i’m ok

I have been a long time admirer of Carrie Sandoval…and every one of her perfectly posed newborn images.  There is no doubt about it…she is a newborn genius.  I had pretty much dubbed myself as mediocre and came to terms that newborns must not be my “niche.”

But, then I really started noticing which of my images stood out to me.  The emotion.  The connection between parents and children.  It’s ALWAYS the emotion and connection for me.  It’s how I see things through the lens.  It’s what moves and inspires me.  I gave up on trying to Carrie-ize my newborn sessions and embraced what I love the most.

And I realized that I’m ok with not doing what everybody else is doing.   I don’t need to produce images like other photographers to feel successful.  This is a business where we, as photographers, are our own worst critic.  We compare.  We feel up.  We feel down.  We feel awesome.  We feel like a failure.

I am still guilty of comparing, but only recently have I realized that this is MY art.  I know what makes me happy.   I will never shoot like so-and-so.  I just won’t.  But, it’s ok.

As the great Zach Arias once said, “Stop comparing yourself to others, just get out there and do your thing.”  Or something like that.  I’m sure I slaughtered the quote, but you get the point.

My favorite shot of the day



  1. Kristin Cook says:

    These are so fun…love the family shots on the bed! Thanks for the encouraging words, also. We all need to hear that!

  2. shannon dodge says:

    ok seriously. I was JUST saying something of this nature to myself yesterday after my newborn session. I have NO clue how to work well w/ newborns, so I just resorted to capturing what I can and when the mood strikes. These are BEAUTIFUL images Jean! LOVE LOOOOOVE them!

  3. Goodness gracious woman. I’d take an image with emotion and connection like this than a “perfectly posed baby shot” ANYDAY. You can’t make this stuff up, it’s raw and absolutely gorgeous. You’re ok. Very.

  4. Ali Martin says:

    Sooooo awesome! And I always LOVED your newborn sessions! I think you are amazing all around though. Soooo amazing!!! Good job!

  5. Lerin says:

    WOW… I’d never call you “okay.” I heard about you and started following your work from another photographer friend . We very much think you’re MORE than okay… you’re inspirational, unique, amazing! I love looking at your work. You make ME feel mediocre. Isn’t it funny how that works… you think you’re the only one with insecurities, and then you find out one of your fave photographers has the same ups and downs. 😉 Love your work, keep rocking the shoots!!!

  6. paula says:

    Carrie is good…but you are my Carrie. Its all about the emotion and connection for me too…I am still working on really capturing it though. I LOVE your work.

  7. Nicole says:

    I’m so glad I bumped into you at WPPI! You are amazing and this post is soooo what I needed today! And for the record, I think you rock!!!

  8. Kim says:

    Thanks for the pep talk and reminder to find our own style. We are our own worst critics 🙂 Jean, your work continues to be truly amazing and inspiring.

  9. Jessica says:

    I have always adored your newborn sessions. They are so real and refreshing. You capture the moments that parents will want to remember.

  10. I absolutely love this session.

  11. gerri says:

    Cutest little mop head baby ever! And the images, yeah…they’re more than o.k.

  12. kelli taylor says:

    I couldn’t agree more! I constantly have to remind myself not to compare myself to other photographers!

  13. Jennifer says:

    These images are beautiful!! The relationships totally come out in your photography!! This is what i have always loved about your photography.

  14. Brandi says:

    I have the same feelings all the time. We all need someone to admire and be inspired by! You inspire me:) Thank you. I love how you capture emotion…beautiful photos:)

  15. No you aren’t Carrie, you are Jean, and Jean your incredible, these are honest, touching and extrodinary photographs, i love that they are real life, yet so beautiful! You are so talented and somedays I want to be just like Jean Smith, but have to remember like you said to be Shannon Morgan. Thank you for sharing that I am not alone in the feelings of self doubt, and frustration at feeling just not good enough :)!

  16. It feels good to feel good in your own skin doesn’t it?! I get it too. I will probably never have an amazing photography business like you, but I am discovering my niche more and more every day and it is the best feeling. I’m glad you’re at peace with the amazing person you are. Your talent is wonderful and I’m so grateful that you share it!

  17. Gabi says:

    You are okay huh? You funny girl! Admire, inspire and do your thing! And you do it so beautifully! Love these!

  18. Kelli says:

    Jean, dear….if you don’t know how freaking genius you are….YOU CRAZY!! (and I can say that now that we’ve met, right??) So beautiful, some of my favorite newborn images I’ve ever seen.

  19. Randi says:

    You are an incredible photographer. Period. Whether its newborn, or wedding, or anything in between.

  20. jean says:

    Seriously people. Or shall I say FRIENDS. Thank you SO much for making my day with your comments. We’ve heard it a million times from photographers all around us…”I wish I were like so and so,” “I want to shoot like so and so,” “Why don’t my images come out like so and so.” That’s why photography is so flipping beautiful…because we all have a completely different interpretation. It’s awesome to gather inspiration from the many talented people around us, but just do what we do and photograph because we love it!!!!

  21. Holly G says:

    Woman – what you mean you just “OKAY”?!? Seriously?!! You are such an incredible inspiration to me and so many other photographers. Love your clean processing and love the emotion just pouring out of every single one of your images. You are truly amazing and have an incredible gift. I am so honored that you choose to share this gift with the world. <3

  22. ally says:

    I totally agree with you! I always try and try those crazy shots and the ones that the parents buy are the ones where they are interacting and loving on the baby. Of course if I actually learned to pose one right, they might buy one of those too. haha.
    Love this post! And some of my favorite baby shots too…

  23. Colibriphoto says:

    Jean….I am lost with words…. YOU KILLED it! WOW! What a BEAUTIFUL session you just did. Congrats ! I need no more reason why you are one of my hero photog. I have crusts to eat… You nailed it! : )

  24. Jess says:

    Your my idle. I love these photos. Thank you!!!!!!!!

  25. Jess says:

    K so I have to say. I continue to tell people all the time I am not a newborn photog because of the same reasons and this season is exactly what I would shoot to. Just had to elaborate more.

  26. Sheryll says:

    Two words: BAD ASS

    I’m sure the word “ass” isn’t appropriate, but when paired with “bad” it makes it ok.

    I LOVE YOU. You are AMAZING and I wish we had met up in Vegas. 🙁

  27. Josh S. says:

    Ditto to Sheryll. Your ‘favorite’ gave me goose bumps.

  28. sarah says:

    i love this session! every single picture is gorgeous! so much better than all the posed baby pictures i too try so hard to get. i want to grow up and be like you. you ROCK!

  29. Crissie T. says:

    Jean, these are absolutely gorgeous! Each and every image here captures the joy and emotion this family is experiencing–all of them are timeless! Keep being YOU!

  30. Kari Dawson says:

    No one can shoot an in-home lifestyle session like you can. I know from my own work that the situations are ‘set-up’ to a certain extent but you have gift of doing so and letting your client’s just be which enables you to witness the bonds first hand and be lucky enough to capture it on camera.

  31. kamee june says:

    jean, you are so good at what you do. never doubt. just pick yourself up and get to work. these images took my breath away! thank you so much for sharing!! LOVE THEM; LOVE YOU!

  32. Really enjoyed this post. Fantastic.

  33. Becky Earl says:

    Good for you my dear! YOU have So much to offer. Your work is amazingly beautiful! Always be yourself! We love you for it!

  34. Aubri says:

    Beautiful post Jean. I think that is the beauty of photography. There are so many beautiful ways to express art, we don’t have to be the same or like anyone else.

  35. Julie says:

    I don’t even know where to start except I wish I had these images of me and my littles. You are so extraordinary and I love your images for it. You did more than a fabulous job – this is one of my all time favorites because I feel exactly the same about newborns. The real moments are more meaningful anyway!

  36. brooke says:

    yes, yes.. i agree with every word. this is why i quit photographing newborns too.. b/c i couldn’t get that look, i didn’t have or want to invest in all of the props, hair bows.. etc. this has really inspired me. you rock, i’ll never be able to shoot like you.. lol. kidding but seriously. 🙂

  37. That first one… awww that first one!

  38. lastolite says:

    Great info. This is exactly what I have been looking for, and it has answered my question. I have not been doing this for long, and am still very much a newbie, but am learning all the time. Thanks for everyone who has posted up here and help people such as myself.

  39. I think that what you did in this post is simply breathtaking. While it is fun to see a beautiful sleeping new born….how much more feeling is there when you put that sleeping newborn with a loving mother and father….The one of them touching noses is just bliss.

  40. Jess says:

    Jean you make me smile. The comment you just gave me was so nice. We need to meet. When are you coming to Utah? And I’m still so inspired by this shoot. It has made me realize to that I am a newborn photographer because I am a family photographer and these are the exact moments I love to capture. I actually have been recently hired to do a shoot just like this in CA…can’t wait.

  41. I really liked your blog.Really thank you! Fantastic.

  42. Brandi says:

    absolutely beautiful!

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