and allow me to come in and be part of that story by creating images like this that are uniquely meaningful to them.

Expecting her first baby, a girl, this mother came in absolutely glowing.

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