So I've officially decided to shut down J.Lorene Design. It kind of makes me sad to announce this because I remember how excited I was when I started this company, and how supportive you readers have always been. Heck, 99% of my clients stemmed from this little old blog and I appreciate every one of you dearies. But my heart is just not in it anymore and my clients deserve to have my best creative efforts, not something hurried or rushed just to get it done. For the sheer number of hours I spend on each album I truly don't make that much money in return, so it's always been a labor of love for me. It's just gotten to be a little more labor and a little less love.

I've gone back and forth over this decision for many months now. When I started my little side biz a year and a half ago I was still in wedding mode. I needed a creative outlet to fill my time while Nate studied. Well fast forward to present day....not so much in wedding mode anymore, but more like baby mode (what, you haven't noticed?). Creative outlets are abounding today with nursery projects, our own everyday/pregnancy/and future baby albums, my own photography projects, and of course, researching and preparing for baby takes up a lot of my once free time.

One reason I really hesitated to shut 'er down was because the extra money I make with each album design goes right into my personal Pal Pal account. It's like 'play' money for me, unlike real hard-earned PT money, because I am more likely to splurge on fun things with this account instead of our actual income. For instance, last year after I busted my butt to pump out multiple wedding albums for Christmas, I bought myself my little SLR plus an additional lens. Then I bought another lens. And a camera bag. Do you see a theme here? My J.Lorene money has fully supported my photography habit in addition to buying Nate his Christmas and birthday gifts without him seeing the moolah pull from our joint account:)

So herein lies my quandrum: after spending a nice chunk of J.Lorene money on our flat screen TV, then Christmas gifts, I still have about $350 left to spend. So many options in my head that I need some feedback from you dear readers.

My first thought was to keep it photography related and upgrade to a new baby-friendly lens. I plan on taking a ri-DONK-ulous amount of pictures of our baby if nothing else but for some fabulous photo albums and prints hanging around our house. I have no desire to be a 'pro' photog so it's not that my pictures have to be impeccable or anything. My little 50mm f/1.8 lens has always been my trusty lens for Henry pictures but I will admit, it totally stinks in lower light conditions. Sometimes it takes forever to focus especially when I'm inside and I'm thinking that during my maternity leave I'll be inside with baby boy quite a bit. I'm sure I can still get decent pictures of him if I work hard enough at finding a good light source, but maybe it's time to splurge and amp up my lens repertoire?

After lots of research I have two lenses in mind: #1 is the 50 mm f/1.4 lens. Basically this is the next step up from my current 'nifty fifty' and a lot of pros swear by it. I'm sure it would be better in lower light conditions and a little faster too. #2 is the 85mm f/1.8 lens. This one is known for taking fabulous portraits and after asking a few photog friends a lot of them lean towards this one because of my subject matter. Both lenses are about the same price at $370. Both would probably take better pictures than my cheapie 50mm f/1.8. But is it really worth $370 to get slightly better, easier pictures? The more I think about it, the more I hesitate.

So then I moved onto thinking about paying a professional photographer to use his/her expensive equipment for a maternity/newborn session with baby boy. There are a few in the area that would certainly do great work and we'd have gorge photos much better than I can take myself. But is it worth the cost? I dunno.

What I truly want (I *think*) is a birth photographer. I know the concept seems a little out there at first, a little creepy and invasive. But when I look at some of the slideshows of the big dogs out there I cannot help but think how amazing it would be to capture one of the best days in our lives. (I'd love to post actual pictures here but I'll just suggest you check out the links yourself, you know---copyright stuff is kind of a big deal out there). Heck, we paid big bucks for wedding photography because it was a huge event. Isn't the birth of our first baby just as important to commemorate? The logistics of the whole thing make me nervous though: I mean, the photog will be all up in my biznass, they will have to be ready to receive a phone call at 3 am saying to meet us at the hospital asap, and not to mention the cost. I've only found two photogs in this general vicinity that do birth photography and both are pretty freaking expensive, more than I'd like to pay for sure. I know Nate can take pictures while at the hospital but I want him to be present and absorbing the moment, not staring at our baby through a camera lens. Sigh. Any suggestions here?

{Of course, I already half-jokingly asked my budding photog friend Andrea to be our birth photographer. I think I'd feel less subconscious about the situation with a friend there but I'd probably feel worse about her having to drive out to the hospital at some ungodly hour only to sit and wait for many more hours. I wouldn't want her to feel pressured to get perfect shots under such intense circumstances and I wouldn't want to scare her off from her own impending labor and delivery process:) Andrea, are you reading this?? We'd obviously pay her accordingly but probably not the $500-700+ some of the pros require. Unless she had to get there at 5 am, sit around for 24 hours, and then witness me pooping on the table while screaming curse words across the hospital. THEN maybe she'd get an obscene amount of money for enduring the event:)}

Other ideas I've had:
-Buy some cloth diapering supplies I normally wouldn't want to purchase due to costs. (I'm totally committing to cloth, by the way. More posts on that later)

-Get those designer maternity jeans, even though I already have my pair from Gap.

-Save it for the baby. (BO-ring, but of course it's what my inner tight wad tells me to do)

So, dear readers, what would YOU do? Birth photography after winning the lottery? Maternity and newborn sessions? Cloth diapers? Maternity clothes? Or just bank it into our savings account? Nate really wants me to spend this money in a fun way for me since I'm always so into saving every dime. I kind of agree--I want my J.Lorene money to go out with a bang. But I'm just torn between these options. Help!


  1. Lens lens lens lens! All I hear is how I need to get a better lens for my camera. All the photographers I have talked to say I wouldn't regret it. It is the gift that needs on giving and you'll be using it long after the baby is born. You could take all the pics you want, not have a pro do them. You've got the skills!

  2. I would do something photography related, no doubt.

    Most likely, I'd choose the birth photography.

    The thing with the lens is that I don't think the difference in quality matches up to the price difference. I know what you mean about the focus issues with the nifty fifty, but you'll be home with baby all day long. Lots of opportunity for good light, even though you are indoors.

    Maternity and newborn pictures are great, but the thing about birth photography is that you capture this totally amazing moment and still sorta get the maternity and newborn pictures. OK, maybe not the maternity so much, but the newborn for sure. If it's going to cost lots more than the J.Lorene money, though, I'd sorta second guess that decision...

    I was all about the birth photography, but then I found out that our doula will take pictures during birth and that she knows how to use a Canon Rebel (she owns one!), so I just decided against it. Plus, with Chad and the doula already in the room, I just didn't want to add one more person. The pictures captured with my camera will be enough for me. I'd have a different perspective on that if I didn't have her to take pics, though, no doubt.

    I have no idea if all this is helpful...I sorta feel like I just talked in circles, LOL.

  3. WOW..lots to choose from. But would I would do is upgrade lenses!!! You are so creative and those lenses would pay for themselves over time with pictures you would take.

    And I would ask a friend to be in there photographing during delivery (if that's what you want) or right after! But spend $$ on a photographer when the baby actually looks less alien-like. We did our family photos when our #4 baby was 2 months old. He could smile and was "less fragile".

    So LENS!!! I think you're pictures would be SOOO great!

  4. I vote for one of the photography sessions--you can take amazing pictures, but only of the baby. You'd have some serious talent if you could get great pictures of yourself for maternity/birth/newborn pics! ;)

    You can buy a lens anytime, and you will buy it in the future. But you're only going to be able to capture these moments right now!

  5. My suggestion is to save it and see what you get from showers and stuff -- maybe you will want a bigger baby item that you don't get and then you will have some "mad money" to spend on that.

    And if you get everything you want, lens, lens, lens. I know nothing about these lenses, but I'm sure they are awesome!


  6. My suggestion is to save it and see what you get from showers and stuff -- maybe you will want a bigger baby item that you don't get and then you will have some "mad money" to spend on that.

    And if you get everything you want, lens, lens, lens. I know nothing about these lenses, but I'm sure they are awesome!


  7. I did not do birth photography for my first baby. I don't regret not doing it mainly because there was an emergency situation after he was born that I just don't want to relive through photographs! But after my birth I saw a couple of slideshows posted on blogs and it really intrigued me.

    Still I keep going back to the fact that this photographer would come to take pictures and I probably wouldn't order that many. I mean, where would you display those photos? So I am saving the money for a "first year" photo package that so many photogs are doing now. I know it seems like a lot of money but I consider it an investment. We have wonderful photos of our son through his first year and although it cost us a bundle it will be worth it when I have those gorgeous photos to look at when he is off at college ; )

    Sooooo, long story short, I would splurge on newborn photography. I highly doubt you would be sorry!

  8. My take: a birth photographer sounds awesome!! I love photography so I'm in. I am a sucker for designer jeans so my pregnant butt (someday) will be wearing Sevens. You are pregnant and you should spoil yourself!!

  9. Maternity/newborn sessions. We all know you can take gorge pics of baby boy, but we need to see gorge pics of baby boy, Mama & Papa :)

  10. First off...laughing my butt off over here. Bailey even ran over to see what the deal-io was.

    I'm with Nate...you worked your butt off for that money so put it towards something fun! You will always make more money in the future to put towards diapers and other baby stuff. Treat yourself.

    I have no idea if you should get the lens or maternity/newborn pics. I love them both! Can you buy both? ;) On one hand, the lens will serve you for years to come but on the other hand, newborn pics are priceless and you only get to capture that moment once. And honestly, the pro baby pics I've seen here in Milwaukee are fabulous and jaw dropping.

    I'm going to say find another way to add to the fund so you can get everything you want. Maybe put aside 20-30 bucks a paycheck and by the time Baby H comes around, you can afford both.

  11. Tough decision. Personally, I wouldn't spend the money on the birth photographer, but then again that's just me and it sounds like it's double what you have anyways. I'd buy the lens because you'd probably get the most money out of it AND I would pay someone to take pictures of you and your baby later on because first of all, babies always look a lot cuter a month or so later and second of all...if you are the photographer in the family like I am, it ends up being that you are never in the pictures. You have to go with your gut though!

  12. Gosh...so many good choices which makes it such a tough decision. I would say either the birthing photographer or the new lens. I wouldn't go for the maternity pictures just because the birthing pictures will be so much more meaningful. However, a new lens will give you great pictures for years to come.

    Make sure to let us know what you decide to get!!

  13. A birth photog sounds great...not something I considered because I just started hearing about them. Our doula ended up taking some great shots just with out point and shoot- those were great.
    We actually got a "baby's first year" plan from a newer photog which is great- includes maternity shoot and 4 sessions through the year with our son. She's newer but I really like her work. She's only $500 and we get rights to the images and a canvas wrap. Maybe some local photogs have something like this?

  14. Is a birth photographer possible for you? Currently in London at the hospital where my sister is going to have her little one there is a restriction on the number of people allowed to accompany her to the hospital (considering h1n1). Only two! Before you put down any money I recommend asking the hospital about their policies. And remember, they can change them.

  15. Definitely get pictures taken. Hands down.

  16. DO the birth photographer...i really can't imagine you ever regretting it! Everything else you can save for another time, but that is a once in a life time thing.

  17. I have a few thoughts about this one, so bear with me.
    At first when I read the post, without looking at the birth photos, I thought, "Oh, definitely buy the lens." Even though the birth of your first child is an experience you will never forget, Nate can still take some pretty cool shots at the delivery (or your mom, if she is in there). We have some awesome shots that Eddie took right when the babies came out...now...they are not professional grade by any means, but they are still great and get the point across. The best shots we have at the hospital are ones taken by us in the hours/days after the birth, when we are in the privacy of our room, and the baby has recovered from the trauma of birth. You can get the new lens and practice with Nate, and then take the pics in the hospital yourselves.

    Then...i looked at that precious website of the birth pictures. OMG...the one with the doc holding the baby is the CUTEST thing. It made me want birth pics...of the baby only, though. That being said, I am not sure that one pic is worth $5-700. I think the other shots could have been taken by you with a little practice with the new lens.

    One more thing I have learned about kids and photography...I go take them to get their pictures taken and I end up spending $2-300 each time, thinking that these are the best pictures we'll ever have of them. That is, until 6 mos later when we get the next set of pics taken for the same price and I have totally forgotten about the previous ones. (I am not implying you will forget your birth pics)

    One more thing...I think maternity shots are so awesome, especially when the mama is as precious as yourself. Some photogs offer maternity shots and throw in the after birth pics. That might be a good plan too.

    I guess I have a lot of opinions and did not help in your decision-making at all...sorry!

  18. This blogger has the same camera that you do (via flickr info) and takes great shots of her kiddos:

  19. This is probably not going to be the popular opinion, but I would think/pray about the possability of using that money to reach out to a family/single-mom/struggling woman in pregnancy. Or even giving the gift of shooting an printing photos of some less-fortunate families who can't spring for the expense of archiving memories. What a joy it would be to kick-off your new family life by valuing giving back.

    Don't get me wrong, and don't think I'm crazy, I'm all aobut the idea of a new lens or a photog session, and I love a new pair of Jeans as much as the next, but I thought I'd throw this idea into the mix as well. I think it would be more of a blessing in the long run.

  20. I'd get a new lens, then have a buddy be in the room and take photos. The photography gets you one event's worth of photos - the lens gets you photos for years to come.

  21. I am proud mama of a 2 1/2 week old. We decided to splurge on newborn photos even though I hestitated a month prior to them. Now that I saw them though, I know that I made the right choice. He will never be that small again and the pictures are just the sweetest. I vote for those. I take a zillion pics of him a day, but it was nice to have a pro come take them AND she got family pics too which we couldn't do on our own.

    I don't know that I would have wanted birth photography...it was a pretty intense time and I don't have to worry about forgetting it. I really don't want to forget how tiny his little toes were though, and what shade his eyes were when he was a week old.

    Go with newborns! :)

  22. I like Ryan and Sarah's suggestion of splurging on newborn photos!!!!

  23. I would splurge on the newborn photography session - hands down.

  24. Now, I have to say, I am quite biased in this. I am the photographer who you linked to for the birth photos. See? Very strong bias. I actually got into photography because I could not find anyone to do this 3 years ago. If you can find someone to do this for you, then DO IT!!! If you lived closer to me, I'd work a deal with you just because you drove tons of traffic to my site!

    Oh, and for those who are worried about it, I'm not where near up in anyones business. :) With a long lens, I can hang out in the corner, on the fringes of the room. My clients just about don't even realize I'm there.

    Like you said, you spend the money on your wedding. This day is just as important.

    Oh, and as far as display, the best thing to do is get a book!

  25. just do all of it! Done and done!

  26. i say either buy a lens or go for the baby sessions. i didn't do maternity sessions because i knew i'd rather spend my money doing a few photo shoots of the sweet boy when he arrived and i knew the hubs would have me forfeit one of those if i had a maternity session. but i was as big as a house. you're teeny and cute and would do a great maternity session!

    (i'm loving your lens info, by the way. i'm a canon rebel mo-ron, so i need lots of help.)

    you have half of the pregnancy behind you, so you don't need the designer maternity jeans. if you get designer jeans, save it for post-baby! :)

    i think a birth photographer would have been amazing! they would have been there for 2 days-- just waiting-- but i would have LOVED to have those precious moments captured. not on video. just stills. so precious.

    and i've left the longest comment on the planet.

  27. I would also do professional photography or the lens.

    Maybe you can find a photographer with a package (newborn, 3, 6, 9, and 12 mo.) Having a professional take pictures of the three of you together is worth every penny.

    If you get the lens, make sure you teach a friend or family member how to use it (not just Nate) because the two of you will be busy and recovering. You'll want some pics of the three of you in the hospital.

  28. What's your email address? RueLaLa has designer jeans on sale and I wanted to invite you to join so you can see if there's any you might want :)

  29. Birth Photography. Fo' sho'. Prior to your post, I had no idea this was even an option... and how I am in love. And I wrote about it here (with a shout out to you!): http://hagensnest.blogspot.com/2009/12/graphic-yet-strangely-intriguing.html

  30. If it were me, I'd go with the lens. Having those beautiful snapshots of Mr. Little Man from his first moments of life and beyond will last forever.

    Also - I've tagged you for a fun Christmas meme - http://blissfulstedmans.wordpress.com/2009/12/18/ive-been-tagged/
    Hope you get a chance to participate!

  31. I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.




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