One Month Old On Location Lifestyle

Baby Jackson Jonathan “JJ” was about one month old when we had his session done. After the initial consultation we decided to shoot predominantly in lifestyle with some studio styles included.

LIfestyle Newborn One Month Old (1)
JJ arrived 3 weeks early. During tummy time when he was a mere two weeks old, he flipped from his belly to his back! “We can tell he is going to be a strong, determined little boy.”, said proud Mommy Nikki.

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JJ and his Daddy Justin
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JJ and his Mommy Nikki

Jackson is just a name both Nikki and Justin have always liked, and Jonathan is Justin’s twin brother’s name. The couple also thought “JJ” would be a cute nickname. They started thinking of names after they knew the gender, so they did not consider any girls’ names.

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The couple moved into this house when Nikki was pregnant with JJ, and they got lucky because his nursery was already painted that nice shade of blue. Nikki loves bright colors, so she thought blue, yellow, and grey would be great colors for the nursery. She loves the cherry blossoms tree decal over the crib and the canvas pictures over the dresser. Both were purchased from In the corner of the room there is also an ABC cross-stitch that one of Justin’s relatives made before she passed away. Nikki’s mother-in-law cleaned and framed the cross-stitch and gifted it to them at their baby shower.

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Advice from Nikki: “I would suggest not planning anything, because if you get too caught up looking at Pinterest for inspiration you might be disappointed if certain poses cannot be duplicated. You also don’t know how your baby will act during the session. The lifestyle session is great because it captures the simple beauties of everyday life. Just be yourselves!”

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This image by far receives the most likes on my Instagram.

MuSen: The session was conducted on a peaceful sunny Sunday morning. Abundant sunshine in the house and all photos were taken under natural light. I am blown away by JJ’s nursery design: energetic, bright, colorful, yet balanced with harmony. Every little detail is filled with his Mommy and Daddy’s love. I felt a strong connection while photographing this session and wish I could do more newborn lifestyle in the future.

Session gift for the new Mommy: “It’s a boy” Living Locket look from OrigamiOwl with “JJ” initial charms. Congratulations once more. “A beautiful baby has come to fill your lives with joy and bliss. May all the precious little moments always warm your heart.”

To find out what Nikki thinks about this session, visit here.

To learn about the newborn pacakge, visit here.


Princess Themed Cake Smash

Every cake smash photo-shoot project started with brainstorming a theme. For Bowie’s cake smash session, her Mommy was looking for a theme that portrays a simple, happy, and healthy little baby.

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Bowie is very out going. She loves to smile, loves to play with other little children, loves to kiss boys, and loves to go out everyday. When she doesn’t get what she wants she yells at Daddy. She likes to feed Daddy and Mommy when she does not want her food.

Bowie’s Mommy Googled “baby girl cash smash photo” to get an idea of what other babies’ cake smash photos are. There are hundreds or thousands picture there with different color themes and all look pretty. She finally chose Pink and Gold as Bowie’s theme colors. She believed Bowie would look very pretty in it. In addition, pink is her own favor color since she was a child. “I wished I had everything in pink in my room such as bedding, wall color, furniture, etc. Obviously, I did not get what I wanted, so I pass my wishes to Bowie. Not sure she would like pink as much as I do. Daddy has been complaining about too much pink in Bowie LOL.”, said Bowie’s Mommy.

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We came up with a simple but elegant princess theme with Pink being the main color and accented with Gold. Tutu, onesie, matching bow headband and chunky necklace designed and handcrafted by Tutu Gorgeous Girl.
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Matching theme pink rosettes cake with a glittery gold #1 topper smash cake by Slice of Fancy/Sweet Stuff. Vanilla cake with strawberry buttercream.

Bowie’s Mommy didn’t really have any concerns prior to the session. “Bowie is pretty out-going. The session turned out good. 5 stars overall”!

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Click here for more details on Bowie’s head-to-toe outfit at Tutu Gorgeous Girl’s Etsy shop.

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Matching theme Triangle Flag Bunting Banner by Crafts by Jackie

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Advice from Bowie’s Mommy: “Keep it simple and be your normal selves. I should have planned out more of the scenery and babies nap timing.”

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Bubble bath theme is included in every cake smash session. The bath tub was filled with lukewarm water. Bowie didn’t want to come out.
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One of my favorite lifestyle captures in Bowie’s nursery.

Bowie had her first birthday party a week after the cake smash session. Take a look at the party setup that Bowie’s Mommy put together.

Birthday Party Setup
“My husband was no help LOL but the rest of my family was very supportive of it. Most of the stuff was from Amazon, gotta love Amazon Prime. The cake was from Audrey’s Concerto. Really do love their cakes. We buy a lot of cakes from them every year.”

From MuSen:

I am so in love with Bowie’s princess theme cake smash. Simple but elegant. I love providing my clients with collage designs. Below are what I did for Bowie:

Princess Cake Smash Collage

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Bowie Session Gift
Bowie’s session gift: OrigamiOwl Living Locket designed with assorted limited edition pieces

To find out what Bowie’s Mommy thinks about MuSen, click here.

To learn more about the First Birthday pacakge, click here.



Rodan + Fields Themed Cake Smash

First birthday cake smash has become one of my favorite type of photo sessions lately. So much creativity, personality and characteristics involved. For this particular session, Mom is an enthusiastic R+F independent consultant and super passionate about what she does. For her son Jacob’s first birthday, we brainstormed the idea of having the baby role play a dermatologist along with a R+F themed cake smash.

The inspiration came from this advertisement picture. We therefore decided on a plain gray seamless paper background along with props and banners that would give us a laboratory look.

R+F Ad

Silver and white smash cake adorned with gum pastes and real R+F travel size products is hand crafted by Slice of Fancy/Sweet & Stuff.

R+F Smash Cake
Cake is vanilla flavor with lemon buttercream.

Chemistry bar glassware made of REAL borosilicate 3.3 lab glass capable off withstanding extremes in temperature is from Med Lab Supply.

R+F Smash Cake 2

Crafts By Jackie put together a thoughtfully designed happy birthday banner using fonts similar to R+F’s.

R+F Cake Smash Setup

Jacob R+F Cake Smash
For Jacob’s safety we removed the glassware during actual cake smash
Color liquids inside the glassware are actually Powerade.  Picture showing behind-the-scene Powerade cheers (“gon bay”).

Mom is also a good sewer. She made Jacob’s doctor smock out of her preggo pillow case. Jacob’s big sister used the remaining fabric and made her own doll a dress, on which she wrote heart-melting happy birthday wishes to her baby brother.

Doctor Smock
Behind-the-scene doctor smock making pictures from Jacob’s Mommy

For this session I sneak peek with a first birthday cake collage and it was such a big hit.

Jacob Cake Smash Collage

People also responded so well to this bathtub picture.

This baby size bathtub is one of MuSen’s all time favorite props.

Wait! We are not done yet! After the cake smash we also took the little guy out for a walk and captured some lifestyle pictures there.

Jacob Outdoor Collage

To learn more about Rodan + Fields products, please contact Mimi at or 718-288-5085. Her website is: Click here to take your free 60 second consultation



Solutions Tool
Free 60 second consultation

To learn more about the First Birthday pacakge, click here.

From Strangers to Friends

Cameron’s first birthday session was a big hit. It is something very different. Instead of smashing a cake, he smashed spaghetti.

Chef’s guide to perfect spaghetti recipe.
1. Make sure veggies are fresh and taste delicious. (They are from the photographer’s own garden, picked one hour prior to session!)
2. Stir well during cooking
3. Check tenderness
4. Enjoy!

Cameron’s Mom Lizzy and I have become friends through all these portrait sessions. This is the 3rd time they came to me for pictures. I feel so grateful that she always opens up to my ideas and willing to try new things with me.

They were the winner of my session donation in support of East Brunswick Youth Council on 2016 East Brunswick Day. Lizzy had always wanted to have professional pictures taken of her family and the children, but it just never happened. Coming across the donation I made at the silent auction made her think that this would be the best time to try to win something! And She did. “A fantastic photographer who is creative and listens to input and produces beautiful pictures!”, said Lizzy.

Portrait was done on location in their house.
Ron, the dad, football and sports nut who is also into memorabilia and collectibles.
Liz, the mom, loves craft stuff and shopping!! “lol and spending time with the kids.”, according to Lizzy herself.
The couple love taking the kids on outings… Central park, the beach, zoos, etc.
Arianna, now the 14 year old, artistic and funny. Great at drawing cartoon and animation as well as more classical pieces. To visit blog on Arianna’s Bat Mitzvah, click here.
Bryce, the 3 year old, silly kid that loves to make people laugh. “He is our little superhero.”


Cameron, now the 1 year old, “our little butterball of happiness”. He has figured out how to get around, but he really loves his pacifier and his mommy. He celebrated his first Hanukkah last holiday season.

“I love how well Karen interact with the kids and family, its not a simple task to get so many people to focus and smile and get a great picture! I also love that she let me help get involved and pose and make suggestions during our session”, said Lizzy.


For Cameron’s first birthday session, we came up with the spaghetti smash idea. Lizzy had purchased a large pot for Cameron to fit into and I provided the fresh veggies from my own garden and chef’s hat that we used for the props. The other props Lizzy rummaged through her drawers for the rolling pin and spoons.

Safety tip: always put heavy weight at the bottom of props like pot, bucket, etc for babies to prevent accidental flipping. A 10 lb weight plate from any sporting good store would do just fine.
Lizzy was worried that Cameron would not co-operate at all for the pictures and the entire session would be wasted, but he did great!


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“Have fun with the entire experience, and don’t expect your 1 year old to do what you want them to do :)”, shared Lizzy. She loves this picture because it captured a real moment of a 1 year old.
2017 Silient Auction Ad
From MuSen: I am donating again at this year’s East Brunswick Day to support EBYC. Visit the FB event page for more details.

To learn more about the Sequoia package, click here.

To learn more about the First Birthday pacakge, click here.


Mom baked the cake during session

Amandine turned 1! She holds the record of completing the most packages I offer in my Baby’s First Year Plan.  Amandine had never had a real cake prior to the session so her Mommy wasn’t sure whether she wants a cake smash pacakge. So instead, she booked Amandine a traditional portrait session and just wanted to go with the flow and see.


Mom loves the on-location idea. We discussed color themes during pre-session consultation and as usual, I like to surprise her with a few additional ideas. We did the session on a cozy summer day and just took our time. If Amandine needs a nap, go for it. If she needs a break or snack, just do it. There was no rush and Mommy just went into the closet to find new outfits and accessories as we go. I captured lots of candid pictures of Amandine hanging around in the kitchen with Mommy as well as playing with her big sister’s easel set (shhh…).




At 12 months Amandine can crawl very well and stand with little support. She has very rich expressions. If you visit her sitter and newborn session blog (links will be given at the end of this blog), you know this is not news. However, she did have some new expressions to share such as the adorable baby duck face.


I surprised Mom with a wall showing my favorite pictures of Amandine from the newborn and sitter session.

Okay, I don’t want to take it personal. I believe Amandine loOooves my wall of pictures idea. 😉
Wooden “ONE” sign by Crafts by Jackie

Another surprise is a sparkly mirror theme. Amandine really had fun playing with her own reflections.

The “mirror” is made of a plastic, shatterproof material called “Plexiglass”. Please do not try this with real mirror at home. It is not safe that way.

Again this is why I love on location service. Admandine was in the mood for more pictures so at the last minute her Mommy decided to add the cake smash theme in. She used a boxed cake and substituted items to make it allergy free. The frosting color was made with real strawberries. The whole cake was made in about 20 minutes and she put it in the freezer for about another 10 minutes to let it chill.

Happy Birthday sign by Crafts by Jackie
Amandine pretends to blow the candles. Such a smart girl!

Thank you Amandine for another wonderful session. We will see you next time very soon!

First Birthday Gift
MuSen’s birthday gift for Amandine: Mini Silver Living Locket With Crystals ; Birthday Cake CharmRose Stardust Swarovski Crystals16-18″ Silver Cube Chain ; packed in a fortune cookie jewelry pouch

To visit Amandine’s sitter session blog, click here.

To visit Amandine’s newborn session blog, click here.

To learn more about the First Birthday pacakge, click here.

Ready to book a customized, on-location session for your little ones? Contact us now!


Cake Smash Success

A good photographer is not necessarily the one with the best skills (as art is subjective it is difficult to judge a photographer’s skills anyways) , but one who is best prepared, organized, and make efforts to connect with his/her clients. I carry this philosophy into every single of my session. We started planning for Dylan’s cake smash session almost 2 months prior. It began with detailed email consultation. After understanding my client’s needs, budget range, and style preference, I gave her my proposal.

Cake Smash Collage
Customized smash cake by Slice of Fancy/Sweet & Stuff

The entire theme was designed around Dylan’s first birthday outfit. Keeping a network of reliable and quality business partners is essential here. With the help of modern communication tools, the client, the cake artist, the crafts designer, and myself were able to working remotely to put all the ideas and pieces together, smoothly.

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It is amazing how everything came out so perfectly together.



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Customized banner by Crafts By Jackie

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Prior to the session I also gave my client some tips on how to prepare for a more successful cake smash. I first explained the setup process and gave her my workflow so that we could be on the same page. Cake smash will be done on location. For easy cleanup the background will be seamless paper. Session will start with cake setup pictures followed by some classic portraits in Dylan’s birthday outfit. Then Dylan can be changed to her cake smash attire. We will be documenting all details of the cake smash process from all angles. After the cake smash, we will have Dylan do a bubble bath. I asked the client to try have Dylan get used to the texture of a smash cake by having her try some cakes in the week prior to the session. I also shared other tricks that can encourage the babies to smash the cake.

I cannot be more thankful how cooperative my client is. It really takes two to tango. We were able to capture many good moments. I especially love the expression when Dylan first saw the cake and wasn’t sure what it was for.


All cake smash session the birthday kid will receive a personalized gift from me. This super soft and huggable elephant is made possible by Crafts by Jackie. Dylan loves the it and sleeps with it in her crib.

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Interested in booking a customized cake smash session? Visit Baby’s First Year Plan for pricing details.

Interested in finding out what the parents say about MuSen? Read their testimonial here.

Yellow is this Spring’s new color trend

Sitter session is perhaps one of my favorite categories of portraits. Babies at this developmental stage are very sweet and easy to work with. Sitter sessions are usually done between 6 and 10 months old, when babies can sit independently for over 30 minutes but cannot crawl yet.

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Baby Amandine, 8 month, is a returning client of mine

My sitter sessions are typically done on location. I will design the themes and provide all props per pre-session consultations. I will also provide all matching outfits. Parents are also encouraged to provide babies with the outfits they pick out.

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Siblings and family are always welcomed.

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Matching crocheted siblings outfits by BuyBillerman

I will also offer solos to siblings.

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I like to give clients a little surprise. Yellow is this Spring’s new color trend and sitter floral bonnet is super hot right now for baby girls. Although my client asked for earth tone, brown, and pink/pastel colors, I decided to surprise her with an extra set of trendy yellow Spring floral bonnet theme. She loves it!

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Visit Baby’s First Year Plan to learn more about baby milestone sessions and experience the on-location, all-inclusive pampering.

(Amandine had her newborn session done with me in June, 2016. Click here to visit her newborn session blog)

Inside Chinese Culture – Baby’s 100 Days Celebration

[Updated CNY 2018] – this blog is one of my most popular ones at all times, attracting readers from across the world.

In Chinese culture, 100 Days is an important milestone for the baby because 100 days birth celebration represents the wish that the baby will live 100 years and reaches longevity. Usually, relatives and friends will get together for a big banquet and send gifts for the baby, similar to the baby showers in Western culture. Traditionally, the baby will wear a Longevity Lock on the neck and wear something red for this special occasion. Some also wear special hats, bracelets, and anklets. However, in modern days, many parents choose not to go with the traditional looks. 100 Days portraits have been widely westernized in styles.

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An example of the Longevity Lock

Eggs are associated with birth of babies in Chinese culture. It is therefore quite popular to create composite images for baby to stay in an egg shell.

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The age stage of 100 days presents some level of challenges for the photographers. Babies are very alert so they are not as easy to be posed as newborns. Their attention spans are very short, get tired easily, might reflux, and could be very grumpy at times. They cannot sit yet and their neck bones are still very soft. Some might be able to do brief moments of belly time but some still cannot. So the posing choices are very limited.

100 Days Cars

I always try to create several themes for the babies and provide different outfits, along with various shooting angles, details shoots, etc. to help make the session fuller and richer in contents. I also always encourage parents and siblings to take pictures with the babies as well.


In 2017, I started to include what I call “2D Floor Art” into 100 Days sessions. Floor art photography concept is believed to be originated from Adele Enersen. It is a style involving the creation of a theme on the floor and pose the subjects along with the theme to tell a story. I was fortunate enough to learn from some of the industrial leaders in this area such as Angela Forker of Precious Baby Photography.

100 Days Floor Art Soccer
100 Days Soccer Theme
100 Days Beach Theme
100 Days Car Theme
100 Days Car Theme

Dragon Wing Composite-2T-Rex Composite

Swing and Tree Hole Composite
100 Days Dino Theme Composite

In addition, I also sourced  special props suitable for safe posing of babies in this milestone stage for more interesting theme creation.

100 Days Library Theme

Interested in booking a Baby’s 100 Days session or 4 month session? Visit Baby’s First Year Plan for more details.

Baby's First Year Plan Ad

Inside my Newborn Session

Newborn photography is rewarding but also difficult, especially when studio style is involved. I belong to many Facebook closed groups for photographers and actively participate in all sorts of discussions. Almost everyone agrees newborn photography is one of the most challenging categories. Why? So many unknown factors: newborn behaviors, parents emotions, siblings (and very often they are at young ages)cooperation, safety, settings, posing, props, timing…it takes lots of practice to get it done right.


I am still pretty new to studio style newborn photography. I am not going to lie about it. Then why people want to choose me? Well…everyone needs to start somewhere. Your portfolio on other young children, your reputation, your personality, or perhaps even consider build your portfolio by gifting a few sessions followed by offering a nice trial discounts for the next few subsequent clients…can attract the ones that really have faith in you. Then…practice at home with a doll, take training classes, read books/blogs, participate in discussions…all these can help you better prepared for a studio style newborn session.


The best time to conduct a studio style newborn session is when babies are within 2 weeks old. Otherwise, babies tend to be more alert and therefore more difficult to be posed. My goal is to provide parents a completely stress-free session experience. Therefore, I conduct sessions on location at the comfort of the clients’ houses. I also provide all props. I never told parents to go all the way preparing for a newborn session because understanding how tired they already are and how unpredictable a newborn session might be, I do not want to make the parents feel more frustrated when they follow all instructions then things still don’t go quite right. However, it is important to make them understand newborn session does have a timing constraint so that they can confirm booking with you as soon as possible. Ask them to identify an area about 5ft x 5ft with plenty of sunlight available to set up the bean bag, etc. Do inform them about controlling the surrounding temperature to be around 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Plan workflow prior to the session is very important.


Newborn usually gives a smile-like reflex during a session. I love to capture that. Sometimes, Moms might have tricks to make them smile as well.


To add more varieties to the session, use different accessories.

Be very patient with your newborn session and also set the same expectations for the parents as well. On average a good newborn session will take about 3 to 4 hours. You should expect several feeding in between, plus time for burping, and diaper changes. Babies might get uncomfortable with gases and become fuzzy. Allow parents take time to soothe them. It is very likely babies will choose to release themselves or vomit on your props as well. Therefore plan wisely. For rugs that are difficult to clean, consider choose a prop that allows the baby to wear a diaper. Do let parents know all these are normal.

While parents are soothing the baby, why not take some candid/lifestyle moments?



If there are siblings, try to take some solo for them as well while baby is being fed or comforted.


And…don’t forget to capture a various combination of images such as siblings and baby, Mom and baby, Dad and baby, the whole family, etc.





What did I learn from this session? Be prepared, be patient, be communicative, make every single moment worthy, and safety first. Newborn session is about helping the family to document the very early moments of the baby’s life. It is not about trying to gain yourself personal fame as a photographer. Put your clients’ concern above yours. Show them that you care. Practice good hygiene – tie your hair up, trim your nails, wash your hands frequently throughout the session, and be sure to sanitize all equipment and props prior to the session. Understand your own limits, never force or push too far. When posing babies, allow them to fall into their favorite position. My philosophy is there is no need to attempt advanced posing in order to impress. Instead, fill it with loving candid moments. Gain your clients’ trust with your professionalism, high ethical standards, and a loving heart.


To book newborn session, visit Baby’s First Year Plan for more details.

Interested in finding out what the parents say about MuSen? Read their testimonial here.