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The first time I met Nealy Lanzen, photographer and owner of Photography by Nealy, was at a Twin Cities Moms Blog gathering. It was the first time the co-founders and contributing writers were meeting to discuss everything that comes with contributing to the blog. Nealy, who is also a contributor, was there taking our headshots. I was pregnant at the time and, as with all of my pregnancies, I was gaining weight everywhere. You know what that means: My face was getting round again. The last thing that I wanted to do was have my photo taken, especially a headshot. I mentioned this to Nealy and asked her to please make me not look pregnant. She laughed with me about the joy that is pregnancy but you know what? She also coached me, “chin out a little bit, relax and laugh,” she would say and as a result I love my headshot.

Photography by Nealy TCMB headshot

When Nealy contacted me about taking Keira’s newborn pics (remember this was before we knew her gender) I was so excited. I’ve been reading Nealy’s blog posts, following her business’s Facebook page as well as her personal one and if there’s one thing I noticed it was her style. It’s clean and fresh. Simple; classic with pops of brilliant colors. It shows in her photography as well and that is what I wanted with Keira’s pictures. The pregnancy and waiting to deliver her were so dramatic, long, physically and emotionally draining that I wanted to capture the light that she’s been on this side of the womb. The second I had her I felt relieved; I felt like I could breathe again and like I didn’t have the weight of the world resting on my hips.

One thing about Nealy that I hadn’t encountered before was going to her studio rather than having an in-home newborn session. I was apprehensive about due to my lack of in the studio sessions. I figured that she was the expert though and if we had to make the hour drive from the northwestern Twin Cities suburbs to the southern suburbs in Apple Valley it must be worth it.

Photography by Nealy Keira Newborn

It was.

When you book a newborn shoot with Nealy, she sends you information on how to prepare for the shoot. Now, this isn’t my first time at the rodeo but, once again, I figured she was the expert (and a mother of three already) so she must know what she’s doing. I followed her suggestions. The one suggestion she had was to try and keep baby awake for two hours before the session. I thought she was crazy! Two hours? No way that’s going to work. She suggested giving baby a bath, talking with baby; basically, doing anything to keep baby sleepy during the shoot. I adhere strictly to James Weissbluth’s Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child book when it comes to sleep so not allowing Keira to fall asleep or not trying to put her down to sleep goes against my nature. Nealy was right though; the bath calmed Keira down, she was fed and was even calmly awake in the car on our way down to the studio.

Photography by Nealy Newborn

The other suggestion Nealy gave me was to have the older kids, Brennan (5.5 years old) and Kendall (3 years old), come later in the session. I truly believe that this is one of the reasons Keira’s pictures turned out so beautifully (Nealy’s eye and talent is the main reason). Without having the older two in the studio with us enabled us to have a very quiet and relaxed setting for Keira. Not that she isn’t used to sleeping through what sounds like a herd of elephants stampeding through our house on a daily basis but more than anything it made me relax. Let’s be honest, if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy and the same goes for Mama being stressed! When Brennan and Kendall did arrive, I was so impressed with Nealy’s calm direction of my children.  She was able to direct them and get them to listen to her direction! I’m thinking maybe I should hire her to just live in my house…if only, right?

Photography by Nealy sibling photo

The session itself was not very long and that was such a good thing. I’ve had sessions that last way too long and when you have little children and a newborn it’s just a recipe for disaster. Nealy understands this though. She’s a mom just like me and she understands children. There is a reason why she was voted “Best Family Photographer in MN.” I highly recommend her. Our photos are beautiful, priceless. I want to print every single one of them but I think it may look like I have a shrine to Keira in my house.

Photography by Nealy Keira newborn gnome

Photography by Nealy Mom and Keira

Photography by Nealy Family Photo

If you’re in the Twin Cities area do yourself a favor and check out Photography by Nealy!





Photography by Nealy Newborn purple