Maegan Dougherty Photography » NJ Birth and Family Photographer

I love these pictures so much!  This is my family! I admit, I don’t have my own family photographed as often as I recommend other people do. It’s for some of the same reasons other people don’t schedule family photo shoots. If only knowing something would be a good idea would get us to do it, right? So this day was long overdue, and very special. We went with my friend Emily Wilson and her family to a Sussex County, NJ tree farm with plans to have a good time, pick our Christmas trees, and get some Dougherty family photos.

I’ve been photographing families in New Jersey and NYC for over a decade. My tips for how to have a successful family photo shoot have evolved quite a bit over time. My clients receive a page about what to expect and how to prepare, and as I’ve made changes to it, I show up to a lot more messy houses and kids in pajamas. And that’s perfect. My “what to wear” has become less about fashion and more about humanity. Our emotions and how we process them…that’s what matters most when we’re being photographed. So if you’re thinking about hiring a family photographer, here are four tips for you.

Four Family Photography Tips:

  1. Hire a photographer you connect with. I’m lucky to have a very close friend who is a photographer, but it’s okay if you don’t. Find a photographer you feel like you want to be friends with. One whose work you look at and feel a connection to. One you feel like you can be yourself around. Sometimes an e-mail exchange and a look at their website is all you need. Maybe you’re in a Facebook group together, live in the same town, or follow them on social media, and feel like you have a lot in common, or you like what they say, or you just get a good vibe.
  2. Do some emotional work beforehand. My kids are crazy about Daddy. They love me, too, and we have great relationships, and I know this, but sometimes I do feel a little left out. I knew they wouldn’t be by my side or hugging me the whole time Emily was photographing us. I had done some emotional work about this, and talked to Emily about it. So I was able to comfortably watch my kids run ahead with Daddy sometimes and enjoy the natural interactions we had, without repeatedly asking them for hugs. If you have concerns about the way you are going to be feeling during your shoot, or about the way the pictures will make you feel, talk to your photographer about them. Sometimes speaking your concerns and having them validated is all you need.
  3. Do something you know your family will enjoy. I love photographing families at home and encourage all families to be photographed at home at least once (if not annually)! Our last shoot with Emily was at home, and I treasure those photos. I don’t usually pick locations for my clients, but Emily happens to be great at that, and since she knows what my family enjoys, I was happy to go with her recommendation. If you’re going to be at home, think of a couple activities you like to do together. If you want outdoor photos not at your home, consider somewhere special to you. Often, the more simple, the better. Park down the street? Perfect.
  4. Do it! If you’re waiting to lose weight or get new clothes or until spring or whatever, stop waiting. Kids grow and change so fast, and adults don’t change as fast as we sometimes want to. Even if you have trouble embracing who you are right now, don’t let that stop you from documenting it. This is me, at my weight and with my minimalist wardrobe. The way my kids know me. The way I’ve been living my life.

I’m glad I followed my own advice, because I LOVE these photos of my family!!! Thank you, Emily!!!

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If you’re considering having your family photographed, go back and read the text of this post if you skipped it, and then let’s talk about it! Contact me your favorite way. Can’t wait to connect with you!



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Camping in the Poconos

Hiking at Teaneck Creek Conservancy

Big sister greeted me at the door when I arrived at this family’s Westchester, NY home. I had met her at the hospital soon after the birth of her baby sister. We chatted about wearing glasses, and that mine are always dirty. She showed me the cleaning wipes she uses for hers. Grandma and Grandpa and a cousin were visiting. Mom changed the baby. Brother woke up. Dad set the table. A big beautiful breakfast was prepared. Big sister sat at the table and waited for the rest of the family to join before she started eating. I learned about life in Brazil and Florida and now New York. It was such a lovely weekend morning at home.

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This couple booked me for birth photography pretty early into the pregnancy, without even a phone conversation. So I didn’t know much about them, other than that I got a good vibe from her e-mail.

In February I drove to their home for a pregnancy photo shoot. When I saw a cozy house surrounded by trees, and a stack of firewood by the garage, it felt like I was arriving at my own childhood home. It was an immediate feeling of comfort and simplicity and warmth, that continued when I met them, and photographed what their life was like as they awaited the birth of their first baby. Getting her room ready. Drinking coffee. Walking in the woods and by the river with their dog. Normal, beautiful stuff. They told me about their life together, their careers, fixing up their house, their feelings about having a baby. And I thought they were wonderful, and couldn’t wait to see them again at the birth of their baby girl.

A New Jersey couple expecting their first baby has a documentary maternity photo session in their home and a park near their house, with their cat and dog, while they get their daughterA New Jersey couple expecting their first baby has a documentary maternity photo session in their home and a park near their house, with their cat and dog, while they get their daughterA New Jersey couple expecting their first baby has a documentary maternity photo session in their home and a park near their house, with their cat and dog, while they get their daughter

If you are expecting a baby, I hope you will consider pregnancy, birth, and newborn photography. The diaper bag and stroller will too quickly be outgrown, you may never use the crib, but these photos will always be treasured. Contact me for more information!

If you are the kind of parent who will show up to meet your photographer with your family dressed in everyday clothes, with remnants of breakfast on your kids’ faces, then wear and nurse your baby, while allowing your other kids to run around and explore in the mud…

I like you. We’re a good match, and I would love to photograph your family! 🙂

If you live in Bergen County and you have kids, you’ve probably been to Van Saun Park. You might know it for the zoo, train, carousel, and huge playground. In these photographs is my favorite park of Van Saun park, hidden away from the weekend crowds.

In an area with an overwhelming number of highways and malls, which I avoid at all costs, I love spending time enjoying the natural spaces we also have. If you aren’t visiting our parks and nature centers and hiking and bike trails, I hope you will start! If you don’t know where to go, ask me!

And next time you go to Van Saun, instead of (or in addition to) the zoo and playground, take a walk around the pond, and check out Washington Spring Garden. Enjoy! 🙂

mom brings her small kids to bergen countylittle boys explore a section of van sun park in bergen county

Do you hire a professional photographer to photograph your family? You do? That’s awesome! You have a virtual thumbs up and big smile from me! You are doing something that will be super important now and in the future for yourself and your children. Next question. Have you had your family photographed where you live? In your home? Around your neighborhood? If not, I encourage you to go for it!

To look through photographs with your kids and see your everyday life in them is everything. You probably do this now, swiping through pictures on your phone. Isn’t it special to hear your kids saying, “That’s when we had went for ice cream!” Or “There’s me and Daddy!” Now imagine going beyond the selfies and snapshots. To having a weekend morning at home captured, when you can be completely present with your family. Imagine looking through the images and seeing the table where you eat breakfast together every morning, the bin of little boys shoes that will so soon be big boy shoes. Your kids seeing themselves riding their tricycle and bikes on your own street. Going to the places you go every week. Where would you stop? A favorite store or restaurant or playground? Imagine seeing your own face – not just at that flattering selfie angle – but so filled with LOVE and JOY in a beautiful photograph of you looking at your child.

When you book your family photo shoot this year, will you consider having it not in a pretty park you’ve never been to, or a studio with perfect lighting, but where you live and love? Where your life takes place?

husband and wife restore 1880srow house in newark nj and have toddler boy who will be a big brother soon. they eat pie for breakfast at their dining room table and then put on shoes. they have a dog.two year old boy rides his tricycle around his essex county nj neighborhoodfamily with two year old boy goes for walk around their urban neighborhood in new jersey with photograph family in new jersey shops at whole foods and brings photographer to documentary their day