Butterflies & Bows Photography | Blog

New Referral Program | North Port, FL Photographer

December 17, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

We are changing things up a bit in the coming new year starting with a brand new referral program!  It's our way of thanking our awesome clients for their recommendations as well as a way to thank new clients for giving us a chance!

So how does it work?

It's easy!  Refer us to your friends and family.  Be sure that they tell us that you sent them when they book their session.  As soon as they have their session, you get a Visa gift card!

How much do you get?

If they book a mini session with us, you get a $25 Visa gift card.  If they book a full session with us, you get a $50 Visa gift card.  If they book a birth session, you get a $75 Visa gift card.  If they book a newborn session or cake smash session, you get a $25 Visa gift card.

What about my friend?

Don't worry, your friend won't be left out!  They will receive a professionally printed gift print as a thank you for giving us a chance!

But wait, there's more.

We saved the best for last.  There is no limit to how much you can earn!  Whether you refer 1 person or 100, you will receive a gift card as a token of our appreciation!

But surely there's fine print...

Our gift card rewards program is only valid on normal, full priced sessions.  Specially priced, stylized sessions (Christmas mini sessions for example) and discounted or sale sessions are not part of our referral program.


Newborn Session Prep Guide | North Port, FL Newborn Photographer

September 30, 2016  •  3 Comments

Newborn Session Prep Guide


The first few moments of life are so magical and so fleeting.  They will go by faster than you could ever imagine.  I feel truly blessed to be able to capture those moments for you so that you can hold onto them forever.

Book Your Session

I recommend booking your newborn session before baby is born.  This gives me time to plan a fully customized session for your baby.  I only book a limited number of newborns per month, so the sooner you book, the better!

Baby’s Big Arrival

I know you are just as excited as I am about capturing all those tiny little details of your newborn baby.  Within the first couple of days after birth, when you have a second to catch your breath, shoot me a text, email, or even call and let me know baby has arrived.  I can then schedule an official date and time for you and baby to come to the studio.

When scheduling your session, the earlier, the better.  Newborn sessions normally take place during the first 21 days of life.  We do NOT turn away older babies!  However, younger newborns, typically between 5-7 days, tend to do best as they are still super sleepy and don’t fuss quite as much from all the posing and positioning.

If you have an older newborn, don’t stress!  Not only am I photographer, but I’m a mom!  My experience in both area has taught me tips and tricks for soothing even the feistiest little princes and princesses.  Extra baby snuggles are key!

Location & What To Bring

Newborn sessions take place in my studio.  I have everything needed, so don’t stress about props or outfits for baby!

Please bring a pacifier with you even if you do not plan to use it every day.  They can be a lifesaver during these sessions.  Don’t worry, I won’t force it on your baby and I won’t use it unless I really need to.

Bring some extra diapers with you.  You never know how many you’ll need!

If baby is formula fed, be sure to bring enough with you for multiple feedings.  If you are breastfeeding but baby will drink pumped milk from a bottle, please bring some with you.

It’s Going To Get Hot

In order to keep baby comfortable, we need to crank up the heat.  The studio is going to be 80 degrees and we will also have a space heater that will be in the shooting area.  Dress cool!  If you are going to be in pictures with your baby, you can dress in layers or feel free to bring a change of clothes with you.

It Could Take A While

Newborn sessions last from 2-4 hours.  It could be shorter, it could be longer, it all depends on baby.  Feel free to bring a book or magazine with you.  Some parents even use this time to catch up on sleep with a cat nap!

Due to the length of these sessions, we ask that you do not bring anyone with you, especially children, that is not being photographed.  Little ones tend to get very restless and very hot which can be disruptive to the calm, peaceful environment that we try to maintain for baby.

If siblings are being photographed, we will shoot these portraits FIRST.  Please make sure everyone is dressed and ready to go.  Once we have taken the family and siblings shots, it’s best if dad takes the other kiddos out for a snack or to play at the park.

Sleepy Babies

Babies do best with studio posing if they are in a deep sleep.  The best way to accomplish this is to make sure baby is exhausted.  Keep baby awake for 1-2 hours prior to our session together.  I know this is easier said than done, but there are some things you can do!

Play with baby.  Tickle her little toes and sing songs.  Music and toys can be stimulating and fascinating.  Give baby a bath.  There will likely be tears as most newborns are not fans of bath time, but it will help to stimulate baby.

We know it can be hard to do this, especially when you are a sleep deprived new parent, but if baby sleeps soundly before our session, chances are she won’t sleep quite as soundly during the session.

Hungry Babies

Feed your baby 2 hours before our session.  Once you arrive at the studio, I have a comfy sitting area where you can give baby a full feeding.  Exhausted babies with full tummies are great sleepers!  If we can accomplish this, our session should go smoothly!

Nursing Moms

If you are a nursing mom, there are some ways you can help to make sure baby is comfortable and a good sleeper for our time together.  Be sure to avoid spicy foods or eating/drinking acid citrus juices and fruits.  They can upset the baby’s little tummy and they could end up with uncomfortable gas bubbles.  Also try to avoid caffeine for 24 hours prior.  I know this is hard, especially for sleep deprived mama’s, but it will be worth it for those adorable little baby shots we are working so hard for. 

Keep It Loose

Dress baby in loose, comfortable clothing to help prevent red marks and indents on the skin.  Button up or zip up pajamas are a great option!  Just please nothing that goes over baby’s head.  If s/he is sleeping, we want to try to keep it that way!

Circumcision – The Five Day Rule

If your new little one is a baby boy, please schedule your newborn session before he is circumcised or five days after the procedure.  Baby will be very sensitive and some of the poses may be uncomfortable during the healing process.  We want to make sure baby is as relaxed and comfortable as possible!

What To Wear

Neutral colors are best for everyone, including children.  White, black, and beige are great options.  Be sure to avoid anything super bright, clothing with logos, and clothing with busy patterns.  As we mentioned before, dress in layers.  It’s going to get hot!

Check Your Manicure

There are some shots we may take that will involve mom and dad’s hands.  Even though it is only your hands, we still want you to look your best!  Be sure that your hands are clean and nails are trimmed.

Don’t Forget To Take Care Of YOU

With the excitement of having a brand new baby and the exhaustion that comes along with it, it’s easy to forget to take care of you.  Be sure to eat a healthy, hearty breakfast (or lunch) before our session.  This will help you stay comfortable during our session.  Also be sure to stay hydrated!  Don’t forget, the studio is going to be around 85 degrees.

Everyone Poops

Poop.  It happens!  Not to worry!  Part of the job description of a newborn photographer is that you will get peed on or pooped on, so if it happens don’t stress or be embarrassed!  As a professional photographer and a mom of three, it’s something I am quite used to.  Don’t stress about sanitation.  All of my newborn items are washed and sanitized before and after every baby that comes into the studio.

Safety First

Safety is my utmost priority during these sessions.  Baby will never be placed into an unsafe or compromising pose or position.  During the session I will be handling and posing baby and may even call on you to spot baby if needed.  I have lots of baby holding experience and I will care for your little one as if s/he were my own.  And you are always welcome to ask questions!


Patience is key!  Newborn session can last anywhere from 2-4 hours.  It all depends on baby’s mood and willingness to cooperate.  If your baby is fussy, don’t stress!  It happens.  Baby can pick up frustration so we want to keep the room as serene as possible.  If sleep doesn’t happen, don’t worry!  We will make it work!

I hope that this session prep guide has helped answer any questions on how to prepare for your session.  My goal is not only to provide you with beautiful pictures to cherish in the years to come, but to serve you with a pleasant and memorable experience.  If there is anything I can do for you or if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me and let me know.  Thank you for giving me the opportunity to capture these sweet newborn moments for your family!

A Light In The Darkness | North Port, FL Photographer

September 01, 2016  •  9 Comments

This photo is so special and so powerful for so many reasons.

If you are local to us, you might have heard the story of little Sawyer Gordon who was recently hit by a truck while riding his bike and passed away.  We happen to go to church with Sawyer's family.  We also go to church with the young man that was driving the truck.  This family has shown such strength, love, faith, and devotion through the wake of this tragedy.  To call it awe inspiring is an understatement.

They could have been angry.  So many people would have been.  They could have gone to that deep, dark place that calls to so many after losing a child, especially one as young as Sawyer.  But they didn't.  their testament of faith is like nothing we have ever seen before.  The Gordon's have embraced this young man with unconditional love and understanding.  He too could have gone to a very dark place, but this tremendous family has made sure that that did not happen.  They have put all of their faith in God's plan.  It is truly amazing.

This past Sunday, the young man who was driving the truck was baptized.  This photo was taken immediately after.  The Gordon's were standing just off to the side patiently waiting for him to arise out of the water as a new and Godly man.  Their faces were filled with pure love and so much pride for the steps that this young man has taken despite the terrible circumstances that have brought them together.

Light, love, hope, and faith.  This is what it's all about.

If you would like to reach out to the Gordon family to find out more about how they have such peace, love, and understanding, please reach out to them at memoriesofsawyer@yahoo.com

Kinley Hope | North Port Birth Photographer

May 05, 2016  •  18 Comments

When I saw Shannon and James on Sunday, Shannon had that gorgeous expecting mama glow.  She told me that she had had a few sporadic contractions during church, but nothing to indicate the beginning of true labor.  None of us had any idea that in less than 24 hours from then baby Kinley would be here.

At 1:15am I received the first few text messages that the time was near!  Labor was starting.  While the contractions weren’t active yet, the process had definitely started.  At 5:30am, I got the phone call that the midwives were there and Ms. Kinley was getting ready to make her big debut.  I got to the Keller house at 7am and witnessed the most beautiful and peaceful birth I have ever been a part of.

Shannon had been up all night with her husband by her side every step of the way.  Despite the labor pains, Shannon was in high spirits and was the absolute sweetest laboring mom, ever.  This birth was so special and so exciting.  Not only were they welcoming a beautiful baby into the world, but this was finally a birth on their terms.  This was not just a home birth.  This was a home birth, in the water, after a cesarean and a very difficult induction. 

From going back and fourth to the tub and the bed, and even walking around, Shannon did everything she could to keep her labor progressing.  Around 10am, Shannon’s contractions started to slow down.  While still intense, they went from every 2-3 minutes to every 5-7 minutes.  While Shannon wished for her labor to go faster, this little break was exactly what she needed as she was able to take little cat naps in-between contractions.

By 11am, things were picking back up.  The midwives were helping her to get into different positions to help keep labor progressing.  The water in the tub was topped off and warmed up.  Shannon got back in the water and then suddenly it was a whirlwind.  She had wished for fast, and God had heard her request.

The midwives and I left the room to give Shannon a little space while her husband held her hand and talked her through every contraction.  Then all of a sudden we hear, “HELP! HELP!  I need help!”  The midwives run in and I followed behind them.  It was 11:58am and her water had just broken.  The midwife told her to keep breathing and that the next contraction might be a little intense.  Indeed it was.  At 12:00pm Shannon yelled for James during a contraction and he jumped in the birthing tub with her where he was able to see Kinley’s full head of hair.  One more contraction and two minutes later, Kinley Hope Keller took her first breath at 12:02pm weighing 7 pounds 15 ounces and 19 ¾ inches long.

The delivery happened so first that I’m not entirely sure Shannon realized what happened.  As she held her brand new baby, Shannon had a look of shock, awe, happiness and disbelief.  “I wanted it fast and that was so fast!”  I don’t think you could ask for faster than a four minute delivery!

The room was filled with happy tears and love.  You could feel it throughout the room and it was amazing.  Kinley was so calm and so sweet.  And so hungry!  She latched right on and made breastfeeding look way too easy!  She even managed to poop on her mom (twice) and eat a second time all before she was an hour old!

This was such an amazing birth and I am so thankful to Shannon and James for choosing me to be a part of such a special day!




How To Become A Legal Business In Florida & Why It's Important | SWFL Photographer

May 17, 2015  •  3 Comments

I've had quite a few people come to me and ask me about starting a legal photography business in Florida, so I thought I would write a blog for everyone.  If you are a hobbyist, then you do not need to register or license yourself; however, if you charge anyone any amount of money, even a penny, you need to make yourself legal.

Why is it so important for you business to be legal? Well, several reasons. First and foremost, running a legitimate operation is a means of validation in the eye of the consumer. It is also a means of protection. A quick google search of current lawsuits against photographers and I am sure you will see the need for protection. So let's go a little further into that.

You need to register a DBA. DBA = Doing Business As. There are a few states that do not require you to register a DBA. Alabama, for example. Florida is NOT one of those states. It is absolutely required. So how exactly does a DBA protect you?

1) Enforcing Contracts...

If you don't obtain a DBA, you can't enforce any contract that you sign under your unregistered business name. For example, if you order office furniture and computers from a supplier who takes your money and doesn't deliver the goods, you can't sue to get your money back, at least not until the time you register your DBA. And at that point, you risk receiving a hefty fine from the court for not registering before beginning operation of your business.

We all know how important contracts are. If a client sues you, your contract is your bullet proof vest. If you do not have a registered DBA, you might as well be shirtless with a big red target on your chest. You will have no protection from a lawsuit and regardless of the situation, you will lose. Why? Because the court will consider first and foremost the fact that you are not running a legitimate enterprise and look no further.

2) Shut Down of Business

You read it right. The state can step in and shut you down on the spot, no questions asked. That is about the nicest thing they can do. You can be charged hefty fines. Failure to pay can result in jail time. The pesky thing about business is that business = tax. Tax = state revenue and is associated with the local economy. Unfortunately Uncle Sam has to have a piece of the pie and trying to make him go hungry will not work out favorably for you. Tax evasion, whether it is for $1 or $1,000,000 is both a state and federal offense.

3) Criminal Charges

As I said in the beginning, Florida is one of the states that requires a DBA. Failure to register can result in misdemeanor charges and up to a $1,000 fine. This is a criminal charge on your permanent record. This is something that is definitely not good for business!

4) Bank Accounts

One of the number 1 rules of doing business is keeping business and personal separate. This applies in all aspects including bank accounts. One of the first things you should do when starting your business is open a business bank account. An account that is business related only. In order to open a business bank account, a DBA is required. The bank you choose will require you to present your certificate as proof.

Can you mix your personal and business accounts to try to get around this? Sure. But you are just asking for trouble if you do. It will get messy and it will get complicated. Unless you are a stock holder in Excederin, I wouldn't recommend it.

So before we move on too much further, let's talk some more about tax laws. If you do not take all of the legal steps to collect sales tax, you legally cannot collect it. If you are providing a product, you are legally required to collect sales tax. So what happens if you collect sales tax but are unregistered? Well that friends, is a felony and is punishable by fines and jail time.

Let's look at another situation. You take the time to register your business. You collect sales tax. But when the time comes, you don't pay your taxes. You spent the money elsewhere and claimed $0 taxable income. That is an even worse felony. The state calls this "Theft of State Funds" and is punishable by fines and 5 years in the state penitentiary.

While I am sure that none of you would do this, I am putting that information out there just to show that when it comes down to business and legality, there are no loopholes.

So now that you know just a few of the reasons why it is so important for your business to be legal, let's move on to how to make your business legal. A side note, as you go through these steps and complete different licensing and registering requirement, be sure that you print and save PDF's. YOU WILL NEED THEM!

1) Choose Your Business Structure

The business structure you choose will have legal and tax implications. You will also need to know this information before you begin registering and licensing your business. There are 6 different structures, but the most common are LLC and sole proprietorship.

For information on the different structures and help in which one to use, click here: https://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/starting-managing-business/starting-business/choose-your-business-stru

2) Register With The IRS

Before you do anything else, you need to apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN). You will need this number throughout the rest of the process. There is no charge for this. Yay, free!

To get more information about EIN's and to apply for yours, click here: http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/Apply-for-an-Employer-Identification-Number-(EIN)-Online

3) Register For Your Fictitious Name Certificate

Remember that pesky DBA I told you about before? Well this is where you take care of that. In Florida it is called a Fictitious Name Certificate. The filing fee to register a fictitious name is $50.00. You have the option to purchase a certificate of status for additional $10.00, or a certified copy for an additional $30.00.

For more information and to register, click here: https://efile.sunbiz.org/ficregintro.html

4) Register With Your County & City

Once you have completed all the other steps, you need to register with the county & city. Make sure that you have copies of all the paperwork from steps 2 &3. You will need to submit them with the application for your business license.

For Sarasota County, click here: https://www.sarasotataxcollector.com/docs/business/BTRegistration.pdf

Additional help getting started in Sarasota County, click here: https://www.scgov.net/EconomicDevelopment/Documents/Doing%20Business%20With%20Sarasota%20County%202014.pdf

For Charlotte County, click here: http://www.cctaxcol.com/documents/BTApp.pdf

Additional help getting started in Charlotte County, click here: http://charlottebusinessresources.com/starting-a-business/licensing-permitting/

For Lee County, click here: http://www.leetc.com/docs/default-source/lbt-internal-links/lbt-application-and-instructions.pdf?sfvrsn=8f

Additional help getting started in Lee County, click here: http://www.leetc.com/docs/default-source/lbt-internal-links/lbt-checklist.pdf?sfvrsn=10

These links are for the COUNTY forms, NOT the CITY forms. You can google search for your particular city, or you can pick them up from your local tax man when you file for your county license.

You do have to pay for BOTH licenses. The charges will depend on your location. If you need help filing out the forms, just go in and talk to the tax man and they will walk you through it.

Have you done all that? Congratulations! You now have a legitimate business!

But wait, there's more...

What? What do you mean more?

Having a legitimate business will protect you in many, many ways. But there is also one more thing you need. Just like you need car insurance, you need business insurance. You may as well be playing the lottery with your livelihood, clients and self confidence when not carrying the proper insurance policies. There are quite a few very reputable companies that specialize in insurance for photographers.  

For photography business owners equipment and liability insurance are the most critical insurance policies to secure protection. Even though you may be set up as a limited liability company (LLC) or a corporation, there is no limit to the need for business insurance. In fact, state laws may require that your business transactions be covered by a certain form of insurance. 

When shooting in a variety of venues, proof of insurance may be required. Besides potential legal requirements, having insurance minimizes the risks that are associated with potential liabilities, losses and unfortunate events. I highly, highly recommend keeping a copy of your insurance certificate in your camera bag.

First and foremost, you need equipment insurance. Just like with your car, you will have deductibles (unless you get a premium plan that you REALLY pay for), but let's say you are traveling and $2,000 worth of gear is stolen. Or you accidentally drop and break your $2,000 camera body. Or one of the million other things that we risk going wrong every day from the second we wake up. Well that $250 deductible is going to look pretty nice in comparison to what you would have had to pay if you weren't covered!

Aside from equipment insurance, you need general liability insurance. This insurance is especially critical for photographers working in sensitive specializations (wedding, newborn, extreme sports, etc.) This insurance works as an umbrella to provide protection against legal actions arising from injuries, accidents and other claims.

Remember that quick google search I told you about in the very beginning? Lawsuits in the photography world are real and these days, they are getting nasty. Despite tort reform, photographers are facing lawsuits each and every day. I really cannot stress enough how important it is to get yourself covered. There's nothing wrong with dancing in the rain every once in a while, but you don't want to walk naked into the eye of a category 5 hurricane.

There are several very reputable companies that offer insurance specifically for photographers.  

Marsh USA

Hill & Usher (aka Package Choice)

Hiscox USA

ProPhotographers Insurance

TCP Insurance

American Photographic Artists Insurance

I also highly recommend Professional Photographers of America. It is not an insurance company. It is a membership for professional photographers. That being said, your membership dues give you an AUTOMATIC coverage of $15,000 for equipment insurance. It also covers you with an Indemnification Trust.

What is an Indemnification Trust? It is a program offered exclusively through PPA . It’s not insurance – it’s a trust fund established to help protect photographers from allegations of negligence. So if you ever need that lawyer that we are trying to hard to avoid, PPA has your back.

If you want to join PPA or find out more about them, click here: https://www.ppa.com

If you choose to go through PPA, you have the option to pay a low (honestly it is really cheap) fee to get basically 'full coverage' insurance.  

For more information on extended insurance through PPA, click here: http://ppa.locktonaffinity.com

And that is the end of the lesson. Keep in mind that you should do ALL of this before EVER CHARGING A PENNY to a single client.  

Once you have legitimized yourself, the work really begins.  Good luck!

January February March (1) April May June July (1) August September October (2) November December
January February March April May (1) June July August September October November December
January February March April May (1) June July August September (2) October November December (1)
January February March April May June July August September October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December