Today’s guest is Casey McMinn Howard, Atlanta’s premier newborn and maternity photographer. She goes above and beyond to help create a space where families feel welcome, comfortable, and at ease with documenting their pregnancy journey. Dr. Shannon and Casey chat about what makes her photography space so unique (she has a beautiful studio in East Cobb and provides hair/makeup and wardrobe), what led her on this specific photography path (she’s a mom to 3 little ones herself), and her goals with her photography sessions (it’s more than just taking pictures).
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Hello, hello, you're listening to the aligned Earth Podcast. I'm Dr. Shannon. I'm one of the hosts and today we have a guest it's interview day you know I love these days so much. And today we're talking with Casey McKinnon Howard and she is in Atlanta area photographer. She's Atlanta's most sought after maternity and newborn photographer so providing high end luxury experience for busy moms and dads. She's got the high end maternity newborn and milestone photography studio in the Atlanta area. So she specializes in luxury portrait experience start to finish, complete with professional hair and makeup access to full wardrobe and inventory of studio gowns. That's amazing and professional design artwork hand delivered to the home. So she's also a wife married to her husband, Eric and she's got three kiddos. So six, four and two. So I don't know how to get our hands full. We'll
just say that.
But I'm excited to have you on the show today, Casey to talk about your aspect of photography and I want to kind of get your thoughts and feelings and why you're doing it and how you support families.
So welcome to the show. Thank you. Thanks for having me. I'm so excited.
Yeah, I know Casey isn't nice because we've never met in real life. So we're missing reading in zoom and this is the first time we're actually seeing each other which is always fun when we do these interviews because I've had several people on rugby like I only know you in social media land but this it's nice to get to chat and talk about things but I'm glad that you reached out to talk about lifestyle photography and newborn maternity that aspect of things. So why photography for you? How has this career come about?
Yeah. I've always loved photography and it kind of all fun during college and then directly after college, I started really getting into it and I got a job at a corporate studio to just really explore my options and make sure this is really what I wanted to do for a living. And I just really love connecting with people. And you know, of course I started out photographing anything, you know, people would pay me for so I was doing all the things at the beginning. This was a very long time ago. That's
how you figure out what you really wanted. Did you study for time sorry to interrupt, but did you know you're fine? In some way? Yeah. Okay.
So that was going to be my direction, but I was kind of having a moment of like, do I really do this type thing. So I ended up getting a job at a portrait studio to kind of explore that more and realize that I really did love it. And then branched out eventually doing my own thing and like I said, started doing weddings. Anything senior portraits, family pictures, really whatever people needed me to do. I didn't have like a certain niche back then. But then eventually over the years, I realized, you know, I really gravitated towards families, and kids and babies and as I you know, got a while so I have three kids of my own and really through that whole experience I just really solidify that I love photographing families helping mom and taking pictures of babies. So
I want to ask, did having kids be like, oh, yeah, I want to take pictures of these kids. So is that when you kind of started adding that into the photography? Yeah.
I always photographed families from the very beginning of time, but I think, you know, and I did sort of exploring newborn photography right before I started having kids, but then they kind of coincided with each other. So then, it was this fun unfolding of exploring how to do more photography work and you know, realizing that I love it, but then also having my own babies and my own experiences with that, and that was, you know, the best memories of my life that's having my babies so I just really realized that. I want to do this for other moms and capture these super important memories. Of like, honestly, the best times of my, my best memories, you know, like, I did photograph weddings long ago and my wedding was fun, and I liked that but I could really relate to mom having babies it's just
yeah, and getting in the picture. Because I feel like, you know, and I joke with this with my friends too. Like we'll be on vacation. We'll be like, I have all these amazing pictures with my husband with like the kids and I'm like, Oh, this is a pretty angle and pretty sure I am not a photographer, but I'm like, I can do something with the sunset and a beach. Yeah, but then you look at him like you get a picture of me and I'm like, I'm like half eating. That so I think it's important too, for moms to be in the picture. And so I don't know how you feel about that or what your goals are except part of that goal was photography as well.
Yeah. Yeah, for sure. I mean, me myself, you know, just like in my personal life. I make it a point to like pass my phone or whatever we're used to saying to my husband and like take some pictures of me with the kids or you know, Christmas morning like Don't forget about me because it always does seem like I'll go back and look at, you know, pictures from the past events or whatever we've been doing. And it's mostly all that right because that's what mom's always taking the pictures but it is so important for the mom to be in the picture too. And to really I think as moms like, we need to be in those pictures. It's important. You don't want to miss that chance. So and I think you know, here at the studio, we really strive to make it such a stress free experience for the mom like so that she doesn't have to worry about anything. She's going to come in and we're gonna pamper her because moms all need a little pampering time. We don't do we don't give ourselves enough of that at all. You know, self care. So mom's thing in the picture is so important. And a lot of times they're like, oh, you know, I don't know if I want to I'm not, you know, I don't love how it works. Right now after having a baby or just how I looked at pictures in general. I'm like, No, trust me, you're gonna really appreciate doing this. And being in these pictures you're gonna look on back on it and be so thankful that you did and also you're gonna love the pictures like there's no no way that you're going to save and be like, oh, you know, I look terrible at these because it's just yeah, we we have all the all the techniques and all the you know, we do everything to make you feel really great about yourself and then so you're taking really nice pictures too.
I think that's good and important like what you had said as far as you know, getting bomb in the picture but like the pampering aspect, but also saying you want to capture this moment so yes, your body has gone through a lot too. So I think it you know kind of makes it okay. Yeah, I did. I made this baby and I birthed this baby and said, you know, let's honor that I know that can be I know that you have though.
It's so tough, especially right after you've had the baby especially maternity. No, the my clients are not as hesitant about doing maternity pictures. contacted me because they want to do that. But a mom right after she's had her baby is coming here to the studio by just 20 days after birth, so you're not necessarily feeling your bed. You're very exhausted. So capture that. Yes. Yeah, we just really make it a point for when you come in here. We're going to take care of you. Like have a moment of relaxation. They even get like an hour of hair and makeup where there's no kids around them that make dad take the older siblings and go do something. I have the newborn I'm photographing a newborn in the room next door. So mom's just in here actually the space getting her makeup done. It's just like taking a breather. So important. I love the setup. I'm can really refresh you just need a little, little moments. Here and there to just keep your sanity.
Which is yes. And it really is those little moments. You have to feel good. No for your kids to be good. Yes. Now what do you get asked most often about the newborn or you know, maternity shoots and that type of thing.
Probably the most important question is always timing. When am I when is the best time to take maternity pictures and the best time for newborn pictures and I would say maternity is going to be best to do it. 30 To 36 weeks is what I say but really I feel like you know 33 weeks around that point is a really perfect time. It's when you've got a really nice baby but you're not too uncomfortable. Pregnancy. It's a lot. You're getting super uncomfortable, especially the last month or so. So I would say 30 to 36 weeks, but I try and get get the facilities in here around 33 or 34 is really the sweet spot. I was gonna say that seems to be the sweet spot. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And then newborn pictures. That's another very popular question is when's the best time to photograph the newborn? And I always say five to 20 days. But really the sweet spot within that particular timeframe is going to be about two to two and a half. weeks because I love for you know, you'd have the baby go home from the hospital, have a week to really kind of adjust to having
that make is a blur. Yeah. Or we get a new baby and
just kind of like relax and adjust and then come to the studio about two two and a half weeks. It's perfect timing for the baby and then mom's had a little bit of time to, you know, kind of get her head screwed on a little history and you can after having a baby, you know, yes. I remember after having my first baby I was like in a blur for sure. But then baby number two and three came along and I seem to have a better handle on it. But yeah, mums come in here about two and a half weeks. They seem to do pretty good with that.
Now you also provide did you send hair and makeup but then like wardrobe aspects of things too, because I know for me, that's always a big one. If I'm doing like family pictures, I'm like, well, it doesn't have to be like matchy matchy but I do. My kids are 13 and 10 now and so I'm like yeah, not wear like sweatpants like Exactly. I'm some like jeans or something. So and I feel like wardrobe can be a big stress part for moms. So how does that look for moms or families or what does that offline look like? Yeah, so
I have what I provide clothing for the entire family. So my I have gowns for mom shirts. For Dad, I just ask that the dad wear a nice pair of jeans or slack and then I have you know, whatever top is gonna go for the day. And then all sorts of different sizes of toddler clothing or clothing for older siblings. And then of course, everything that the newborn would need is here but I just love doing that because I've been on the other end of it to where we get our family pictures taken and picking up the outfits is stressful. It's very stressful. I don't want to do that. I don't want to go have to it's a it's time consuming, you know, and it's a big chunk of money right there. So I just feel like providing that service and having everything here for families, especially for mom. It's just so much easier for the mom and my family photographer that we see. She provides the clothing as well and I just love that so much. So yeah, we just show up and she's like, there you go. And here's all your outfits and that's exactly how I do it here at my studio to so I have all different you know, sizes. All the clothes here so really, I go ahead and like pull a few dresses for the mom and I let her choose what she likes. And then I coordinate the other outfits, depending on what she picks. Yeah, depending
upon what mom takes. Yeah, that sounds like a fun experience.
Yeah, so fun and the dresses are very versatile. I have a lot of wrap dresses and they're also very flowy so just having a baby obviously you don't really know what size you're gonna be wearing when you come in but we can make anything really big or smaller however we need to go with all the dresses so yeah,
yeah, now with the newborn photos. Um, what kind of do you ever have like people ask for specifics of like, oh, I would like you know them in like a basket and like my husband's a firefighter. So there's always a lot of families that have done like in the firefighter food and stuff like that. So can families bring something or what have you do the newborn photos? Do you have something in mind if mom's like, I have no idea I just want I'm like cute and squishy, something like that. So yeah.
Well, you know, really everything that you see on my website is my particular style and so I already I have everything all set up for you. You don't necessarily have to like have any ideas but if there is something special that they want to incorporate like that, like what's your thing then I'd love to do that too. So we do a whole phone consultation prior to the session, you know, like weeks prior or months prior. So we can talk about details about the session day you know, they have any special requests like that we would add that in for sure. And I also will ask mom, you know, like what color she's doing in her home, what are the colors on her wall and her main living area, what's the nursery theme, all that good stuff so I can incorporate those colors and themes into the portrait session. So then when they go and hang this up in their house, they're gonna go perfectly. Yeah, but any special requests like I love like stuff like you're saying the firefighter or I have I've had all sorts of things like that where they'll break something special. And I love that because that just like makes it very special. To you, you know, so
Yes, I love that. I love that. You take the request, but you also kind of alleviate distress to where it's like okay, we can just come in for these newborn photos, and you can handle it all. So how does it work? So you said that you have you do that phone console and then there's the sweet spot of time of things. So what does that look like and working with a family and when they reach out and how soon get booked pretty early?
Or what does that look like?
Yeah, that's really why. And I was always really confused about this too. Before I had kids. I was always like, how do you schedule a newborn session if you don't know when the baby's gonna be here? Exactly, you know? So how that works is you'll want to reach out in your second trimester and go ahead and secure your spot and basically so that your due date goes on my calendar. So then I have you know, I know that the baby will be here during around this time. And then I would let the mom know when the baby's born. Just reach back out. And let me know that they're here. And we'll schedule the exact date for you to come into the studio. Five to 20 days after the birth. Yeah, that makes
it easy, you know, like, yeah,
so your due date? The answer? Yeah, right. Yeah. And so you know, on my calendar, I have all these due dates. And that's basically how I can I only take a certain amount of due dates a month in order to date everybody. You know, we're in the business where we don't know when the baby's really going to be here. Yeah. It's a lot of kind of, you know, moving around and like that. Yeah, yeah. Scheduling. Yeah.
Um, and then I assume two people can get like, if you just wanted the newborn photo you can do that or if you wanted, you know, a bigger aspect of like, okay, what maternity and newborn or maternity newborn and family like adding all of those in, is that an option?
That is definitely an option. You know, they could do just the baby if they wanted to. But I always tell them if they're coming in to do the pictures anyways. You know that the family the parents and siblings may as well be in some pictures too, since you're coming here as it is. And then I always do suggest if if they haven't already thought about, you know, doing a maternity session with me. I think it's really great to do maternity and newborn with the same photographer. That's really nice to get to meet each other and maternity session get to know each other really well. And then you know me, which is very important since I'll be handling your tiny little baby, you know, in a few months. It's just for me, it's important that that you know me and know who I am when you're going to come in and hand over your baby to me. Yeah. So I think maternity and newborn together is really good when you hire me to do both. But of course you can't just do one or the other. That's fine too. We have plenty of time. You know we do the consultation call and everything so you do get to meet me the prior to the session, regardless via phone. But I think meeting a person is really nice, too.
Yeah. And you know, you got getting that relationship. Um,
so what would you say is your goal with some of the photo sessions more,
you know, beyond like, yes, I want them to have this tangible moment in time and they can put this picture on their wall or something.
Is there any kind of other bigger goals or meanings? That you have with your photography?
I just want them to you know, have like a really special memory of the time and it honestly it is so fun and super cute and sweet for the parents that watch their newborn baby. Getting their pictures taken is just so cute, and it's something that they will always remember. So, you know, I just want to make sure that people understand it's super important to get these pictures done when they're so little because you can't have that time back and you know, while I am a newborn photographer when my so my, my oldest daughter is six so I was still kind of getting into this back then. And I'll say that I don't have I didn't go and get professional pictures of her and I regret that so bad that that I didn't do that. I took some of her by myself but I wish that I would have been like on done them. So it's just really like you know, something that you can never get back and it's it's important, you know, to have a family and pictures and these sweet little moments together.
Yeah, and I know, a lot of times us in the birth field, do certain things or have certain tests and things that we do because we experienced it and it went one way and we wish we had done something different and not necessarily in a bad way. But you know that aspect of like oh, yeah, well, this is why I think it's so important. And I know what it is to not have this or to not have access to this or to not know about that. So yeah,
that's important too. Yeah, for sure. Saying
um, what is
what do you think that I love the like, the pictures of this is what you know, my mom thinks I do. This is what society thinks they do. This is what I actually do. So what do you think like, you know, society thinks of what you do compared to like, what you're really doing?
Yeah, I thought about that question. And it's just, it's funny because a lot of times people really don't understand what goes into being able to create these pictures. I feel like they they think, has a lot of times. Well, I've gotten you know, you photographers get comments. They're like, people that 100 cameras take really great pictures and it's like, well, I there's a lot of stuff going behind it. There's more to it. Right? Yeah.
I think a lot of times they just
said thank God you know, you're just like click a few go to work and you click a button and but it there's so much more that goes into it. It's crazy. Hours and hours of learning and you know about posing and safety and lighting and there's no way I'm like, it's just like, you know, sometimes I mean, I love the dad, but I feel like a lot of times that some dads are passive and like, I could just, I could just do this. Like we
need professional photos baby. Yeah, and I'm like
no no, don't do that. They'll do that to yourself. Yeah, I think maybe they just think I'm just clicking a button and
it's more than that. Yeah, there's
a lot a lot more beans. Do you do a lot of learning?
The editing of photos as well too.
Yeah. So well, actually, now I do. Like I have hired out the editor that edits everything for me, so I can spend more time taking pictures but she
but you do. That's like an aspect of the whole photography. Yeah. Yeah, I
don't hand over, hand over you know, full finished pieces of art. So they're, they're fully edited and retouched and anything that needs to be done to them for sure. Yeah. Okay. I really appreciate my editor so much. Oh my gosh, that's a big chunk of time that I'm getting. You know, she can take care of and I can do other things that other people couldn't necessarily do for my business. So that's been really good to have
her. Yeah, I'm glad you mentioned that. It is more than just like the nice camera though. I remember by geography when I got I don't even know what addition to the iPhone I have. But when you know every time they come out, it's like a newer camera and it had the portrait mode. I remember that. Yeah, like jazz. I love I feel. I know. Like I feel like you but not quite you. She just laughed. Yeah, there's definitely more to it than that. And then I'm in it. But then when you form that relationship with someone to it it can be easier in the photography process because you can feel awkward you're like I don't know what to do. I don't know where to sit and that's where sometimes your photographer can come by like comes like a family friend my mind yeah. And so you know kind of follows you through life and then you can feel comfortable enough to like exactly. take good pictures or like authentic real looking pictures. Yeah, I
don't know how to cuddly relax. Yeah,
yeah, exactly. Now I do have a random question. With you. You primarily do studio and studio only. So what led you to do studio rather than location pictures.
So I did start out shooting on location. Whenever I first started my business six years ago. That's how it all started. It was I would go and travel to different locations to take, you know, family pictures for people or seeing your pictures, whatever was going on back then. So I was traveling location to location or when I started getting into, like thinking I wanted to do newborns. I was traveling. I was a traveling newborn photographer so I would travel to finance home bring all my stuff, set it up in their house, take their pictures. And this is just a lot to travel with all of it a lot. If I could show you across the hall, my studio. There's so much in there. You will be like
we're just taking pictures but it's
literally my car would you'd open the trunk of my car and it would just and I haven't a Yukon it was a big vehicle. It was lab full of all of these props. So I'm like you know traveling to everyone's house to take pictures of their babies and it's just it's so much easier to be here in the studio. And it's really nice because I can create this really one of a kind experience. I have everything here for the moms. So in the family, it's it did start out shooting our patient and I think that's how a lot of photographers start you know, we just start with what can we do now that right? Free, you know, I had to buy all this lighting equipment. So it was good while it lasted. But I did realize that being in a studio I just love the look of studio portraits too. And having a lighting system has been really nice for me and being able to have everything here for for families and parents
that is much easier I know feeling that was for everybody a big drink but yeah, I was gonna say that's like easier for everybody you know? Whether aspects are fixed, you know whether aspects and
like, you know the moms not having to worry about cleaning up our house before I get there. You know, pick up a little bit. So I think it's better for everyone. And I always tell the parents that they seem a little bit stressed about traveling for here that literally like they don't have to do anything just you can show that in your pjs not even kidding because I have all the boats here and will do your hair and makeup and give you the clothes so like don't worry about it's not that stressful at all. Really? Yeah. They come over we'll take care of you
What is something do you ever run into like common issues problems or anything like that in in what you do and how you you know support families with the photography.
You mean like yeah, do you ever run into anything with or it could even be just the people were even talked about like hesitancy with doing the photography pictures and as far as like the newborn and maternity photos. Do you ever have people that are just that super hesitant with it or anything like that? I think
like I was saying some stuff and not a lot are hesitant about you know, packing up after they just had a baby. Yeah, that's really the only hesitancy and and then there's also families that already have older siblings in the picture which are typically if it's a newborn session, the older siblings are typically like toddler age, you know, two years old if that two to three. So
I think some bomb is very hesitant about how is this really gonna go? You know already having? Yeah, like scheduling time and then also, it also seems to be like the age where it's kind of a toss up of like, you go out into public with your toddler how are they going to go that kind of three kids though? Yeah, that's really the only hesitancies but like I said everything is there for them. They don't have to even get rid of it. You know, I'll close everybody and and I will say that I, I don't want to be like bragging but I just want to say I'm very very good when with kids and toddlers I have lots of silly funny trick to get them to just unwind and not even realize that they're taking pictures like they think that we're playing games. I had this little boy. years ago, he was so cute. We were just taking pictures. He's like, Excuse me. What are we gonna play some more games? I'm like took a bunch of pictures. Yeah, but it's like the stress free for the parents. And I don't want to worry about having to, you know, the toddler sibling in the picture
is having a parent too. Yeah,
it's kinda you know, I just tell her like you sit back and relax. And if you just kind of like, you know, let me take the lead. I think a lot of times, kids will listen better kind of a mob sit back just a little bit. And just let me kind of play with the kid and do games with them and stuff.
Yeah, to get them used value as well.
Yeah. Yeah, I know. My kids are better for other people than they are for me. And that's definitely that's not just me, but
no, it's not. I know, I know. I always have to prep up to before and I'm like, Y'all were public. And
I love it. Um, you know if you feel comfortable with anything in your birth experience, kind of influenced what you do. And I know we chatted a little bit about you know, you knew you wanted to do photography and then figuring out along the way that it really was more of the families but, and some of the things I know you wish you had done with photography with your first but did anything with your birth actually kind of influence how you approach when you work with these families and how you got into what you do?
Yeah. I would say I mean, like you said, the fact that I when I mentioned I didn't do newborn pictures with my oldest I really regret that I can. I do let people know that like myself but with with my birthing experiences, I just feel very strongly that this is such a time to photograph precious little baby that you birth because, you know, it doesn't always add. It can be you know, a lot of people have carriages, a lot of people and a lot of women do. And I actually like I had several like that might be TMI, but I did from going through that it just really makes you want to hold on to the moment like this baby this year. Celebrate this child and just kind of look past all that but I just I couldn't really know I think it was officer going through Well, yeah, a lot of talk about either, you know,
because it can be I'm sure you deal with that with some families where it is it's it's been a struggle. It's been a journey and most of them women I deal with in the office have experienced some sort of miscarriage, stillbirth loss or something along those lines. So I think it's uncommon to kind of say, Okay, this is, you know, coming at it from, you know, from this angle, you know, and understanding what their actual experiences right yeah.
And I think it's, it's important to just me having gone through all of those things, but also just being a mom in general when they it's a lot of I have a lot of new moms coming in. And I say probably 80% of families are new moms. And I just love to be able to make them feel patchable like they seem as I was to very stressed out about
what I share my experiences with them, I let them know if you know if they're talking about whatever, like oh, well this is if that's not helping you then maybe you could try this is what I did for my kid might not work for you, but it's gonna let you know like I just very experienced and might give them any kind of advice that they're looking for. You know, it's not just about taking the picture. I mean, I've spent a lot of time just like sitting down and talking to clients if if they just say like the mom seems really stressed. One day I went I saw I hand deliver all the products to my client. So then I I brought this woman, she's a single mom. I brought her all of her artwork and I came in and I'm like, you know, how's it going? And she's like, honestly, not so good. I'm like, what's, you know what's wrong? And she said, I just, I don't know I just thought maybe yesterday I should call my doctor because I just don't know what to do. And she just, she was very stressed out and obviously you know, a lot of times after you have a baby you just get taken over by a postpartum and so I sat down with her for like 30 minutes and just we kind of talked about everything and she just like, unloaded on me and I love that because sometimes people need that, you know, so it's just important. I think that I myself, am a mom of three I've been through the thick of it. And you know, it's more than just taking pictures for me. Yeah, I want to help you get through life. Like we all have to help each other.
Yeah. Ah, I love it. Um, I love that and that kind of goes into even some of my like other questions. I wanted me to adapt. Yeah, and it touched on there though, but that's good because it really is what I wanted to kind of highlight as well. too, is that it can be more than just pictures, you know, because there is more a lot more to it. And there can be the stories behind the pictures, for sure. So I think that's really I think that's kind of cool now where where can people connect with you and find you and those type of things. Okay.
So my website is www dot caseing. Nick men photography.com Ca se y MC mi nn photography.com. That's the easiest place to go. It has all the information you could ever imagine that you might need. So Casey McMahon photography.com, but also on Instagram and Facebook. I'm on there as well. Just taking business photography. So
yeah, yeah, exactly. I know like all the common places that you know we are when we have our businesses, but we'll link everything in the show notes too. So I'll link to the website and all of your all of your things but anything else that you wanted to maybe that we didn't cover today or anything or anything else that you wanted to chat about? I don't think so. Yeah, just a fun little conversation. And yeah, I'd wanted people to kind of understand a little bit more of like the behind the why for the photography and so hopefully people will reach out. I will see your website is gorgeous. The pictures on there are stunning. So I really want people to kind of check them out because I know we talk about it and you think you know studio what can it look like but you really you really got to look at them. So they're very, very beautiful. So yes. All right, my friend. Well, thank you so much for joining me on the show today. Thank you have a good rest of your day you do. Thanks. Bye
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