5 Reasons Why You Should NOT Wait Till You Are About To POP To Book Your Maternity/Newborn Session

You find out you are expecting! Yayyyy! Now, let me tell you why you should NOT wait till you are about to pop to book your session.

#5. First thing first…If you wait till you are about to POP I might be all booked! This is such a special and exciting time, expectant mommas often book as soon as they find out they are expecting! Sending me a shhh shhh message and paying the retainer to secure their session giving them all the time during their pregnancy to pay for the session.

#4. 40 weeks of pregnancy doesn’t always mean you will have 40 weeks of pregnancy. There are chances little one might want to surprise you earlier <3 Leaving no chance for last minute bookings.

#3. Plan- I LOVE planning my sessions! Booking with time will give me the chance to personalize more your session

#2. Props- with the planning comes the props! Sometimes I have a specific look in mind for your session and I might have to order props, which take some time to sometimes make and arrive.

#1. You can just relax knowing you are IN, get all excited knowing I am working on planning YOUR session with me and you planning with me if you wish! Knowing you will have these beautiful memories that will not come back. You will have these memories froze in time. Those details we think we will never forget but the truth is with time, you might not forget but you won’t have it clear as if you had a beautifully done picture.

Time pass by way too fast and before you know it, you will be having your beautiful baby and before you know it your baby will be growing up right before your eyes!
and I want to be there for you to capture that, to capture those moments <3

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While You Were Gone- Virginia Beach Newborn, children and Family Photographer

Last month during the Military Children Appreciation month I had this contest in my page and here is the result of the 1st place.
I photographed them for the very first time last year around fall and I have to say I ADORE photographing them! They have grown and change already since that first time.
I was so honored and blessed to be able to photograph their daddy’s homecoming too <3
Military kids go through so much, they are some of the strongest kids you will ever meet, they sacrifice so much and I really wanted to do something special for them. Just doing what I can to show my appreciation, the best way I can <3

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A Year Later- Sicilia to Virginia- Personal

Wow, first of all, I have to warn you, this post I already know will be filled with much emotions, yes, there will be tears rolling down my face and you will be glad you can’t see me!!! haha, I just know it already cause even just thinking about it I get a little knot in my tummy. Is it normal? I’m pretty sure it is and if not oh well, after all this is Shakyra lol

A year ago from today, May 23rd 2013 we left a huge chunk of our hearts in bella Sicilia in Italy. I can’t believe it’s been a year already!
I cannot even begin to tell you how much I miss it, every single day, EVERY SINGLE DAY!

I’ve always adapted to new places pretty fast and have always been ok with moving to new places but Sicily was the first place in my life I did NOT want to leave.
Yes, like every place it has it’s goods and bads but the bads were blah so small and the goods were Oh soooo amazing!!!

I wanted to make this post more about what I miss the most… why Sicilia felt like home <3

 My house…

I miss my house, yes, it was smaller and the kitchen storage pretty much sucked, and flushing the toilets sucked  (yeah you know what I’m talking about if you got to live in Marinai housing 😉 ) and falling down the tiled stairs sucked, but it was home. The home we brought our little boy to, where he did many many of his “first” <3
I really miss our “backyard” or what we would refer to as “Gio’s park” right behind our house. Such a beautiful open field where we had many play times, many picnics with family and friends.

Community… Amazing people…Amazing friends turned into family…

I really miss the small/tight community we had there.
Everyone knew pretty much everyone, we pretty much knew your baby sitter, your hair stylist, those cooking for you, your kid’s coach, your kids teacher, your photographer 😉 your neighbor, we were really blessed to have met amazing people while there.

We’ve also been so blessed to have many of our amazing “Sicily Military Family” being transferred here and that’s being amazing!!!

Traveling Europe…

I miss all the traveling to “such out of this world” places we got to visit.
Our all time favorite was Germany, Garmisch to be more specific, where I took one of my all time favorite pictures which has so much meaning to me behind it.


I miss the ahhh to die for food, Sicilians live for food, they pride them self for it and they really should cause the food is just AMAZING!

  • My all time favorite was penne pasta A’lla arrabbiata  which means “pissed off pasta” haha spicy spicy!!! hot! woohoo!
  • Also, Alfio’s pizza, right across from our housing, yumm! Imagine a pizza just for you, yes, that’s how you get it, they don’t cut the pizzas in slices either! prosciutto crudo, shaved parmesan cheese, olio di oliva, oregano ahhh can I have one now please???
  • Cafe Cafe! Coffee everywhere.
  • Vino!!! I guess I’m so glad I got to bring plenty of bottles with our move! After a year I probably have about 38 bottles left.
  • Gelato! Ay mama mia! I will never forget as the Gelato man would pass by the house with his gelato truck and the music, Gio would scream “mama! I want gelato man!” haha
  • Cornetto con albicocca- Crossant filled with apricot  ahhh!
  • One of our top favorite agriturismo there, Borgo Antico, there is no way to describe it, you have to live it, I will attempt to give you a glimpse of it the best way I know, with pictures..

Table for two and a half!! 😉 and my all time favorite curio/hutch <3

The beautiful drives… The amazing views…

Yes, the drives can be crazy and intense but after a while you get use to it.
Better to take it easy and enjoy the views…
I’m so thankful I took the time to just live Sicily, the little details sometimes we over look.

The beautiful view I would drive everyday, I really miss this…

and all the beautiful views surrounding us

Mt. Etna…

The second most active volcano in the world. How I miss seeing her beauty every single day. Such an amazing experience watching her erupt in such a manner and so often.
We were really blessed to have experienced this…

…but, above all of these, the one thing I miss the most…

Family time

Sadly, with the move, came sea duty, horrible hours, sacrificing a lot of family time.

Just hanging out outside pretty much everyday together as family, enjoying the beauty of our surroundings, the breeze, the gorgeous sunsets, enjoying the little things and the big things…


and now I’m crying!!!

I miss all of these and so much more and I know I will have Sicilia forever in my heart.
Now, we will make new beautiful memories here and I pray one day I will be at least a bit sad when is time to pack again and move on to our next adventure.

Thank you everyone who was part of this beautiful journey. Grazie Sicilia for the memories I took with me <3


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10 Q&A asked by you!



I get a lot of questions about different aspects of my photography, from, what gear do I use to how did I start my business.
I decided to make it a Q&A type of post where I can answer all of these great questions!
I hope I don’t leave any of the questions out!!!

  1. Do you shoot Canon, Nikon, Sony….? I’m a Canon girl! BUT I started out as a Nikonian (D40)! Until the day my camera completely stopped working on Christmas week while living in Italy! There was no way I had time to order the same camera online which I loved but they had discontinued already. I had to go to the local store and play with what they had, a friend had recommended a Canon T2i and that’s when I made the switch to Canon. Have loved every second of it but I also loved my Nikon so it’s a tricky question when I’m asked which one to start with Nikon or Canon. I loved both but not switching from Canon any time soon if at all!

  2. What camera and lenses do you use?
    This is a very common question 🙂 and I will tell you what’s in my bag! I shoot all of my sessions with my Canon 5D Mark 2 (5DM2, Marky… 😉 )
    Saving my pennies for the day I can upgrade to the 5DM3!!
    My lenses:
    Canon 24-70mm 2.8 L
    Canon 70-200mm 2.8L
    Canon 100mm 2.8L
    Tamron 28-300 3.5 (I got this one to get a better range when living in Italy and shooting the amazingly beautiful Mt. Etna erupting <3 All of my Mt. Etna’s shots were with this lens! As for flash, I use the Canon 580exII

  3. What camera would you recommend to start out with?
    My best advice when I’m asked this question is to keep in mind what you normally would like to be photographing, what are normally your main subjects.
    I always suggest to go to the store and play with what they have, different brands, different models, check and see what you feel more comfortable with and then go do some research on the capability of the ones you liked.
    As I said before, I started out with the Nikon D40 and then moved on to the Canon T2i. They were both great and with many possibilities. The Nikon died on me and the T2i got stolen with the move, darn it! I should’ve known better!!

  4. What made you decide to make a business out of your photography?
    Honestly, it’s not as if I planned to have a photography business when I grew up 😉 I’ve always loved photography, I was always the one with a camera on hand.
    Always taking pictures of my family and friends. One day I was curious about the business side and was shut down by the person. Sadly, sometimes people forget where they started from, some people sometimes forget they were starting out once too at some point.
    Don’t tell me I can’t do something or try to shut me down cause my answer will be… watch me! 😉 <3 You get what you give! 

  5. Have you taken a photography class or how did you learn to take such beautiful pictures?
    I never took a photography class in school or college. Ever since I started this journey I have taken endless numbers of workshops in person and online as well as online classes. I am a hands on/trial and error type of person. I read a lot and I can tell you that’s helped tremendously.
    I’m so flattered and so humble when someone takes the time to let me know how much they love my work. It means the world to me to see what I have worked so hard for is being appreciated <3 If I can give you one tip/secret/advice it would be to take your camera, get out there and shoot with your heart! When I’m shooting a session I of course have all the technical parts in my head but as far as the rest I just go with it, I let my creative side just flow and go where it wants to go. I know I might sound cheese but I truly shoot from my heart!

  6. What do you use to edit your pictures?
    I use Lightroom and Photoshop, love them both!

  7. Did you have to have your company trademarked? What process did you go through?
    Not trademarked but registered. It is the #1 step to do once you decide to start charging, no matter how much you charge you need to have a registered business to start charging. You can register with your city.

  8. How did you come up with your logo? Did someone design it?
    My logo, I knew what I wanted, I hired my friend Shannon from Backwoods Design Studios (she’s great! Go check her work out!!!) and she was so amazing and patient with me! She made sure I loved the final result. Hiring a professional is highly recommended. Money well spent!
    My branding I designed it, I knew exactly what I wanted and I went for it.

  9. Where do you get your inspiration from?
    I can get inspired with just about anything but mainly music, movies, my amazing dreamer son and just the beauty of life.

  10. Do you offer mentoring sessions?
    Yes I do! I love teaching others! Message me for details if interested.

                I hope this help some and answer some questions a lot of you had for me! Happy Tuesday everyone!!
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Military Children Appreciation- Virginia Beach Family and Newborn Photographer

Wow! First I have to say this blog post is so very special, double special!!
Launching my blog (finally!!!) AND recognizing these AMAZING kids!!!
I want to say thank you so much to everyone who participated but above all, THANK YOU to these kids!!!
They are true heroes waiting at home, thank you to the parents who stay behind making the lives of these children as
normal and as fun/busy as possible counting down the days.

Now, to what everyone has been waiting for!!!
The contest! The picture with the most votes by 1159pm on Thursday, May 1st will receive
a complimentary “While you were gone” mini session!
It was so amazing seeing how everyone was supporting each other!
Those who know me, know that I’m a giver, I love surprises and these kids are very close to my heart!!!
To the winner, on top of getting the mini session, I will be adding a $100 credit to any future session with me!

That’s not all, everyone who participated in this contest… will get the choice of a mini “While you were gone” OR a $100 credit towards any future session with me!!! (to be redeemed in 2014) WHAT??? YES!!! That’s right!!! This is my THANK YOU for what you all do every single day <3
Mini sessions will be schedule for May 24th in the early evening, May 25th as a back up for rainy day.


The one with the most votes is…
Karla Gross!!!

Please, if you participated, contact me for all the details on how to redeem your prize.
To everyone else, please, help me congratulate each of these kiddos and say thank you for their sacrifices.


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