Houston First Birthday Photoshoot

Charlotte’s Mermaid themed First Birthday Photoshoot

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I’ve had this beautiful mermaid themed backdrop for a while now and when this adorable little girl’s mom contacted me I knew it would be the perfect theme for her session! It’s so girly, whimsical, and fun!

This was also my very first time working with a professional baker to provide a cake for my clients and I’m excited to announce from now on a custom cake is included in any cake smash session booked with me! I was so excited with how well The Houston Pastry did with this cake and I’m excited to see what other fun cakes they’ll create for me!

First up we had Charlotte get into this adorable mermaid romper I have as part of my studio wardrobe. (You can view my complete collection here.) It’s actually a swimsuit which makes it way easier cleaning the icing off later. We put her in a little boat prop I had and gave her a fake pearl necklace to hold. Then we let her hang out with the little fake bubbles on the floor. They’re actually halves of plastic ornaments and Charlotte was FASCINATED with them.

Next, we brought out the cake! Luckily Charlotte had tasted cake before and was excited to try some more! I always encourage parents to give their babies just a bit of cake a week or so before their session so they’ll know if they like it or if they have any allergies. We can totally still have the session if they don’t like cake, we would just stick little snacks in the back of the cake and fake our way through it. Or if they have allergies we can always use a fake cake.

Even though Charlotte has tasted cake before she was much more interested in covering her leg with it! It was so cute watching her make such a mess and seeing how pleased she was with herself.

Lastly, it was bath time! I end each cake smash session with a little bath. This helps cleans off the babies as well as get some of the best smiles of the whole session! Little ones LOVE splashing around in the bath and watching their parents blow bubbles! Charlotte was no exception and even though her bath got VERY blue very fast she still loved her bath time.

I loved creating these photos for Charlotte’s family and hope to photograph her again!

If you’re interested in booking your very own first birthday photoshoot/cake smash session feel free to contact me at mkstallingsphotography.com and you can view more first birthday sessions I’ve done - here

MKStallings Photography

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Houston One Year Session - Jeneen

Jeneen’s First Birthday Session!

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A baby’s first birthday is so special, it was a year of excitement and firsts, milestones and emotions. The best way to capture this exciting time is by hiring a professional photographer and celebrate with a cake smash session! I provide all the outfits, backdrops, props, and am even working towards providing the cake too! So all you have to do is show up and watch your child smile and laugh as they destroy their very first birthday cake! These photos always turn out so adorable and will be photos you cherish for years to come.

Jeneen’s parents were so excited for this session, her mom loved my outfits and couldn’t choose just one so we did FOUR outfits! While this isn’t something I always suggest as some babies may not like outfit changes, it sure was fun and gave her parents some extra variety in the images!

First we started with my candy land set! This set started as a theme for my christmas sessions but has become a year round request, one I’m more than happy to do! It is just so girly and sweet!

Next up was our pre-cake photos! I always try and get some cute photos of the baby with the set before the cake comes in. Once they see the cake it’s all they want! We chose my “Unicorn Party” theme for her photos. Its pink, girly, has confetti, balloons, and most importantly unicorns! What more could you want for a celebration?

Last, but certainly not least was the photos with the cake! Since we were doing so many outfit changes and two sets the parents decided to make things a little easier with a fake cake. I have two fake cakes at my studios for those times where you want cake smash photos….without actually smashing a cake. I simply put a little bit of icing behind the fake cakes and there you have it! Some fun messy photos without having to bring a real cake! Jeneen was SO good at looking up while eating her cake! Sometime even the happiest babies get REALLY serious when the cake comes out! They never get to eat cake & icing at home so they make the most out of the opportunity and eat as much as they can without even wasting a second to look up! While those photos are very cute and perfectly capture the moment, I love when we can see their cute faces too!

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This session was so much fun and I can’t wait to do more session with Jeneen as she grows up! If you’re interested in a first birthday/cake smash session in the Houston/Katy area contact me! You can email mkstallingsphotography@gmail.com call 713-858-8693 or click on the “Contact” tab at the top of my page!

Houston One Year Session, Houston First Birthday Photoshoot, Houston first birthday session

10 Tips for having a Magical Unicorn Session!

How to have a magical unicorn session with MKStallings Photography in Houston, Texas



  1. Dress the part!

If you’re going to be in photos with a magical unicorn you should dress up for this special occasion! Formal dresses are best, without distracting patterns. You can even request for me to bring a few of my dresses for you to choose from, I have over 85 dresses so there should be something perfect for your little one. (view them here). If you aren’t going to be in the photos (mom/dad/other siblings) dress comfy as I may have you help out.



2. Cover your toes!

The kids in the photos need closed toe shoes (please have the shoes match the outfit, no sneakers please) for safety reasons. The parents/other siblings need closed toe shoes as well, so they’re welcome to wear sneakers as there could be mud/ants/bugs in the grass and I don’t want anyone getting hurt or getting nice shoes ruined.



3. Accessorize!

I have lots of princess crowns, pretty headbands, and flower crowns that I’ll bring to the session. It adds a bit of variety to the photos to switch up the kids accessories throughout the session so feel free to grab a few!



4. Get to know Starfire!

Starfire is a fun, small, white boy unicorn that is 10 years old. He LOVES to eat grass and give unicorn kisses! So don’t be afraid to cuddle up to him!  Practice making a clicking noise with your tongue and the roof of your mouth, this is how you get his attention and get him to look at you and trust you.



5. Listen to Starfire’s owner!

Starfire will have his owner there, she’s pretty awesome and has done many of these sessions with me so she knows exactly how to keep everyone safe and to get Starfire to do certain poses. If she asks for you to stop doing something that could scare him please listen to her. Also keep in mind she is never being mean to Starfire. She may pull on his reins the same way you would pull on your dog’s leash if he trying to go somewhere he shouldn’t or push him in the direction of where he should walk. Most days he loves doing these sessions but others he needs a little more encouragement.



6. Be calm and careful with Starfire!

Loud noises or sudden movements could scare Starfire and we want him to be happy and have fun at your session too so make sure not to yell and to be calm when moving towards him or petting him. Be careful that your feet aren’t too close to his so you don’t get stepped on and NEVER walk behind a unicorn!



7. Keep in mind, kids, animals, and lighting are unpredictable!

These sessions have so many different variables from one session to the next, the light can change, the kids change, the unicorn’s mood can change, as well as kids don’t always do a certain pose and unicorns are animals so they’re completely unpredictable. We will get you 15-20 beautiful photos but I can’t guarantee any certain pose. If there’s a photo on my site from these sessions that you absolutely love let me know and I’ll do my best to replicate it but it’s not always possible. But think about it this way, your photos will be one of a kind!



8. Save the unicorn party for later!

While I know your family and friends must be so excited to see these photos, let them know there will be a behind the scenes video they can view and ask them to not join at the session. Only 2 adults can come with kids to the session and if you bring other kids that aren’t participating make sure they have a toy/ipad to keep themselves entertained. We don’t want anyone distracting Starfire, the child being photographed, or you when we may need your help.



9. Come prepared!

These sessions will be shot in an open field, in Houston, in the spring. So hot and humid weather and quite a bit of mosquitoes is to be expected. Bring water, bug spray, and we are not above bribing kids to smile, so if you think bringing some candy to convince your kids to smile, fine with us! :) Something small and mess free like nerds, jellybeans,  or skittles is best.



10. It’s better to be early than late!

Make sure to leave a little earlier than you think to make sure you get there on time. The park the session is at can be a little confusing and doesn’t have an exact address. So follow the pin on the map I send you instead of the address for the general park.




Bonus tip for after your session!

. Book your reveal soon!

The day after your session you’ll get an email with a link to schedule your reveal (when you will come to my studio and view and purchase your photos) so make sure to choose a date and time that works for you. The date for the reveal doesn’t have to be soon, just schedule it within a few days of receiving the email. I do not edit photos until a few days before your session and will be editing the sessions in the order of the reveals. Prints take a little less than a week to come in and wood prints & canvases take 2-3 weeks so keep this in mind when choosing your date.


That’s everything! If you would like more details on a unicorn session and to book one of your own you can go here.




Houston Fairy Sessions

Houston Fairy Sessions!


There is something magical about little girls in sparkly dresses, with flowers in their hair and whimsy in their eyes. Many little girls love fairytales, and it is a memory in the making when they get to create a fairytale of their own. Recently, I got to create my own enchanted woodland and capture some whimsical moments with three very special little girls. For a while, these girls got to be the fairy princesses of their own kingdom, together adding a little magic to the world.

The session was done for two sisters and their cousin, and I really enjoy making sessions a family affair. This always works out well because the parents can share the cost of the session and products while the kids get to enjoy a memorable experience together. These parents came to me with a sweet idea, too!

While I have over eighty dresses that the girls can choose from for their session, the parents presented each girl with her own sparkly dress for the photoshoot. When we wrapped up the session, they surprised the girls and told them the dresses were theirs to keep! It was a fun moment as the girls realized this meant the fairytale could continue and come home with them.

Our fairy session took place in my studio where I combined a little creativity and a lot of imagination to create an enchanted forest. I used a beautiful, floral backdrop so the girls were able to immediately feel like they were part of the fairytale. I had a toadstool, a bench, and a “stump” for the girls to sit on, but one of my favorite props was the “swing” I built.

I wanted to create something that would look and feel like an actual swing yet would also act as a portable and safe alternative to a real one. I found my solution by using two stools, a piece of wood, and attaching ropes wrapped in flowers on either end. The result was a beautiful “swing” that the girls could sit on and enjoy, without any concerns with safety or mobility.

Each picture was accentuated by a fun and whimsical detail, and the girls had a lot of fun with the props. There were lanterns, wands, and candles to add a little light and sparkle, and there was even a frog prince for them to swap little kisses with. By the end of the session, our entire studio had become a fairyland!  

I’m dedicated to having each session be a fun experience for the kids and I encouraged the girls to share their ideas with me. Even when their ideas were different than what I had in mind, I was more than happy to accommodate. They brought in my stuffed unicorn for some pictures, danced around in their dresses, and even incorporated a lollipop. The final edits came with a little photoshop afterward, where I added their fairy wings and played with the colors, but ultimately the photos look mostly how they did at the set.

Soon winter will melt away and leave spring in its wake—the perfect season for a fairy session. Many little girls dream about living in a fairytale, and you can add a little magic into their lives with a personalized session. The experience will be unforgettable, and the pictures will be something to cherish for a lifetime. Find out more information and book your very own fairy session here.







Houston Holiday Sessions

Houston Holiday Sessions 2018

Expect even bigger and better sessions for 2019!

And just like that, 2018 is behind us and it’s a new year full of exciting new possibilities! One of my highlights from 2018 was closing out the year with some whimsical and unique holiday sessions, and I’m excited to share those with you today! With three charming themes to choose from, families and I had a blast capturing festive snapshots that captured holiday cheer. I was excited to offer three unique themes this year for my holiday sessions. Whether the kids wanted to jump aboard the Polar Express or take a trip to Candy Land, we were ready!

The Polar Express was a favorite this year. I used a big, beautiful backdrop featuring the iconic train that blended seamlessly into photographs. In lieu of using photoshop, I really loved having a physical background for the pictures. The kids really loved seeing what the background would look like and it made them feel immersed in the experience.

I incorporated fun props into each picture and the kids came dressed in their favorite pajamas, looking so cozy as they sipped on fake mugs of hot chocolate and took turns holding a lantern. There were little gift bags labeled with everyone’s names to personalize the experience. This theme was a fanciful homage to the Polar Express and a fun tribute for anyone who saw the movie or loved the book.

Next up was a trip through Candyland, which I sum up in three words: cute, sweet, and girly! We used fake candy, which the girls just loved, and incorporated real lollipops into the shoot so that everyone could satisfy their sweet tooth. We had fake snow for the girls to play in as well as some fluffy cotton candy.

The girls were able to choose whichever dress they wanted from my client wardrobe. I have over 80 dresses that girls can look at and choose from, with a selection for every size and age, and it was a blast watching the kiddos twirl around in their favorite dresses.  

The final theme was Glitter. I am known for my glitter sessions and offer them all year round, but there was something so festive and celebratory about doing it this time of year. A glitter session is a fun opportunity for the kids to play and have fun without having to worry about making a mess. And what a mess we made! Everyone had fun throwing glitter up in the air and dancing all around in it, and once again the girls got to choose their favorite dresses from my client wardrobe.

At the end of the year, families start to think about new photos for their Christmas cards, and a holiday session gives families festive and whimsical pictures to use for their Christmas cards. Another reason for holiday photos is to provide the kids with a fun and memorable experience. Getting pictures should never be a chore, and I’m dedicated to ensuring that the kids enjoy themselves and make new memories.

Of course, another excellent reason to get pictures done is so that parents have updated pictures of their children. Childhood doesn’t last forever, and before we know it the 2019 holiday season will be upon us again! Next year, I’ll be offering SEVEN adorably whimsical themed sessions for the holidays. Two themes are repeating from 2018 and 5 will be completely new. Feel free to contact me if you would like to be notified when next year’s themed are announced. I look forward to giving you and your family the pictures of your dreams!









Houston First Birthday Session - Owen

Owen’s First Birthday Session

What do blue balloons, sour lemons, and a delicious cake have in common? They were all important aspects of an epic cake smash session I had the pleasure of shooting earlier this year! Owen currently had his very first birthday and his parents were excited to commemorate such a big milestone with some fun photos and new memories.


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The session took place at Terry Hershey Park on the west side of Houston, Texas. It is a very popular park in West Houston and is a favorite spot of mine to shoot. I love how spacious and open it is—a beautiful and bright background that always sets the stage for each new session. My assistant and I met with Owen and his parents in the mid-morning, right when the light was perfect.  Owen was wide awake and happy, his smiling mood infectious as we got ready to capture some amazing photographs.

Before the photo shoot, Owen’s mom and I did some brainstorming to come up with ideas for a theme and props. I love helping clients come up with creative ways to give their photo shoot personality and a whimsical touch, and I really feel like we nailed it with Owen’s session. With summer and sunshine in the air, we decided to use bright yellow lemons and punchy blue balloons as props, as well as a charming little metal bucket for a tub. Owen’s mom picked out the most darling outfit—how could you resist those little suspenders?

Owen was enamored with the blue balloons from the instant he laid eyes on them, and he was all smiles as he played with them in front of the camera. And of course, what’s a cake smash without a cake? Owen loved his little cake and couldn’t wait to dig in. He had absolutely no problem destroying it, which made for some candid shots. Before long, Owen was elbow deep in frosting. We made a huge mess, which was part of the fun, but we left no cake crumb behind! I brought a sheet from home and had Owen sit on that for the cake smash, making for a stress free and easy cleanup session.

After the balloons and cake, it was time for the tub! I was a little nervous about how Owen would feel about the outdoor tub and the sour lemons. But I had nothing to worry about! Owen was so happy inside of the tub, splashing and smiling and playing with the lemons! I couldn’t believe how much he loved the lemons. He even chomped down on a few slices! For safety’s sake, we had lined the bottom of the tub with towels so that Owen wouldn’t slip while standing.

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Owen was such a happy little guy—and such a joy to photograph! Sometimes it can take a lot of patience to get a one-year-old to smile, but not Owen. His parents joked that Owen would have never smiled so good for them, but for my assistant and I, he was quite the flirt! He couldn’t keep his eyes off me, and the feeling was mutual. Just look at his cheeky grins and lovable little personality!

Children grow up way too fast, and professional photographs are a wonderful way to commemorate the joys of childhood. Birthdays also come and go, but there is something so special about getting first birthday photos done. If you are looking for a Houston children photographer, I would love to hear from you. So, here’s to cake smashes and epic photos—what isn’t to love?

I’m currently offering a really awesome special on first birthday sessions, but this deal is only available until the end of the year! Click here to find out more information.













Houston First Birthday Session - Wyatt

 

Oh how I love first birthday sessions! The babies are so cute and are in this adorable age where they are so curious to try everything and are old enough to have a little bit of independence and can walk around and pick things up for themselves! Which is just great for these sessions, they're more than happy to dig into the cake and don't need any help sitting up or holding things, we just need to keep them on the backdrop. 

Wyatt was exactly that, she's so full of energy and would of ran around the whole studio 10 times if we would have let her. In the video at the end of this post you'll even see her run right up to the camera, SO CUTE. 

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Before the cake smash, I always like to start the session with some classic portraits of the kids. This helps the kids get used to the studio and the flash, and gives the parents some more variety in the photos. ALSO these photos are really easy to replicate in future sessions, if you want a similar photo of your child every year to compare how much older they look. 

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Since it's basically impossible to pose 1 year olds we get really sweet funny photos that perfectly show their personality! 

Then it was time for the main event! We decided on a 'Donut Grow up" Theme for Wyatt's cake smash photos. So not only did she have a cake to make a mess with, but donuts too! I even had a dress for her that matched the set up perfectly! 

Thank you Happy Cakes for the super cute donut themed cake! 

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We were able to admire the cake for about half a second before Wyatt took the donuts off and we had to remove the sticks for safety reasons. 

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I was worried the cake wouldn't keep her attention and her mom was worried how she would react later to eating so much sugar. It could not have worked out better for both of us. Wyatt was all about smashing into the cake but wasn't really a fan of the taste so she barely ate any! Awesomeee. 

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Little ones sometime don't like the sticky feeling of icing on their fingers, so a spoon is super helpful! 

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I'm obssesed with little detail shots like this! So cute! 

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Check out the video below for all the behind the scenes cuteness! 

 

Happy Birthday sweet Wyatt! 

 

Contact me today to start planning your own customized first birthday/cake smash session! 

View more first birthday photos I've done here.