Get to know a bit more about Cara Mia Photography
Celebrate the last milestone of their first year!
I have found it is one of those sessions where either you love them or hate them. Yep, IT’S THE CAKE SMASH!
I used to work for a studio where I could do 5-7 cake smashes a day! (It was crazy so I won’t be doing 5 a day). Although I have never turned down a cake smash request, because I have been so baby focused for the first year of being self employed (and then we had lockdowns) I never actually posted much about cake smashes or formally offered them on my website.
Well here we are in 2021, and it’s all about to change. In fact, my first photoshoot back post lockdown 3 (for me as I had a lockdown in November) was a cake smash!
I decided after Christmas to create a simple and adaptable set so that we can create beautiful cake smash themes. My favourite is a simple Eucalyptus garland with a few white decorations. This is great for a neutral set and I think it could be a client favourite too.
Using just a plain light background makes this session so adaptable. If you have a birthday party theme, you can incorporate this into your cake smash by taking down the eucalyptus and putting your own decorations up.
So why have a cake smash session?
What Cake should we use?
One decision I have changed, is that I will not provide the cake. This is due to dietary needs of your child but I also feel that you having control of how the cake looks can make the experience more personal to you!
I do however have some recommendations: Buttercream cakes make it a lot easier for baby to get into than fondant icing.
When should we book a cake smash?
I recommend booking your session and holding it in advance of your little ones first birthday. It can be booked around 2 months in advance and be held about 3-4 weeks before the session to ensure there's plenty of time to have them edited and ready to share with friends and family or on social media for their big day, They can also make fantastic thank you cards!
If your baby is turning one this year and this is something you would like, Let’s have a chat about your birthday plans! Contact me via my cake smash page.
This probably sounds like every other photographer out there, But I love what I do. It started when I was 14 years old. I don't draw well, I get so frustrated with painting and didn't like the control and discipline that came with it, but I have a creative eye. I started with the usual photos, flowers and tree's etc, but that quickly turned into an interest in portraits.
I dedicated my entire education post school to photography. In college I dreamed I would "move to the city". I love London! I still have a soft spot for it because for me it was such a huge escape, particularly if I had a mental block. So I wanted to move there, live and work there as a professional portrait photographer.
I went into family portraiture at a local studio. I felt like I had made it (how naive!) and everything was going to get better, but although it was the worst job I ever had, I think it was fate in some way.
In an attempt to give parents more of an experience than already provided, I accidentally stumbled upon my passion and adoration of Newborn Photography.
I lead the studio into their Newborn photography program, training other staff and I even advanced my skills. But to my disappointment, although my skills and job role advanced, I was standing still. They were making money hand over fist and I wasn't appreciated. I put a lot in. Time, skills, knowledge, energy and I missed a lot of family time BUT the rewards were minimal (& so was the wage), the progression non existent and every time I did get a 'promotion' and I had to travel to other studios, my "pay rise" didn't even cover the travel and parking costs for 6 months let alone the year! + My mental health, was in the gutter!
I don't regret it, I wish it had only been one year instead of two, but it did teach me something really valuable. It taught me that my mental health comes before the demands of a job and if I didn't go through that, then I never would have found newborn photography, which I now specialise in.
When the limitations in career progression and toxic environment eventually got to much, I found the strength, I turned to a colleague and said "I won't be here very much longer."
little did I know at the time, I was setting my intentions outloud and I left! The weight lifted as I walked out of the door that last time and I never doubted my choice.
I had found another job for another studio but after almost 3 years with them I decided to hand in my resignation and begin my self employment journey. THIS WAS MY DREAM!
It has now been seven years in total that I have been working with families and specialising with newborn photography! I have worked with an estimated 900+ babies and families and I couldn't be happier.
I was a year into my self employment journey and Cara Mia Photography was thriving. But
2020 threw a complete curve ball and it has been stressful, sometimes scary and completely bewildering! More times than I care to admit, I had thoughts "Should I quit? I should quit! Have I done the wrong thing? Am I good enough? Is my business strong enough to survive?" Being self employed has so many great aspects but so many uncertainties, NOW MORE THAN EVER especially when so many of us have been through all of this, with many months of required closure in the past year and no financial support! That has been the most stressful! I miss my friends and family of course, but mostly I have missed working more than anything. It is what I get up in the morning for. I get to do something I enjoy everyday, and when that was taken away, well, I sort of feel like I have been wandering with no end in sight.
But THIS MONDAY. the 12th of April, I'M BACK! I am back in the studio, back working with real life people! Back doing what I ABSOLUTELY LOVE!
I am vaccinated with the first vaccination and I should have the second soon (I feel like they are like Hogwarts houses with a random sorting hat! (I'm house Pfizer! haha) so that feels like a really good step into more normality and with it some sort of security for work life. I know it will take a while as we all need to have a chance to have a vaccination.
I hope from now I can get back after my third and longest closure and that we can all exit 2021 with plenty of celebrations. You can bet I will be kissing 2020 and 2021 goodbye with no hesitations!
My home from home, My happy place. I love the studio and the peace or ruckus I can create in it. For me, it feels like a diverse space to work in.
This is the space I capture your little bundles of joy in.
The studio is based in the quaint village of Harbury (near to Leamington spa). The Gentle clip-clop over the white noise or calming playlist (see here), as horses pass by the window, warm cups of tea and plenty of cuddles with baby.
Warmed to around 25 degrees Celsius, I draw the curtain to keep the heat in and the desk work out. I set up carefully selected blankets with a comfy bean bag for posing babies and calmly create and capture your biggest life moments.
The studio is a relaxed space, Perfect for Newborn photography. Sessions are as calm as we can keep them for beautiful babies to snooze while I gently work with them. There's plenty of time to capture as many images as baby will allow.
In over 6 years I have photographed an estimated 800+ babies and families, so I know how it can be. There's no rush and it is all about them so we go at their pace.
The floor is a white vinyl, perfect for spreading light. Under the vinyl there is an acoustic flooring to help keep the sounds of the shop below to a minimum and soften our footsteps. (It's also a bit easier on my knees!)
All of the props are stored for you to choose from and are readily available for me to grab at any time. I try to keep them in colour blocks, this helps me to find props easily.
Sessions are by appointment only so there will only be one family in the space at a time.
During these difficult times, we have hand sanitiser available, and I clean between sessions. I like to use Zoflora. It smells nice and has been proven to kill Covid-19. I can also choose seasonal scents (perfect for Christmas!)
I hope you join me here soon :)
One whole year ago, this amazing family came to the studio with two tiny babies. (Hello Cinca family! X) They were such tiny sleepy bundles! How blessed to be twins and to always have a brother by their side. (I am a twin myself- but I will talk about that another time!) These two were so cuddly and what an absolute joy to have them all in the studio.
We did two sessions because with twins , sometimes it can take it's toll on not only us adults but the babies. So to make sure we get everything the parents want from a shoot, I am happy to assess at the end of the session if we need a second.
More recently, they had their first birthday with me and OH HOW THEY HAVE GROWN! Each of the boys has their unique personality shining through already. Though it was a cake smash session and they didn't want to smash the cake, I think a one year photoshoot is a great way to commemorate this occasion and capture some really special memories as a family. At this current moment in time when you maybe can't have all of the family to celebrate due to restrictions, some family members may be far away, or still shielding. They can still share in these precious moments (albeit virtually).
This woods was the perfect spot for a photoshoot with the lovely tipi and was sheltered under all the trees, Which was great because there was a downpour mid-shoot and we didn’t feel a drop!
I look forward to seeing this beautiful family more as they grow.
Feel free to discuss your first birthday celebrations with me. I would love to help you commemorate these lovely milestones as your babies grow. They will have changed so much in their first year.
I did a recent poll on my instagram and the result astounded me. As a photographer I typically try to encourage you to use your images and in this digital age it is easy for my business to give clients digital images. But between hectic family life and raising your beautiful babies it seems that your digital images are "out of sight out of mind". The job you always mean to do but don’t quite get around to.
88% said their images, all the beautiful memories of their little ones and their family as they grow, just sit in their hard drive.
This is something I intend to change for my clients. My packages are changing so that packages can include some kind of prints to gift to family and adorn your walls.
For me one of my favourite gifts as I turned 21 was an album of old family photos from Holidays, Birthdays and Christmas to generally just growing up. I also have a collage of special memories with my friends and places I have visited as well as wedding photos on my walls that bring joy daily. Since we got married almost 4 years ago (June 2016) we have also occasionally taken the flat lay book I spent hours designing for print out to look back on our day.
I am by no means saying you have to print all of your images, but even just one statement piece on your walls, can really personalise your home.
Here are some steps on how to get your photos off your hard drive and on to your walls:
Step 1: Edit your photos
The process to editing your images starts with putting your favourite images that you want to use in a separate folder.
Think about which images work well together.
Not everyone knows how to use editing software, and if they do, knowledge of it is often limited. If there are things you don’t like about your images that you can't change yourself you may want to consider my new editing services.
I can edit blemishes, backgrounds, colours or design collages starting from £3.
Step 2: Layout
The first thing to think about for step 2, is space. How much room do you have on your walls. This will help you decide how you should print your images and how many you want to put in your home.
Perhaps you only have space for one large piece. Should you do a single statement piece or a collage?
Is it large enough for a collection? Do you want them to be a uniform or eclectic gallery wall?
I have loads of ideas on my pinterest board here -
sTEP 3: Printing & framing
Consider your home. Would you like something contemporary or traditional? I always thought framing was traditional but it seems to have come back into style. You can mix and match frames or use modern box frames for the contemporary style. Ideas to collage frames into a wall gallery can also be found in my Pinterest board.
Printing paper is important if you are framing your images. I recommend Lustre prints if you can as glossy is reflective and can show up finger prints. I also do not recommend any smaller than 7"x5" prints.
Canvases although nice, can be disappointing on delivery. Make sure you use a decent supplier for this. You want someone who can print beautiful colours and an archival printing process to prevent fading and stains over time. I recommend you choose a thicker canvas depth so that this will prevent warping over time.
You also need to consider if you wish to have a mirrored edge for a wrap around effect or leave it white.
There are a whole host of new products that are replacing canvases in peoples homes, though they do come with a bigger price tag. Acrylic products are great for popping colours. They are a glossy, glass finish product and again you really want to order a thicker product to look its best. I also recommend that you order it with a mount to give it the "floating off the wall" look.
Aluminium products are another way to get the "off the wall look" without the glossy-ness and for a thinner more light weigh product.
I really hope this helps you all to take your images into you home. Don't forget I can help with Steps 1 & 3 and take a visit to my Pinterest board.
I have photographed so many babies, but non SO AWAKE as the lovely Toby. I am certain he will be a lively little boy as he grows up. Toby was so inquisitive and during the settling moments it gave me a good chance to catch up with Laura and James, who I met in university.
Speaking to Laura, I knew I wanted to share their story. I hear so many birth stories from parents in the studio, from having baby really quickly on the living room floor to it feeling like forever. I also hear about conception. I hear that they thought it would happen sooner or that they have an IVF baby, they used a donor, they have a rainbow baby; you name it, I have worked with them. It is something I think people should feel open to talk about if they want to.
However it all feels I want people to know, everyone is different and so Laura and James have kindly allowed me to share their story:
After a year we decided we would really start to try to conceive with ovulation tests, and counting the days ect. It was another year later and we decided to go to our GP. After three appointments we were referred to the fertility specialists at the hospital. I was half excited and half nervous about what was to come. It felt like a step closer to having a baby and they were taking us seriously as a young couple!
We had months of tests, and finally received the diagnosis of "Unexplained Infertility". There was no explanation for us to not be able to conceive.
We continued our fertility journey, and I started tablets to help boost ovulation for 6 months, ending in October 2018. With still no luck we decided to apply for IVF funding. When we started the referral to IVF I felt really deflated, and took some counselling sessions to help me through this.
Our appointment to find out if we had been approved for funding was on the 1st of February 2019 and due to the timing of my cycle I did a routine pregnancy test just so I could be 100% sure that I was not pregnant. Off I went to make a cup of tea and breakfast, I hadn't even woken James up as I was so sure it would be another negative.
I couldn't believe it , After 3 years we finally had a positive! I woke James up sobbing (he thought one of the pets had died) We still went to our appointment and they booked us in for a 6 week scan to confirm the pregnancy. This is when we booked with Cara! We were so excited and wanted to make sure she could capture special photos of our precious bundle!
I was under consultant led care as there were some issues in my blood work and we had some extra growth scans as baby was on the higher end of the growth chart, But he was perfect! We found out that Toby was a boy with an extra scan. We did hope that he would be arriving slightly early due to his measurements, however he decided he was very comfortable and our due date passed without even a twinge!
Cara was great and rearranged our session for us as James and I decided to induce on the 18th of October. 36 HOURS OF CONTRACTIONS LATER, Our relaxed little boy still didn't want to move. His heart rate dropped and the team decided we should have an emergency C section. Toby finally arrived at 21:08, on the 20th of October, 2019.
After such a traumatic birth, we discussed with Cara that we didn't feel ready for our trip to the studio so she very kindly rearranged again for us so that we felt more comfortable with the session.
Cara was great with Toby, who decided to stay awake for almost all 4hrs of the session. For a normally chilled out baby, on the day he just wouldn't settle. But Cara still captured beautiful images of our little dude. The photos have really captured his funny character and grumpy expressions.