Meet Cylie - A Session to celebrate National Down Syndrome Awareness Month

As we continue our annual passion project of portrait sessions to celebrate National Down Syndrome Awareness Month, I am excited to share this adorable studio session of Cylie and her little sister Hailey.

Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs NY and Boston MA children's photographer, National Down Syndrome Awareness Month, NDSAM, Down syndrome advocacy, special needs photographer, Down syndrome awareness

Cylie was filled with smiles and questions, pointing out everything in the studio and completely in awe of the tiny wraps, headbands, and all of the baby portraits & cake smash photos on the walls. She was filled with curiosity and excitement, and I absolutely loved photographing these portraits for her family to enjoy.

Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs NY and Boston MA children's photographer, National Down Syndrome Awareness Month, NDSAM, Down syndrome advocacy, special needs photographer, Down syndrome awareness

Her little sister jumped in for a few photos, too, and they share the sweetest bond!

Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs NY and Boston MA children's photographer, National Down Syndrome Awareness Month, NDSAM, Down syndrome advocacy, special needs photographer, Down syndrome awareness
Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs NY and Boston MA children's photographer, National Down Syndrome Awareness Month, NDSAM, Down syndrome advocacy, special needs photographer, Down syndrome awareness
Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs NY and Boston MA children's photographer, National Down Syndrome Awareness Month, NDSAM, Down syndrome advocacy, special needs photographer, Down syndrome awareness

Future Rockette with that leg kick!

Did you know that individuals with Down syndrome are generally extra flexible due to the low muscle tone and loose ligaments that are commonly associated with DS? For Cylie, that means she can really get that leg up high for those leg kicks! :o)

Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs NY and Boston MA children's photographer, National Down Syndrome Awareness Month, NDSAM, Down syndrome advocacy, special needs photographer, Down syndrome awareness
Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs NY and Boston MA children's photographer, National Down Syndrome Awareness Month, NDSAM, Down syndrome advocacy, special needs photographer, Down syndrome awareness

These girls are so sweet together, and I absolutely loved capturing their special bond on camera.

Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs NY and Boston MA children's photographer, National Down Syndrome Awareness Month, NDSAM, Down syndrome advocacy, special needs photographer, Down syndrome awareness
Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs NY and Boston MA children's photographer, National Down Syndrome Awareness Month, NDSAM, Down syndrome advocacy, special needs photographer, Down syndrome awareness

Meet Kaysen - A Portrait Session for National Down Syndrome Awareness Month

Kaysen has the biggest smile, and such an infectious giggle that everyone around can’t help but laugh with him.

He is such a little sweetheart, and I absolutely loved photographing him this month as part of our annual passion project in honor of National Down Syndrome Awareness Month. When he saw that I had my camera, he was eager to sit down and pose, and he completely melted our hearts with his beautiful personality.

Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs NY and Boston MA children's photographer, National Down Syndrome Awareness Month, NDSAM, Down syndrome advocacy, special needs photographer, Down syndrome awareness

Kaysen’s big sister joined us for a few portraits, and I loved watching the two of them interact and cuddle up together. He adores her! They have such a strong bond, and you can already tell that she watches out for her little brother while also being his biggest fan.

Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs NY and Boston MA children's photographer, National Down Syndrome Awareness Month, NDSAM, Down syndrome advocacy, special needs photographer, Down syndrome awareness
Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs NY and Boston MA children's photographer, National Down Syndrome Awareness Month, NDSAM, Down syndrome advocacy, special needs photographer, Down syndrome awareness, family with special needs, children with Down syndrome
Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs NY and Boston MA children's photographer, National Down Syndrome Awareness Month, NDSAM, Down syndrome advocacy, special needs photographer, Down syndrome awareness, family with special needs, children with Down syndrome

From his mama:

”Kaysen has been special from day 1. He is an IUI baby and after years of trying, he was chosen for us. Kaysen has a more rare form of DS. It's called Robertsonian Translocation 21;21. This means instead of having a full 3rd- 21st chromosome, he has a 3rd attached to one of his current 21st which makes it extended. He was born without a diagnosis and it took 8 weeks to finally narrow down what it was.

”He is energetic, full of life and hysterical. His smile is quite the lady killer… and he knows it! He adores his 13 year old sister, Arabella. Kaysen has exceeded expectations and continues to defy odds. He keeps his therapists on their toes!”

Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs NY and Boston MA children's photographer, National Down Syndrome Awareness Month, NDSAM, Down syndrome advocacy, special needs photographer, Down syndrome awareness, family with special needs, children with Down syndrome
Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs NY and Boston MA children's photographer, National Down Syndrome Awareness Month, NDSAM, Down syndrome advocacy, special needs photographer, Down syndrome awareness, family with special needs, children with Down syndrome

I absolutely loved meeting this special little guy and his family, and I’m so glad we were able to capture these beautiful portraits for them to enjoy!

Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs NY and Boston MA children's photographer, National Down Syndrome Awareness Month, NDSAM, Down syndrome advocacy, special needs photographer, Down syndrome awareness, family with special needs, children with Down syndrome
Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs NY and Boston MA children's photographer, National Down Syndrome Awareness Month, NDSAM, Down syndrome advocacy, special needs photographer, Down syndrome awareness, family with special needs, children with Down syndrome

Family Portraits in the Woods with Boston Family Photographer

Ohhh, sweet little Julia Grace! You steal everybody’s hearts with your smile!

Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs Family Photographer | Boston Family Photographer | Upstate NY Family Photographer | Family Photographer
Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs Family Photographer | Boston Family Photographer | Upstate NY Family Photographer | Family Photographer
Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs Family Photographer | Boston Family Photographer | Upstate NY Family Photographer | Family Photographer

I was so excited to meet up with this family again, and I couldn’t believe how much little Julia Grace had grown since last summer! With her flowing hair and energetic run, this sweet and expressive little girl was no longer a baby! She is at such a fun age right now, and I loved capturing that on camera as she cuddled up with her parents on a very windy day in the woods.

Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs Family Photographer | Boston Family Photographer | Upstate NY Family Photographer | Family Photographer
Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs Family Photographer | Boston Family Photographer | Upstate NY Family Photographer | Family Photographer

Flying baby! She couldn’t stop laughing while flying with her daddy, so of course he kept doing it again and again and again just to hear that happy little belly laugh!

Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs Family Photographer | Boston Family Photographer | Upstate NY Family Photographer | Family Photographer
Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs Family Photographer | Boston Family Photographer | Upstate NY Family Photographer | Family Photographer

Little Miss Independent just started walking recently after many months of practice and hard work, so this photo was extra special and a cause for celebration! Plus, look at those matching shoes with mom!

Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs Family Photographer | Boston Family Photographer | Upstate NY Family Photographer | Family Photographer

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!
 

Breastfeeding Babies with Down Syndrome | Saratoga Springs and Boston Baby Photographer

Sometimes the stars align and you find yourself exactly where you were supposed to be, surrounded by people that are going to inspire you & change you.

Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs Baby Photographer | Boston Baby Photographer | Upstate NY Baby Photographer | Baby Photographer

That is exactly what happened when Ella Gray Cullen, the founder of the nonprofit Julia's Way, contacted me and together we organized this session on the beach with 10 strong mamas and 10 warrior babies.  

But here's the catch -- all of these babies rock an extra chromosome and happen to have Down syndrome, and we gathered on the beach to celebrate their journeys in nursing and their mamas' journeys in breastfeeding.

I loved every minute of this evening together -- cuddling the cutest babies, hearing their stories, and laughing together as the babies were just being their sweet little selves!  

Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs Baby Photographer | Boston Baby Photographer | Upstate NY Baby Photographer | Baby Photographer
Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs Baby Photographer | Boston Baby Photographer | Upstate NY Baby Photographer | Baby Photographer
Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs Baby Photographer | Boston Baby Photographer | Upstate NY Baby Photographer | Baby Photographer

From Ella Gray Cullen, enjoy a little peek into the heart behind the photo session that has since begun to inspire a movement to help others reimagine life with Down syndrome, and check out her full blog post here.....

"I was disheartened by hearing from women who had been told that their babies likely wouldn't nurse. Some were told by their doctors or other medical professionals that they shouldn't even bother. My breastfeeding relationship with my daughter is one of the greatest treasures I have and I felt sad to hear women say they felt they couldn't have that just because their child had Down syndrome.
Many, if not most, babies with DS can breastfeed and for those that can, and whose mothers would like to do it, the benefits are immeasurable. Feeding your child is always a personal choice, but some of these women didn't have a choice because of their medical professionals. Somehow, my vision of posting a photo of myself nursing my daughter on my personal Facebook page to create awareness spawned a non-profit dedicated to reimagining life with Down syndrome and suddenly we had 10 women who volunteered their time.
These women nursed their babies and children despite challenges most people could never have imagined including months' long NICU stays, heart failure, open heart surgery, pulmonary hypertension, duodenal atresia, leukemia, prematurity, and hypothyroidism. These women came together to give a gift to new and expectant moms, something many of them feel that they didn't have enough of: encouragement from real moms, like themselves, who struggled through the early and difficult days and eventually met success, usually when they least expected it. We want to say you can do it! We are here cheering you on! and go, mama, go! "
Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs Baby Photographer | Boston Baby Photographer | Upstate NY Baby Photographer | Baby Photographer
Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs Baby Photographer | Boston Baby Photographer | Upstate NY Baby Photographer | Baby Photographer
Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs Baby Photographer | Boston Baby Photographer | Upstate NY Baby Photographer | Baby Photographer
Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs Baby Photographer | Boston Baby Photographer | Upstate NY Baby Photographer | Baby Photographer
Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs Baby Photographer | Boston Baby Photographer | Upstate NY Baby Photographer | Baby Photographer
Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs Baby Photographer | Boston Baby Photographer | Upstate NY Baby Photographer | Baby Photographer
Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs Baby Photographer | Boston Baby Photographer | Upstate NY Baby Photographer | Baby Photographer
Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs Baby Photographer | Boston Baby Photographer | Upstate NY Baby Photographer | Baby Photographer
Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs Baby Photographer | Boston Baby Photographer | Upstate NY Baby Photographer | Baby Photographer
Nicole Starr Photography | Saratoga Springs Baby Photographer | Boston Baby Photographer | Upstate NY Baby Photographer | Baby Photographer

You know the most amazing thing that has come out of this evening on the beach?  

It's not that the story has started going viral online, but it's the reaction that so many mamas have had to our posts.  The comment sections have been filled with mothers sharing their own personal journeys, telling us about their little ones with Down syndrome, and giving a glimpse into their breastfeeding journey.  What we love the most is hearing other mothers tell us that they are advocating for their little ones and doing everything possible to open a whole world of possibilities for their babies.  Keep it up, mamas!  You're doing an amazing job!

A huge thank you for all of the shares on our posts, including:
La Leche League USA
Love What Matters
PopSugar Moms
Hanover Wicked Local


JULIAS WAY has big plans to continue the momentum we've gained from the shoot, and part of this advocacy involves an informational video, publishing a book, and spreading the word in medical offices across the country.  Please consider donating to support this cause!


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

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"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! 

A Where the Wild Things Are Cake Smash: Saratoga Springs Baby Photographer

I truly love everything about our cake smash sessions -- cute babies & cakes & creative backdrops & photos... what more can a girl ask for?  Planning Maeve's "Where the Wild Things Are" cake smash was no exception, and I loved collaborating with her mom to plan the perfect outfit, a beautiful rustic cake, and a backdrop that would bring this Maurice Sendak's magical childhood story to life to celebrate this little girl's first birthday.

One of my favorite things about babies this age are the sweet, squishy little baby rolls on their arms & legs.  Maeve ROCKS those rolls, and her mom chose this little romper specifically to show those off.  Doesn't this just make you want to cuddle up with her?

saratoga springs baby cake smash photographer

Maeve might not have been so sure about her cake at first, daintily swiping at the frosting.  Before we knew it, she started what we called "the hulk smash".  Just picture this sweet little face scrunching up and hulk smashing her cake for a second... it's adorable!

where the wild things are cake smash saratoga springs albany
where the wild things are birthday photo shoot
where the wild things are birthday cake smash photo session albany saratoga springs
saratoga springs albany cake smash baby photographer
albany cake smash baby photographer

And finally, let's finish up with a few images of a clean and sugar-free baby girl before her cake smash.  I just love this quilt series that we captured together!  Her mom brought this baby quilt, and Maeve brought her sassy personality.  Which is your favorite expression on that adorable little face of hers?

Behind the Scenes at Rockin' NDSS Studios

UPDATE:  Our Rockin' NDSS Studios project has been featured in an article on The Mighty!  Check it out here.

Last week's photo shoot at the National Down Syndrome Society in NYC was so much fun!  It was a heart-warming, eye-opening, incredibly collaborative experience that left us all with full hearts, happy souls, and tired bodies.  Overall, it was a huge success and I am truly honored to have played a small part in making this dream become a reality!

You can read my full blog post by clicking here to learn more about these extra special photo sessions, what we're going to do with the photos next spring, and see every single one of our lovely & talented models who rock that extra chromosome.

Here I am sharing many of our behind-the-scenes photos from our two days at the NDSS offices.  We turned their staff's offices into dressing rooms, their hallways into makeup studios and hair salons, and their conference room into a photo studio.  A little imagination goes a long way, and this amazing team of organizers, hair stylists, makeup artists, moms, dads, grandparents, cousins, siblings, models, and photographers truly showed what amazing things can happen when we all work together.

Enjoy a peek into our #rockinNDSSstudios adventure!

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rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0333

Three photographers excited for sessions to begin: me, Sherri Harnisch and Wendy Zook.

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rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0334
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rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0335
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rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0336
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rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0337
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rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0338
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rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0339

Joey, our Slash model out on the streets of New York City!  He really mastered the hard-core rocker look, tattoos (sleeves) and all!!

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rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0340
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rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0341
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rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0342
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rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0343

Lady Gaga and Joan Jett in the makeup studio!

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rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0344
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rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0345

A little bit of windblown fan action on our very own Mariah Carey!

Sibling love!

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rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0346
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rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0347
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rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0348

Katelynn celebrated her 5th birthday by coming to our photo session as Scary Spice!  What a cutie!

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rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0349

Kelly Clarkson and her twin sister.  As a twin myself, you know I always have a special place in my heart for twins on camera!

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rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0350
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rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0351

Wendy really got our little Pat Benatar to rock out.  We had a full-on dance party in the studio to Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off" to get this little one in the spirit, and it truly worked!  Her photos are phenomenal!

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rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0352

Our Usher had all the moves once we put on his favorite song.

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rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0353
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rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0354

Isn't she the most adorable Tina Turner?  I love the missing front teeth!

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rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0355
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rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0356
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rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0357
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rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0358

Our Buddy Holly was a little uncertain about the camera at first.  His sisters started a dance party with his guitar, and before we knew it, he was rocking out all by himself.  We couldn't resist a few fun photos of his whole family's jam session first, though!

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rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0359

Sara's presidential duties at the NDSS also include custom makeup application.  This little guy was an amazing band member for KISS!

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rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0360

Fist bump with Bob Dylan!

Rock on!

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rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0361
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rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0362

Mason didn't want to have all the fun by himself, so he pulled his big sister out onto the dance floor at the end of the session.

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rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0363

More KISS band members and their family's dance party!

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rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0364

Oh my goodness.  This Elvis impersonator was seriously impressive.  Mickey owns multiple costumes, he performs all around town, and he is REALLY, REALLY GOOD at what he does.  I loved watching him when he was totally "in the zone" as Elvis during his shoot with Wendy.

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rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0365

Teaching his sister and father how to groove.

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rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0366

The sweetest sisters!

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rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0367

Runaway baby!  Johnny Cash and June Carter.

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rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0368
rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0369
rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0369

Grace was our youngest model, only 11 weeks old.  I insisted that we capture a few images with her gorgeous mama, and I am sure she is going to treasure these forever!  (Don't worry -- we'll send you a copy of the photos, Celine!)

Thank you, thank you, thank you!  From the bottom of our hearts.

A huge thank you to every single person that made this event possible, turning it from a dream into a reality.  It was a labor of love, and these two days spent sharing stories, making new friends, and bringing dreams to life were so incredibly worth it.  This was most definitely the most rewarding professional experience of my year, and it's all because of the incredible individuals that came together to make it happen.

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Now that you've had a behind the scenes look at our NYC experience, don't forget to check out our full blog post here on the Nicole Starr Photography page, too!

To see more of this journey, visit blog posts by fellow photographers Wendy Zook Photography and Sherri Harnisch - Picture Taker.

Rock Star Sessions with the National Down Syndrome Society in NYC

UPDATE:  Our Rockin' NDSS Studios project has been featured in an article on The Mighty!  Check it out here.

The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is just that little "extra".  

Oh my goodness!  My heart is so full right now!  I am wrapping up 2015 with what has truly become one of the highlights of my year -- and this has been an amazing year already, so that's saying something!

I've spent the past week going through my photos and reliving the brief but incredibly satisfying two days I spent in New York City doing photo shoots for the National Down Syndrome Society.  It was an amazing experience, and I'm still so overwhelmed with all of the smiles, laughter, and bonding that we fit into the little hallways and makeshift dressing rooms and studios of the NDSS offices.

This photo sums it up for me.  It's a behind the scenes look from my dear friend, Wendy Zook Photography, and I love the emotion captured in this moment.  There was so much laughter and so much connection between everyone involved.  In the end, we truly are more alike than different, and I LOVED getting to know each and every person that was involved in our sessions.  (Right here is when Judy told me, "Of course, sweetheart! Don't worry -- I got this!" when I showed her the Mariah Carey look we were going for in her shoot.  Such a doll!)

NDSS Photos 2015-424
NDSS Photos 2015-424

When the National Down Syndrome Society first contacted me about joining them in NYC for an extra special photo shoot, I was speechless and so, so honored.  They had this crazy dream of bringing together a bunch of individuals with Down syndrome, dressing them up as rock stars, and having two days of photo shoots to recreate famous album covers that would be used as posters at their spring gala, their biggest fundraiser of the year.

They wanted me, Wendy Zook Photography of New York, and Sherri Harnisch - Picture Taker of Nebraska to help them bring this dream to life.  For two days, we worked with an incredible team of photographers, organizers, hair stylists, makeup artists, parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, and models who all came together for our amazing Rockin' NDSS Studios photo sessions.

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ndss (1 of 297)

Our models ranged from 11 weeks new to 50 years old, and came in from all across the state and the country for these once-in-a-lifetime sessions.  They shared their stories, their dreams, their struggles, and their goals.  They taught us about their lives, what they were working hard for, and how much fun they were having in the process.  They studied hard to come prepared with the look, the moves, and the music of their idols.  We watched them make new friends in the group photos, shaking hands and sharing hugs while their families rushed to share their phone numbers to set up a get together.  We had dance parties in the studio, and we definitely rocked out to "Shake It Off" a time or two with our cameras snapping to loosen the models up.

It was SO.MUCH.FUN.

These photos are still a work in progress, and will be turned into posters for the NDSS Gala's fundraising auction next March.  We'll get to see these life-sized rock stars on display at B.B. King's Blues Club in Times Square.  I can only imagine how amazing that nightclub will look filled with all of these smiling rock stars' faces.  :o)  I can't wait to see it in person in March!

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And now, here are the photos you've been waiting for!

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rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0303

Carter as Justin Bieber

Ben as Buddy Holly

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rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0304

Caryn as Carole King

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rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0307

Carson as Janis Joplin

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rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0308

Auren as Usher

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rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0310

Emely as Beyonce

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rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0311

Riley as Marky Mark

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rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0312

Brennan as Elton John

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rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0313

Lucas as Kenny Chesney

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rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0314

Anthony, Race, Sammy & Matthew as The Beatles

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rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0332

Ryan as Bob Dylan

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rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0315
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rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0317

Kailani as Tina Turner

Gabriel, Taegon, Luciano & Mason as KISS

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rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0301

Judy as Mariah Carey

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rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0320

Kayla as Madonna

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rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0321
down syndrome photo shoot
down syndrome photo shoot

Francesca & Robby as June Carter and Johnny Cash

Grace as Aretha Franklin

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rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0322

Luke as Billy Joel

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rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0323

Joey as Slash

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rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0324

Amber as Ginger Spice

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ndss (284 of 297)

Katelynn as Scary Spice (This photo was taken on her 5th birthday!)

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rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0330

Elena as Joan Jett

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rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0325

Ameliah as Gwen Stefani

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rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0326

Janissa as Diana Ross

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rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0327
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rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0328

Evelyn as Pat Benatar

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rock and roll ndss photo shoot_0329

Christopher as Elvis Costello

This is one of a three-part perspective on the #rockinNDSSstudios experience. To see more of this journey, visit blog posts by Wendy Zook Photography and Sherri Harnisch - Picture Taker.

And, because I couldn't possibly fit all of my photos into one post, be sure to check out some of our behind-the-scenes photos and fun family moments captured that day at the #rockinNDSSstudios by continuing on to this post.

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Love the photos?   View our original photo project for National Down Syndrome Awareness Month with Nicole Starr Photography right here with our local Massachusetts families.

Extraordinary Stories | Photo sessions for the Down syndrome community

As many of you who have been following my Facebook page know, October is National Down Syndrome Awareness Month.  Down syndrome is considered the most common genetic condition, and one in every 691 babies is born with Down syndrome.  According to the National Down Syndrome Society (www.ndss.org), there are more than 400,000 individuals living with Down syndrome in the United States. This month I started a photo & community outreach project to connect with local families whose children have Down syndrome.  My best friend’s son, Zack, was born with Down Syndrome 5 years ago.  I'll never forget the night my best friend told me that her brand new baby boy had DS.  I'll never forget the incredible journey of love, learning, and acceptance that this little guy's family and all of his loved ones embarked on. I'll always be SO thankful for that blessing. We count ourselves lucky to love this little boy who is blessed with an extra chromosome and lots of hugs and kisses to go around.  Because of Zack, I wanted to give back to this community and bring their stories to life through my photographs.

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This month I decided to offer complimentary sessions to families who have a little one with DS.  When I reached out to this (not so little) community, I was amazed at the overwhelming response from families across Massachusetts and New Hampshire who got in touch with me.  My inbox was flooded with the most amazing, heart-warming stories, and every single one brought happy tears.  They opened their arms to me, welcoming me into their lives and sharing their stories with me.  They allowed me to play with their children, capture their true personalities, and let their little ones shine in the spotlight of my camera.  We shared hugs, giggles, tickles, “peek-a-boo” games and “ready, set, go” races.

The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is just that little “extra”.

These children are not defined by Down syndrome.  That extra chromosome is a blessing in disguise, helping the families to love deeper, dream bigger, and advocate more strongly.  Their stories are the ones that deserve to be heard.  Enjoy their stories:

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Meet Audrey  (age 9)

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“Audrey is a very funny clever girl who has the most wonderful sense of humor. Her smile can light up a room and she has the most contagious little laugh and the BEST hugs that come with a pat on the back.  Some of her favorite things to do are to sing and dance to her favorite, Taylor Swift. She also loves swimming.  She could literally swing on a swingset for hours. She loves to play with her sisters and is great at bossing her dog, May, around.”   ~Audrey’s mom

Twin sisters, one with down syndrome.
Boston photographer does photo sessions for local families with a child with Down syndrome

“The best part of having a sister like Audrey is the way she brings us and everyone that meets her so much happiness. I like having Audrey as a twin because it makes us unique.”  ~Audrey’s twin sister

Meet Drew  (age 3)

Boston photographer does photo sessions for local families with a child with Down syndrome

“Drew has the ability to make people fall in love with him, his outgoing personality and endless expressions. His sense of humor, curiosity and attention to detail make me smile and fall in love with him even more, if that's possible. He loves to learn, and run around and will no doubt change the outdated perceptions of what it means to have Down syndrome. I will continue to teach him to know no boundaries, and to dream bigger until he reaches the stars!

My experience in the Ds community has changed my life. Quite literally. We were given information on the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress while in the hospital after Drew was born. And they were the first organization to reach out to us when we got home. From them, we were connected with our local Ds group, the Morning Travelers, where I've met dozens, if not a hundred families, many who are close friends now. When you find a community that understands, encourages and celebrates similar life journeys, you never want to lose touch. I've been empowered to step outside my comfort zone in many ways by Drew, one being taking the Chairperson role for our local MDSC Buddy Walk! I was honored to address over 3,000 people in our community this past October, 11th and applaud all of them for being a strong community of advocates. Together with the help of the MDSC, we are bringing awareness, inclusion and opportunities to live fulfilling lives to individuals with Down syndrome in Massachusetts and across the globe.”  ~Drew’s mom

Boston photographer does photo sessions for local families with a child with Down syndrome
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Nicole Starr Photography | Boston photographer does photo sessions for local families with a child with Down syndrome

Meet JJ  (9 months)

Cute baby with glasses and Down syndrome

JJ is a very social little boy with big, curious eyes that are made that much cuter by his new glasses.  He is incredibly expressive, and we captured so many of his little faces on camera during our session together.  He loves to laugh and babble, and it’s clear that he brings so much happiness to his mom, dad, and big sister every single day.  This little guy is a fighter, and he had heart surgery at only 2 months old. He rocked our session together — even the tummy time, which you wouldn’t know by looking at the amazing photos that he’s not the biggest fan of.  ;o)

Nicole Starr Photography | Boston photographer does photo sessions for local families with a child with Down syndrome
Nicole Starr Photography | Boston photographer does photo sessions for local families with a child with Down syndrome
Baby with Down syndrome

I just love how he's talking to his little toy in the photo below.  What a sweetheart!

Meet Lucy (2.5 years)

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“Well, let me tell you about Lucy... She's very much "a Lucy". She's bright,  hilarious, loving, and clearly the prettiest girl I've ever seen. She loves cats, music, and Frozen! She's incredibly expressive, she's speaking more lately but has about 100 signs.  Sign language has been amazing for her.  She shines brighter than a diamond, and that's what I would most like to capture.

The definition of the name 'Lucy' is 'light', and that's exactly what she is. When we found out that she had Down Syndrome, I can honestly say I was not scared. I have never feared for how her life would be. She's been through so much in her tiny little life, I have no doubt she can and will achieve whatever it is she wants to do. That extra chromosome is part of who she is and I would not give it back for the world. She is exactly the little girl I always knew she would be.”  ~Lucy’s mom

Nicole Starr Photography | Boston photographer gives sessions to families with Down syndrome
Nicole Starr Photography | Boston photographer does photo sessions for local families with a child with Down syndrome

Meet Maeve  (8 months)

Nicole Starr Photography | Boston photographer gives photo sessions to families with Down syndrome

“I found out when I was about 6 months pregnant that there was a 99% chance Maeve would be born with Down syndrome. We found out about her having Down syndrome and the fact that she had a heart defect that would require surgery within a couple of weeks. Needless to say, that was a rough time. But we decided pretty quickly that we would do what we needed to do for her and stayed pretty positive for the rest of my pregnancy so by the time she arrived we were more excited than nervous.

She had open heart surgery when she was about 3 months old. Her first 3 months really just seemed like a lead up to the surgery day. But she did great, she was in and out of Children's in 6 days. And now that it's been months, it almost seems like it never happened. I say a lot that I wish we could go back in time to when we first found out about all of this and tell ourselves "Don't worry. You'll love her like crazy and she'll be awesome."

I guess I'm biased but Maeve really is the best baby. She's happy, super chatty, sleeps well, smiles a lot. Honestly, we don't even think about Down syndrome all the time. She may get to milestones a little later than other kids her age, but for the most part she's just like any other baby. She sleeps, eats, cries, poops, smiles, and makes us laugh every day. She just got her first 2 teeth a couple of weeks ago and in the past week she started sitting up on her own! Something new every day.”  ~Maeve’s mom

holiday photo session
Nicole Starr Photography | Boston photographer does photo sessions for local families with a child with Down syndrome
fall photo session

Meet Liam  (23 days new)

Nicole Starr Photography | Newborn baby boy with Down syndrome

“We love so many things about Liam. His beautiful eyes, that always appear so alert and attentive when he is awake, are adorned with gorgeous eyelashes. He is happy and content to be held and cuddle when he's not eating. He sometimes shows off an adorable pout that may be hard to say no to when he is older.

The first few days were a mix of a lot of different emotions. Much of Liam's arrival was a surprise. I delivered at a birthing center because we wanted an out of hospital experience. My labor moved at a rapid fire pace and only lasted  4 1/2 hours. My husband travels for work and missed Liam's birth by just 2 hours. When I first held Liam in my arms, I had a feeling he might have Down syndrome, but I didn't want to ask the midwife until my husband arrived. I learned later that the midwife noticed physical characteristics right away but decided to wait until my husband was with me to say anything. I will forever be grateful for these first few hours when I was able to meet my son, hold him, and bond with him before I knew he had Down syndrome. I knew him as Liam first, before I knew he had a disability. He was my perfect, beautiful baby boy who I loved immediately and unconditionally. Learning he had Down syndrome did not change any of this.

When my husband arrived we asked the midwife if she thought he had Down syndrome. She explained that she noticed the palmar crease, low set ears, and large space between his first and second toes. Then we discussed being transferred to the NICU to check his heart and lungs. The NICU was an incredibly hard experience as we didn't even want to be in a hospital in the first place.

We drew strength from taking one moment at a time and the love of our family. Our parents flew out immediately to be with us. They shared in our sorrow, but also rejoiced in Liam's arrival. This was so important for me. As a new mom, I so wanted people to celebrate and gawk over my beautiful new baby. I needed to see people delight in his presence. This helped get us through the 10 days in the NICU.

Right now we are still in the process of letting go of some previous expectations we had before we knew he had Down syndrome.  We are making room for new ideas as we begin the journey with Liam. We are trying not to focus on Liam's limitations but all of his potential and gifts.

When I hold Liam in my arms, I just see my beautiful baby boy who is an absolute gift. Sometimes I think, "oh yeah, he also has Down syndrome." But that's never my first nor most important thought when I hold him. I hope this is always the case. First seeing Liam for the amazing person he is, while learning about and embracing all of his unique qualities including the fact that he has Down syndrome.”  ~Liam’s mom

Nicole Starr Photography | Newborn baby boy with Down syndrome
Nicole Starr Photography | Newborn baby boy with Down syndrome
Nicole Starr Photography | Newborn baby boy with Down syndrome

Want to learn more about Down syndrome?  Check out the National Down Syndrome Society's webpage here:  www.ndss.org

Do you know someone who would love this post?  Share it with them!  :o)

25 families contacted me this month about sessions for their little ones with DS.  I'm excited to make this an ongoing project, and I've compiled a list of families that I will be in touch with for photo sessions throughout the year.  Want to share your story with me?  Email me at nicolestarrphotography@gmail.com.  I can't wait to meet your little one and hear your heartwarming story!