family portraits

Family Portraits, Newborn Portraits

The Baby Plan | Five Highlights for Five Years

On December 6, 2018, I celebrated 5 years of Kelly Kester Photography! I’ll be spending the next few weeks reflecting on five highlights in my five years of business.


Did you know I offer a Baby Plan? Chances are you didn’t. One lesson I’ve learned in the last few years is that I’m great at coming up with ideas, and not so great about actually telling people about them. Despite my terrible marketing, I’ve somehow had the pleasure of working with quite a few Baby Plan clients in the last 5 years, and let me tell you - seeing these sweet babies and their families time and again has been one of the absolute joys of my business.

Lots of photographers have their own versions of baby plans, but I really love the way I’ve structured mine. Baby Plan clients start with an in-home newborn session within the first week or so of birth. My own personal birthing and recovery experience was, in a word, horrific, so I really love being able to make this first session as easy and low-key as possible for new moms. Using simple swaddles and elements from around the home and nursery, these portraits are always so intimate and special.


Some Baby Plans go by age to determine sessions, but I like to use milestone markers. It’s amazing to see the growth from session to session, and that growth may be the most dramatic when we come to our next part of the Baby Plan: the Sitting Session. I love this one because babies are so chunky at this stage, and their little personalities really shine through.


The final session is always so emotional. The Standing Session generally takes place anytime between one year and 18 months, when the baby is standing, and sometimes walking - or running! I have to wear my sneakers for these ones! It’s incredibly emotional to see this little baby who I’ve been photographing since birth suddenly standing on his or her own two little feet.


The Baby Plan sessions focus on the baby (duh), but that doesn’t mean that we don’t get the whole family (parents and siblings) involved. Each section of the Baby Plan is a full length session because honestly, the whole family changes and evolves! It’s so neat to see the nervous first-time father almost afraid to hold the baby in the newborn session become the self-assured Dad who can’t wait to show me how he taught his toddler to fist-bump.


If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you know that I don’t think a portrait session is complete until you’re holding something tangible in your hands. That’s why at the end of the Baby Plan, my clients go home with a gorgeous framed collage featuring nine portraits from their Baby’s first year (three from each session). Talk about emotional! Physically seeing, on your wall, a representation of your baby’s first year is incredibly powerful.

Baby Plan clients Amy and Matt sent me this snapshot of their gorgeous mantle at home, decorated with framed portraits from their Baby Plan sessions!

Baby Plan clients Amy and Matt sent me this snapshot of their gorgeous mantle at home, decorated with framed portraits from their Baby Plan sessions!

My Baby Plan clients over the past 5 years have brought me some of my greatest joy in my career. When you see someone that often over that short and extraordinary period of time, they become not just clients, but friends. Or, in the case of the Kaprals, they become family.


I loved working with Liz and Brandon over the course of a year with their baby Eliza. From the first session where Liz noticed that Eliza slept with her elbow up just like Brandon, to the last Standing Session on a freezing November day in Buffalo when they invited me back to their home after to taste some homebrew Brandon had made, I have loved every moment of my time with them. I was so sad when they stopped by right before Christmas that year to pick up Eliza’s framed portrait - until they asked me if I might have room for another Baby Plan client in the following year, since Liz was pregnant! I was so thrilled to be able to see the Kaprals for the whole next year plus as they welcomed Eliza’s little brother Max. As I sit here writing this, it’s just before Christmas again, and I have Max’s portrait ready for pick up. I’ll admit, I’m kind of hoping that Liz may have some news for me again… (KIDDING!! Don’t kill me, Liz!)


Looking back over the last 5 years, I’m so glad that I developed the Baby Plan, and even happier that, despite not promoting it very well, so many clients have come on board for it. These babies and their families will always hold such a special place in my heart and, while I’m not rushing anything, I really look forward to photographing all their big milestones as they grow.

Family Portraits

Warm Spell Winter Family Portraits | Rochester, NY Family Portrait Photographer

It happens like clockwork (quite literally) every year: we set our clocks back, and outdoor family sessions dry up. I certainly can’t blame anyone- the weather gets colder and nastier, there are fewer hours of daylight available, and everyone gets busy with holiday preparations. Still, it’s always a little sad to me to think about how long it might be before I get to be outside creating gorgeous family portraits again. Luckily this year, I got a big treat- a beautiful (and even a little warm!) outdoor family session in late December!

Jen and her family wanted to get in some family portraits to ring in the New Year, and this year the weather cooperated in a big way. On the day of her shoot the sun was shining and the temperature hung out in the pleasantly crisp high 40s - not bad at all for nearly-January! We met at Tinker Park Nature Preserve, which offered so much variety for a laid-back family portrait session: winding paths, peaceful woods, fragrant pines and grassy fields.

Jen’s little boy had a great time exploring all the Nature Preserve had to offer, and she and her husband were so fun and willing to try all of my suggestions- even when they involved wading into a somewhat-mucky field. A little bit of mud was so worth it though! The photos we captured in this field were some of my favorites, and Jen’s too- they ended up with a canvas of one of the family shots. I love knowing that years from now Jen and her family will be able to look up at their canvas and remember that beautiful winter morning in the field.