Grandma, Mommy & Me! A Light and Airy Studio Session with Ryder | Saratoga Springs Family Photographer

Way back in the fall, one very excited grandmother reached out to me and told me how much she would love to gift a portrait session to her daughter & grandson for the holidays.  She adored her grandson with his big personality and the beautiful way that he has brought so much light & joy into their world, and she was so excited to celebrate with his very first photo session.

Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs Family Photographer | Boston Family Photographer | Upstate NY Family Photographer | Family Photographer | Down Syndrome Photographer | Trisomy 21

When I met Ryder, I knew exactly what she was talking about.

This little sweetheart met me just outside of the studio, ran down the hallway, and let me scoop him up into the biggest hug ever.  He came right inside and was ready to laugh, play, jump on the bed, and just be all around adorable.

Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs Family Photographer | Boston Family Photographer | Upstate NY Family Photographer | Family Photographer | Down Syndrome Photographer | Trisomy 21
Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs Family Photographer | Boston Family Photographer | Upstate NY Family Photographer | Family Photographer | Down Syndrome Photographer | Trisomy 21
Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs Family Photographer | Boston Family Photographer | Upstate NY Family Photographer | Family Photographer | Down Syndrome Photographer | Trisomy 21

Mom and Grandma (Mimi) jumped in for a few shots, too, but really it was handsome Ryder that stole the show.

Seriously, look at how comfortable he was in front of the camera!  You wouldn't even know that this was his first time working with a photographer!

Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs Family Photographer | Boston Family Photographer | Upstate NY Family Photographer | Family Photographer | Down Syndrome Photographer | Trisomy 21
Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs Family Photographer | Boston Family Photographer | Upstate NY Family Photographer | Family Photographer | Down Syndrome Photographer | Trisomy 21
Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs Family Photographer | Boston Family Photographer | Upstate NY Family Photographer | Family Photographer | Down Syndrome Photographer | Trisomy 21

I am so happy that this sweet family joined me for their portrait session at our Attleboro studio, and I just know that they're going to LOVE these memories for years to come.  One day, Ryder will be big & grown, and they'll look back and remember how he curled right up in their arms and let them scoop him up into the coziest hugs.

Sweaters & Fall Leaves | Family Portraits at Larz Anderson Park in Brookline

As we wrap up the busy fall season filled with outdoor family portrait sessions, I am so excited to share a peek into this sweet family's session at Larz Anderson Park in Brookline. 

Jessica, Danny, and their son DJ were so much fun to work with, and I love how natural and easy they were in front of the camera.  They spent the hour together just loving on their son, making him laugh, and clapping for all of the skills that he showed off for the camera.  They were truly a joy to photograph, and I am so lucky that this job introduces me to such amazing families. 

Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs Family Photographer | Boston Family Photographer | Upstate NY Family Photographer | Family Photographer | Special Needs Photographer | Down Syndrome Photographer
Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs Family Photographer | Boston Family Photographer | Upstate NY Family Photographer | Family Photographer | Special Needs Photographer | Down Syndrome Photographer

DJ was so happy that afternoon, and he was in such a relaxed and playful mood the entire time.  I love how handsome he is with his adorable red glasses on, and those tiny hands clapping for himself are the sweetest thing! 

Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs Family Photographer | Boston Family Photographer | Upstate NY Family Photographer | Family Photographer | Special Needs Photographer | Down Syndrome Photographer
Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs Family Photographer | Boston Family Photographer | Upstate NY Family Photographer | Family Photographer | Special Needs Photographer | Down Syndrome Photographer
Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs Family Photographer | Boston Family Photographer | Upstate NY Family Photographer | Family Photographer | Special Needs Photographer | Down Syndrome Photographer

Peek-a-boo!

Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs Family Photographer | Boston Family Photographer | Upstate NY Family Photographer | Family Photographer | Special Needs Photographer | Down Syndrome Photographer
Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs Family Photographer | Boston Family Photographer | Upstate NY Family Photographer | Family Photographer | Special Needs Photographer | Down Syndrome Photographer
Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs Family Photographer | Boston Family Photographer | Upstate NY Family Photographer | Family Photographer | Special Needs Photographer | Down Syndrome Photographer

This little series with his mama makes my heart so happy.  It is so clear to see that DJ bring so much JOY to their lives, and I was thrilled going back through my images from that day to see that we captured these huge smiles and real laughs shared between the two of them.

Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs Family Photographer | Boston Family Photographer | Upstate NY Family Photographer | Family Photographer | Special Needs Photographer | Down Syndrome Photographer
Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs Family Photographer | Boston Family Photographer | Upstate NY Family Photographer | Family Photographer | Special Needs Photographer | Down Syndrome Photographer
Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs Family Photographer | Boston Family Photographer | Upstate NY Family Photographer | Family Photographer | Special Needs Photographer | Down Syndrome Photographer

We may have wrapped up our outdoor family sessions for the year, but we're still inviting families to come visit us at our Attleboro, MA and Saratoga Springs, NY studios for the sessions this winter!  Contact us today to plan your next portrait session!
 

saratoga springs family and baby photographer

Three of Hearts Cake Smash | Down Syndrome & CHD Awareness

Meet Harper, Catherine & Mae.  These birthday girls are our "Three of Hearts."

Cake Smash with three babies with Down syndrome.  Special needs photographer in Boston, MA.

These three baby girls met for the first time at our breastfeeding photoshoot on the beach with Julia's Way in June 2017.  During the photoshoot we discovered that they all were born three days in a row, and they all underwent major heart surgeries at Boston Children's Hospital in their first few months of life.  

These girls are now thriving -- they are heart warriors and breastfeeding champions.  When we also realized that their first birthdays were coming up, we knew we had to do something special to celebrate!  


TIME FOR A VERY SPECIAL CAKE SMASH!

Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs Cake Smash Photographer | Boston Cake Smash Photographer | Down Syndrome Photographer | Down Syndrome Awareness

I'm pretty sure that Mae is the smiliest of the bunch -- she has such a wide range of expressions, and I love how excited she was during our session together!  Her sparkling eyes and auburn hair will melt your heart!

Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs Cake Smash Photographer | Boston Cake Smash Photographer | Down Syndrome Photographer | Down Syndrome Awareness

You'll see that every baby's journey is unique, and Mae's mom shared a little bit about what makes her daughter "Mighty Mae."

Mae has had quite a first year. 3 separate heart surgeries including a pacemaker all before 7 months of age. She was inpatient for 75 days before coming home for the first time! A total of 136 days in the hospital in her first year of life. I can’t wait to celebrate her resilience and beauty in this photoshoot. She’s our “Mighty Mae”
— Mae's mom
Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs Cake Smash Photographer | Boston Cake Smash Photographer | Down Syndrome Photographer | Down Syndrome Awareness
Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs Cake Smash Photographer | Boston Cake Smash Photographer | Down Syndrome Photographer | Down Syndrome Awareness

Little miss Catherine (Cate) is adorable & sweet, and oh-so-dainty.  This sweet little girl didn't want to get her fingers too messy during the cake smash, and she spent most of the time trying to figure out how to get the frosting OFF of her fingers.  Oh, and she has the most adorable eyes framed by her purple glasses!

Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs Cake Smash Photographer | Boston Cake Smash Photographer | Down Syndrome Photographer | Down Syndrome Awareness

Cate has come such a long way, and I love this message from her mom!

Cate was in the hospital for 80 straight days starting right when she was born. She has had 3 major surgeries, one of which was open heart surgery. She has come so far from a 5lb 3oz sick little heart baby to a 17lb happy little girl who sits up, babbles, and plays with toys.
— Cate's mom
Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs Cake Smash Photographer | Boston Cake Smash Photographer | Down Syndrome Photographer | Down Syndrome Awareness
Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs Cake Smash Photographer | Boston Cake Smash Photographer | Down Syndrome Photographer | Down Syndrome Awareness

And Harper was the frosting queen!  Not one to shy away from sugar (this is a girl after my own heart!), this cuddly little girl was immediately covered in frosting and loved making a great big mess.  She had her fingers in the cake before I even picked up my camera, and she definitely loved this birthday experience!

Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs Cake Smash Photographer | Boston Cake Smash Photographer | Down Syndrome Photographer | Down Syndrome Awareness

Harper's mom shared a few inspiring words on her heart warrior's journey:

This session is so important to me because prior to her diagnosis we were expecting a “normal” healthy baby. The news of her Trisomy 21 devastated us, but her heart defect caused us to mourn her. We anticipated the worst and grieved her loss prematurely. I want others to know that neither diagnosis is not necessarily a terminal one and that she has brought so much love, joy, patience and understanding into our lives. She has changed every member of our family for the better!!!
— Harper's mom
Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs Cake Smash Photographer | Boston Cake Smash Photographer | Down Syndrome Photographer | Down Syndrome Awareness
Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs Cake Smash Photographer | Boston Cake Smash Photographer | Down Syndrome Photographer | Down Syndrome Awareness
Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs Cake Smash Photographer | Boston Cake Smash Photographer | Down Syndrome Photographer | Down Syndrome Awareness
Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs Cake Smash Photographer | Boston Cake Smash Photographer | Down Syndrome Photographer | Down Syndrome Awareness
Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs Cake Smash Photographer | Boston Cake Smash Photographer | Down Syndrome Photographer | Down Syndrome Awareness
Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs Cake Smash Photographer | Boston Cake Smash Photographer | Down Syndrome Photographer | Down Syndrome Awareness
Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs Cake Smash Photographer | Boston Cake Smash Photographer | Down Syndrome Photographer | Down Syndrome Awareness
Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs Cake Smash Photographer | Boston Cake Smash Photographer | Down Syndrome Photographer | Down Syndrome Awareness
Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs Cake Smash Photographer | Boston Cake Smash Photographer | Down Syndrome Photographer | Down Syndrome Awareness
Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs Cake Smash Photographer | Boston Cake Smash Photographer | Down Syndrome Photographer | Down Syndrome Awareness
Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs Cake Smash Photographer | Boston Cake Smash Photographer | Down Syndrome Photographer | Down Syndrome Awareness
Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs Cake Smash Photographer | Boston Cake Smash Photographer | Down Syndrome Photographer | Down Syndrome Awareness

Loved this session?  Leave a little love for our "Three of Hearts" in the comments below, and please share this session on Facebook to help us spread the love for these heart warriors!

Behind the Scenes of our "Three of Hearts" Cake Smash | Down Syndrome Awareness

Three babies.  Three cakes.  And one very special cake smash.

Enjoy a behind-the-scenes peek into our "Three of Hearts" cake smash with Mae, Harper, and Catherine.  This was such an amazing session with three beautiful babies, that we couldn't help but share a peek into the making of their cake smash images!  Check back later this week for the full cake smash gallery to see the stunning & hilarious moments that we captured together with the birthday girls!

three of hearts cake smash with nicole starr photography, for down syndrome awareness and congenital heart defect awareness

The full story will be coming to the blog later this week, but these three little girls all happened to celebrate their first birthdays three days in a row, and they all underwent lengthy hospital stays and surgeries due to heart complications when they were born in Boston last summer.  These heart warriors pushed through and were all able to successfully breastfeed this year, too!  They also happen to have Down syndrome, and they met for the first time at our photoshoot with Julia's Way in June, just a few short days before they all turned one!

Behind the scenes of our Three of Hearts cake smash with Nicole Starr Photography.  These three heart warriors all happen to have Down syndrome and survived major heart surgeries in their first year of life.  They also share birthdays three days in a row!

Of course, these little heart warriors rocked their Julia's Way onesies before the cake smash got underway.  Just look at how excited Harper is to show off her stylish onesie!

nicole starr photography-1.jpg

We had all three moms in the studio for this session, plus the founder of Julia's Way, Ella Cullen, with her little girl Julia Grace.  A huge thank you to our behind-the-scenes photographer and my good friend Jamie of Koss Photography for capturing the event for us!

When designing a setup for these little heart warriors, of course we went with a heart theme!  Catherine, Harper, and Mae rocked the most beautiful tutus and pearl necklaces that perfectly framed their heart scars on their chests.  

The girls all LOVED the camera, and they did such an amazing job during their session!  I went in fully aware of the possibility of three meltdowns, but we didn't have any -- well, at least until the very end!!  Their curiosity & sweet personalities all shone through, and it was such a joy to capture them individually and together on camera!

So what happens when you put three cakes in front of three babies?  

Some babies love it, others hate it.  Some are curious and cover their whole body in frosting -- Harper!!  Others think about face planting into the cake and rock their body back and forth to get their mouth closer and closer to the cake -- Mae!  And others are much more interested in playing with their pearls than actually getting any frosting on their fingers -- Cate!

Follow us on social media to see the first sneak peeks later this week, and we will update this blog post with a link to the gallery post as soon as it goes live!
 

More Than an Extra Chromosome: World Down Syndrome Day 2016

Happy World Down Syndrome Day!

March 21 is World Down Syndrome Day, celebrated today because individuals with Down syndrome have a third copy of the 21st chromosome.  Naturally, 3/21 is the perfect date to celebrate how amazing these individuals are that rock that extra chromosome!  (But really, we celebrate them every day!)

If you've been following along on my page for awhile now, you know that Down syndrome awareness and advocacy are two topics very close to my heart that I share about often on my social media and website.  You can read more about the beautiful stories & smiling faces that I've been fortunate enough to capture over the past six months here through our ongoing photo series celebrating children with Down syndrome.  Meeting these families, listening to their stories, celebrating their children, capturing their true personalities, and hearing the ways in which their photos have impacted YOUR LIVES has made this such a meaningful project for me, and one that I am proud to continue sharing each month.

When the opportunity arose to organize photo sessions for children in the Albany area with Down syndrome, I was excited and honored to have the chance to meet so many more inspiring families.  This time, I approached our photo series with a new mission in mind.  So often in stories that focus on these amazing individuals, the word "extra" is often followed by "chromosome".  But there is so much more to these incredible people than just a tiny piece of DNA!  They are more than just an extra chromosome.  They are extra silly, extra brave, extra smart, extra charming, extra chosen...... extra everything!

I hope you'll enjoy their beautiful stories and their smiling faces, and remember to take a moment today to do an extra good deed for someone in honor of World Down Syndrome Day.  Want to take it a step further?

Educate yourself: www.ndss.org
Find a Buddy Walk: http://www.ndss.org/Buddy-Walk/
Contribute to scholarships for adults with Down syndrome: https://rubysrainbow.org

"We had a prenatal diagnosis, and we tried to educate ourselves about Down syndrome.  So much of the information is terrifying, and we were scared.  We decided to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.  KiraLynn is the youngest of 7 children and is the light of our world.  Our journey is nothing but joy, and love.  I wish I could go back and tell myself not to worry so much.  She is happy, loving, goofy, has a terrible temper, and is wildly mischievous.  She is everything."  ~KiraLynn's mom

"Our story is unique, just like Brennan. We got his diagnosis a week after he turned 1. There was shock, sadness, fear and so many questions. I don't remember the day when I realized that I no longer was upset about this. Having a child with Down syndrome is an awesome gift! I feel honored that we were chosen for this, after all, we only had a 1 in 600 chance." ~Brennan's mom

Brennan was diagnosed with Down syndrome after his first birthday, which is much later than when the typical diagnosis occurs. Read his mom's touching story published for GiGi's Playhouse, Inc. here: http://gigisplayhouse.org/syracu…/uncategorized/downsyndrome

Evan's 9 year old sister, Ella, wrote this touching story about her brother for us to share in honor of World Down Syndrome Day.  I love the love!  It's so true when they say if you want to know how to treat a child with Down syndrome, just watch to see how their siblings treat them... just like everyone else!  This is the sweetest.

"Evan is a great brother. I love Evan because he loves me. I love how he loves to play with me. He is so much fun! We like to play a game where we are magicians. Evan is the best magic partner ever! Evan is really good at making friends. When I'm sad, I always want Evan because he makes me laugh. He says, "why sad?" I say, "because." He'll say, "why because?" He knows a lot about me! He knows I love laughing and he doesn't want me to be sad so he makes me laugh. If the whole world knew Evan, then everyone would want to be me so Evan could be their brother." ~Evan's sister

Below, these three beautiful sisters have so much personality: Autumn, Masha & Summer.

"From the minute Coco was born and diagnosed with Down syndrome our lives have been filled with joy. Coco, named before she was born is the perfect name for her because it fits her to a tee...she's fun, sweet, playful, fashionable and yes full of sass!" ~Coco's mom

"Peyton is an energetic 5 year old little boy who loves to play outside and spend time with his siblings. He LOVES to be the center of attention and can be very mischievous but he says he's being "silly"." ~Michelle

"Reese is our 7 year old princess.  She loves anything purple, pink and sparkly.  She also loves music, swimming and dancing.  Anyone who has spent any significant amount of time with Reese has told me that she has impacted their life in some way.  Her smile and her hugs bring joy to everyone that she meets.

"We found out that Reese has Down syndrome the day after she was born.  At that moment, I decided that we would not treat her differently just because she has Down syndrome.  Down syndrome is just one small part of who she is."  ~Reese's mom

"We received Lukas' diagnosis at birth and it was a huge surprise. There were so many emotions surrounding it all but the one that stuck out the most after my love for him was fear. Fear of raising a child with a disability that I felt unprepared for, fear of Down Syndrome and not knowing what it truly meant, fear of how he would be perceived and treated in his life, and mostly fear of the unknown.

"Four years later I am happy to say that I no longer fear raising a child with Down Syndrome for I do not see it as a disability but a different ability. I have a greater understanding of Down Syndrome and see it in a different light than previously. The only fear I have left is the fear of how he will be treated and perceived by others. Lukas is a beautiful, funny, sweet, smart, loving son and big brother. He has brought more laughter and joy than tears and sadness to our life. I never knew I could love someone as much as I love him. I wouldn't change him for the World but I will change the world for him so that welcoming a loving soul with Down Syndrome into the World isn't something to fear any longer because to me he is perfect just the way he is!" ~Lukas' mom

"Allie is an amazing little girl that brings a smile to anyone that meets her. People seem to go out of their way to come to her to say hello. She can make the darkest days just shine! She really is the best daughter, little sister, granddaughter, cousin, niece, and friend that we are all lucky to be blessed with. Allie bear is our darling!" ~Allie's mom

"Our sweet boy Ryland had quite a few surprises for us during his first twenty four hours of life!  Between learning that he was born with Down syndrome and discovering that he had a rare combination of heart defects, it was quite a whirlwind at first!  He's come a long way and fills our hearts with so much joy each and every day.  He is a very social little boy who can brighten anyone's day with his infectious smile and contagious laughter.  Laughing, babbling, playing with his sister, and "dancing", are just a few of the things he loves to do.  Ryland rocks our world and we couldn't imagine life without him.  He amazes us everyday with his abilities and we are beyond proud to call him ours!"  -Ryland's mom

"Oliver's diagnosis came as a complete shock to us 10 days after his birth. At first we were devastated and scared. We didn't know much about Down syndrome back then. I wish I could go back and tell myself how amazing he would be. I wish I could tell myself that I would literally thank God for giving us the chance to be his parents! I wish I would have known how funny and silly and how stubborn and smart he would be. I can barely remember what it's like to not know about Down syndrome now! Oliver has brought so much love to our family and brought so many new friends into our lives. He is taking us all on a new and incredible journey. Even all the way to China to adopt another child with Down syndrome!" ~Oliver's mom

oscar world down syndrome day albany saratoga photographer.jpg

"Oscar is a sweetheart. He loves to be cuddled more then anything else. He has been through a lot in his short life. More than we will ever know. He was found abandoned in North western China approximately 2 weeks after he was born. Most likely because he was born with Down syndrome. We came across his name on an adoption advocacy group page. The agency had chosen the name Oscar and since we already had an Oliver and thought that was cute I decided to click on it.

All the children listed had various disabilities, but Oscar happened to also have Down syndrome like our Oliver. And his birth month and year were the same too! It just seemed so meant to be. As a family we decided to do it and signed a commitment letter the next day. 8 months later we went to China and brought him back home to New York.

Now Oscar is a part of a family. He is one of five siblings. He has two big dogs! He gets to have birthday parties, celebrate Christmas and decorate Easter eggs, go trick or treating, apple picking and swimming and go to school. He gets to wear red on Valentine's Day and hand out cards to his friends and wear green on St. Patrick's day! He has a forever family. So many other children are waiting right now all around the world for their forever family to find them. http://reecesrainbow.org/" ~Oscar's mom

Finally, a very special THANK YOU to our friends at Buckingham Confectionary in Malta, NY for donating these delicious treats in blue & yellow to all of the families that came to our photo sessions for the #WDSD16 photo shoot!  We truly appreciate your generosity, and thank you for supporting our cause!