Thursday, August 16, 2012

Review: Newborn and Family Photography From Dainty Hippo

About a week after Zoe was born we had an at-home photo shoot with Lindsay, the owner of Dainty Hippo Design.  I've actually known Lindsay for years, we met through online support boards when we were trying to conceive our now toddlers.  Still, we had never actually met in person until the day of the photo session.  We'd been meaning to meet-up since I moved to the Philadelphia area but never made it happen.  I knew she had a photography and graphic design business so when we were shopping around for a photographer to do a newborn and family session she was the first person I thought of.  Supporting a local lesbian/woman owned small business while working with someone I know I like and feel comfortable with?  Yes, please.

Family Time

When Zoe arrived we set up a session right away so as not to miss out on that newborn squishiness.  (Apparently my spellcheck does not think squishiness is a word.  I assure you, it is.)  I'd never had a photo session at home before, so I wasn't sure what to expect.  On one hand, I was VERY glad that we didn't have to pack everyone up and go somewhere - on the other hand I was mildly panicked about the one-week post-partum messy state of our home.  I was worried that the background of all the pictures would be cluttered with toys, gifts, food, and all those other (wonderful) things that fill up your home in that first week of a new baby.  I was happily shocked when the pictures came back and our home looked light, airy, and comfortable.  Still our home - but in it's best light.  I'm getting ahead of myself - I just needed to mention that working around our mess was magic in and of itself.

Leo spraying a cloth wipe for a diaper change
Lindsay arrived with her equipment and made conversation with us as she snapped some practice shots to gauge light and get us comfortable.  I'm usually very stiff in front of a camera - I strike an awkward pose, slap on a fake smile and worry about my many chins, but between being in my own space and feeling very at ease with Lindsay I was able to relax and she was able to capture some really authentic family moments.   

Father and Son play Mancala

We didn't feel any pressure, we could virtually go on with our day as though she wasn't there.  jb joked that she was going to throw in a load of laundry so we could really capture our babymoon days.  I could nurse Zoe on demand.  Leo never got restless because he could play/help/read as he normally would.  Lindsay was easy to be around and great with Leo.  It was a really easy going and pleasant experience.

Leo coloring

Most of these shots were taken in natural light (which is Lindsay's specialty) - but for a few shots we were backlit or the room didn't get much light.  For these shots she set up those cool umbrella lights and turned our house into a mini-studio.  Leo thought that was pretty awesome - and so did I.

Leo's expression cracks me up

I feel like we got a great mix of shots.  Some family ones, some with different combinations of family members, some action shots, some posed newborn perfection, some more candid snaps.  There were many that were perfect to share with family or hang on the wall and others that seemed so personal and intimate - freezing a moment that we are sure to cherish for years to come.

Sleeping newborn angel

For example: I love this one because I feel like it really captures being the mama of a newborn: I look tired and puffy, my hair is a mess, my belly is soft - but I'm clearly deliriously happy.  Plus?  Baby arm chub!

New Mama Bliss

I know it seems like this post has a thousand pictures - but I actually showed restraint when choosing which ones to include.  Dainty Hippo guarantees at least 20 high-quality images, but our session yielded almost seventy pictures!  If you want to see every last one (and they really are all great) check out the video at the end of the post.

Newborn Perfection

For the proofing session Lindsay came back to our house to go over the shots (convenient!) and we were obviously thrilled with the results.  I got a little teary seeing the images on the screen - and couldn't wait to pour over each one in detail.  We chose a few favorites to get printed and were able to share the online gallery with family and friends should they want to order prints.  Again - so hard to choose with so many great shots!          
Father-Son Fun

Our prints and digital disc arrived in a cute little personalized package very shortly after we ordered.  From start to finish - I was really impressed with the level of professionalism paired with all the little personal touches and individualized attention.

Like Christmas Morning

And the prints...oh, my.  There is no way to convey the quality through a computer screen - but wow. Much nicer than we've gotten from other places we've ordered from.  They are truly gift/display caliber and are competitively priced for this area - of course there is also the option to purchase high-resolution images on disc if you prefer to do your own printing.

The print quality is phenomenal - not done justice by my iphone camera...

If you are looking for a photographer in the Philadelphia or South Jersey area - look into Dainty Hippo.  You'll be glad you did.  They are a great choice for on location family pictures or events like birthdays or baby showers.  They also offer design services so keep them in mind for announcements, invitations or holiday cards. 

Family portrait sessions for the remainder of 2012 are $150. If you book a session by September 15 (for a date in 2012)  you will receive $50 off their session if you tell them West Philly Mama sent you. 

This picture is just begging for a funny caption...

Disclaimer: Dainty Hippo Design provided services and products for review.  All opinions are my own.


  1. Carolyn Chernoff8/16/2012


  2. So gorgeous! And I love that it tells YOUR story, as a family. So lovely! It's nice to reflect on how everyday things in life can be so beautiful.