Newborn Photography Safety | TLC Tuesdays – #2

Ok, so it’s not actually Tuesday–but this post couldn’t wait.  I received a request from a reader who just commented on one of my older posts, asking to see a before and after of my ‘baby on a Harley’ shot.  I love hearing from readers, and I am really passionate about the topic of safety when photographing newborns.  I think it’s important for photographers and parents alike to see what it really looks like behind the scenes, and to understand how important Photoshop skills are in ensuring a beautiful end product without risking the safety of the baby.

So here is the before.  You can see that grandma is behind the motorcycle, with her hand on the baby, spotting the entire time.  At no time does she take her hand from the baby.  And standing just outside the frame is the baby’s father spotting as well.  This was a while ago, but if I remember correctly, I used a composite of two images.  You see how the grandma has her hand on the lower part of the baby’s back?  For the second shot I had the father come in behind the motorcycle, but this time he positioned himself to the right and held the baby on his upper back.  The reason I did this is because I wanted a clean shot of the baby’s head and back against the gray backdrop; I then merged the two photos together to make one uninterrupted line.

newborn photography pullbacks
Baby on a Harley

I hope you found this post to be helpful.  Thoughtful comments are always welcome, so leave me some blog love if you’re so inclined.

And if you really liked this post, please take a moment to Like me on Facebook.  Thanks!  :-D  Sandy



Aaron - Great post! It’s really easy for peeps to think that babies just lay perfectly still during these types of photo sessions and won’t fall off whatever cute thing we have them lay on :) Thanks for showing the right way and that the little tike’s safety should come first, THEN followed by ridiculously adorable photos :)

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Mattress Factory Museum Wedding | Molly & Matt

I just loved everything about Molly and Matt’s wedding, which was as unique, stylish, and amazing as they are.  We started the day getting ready at the Renaissance Hotel downtown, took a ride on Molly’s Trolley , and ended with a ceremony and reception at an über-cool venue, the Mattress Factory Museum.

Makeup artist Debbie Maker
Makeup artist Pittsburgh
Molly, you are simply stunning.
I had my good friend, the talented Aaron Varga, shooting with me that day.  Love this image of the guys looking so cool hanging out on the steps.
Molly and Matt decided to do a “first look” in one of the empty galleries, and it was so intimate and perfect.  These next two images were taken by Aaron, while I captured the moment from a different angle.
As if things couldn’t be any more perfect, Molly and Matt began to rehearse their first dance…the room was quiet, the sound of their footsteps and the soft rustle of her dress sweeping across the floor as they danced…nothing to distract from the moment as their eyes locked…so sweet.

This next image by Aaron.

They had a beautiful self-unification ceremony out in the courtyard.

I loved so many images from this wedding, but I think these next two may be my favorite.

 So, I thought it would be really neat to do a sort of time-lapse photography thing so you could get a behind-the scenes look at what goes into getting ready for a wedding reception.  Through the course of the day I would stop at the same spot and take a shot of the action:

And the gorgeous fruits of everyone’s labor:

unique wedding cake toppers

Molly surprised Matt with the most fabulous groom’s cake ever.  Wow!

cake for movie buffs

Aaron and I were working very hard that night, pinky swear.

And one last kiss goodnight…

Molly and Matt, it was an honor and a pleasure to be a part of your completely awesome wedding day!  Congratulations and thank you!!  (((Hugs))) Sandy

If you enjoyed these photos from Molly and Matt’s wedding, please take a moment and Like me on Facebook!


Makeup: Debbie Maker

Hair: Sognatore Salon

Dress: Ann Gregory

Venue: The Mattress Factory Museum

Florist: George Weber, The Botanical Emporium

Bakery: Rania’s Catering

Caterer: Rania’sCatering

Entertainment: Steven Vance Strings (ceremony), Ortner Robers Jazz Trio, Andy Huttlemeyer DJ (412-427-1207)

Aaron - LOVE IT! Wow these are so great! I love the shot of her with her hands on her face from high up, the first-look dancing photos, the 2 in the weeds right after the ceremony, and that sweet reception time-lapse the best. Ha, and those photo booth pics of us are…well, awesome :) We totally rocked this wedding; thanks for letting me tag along!

Taryn Boyd - YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME????? Sandy!!!! THESE ARE RIDICULOUS!!!! You are so talented!!!
What a beautiful couple…wedding….I LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS POST!!

Cool time lapsed image too!

Sandy - Thanks Aaron and Taryn! You know how to make a girl smile. :)

Amanda - Ahhh love the time lapse – so neat! Almost like a vendor reality show!

Tiffany Bender - OMG!!!! You are just ahhh- mazing! Blog Stalker - Wow! The photos are beautiful. I love the bridal portraits… S.T.U.N.N.I.N.G.
Gorgeous work!

Jenny - WoooooW!!! Amazing! What a cool venue! You totally rocked this wedding! Love the portrait with her hands on her face! So many gorgeous photos!

Katia - OMG Sandy!!!I am totally in LOVE with these!!!they are so beautiful!!!The dancing shots in that white empty room are beautiful, they really inspired me! Beautiful job as always!!BTW I love the booth shots of you and Aaron…you guys are too cute!

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Wexford Baby Photography | Introducing Blake

I am so lucky, dear Reader.  I mean, come on–look what I get to do for a living!  Commencing cuteness overload…

Ben is a Boston native and a die-hard Patriots fan.  Baby Blake is a little all-star in the making. :)

Missy and Ben, thank you so much for letting me capture all the cuteness of your little pumpkin!


If you enjoyed these photos of little Blake, please take a moment to Like me on Facebook!  And to stay up to date on all the latest products, promotions, and news from Red Lotus Photography, sign up for my newsletter. :)


Aaron - Oh my goodness, how CUTE! I’m in love with that first photo and the hats are just too adorable. With the exception of that Patriots jersey I’d say it was a perfect session :)

Sandy - Thanks, Aaron!

Taryn Boyd - LOVE! Sandy you are a rock star!

Jenny - Wow! That is so beautiful Sandy! I love the first photo. If I were the client I would make a HUGE canvas out of that one.

Amanda - YES gold reflector ! Love the color shot of the mickey hat :-)

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University Club Wedding | Eva & Sam

Eva and Sam celebrated their wedding at the Church of the Redeemer in Squirrel Hill, followed by a reception at the University Club.   Although it rained a good part of the day, it stopped long enough for us to get some beautiful pictures at the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial.


Favorite from the day.


Image by Jenny.



I hope I can still dance with my husband someday like this.


I have to give props to my friend Amanda who gave me the idea for a ring shot in water.  And it was a good thing, too, because it was getting dark really fast–the water added that extra sparkle that the shot needed.

Eva and Sam, it was wonderful working with you again!  I wish you all the best in your new life together on the West Coast!

(((Hugs)))  Sandy


If you enjoyed these photos from Eva and Sam’s wedding, please take a moment and like me on Facebook!

And to stay up to date on all the latest news, products, and promotions from Red Lotus Photography, click on the Newsletter tab in the upper left corner of the blog to sign up for my newsletter. :)


Ceremony:  Church of the Redeemer

Reception Venue: University Club

Flowers:  Dragonfly Florist

Entertainment:  DJ Rockin Bob/DJ Frank

Cake: Fenoglietto’s

Aaron - Another awesome post — I LOVE the detail shots. You have such a knack for capturing the whole story and all the little things. AND, I’m totally going to steal…er…borrow Amanda’s ring-in-the-water shot. Great idea :)

Katia - Sandy what a beautiful job…there are many favorites. The last image is exquisite, so beautifully rich and creative and I agree, that ring shot is really cool. I LOVE the image of them looking back while getting married. Gorgeous as always.

Amanda - LOVE the shot of the pearls ! And a great ring shot!

Tracy - Love your work! Excellent composition, sharp images, and beautiful editing! Very inspirational!

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Succop Conservancy Wedding | Butler Photographer | Jen & Chris

I had the opportunity to photograph another awesome couple at the Succop Conservancy recently.  I don’t know what it is about the Succop Conservancy, but when I go there, for some reason it feels like coming home.  It is such a beautiful setting with the perfect blend of rustic elegance and country charm.

Couples who wed at the Succop usually hold their ceremony outdoors near the pond or in front of the Mansion.  I have always wondered what it would be like if it rained on someone’s wedding day, and this time, I got my answer.  Rather than moving the ceremony inside the mansion, Jen and Chris  held their ceremony under a tent adjacent to the pavilion.  And despite the weather, it was wonderful!

The rings were passed around to each one of the guests so that they could be blessed by everyone.  Such a sweet ceremonial tradition.

After dinner we slipped away from the reception for some more photos.  Extra photo time?  Woohoo!

Jen and Chris, it was such an honor being a part of your special day.  I wish you all the best that life has to offer!    ((Hugs)) Sandy


If you enjoyed these photos, please take a moment and like me on Facebook!


Venue: Succop Conservancy

Officiant: Reverend Mark DeNuzzio

Entertainment: Pifemaster Productions

Bakery: Boldy’s Bakery

Catering: Medure’s Catering

Suzanne - A-MAZ-ING! As usual Sandy you rock! I want to marry my husband again just so that you can shoot the wedding. :-)

Sandy - Lol, thanks Suzanne! :)

Amanda - I want to marry my husband again too, can we do that?? Killer ring shot and the black and white silhouette is my favorite here!

Aaron - Seriously, how is EVERY single photo of yours perfect? What a beautiful venue and wedding. I love the outdoor portraits of the bride and groom, and the first dance photos are wonderful. Great job!

Sandy - Girl, we need to do a rock the dress session! It’s the closest thing to doing it all over again! :)

Jenny - What a gorgeous fall wedding. Such vibrant colors. The b&w is awesome!

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Mansion at Maple Heights Wedding|Cara & Scott

You may remember Cara and Scott from their engagement session a while ago; and now, I present to you Cara & Scott: The Wedding!  This sweet couple held their ceremony and reception at the Mansion at Maple Heights, a lovely venue for an intimate wedding amongst your closest friends and family.

Giving away your daughter has to be one of the hardest things for a dad to do.

father giving bride away

I got a big smile on my face when I saw how they used one of their engagement photos!  Image by second shooter and good friend Jenny.

Cara and Scott are animal lovers, and they shared that love with their guests by naming each table after one of their current pets or a pet that they grew up with.  Image by Jenny.

The food by La Creme was seriously good.

La Creme catering for Mansion at Maple Heights


First dance.  Image by Jenny.


Cara and Scott, thank you for letting me be a part of your special day!  (((Hugs))) Sandy


If you enjoyed Cara and Scott’s wedding photos, please take a moment to like me on Facebook!


Venue:  The Mansion at Maple Heights

Officiant: Larry Goyda, Meaningful Marriages

Entertainment: Faure String Trio (Ceremony); Brian Bauer, Eventures Weddings

Bakery: Oakmont Bakery

Caterer: La Creme

Makeup: Jennifer Palermo

Hair: Brooke Rockwell Hair Design

Florist: Bill Chisnell Productions

Linens: Mosaic Linens

Rentals: All Occasions


Amanda - oooo Maple Heights looking great this day! LOVE the lace on the wood floor, the ring shot, the engagement photo of the dogs – so cool as the seating chart! – and the backlit shots on the porch!

Aaron - Ahhh, sooo great! Every single photo has that magical “something” that I love! My favorites are the detail shots, the photo of the flower girl in the mirror, and especially those backlit porch photos. Awesome :)

Sandy - Thanks, Aaron! :)

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Childrens Photography Butler PA | The House at Pooh Corner

With a few good friends
And a stick or two
A house is built at a corner called Pooh…

I’ve had this idea for a photo shoot in my mind for a while, and I finally had a chance to bring it to life this week at my parents’ property in Butler.  My daughter and her two cousins are the best of friends, like three peas in a pod.  I really wanted to capture the sweetness and whimsy of their childhood in these images.  My Dad helped me put together the little tent, and my Mom lent me a couple of her amazing handmade quilts to complete the set.  The clothing I chose for the kids  had a slight vintage look to them, which I just l-o-v-e.  Fyi, when planning a photo session for your children, clothing can really make or break a session, so I am always happy to help clients choose clothes for the shoot.

I am just over the moon about these images!

After story time at Pooh Corner, we picked some apples from the trees my Dad planted when I was a kid.

So cute how you can see the tops of the little ones’ heads as they watch their cousin bring the branches down for them.

I just love this little girl to pieces.





Jenny - This is amazing Sandy. So many absolutely stunning photos! Wow.

Sharon Haas - Loved these pictures Sandy. You copied the true childs spirit in these. May they always be best of buddies. So very special.

Katia - Sandy…this is one of the MOST beautiful things I’ve ever seen..OMG I cannot wait for my daughter to stay still for more than a split second so I can do this with her…she LOVES Winnie Poo Poo (how she calls it)…such a touching, personal and beautiful work!Thank you for sharing with us.

Aaron - I thought I had commented on this post already, but alas it doesn’t look like I did. Anywho…what a beautiful post!! Such a great idea, cool location, wonderful styling, beautiful light, and adorable kids. You’re right, clothing has such a big impact on the overall feel of a session and you chose well. Awesome!

Katrina - Your work is absolutely beautiful! How I wish you were in my area but sadly I’m in Georgia. Still absolutely fantastic photos!

Sandy - Katrina, thanks so much–I wish you were in my area, too! Well, if you’re ever in Pittsburgh, give me a ring! :)

Linda - I just came across this photo session and LOVE the cute props that you used for the tent photos. Love it.

Sandy - Thanks, Linda! :)

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The Knot Magazine: Venues With A View


  This month one of my images from Jenny and Bradley’s wedding at Phipps Conservatory was featured in The Knot magazine!  The article is entitled “Venues With A View” – and Jenny and Bradley’s guests certainly had a beautiful setting to look at during the  ceremony held in the Broderie Room at Phipps.  Congratulations, you two!  xoxo Sandy

Jenny - So happy that you documented our wedding day. Congratulations! Sandy, you rock!

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TLC Tuesdays – #1

So, I was thinking to myself about how I need to blog more often, and I thought it would be fun to show you some before and after pictures to demonstrate the difference between SOOC (Straight out of camera) and retouched images.  Who doesn’t love before and afters???  All of my images get some kind of retouching; usually it’s white balance/color correction, adjustments to contrast and such.  But some images benefit from a little more TLC.  So here we go with the first issue of TLC Tuesdays.  As always, thoughtful comments are welcome!

This first image is from Eva and Sam’s engagement session, which I just posted yesterday.  It’s pretty good straight out of camera.  But I wanted to add a few special touches to make it even better.

First, I added a little more contrast, bumped up the color saturation up a bit, and brightened things up a tad with curves.  I removed a few blemishes and lightened up the circles under their eyes.  (Even children have dark circles under their eyes, believe it or not!)

I enhanced the catchlights in their eyes and brightened up their irises a little, then added a touch of skin softening to Eva’s face with Totally Rad Pro Retouch.  Finally I burned the edges of the photo a bit.  And voila!  The enhancements I did were relatively subtle, but that’s what you want.  The goal is to add that certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ without smacking you in the face.  Or as Austin Powers would say, it adds what the French call a certain ‘I don’t know what’. :)

This next photo was taken during my first year as a wedding photographer.  Such a sweet moment between this newly married couple.


First, I tweaked the white balance to add some warmth and get rid of the slightly green cast.  I dodged (lightened) up their faces, then used the patch tool to remove blemishes and even out the skin on her forehead.  Finally, a little Pro Retouch to soften her skin.

And one more.

First, I darkened the spots that were blown out by the bright sunlight.  The bottom part of the groom’s jacket could not be recovered, so I used the clone tool to fill in the blown out area by sampling from another part of his jacket.  I brightened up their faces, and removed their undereye circles.  Finally I brightened and sharpened their eyes, and softened the bride’s skin.  I am always careful not to over-soften skin – we want glamorous, not plastic!

So, was this post remotely interesting?  Should I include more or less details?  I was thinking of making this a regular thing, maybe twice a month.  Yay or nay?  Comments welcome!



Tiffany Bender - I love it…give us a great peak in to what it means to be a custom photographer…I will be looking forward to the next post like this!!! I say do it regularly!

Alaina - I love seeing the befores and afters! Please keep it up. Maybe you can show what happens when you go overboard with certain techniques??

Katia - Sandy…thank you for sharing these with us…the images are beautiful and a good photographer always have great composition in order to add “Je ne sais quoi” in post-processing…you are great at this! beautiful work.

Eric - I have been thinking of the same idea recently to come up with a weekly blog idea. I was thinking Fun Foto Fridays or something cheesy like that lol. Nice work!

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Engagement Photos Downtown Pittsburgh | Eva & Sam

I had an amazing engagement session downtown with Eva and Sam, who very well may win the award for Cutest Couple Ever.  They are so sweet together!  Eva and Sam wanted an engagement session that was very Pittsburgh, because after the wedding, their jobs will be taking them all the way to San Diego.   And, true to Pittsburgh, the sun was not to be found that day; in fact, it even started to rain during the session.  But no worries!  They brought their umbrellas, and I brought my camera rain sleeve.  To be honest, I am actually glad it rained!  There are some shots that I’ve had on my wish list for a while, and I finally got them, thanks to Eva and Sam being open for anything!

engagement photos david lawrence convention center
engagement photos rainy day city
Engagement photos on a rainy day in the city

We finished up the session on Mt. Washington, where Sam proposed to Eva.

Eva and Sam, I had a blast with you–can’t wait for the wedding!!



Katia - Sandy, what a beautiful work…OMG you made that rain work to your advantage…I always get freaked out when it rains but I will remember this post next time. You are amazing. My favorite is second to last!GORGEOUS!

Sandy - Thanks, Katia! :)

Amanda - Ooo I like them all but that last shot is like BAM! all Emeril style.

Sandy - Lol!

Aaron - Wow, these are seriously incredible; somehow you always raise the bar, and nail it rain or shine! I can’t even pick my favs, but I love the umbrella shots on the bridge, that one in front of the Benedum is just awesome, and you know how much I love backlighting at night. Great post!

Jenny - I love them all. You Rock Sandy!!

Tiffany Bender - You are simply amazing!!! I adore each and everyone. SO creative with you lighting and comp!!!! Lovely

Eric - Where is the shot with the water falling on the walls taken at?

Sandy - Hi Eric! That shot was taken at the David Lawrence Convention Center. Such a cool spot!

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B E   I N   T H E   K N O W !