Lancaster Birth Photography: Eliora's Natural Hospital Birth Story

Lancaster birth photography of mother and baby Eliora

One of my goals for 2019 was to photograph a birth. Other than the births of my two children, I have never been present for such a sacred moment as this. I have always loved story telling with my camera and since birth is something I am passionate about I knew I would enjoy documenting it. After all, giving birth is one of the most momentous, miraculous and amazing things a human woman can do and I wanted to show just how incredible it can be.

I put the word out on social media that I was hoping to photograph a birth for a nominal fee and was surprised at the response of willing moms who came forward. One of the moms who reached out to me was Beth who was expecting her fourth baby girl at the end of August. When I discovered she lived just a few blocks from us here in Cabbage Hill, Lancaster City, I felt it was meant to be.

I don’t have the best words to describe what it was like to photograph the birth of Eliora but it moved me (to tears) watching this beautiful mama work to bring her fourth baby girl into this world. Beth endured a long tiring labor so beautifully without complaint, even laughing and making jokes throughout (and without any painkillers or epidural I might add). I should also mention that Beth had been having pretty intense contractions for a few days before she even went into labor so I can only imagine the exhaustion she must have felt.

I met Beth and her husband Jack for the first time in the delivery room. Jack had the most peaceful, calm presence the entire time. I learned that he could sense the strength of her contractions by how hard she was squeezing his hand. She later told me that this was by far her most difficult and long labor. Her pregnancy was considered high risk because of the baby having a two vessel cord instead of three (meaning less blood flow/food to baby) but Beth showed no sense of worry or fear. Honestly I could not believe how calm and quiet she was the entire time because with both of my labors I was making a LOT of noise by the time I was nearing transition.

For me it was amazing to watch how Beth knew her body so well and how Jack encouraged her and trusted her to do her thing. Watching little Eliora come into this world was by far the peak moment. She was born with a perfect knot in her umbilical cord (see photo below), which I’m told is extremely rare. The crazy thing is, my daughter was also born with a perfect knot in her cord, so once again I felt a sense of divine connection and knew that photographing my first birth story with Eliora was meant to be. What an incredible labor of love to witness and photograph, and one I’m sure never to forget.

Note: I decided to tell the story in black and white for consistency. I don’t think any of these images are too graphic but if you’ve never seen what a placenta looks like, be forewarned you will see one below. Shout out to the amazing nurses at Lancaster General Women and Babies Hospital for providing excellent care and to Dr. Eichenlaub for the delivery (and not minding a photographer in the room).

Melissa Engle Photography offers portrait and lifestyle photography in Lancaster, PA. Please contact me if you would like to make some photo magic together!

Lancaster Family Photography: Creek Stomping One Year Session at Lancaster County Park

one year photo session at Lancaster County Central Park

I have so many favorites from this summer family mini session at Lancaster County Central Park with MJ and his parents. I don’t always get to go creek stomping for photo shoots so this was a real treat! Little MJ was such an expressive, happy little boy to photograph and I’m so glad I got to capture his personality at his one year session. It was a delight to watch him interact with his parents and he was all smiles throughout this entire photo session. Since he turned one in the summer time, we thought it would be fun to end the photo shoot with some creek stomping, which was perfect for him. Enjoy some more images of this smiley little guy below.

Melissa Engle Photography offers portrait and lifestyle photography in Lancaster, PA. Please contact me if you would like to make some photo magic together!

Lancaster Maternity Photography: Conestoga House and Gardens | Sandra and Oscar

Colorful summer maternity session at the Conestoga House and Gardens in Lancaster, PA

One of the best kept secrets in Lancaster, in my opinion, is the Conestoga House and Gardens, located just outside of Lancaster City. When Sandra asked me about locations for their summer maternity session, this place came to mind right away. It’s located just 5 minutes from where they live so we thought it would be perfect. I would describe the Conestoga House and Gardens as a miniature Longwood Gardens and it’s free and open to the public two days a week during the summer and fall. On any given evening you can find the grounds full of families picnicking and photo shoots happening around this beautiful garden oasis.

It was a hot humid July evening and Sandra was just weeks from her due date when we did their maternity session but she and Oscar didn’t complain one bit. Sandra was glowing in the golden summer light and I couldn’t stop exclaiming about it. We even made time to snap some photos of them with their adorable little dog outside the gardens (FYI dogs are not allowed inside the gardens).

Even though this was just a mini session, I managed to sneak in a few double exposures at the end. I love experimenting with this technique, especially to showcase silhouettes of pregnant bellies. I think it might be my new “thing” for maternity sessions. Curious to hear what you think?

As I type this, Sandra and Oscar are now adjusting to life as brand new parents with their one week old baby boy! Perhaps you’ll see more photos of him showing up soon!

Melissa Engle Photography offers portrait and lifestyle photography in Lancaster, PA. Please contact me if you would like to make some photo magic together!

Lancaster Branding Photography: Fringe by J macrame art

Macrame fiber art branding photography in Lancaster, PA

Every now and then I get to do some branding and lifestyle photography for friends and clients. I especially love it when I can help budding small business owners by taking some quality photos of their work. Jette is a new friend and neighbor of mine here in Cabbage Hill on the South West side of Lancaster City. She recently started a business creating macrame art called Fringe by J. She can make most anything, from wall hangings to plant holders to purses and pillow covers. I loved photographing her in her element where she works in her beautiful bright attic studio space.

One of the things I learned about Jette is that she is a country girl at heart and she grew up on a farm in Virginia. She even incorporates pieces of home into her work by using wood that she has found around the farm and forest for her macrame pieces. She and her fiance will soon be getting married and she is planning to create a macrame backdrop for their wedding ceremony.

If you have a moment, I recommend checking out her Etsy shop to see more of her creations.

Melissa Engle Photography offers portrait and lifestyle photography in Lancaster, PA. Please contact me if you would like to make some photo magic together!

Lancaster Portrait Photography: Spring Butterflies and Blooms Creative Portraits

Colorful creative spring portrait photography in Lancaster, PA with blooms and butterflies

This spring I got together with some creative photographer friends to do something magical and colorful. A little while back I came across these magnetic butterflies on Amazon and bought them thinking I could use them some day for a creative project. And thus we decided on a butterflies and blooms spring themed photoshoot. I created a hanging mobile of butterflies and shot down through it for a neat effect (although the wind made them tangle quite a bit).

Emily of Emily Grace Photography and Sirena of Monsters and Lace brought all the color and creative modeling expertise. It turned out to be a rainy day but we didn’t let that stop us. We each took turns being in front of and behind the lens (though let’s be honest, Sirena’s pink hair stole the show).

When I shared the image of Sirena lying in the yellow flowers with the butterflies on Instagram, someone said it reminded them of Taylor Swift’s new album about butterflies. I am totally out of the loop when it comes to pop culture so I had no idea, but hey, I guess I’m on trend for once?

Melissa Engle Photography offers portrait and lifestyle photography in Lancaster, PA. Please contact me if you would like to make some photo magic together!

Lancaster Maternity Photography: Ryan and Andrea's Spring Maternity Session at Kauffman's Orchard

Spring maternity session at Kauffman’s Orchard in Lancaster, PA

I have known Ryan and Andrea for a few years now, since I photographed their wedding the fall after my daughter was born. I was so excited to hear that they were expecting their first baby in May. Andrea is a creative herself and is a very talented seamstress. I couldn’t believe it when she told me that she made the gorgeous blue lace gown she is wearing in these photos.

Spring Maternity Session at Kauffman’s Orchard

When we were thinking about locations for a spring maternity session, Kauffman’s Orchard in Bird in Hand immediately came to mind because of the beautiful spring blooms. The owners of the orchard are our former neighbors and such wonderful people to work with. I had done an impromptu headshot swap with some other photographers there a few years back and had been wanting to go there again. We timed things perfectly and the pink peach blossoms and white plum blossoms were just starting to burst when we were there. Not to mention we ended the evening with a killer sunset. I won’t tell you how many silhouetted photos I took of them against that sunset but let me tell you, it was a lot!

Photography has always been a creative outlet for me and along with story telling, I love to seek out interesting angles and textures that add depth to photos. I was able to experiment with some double exposures during this session and I am really happy with how they turned out. My next challenge will be trying double exposures at a family session with fast moving little ones.

In addition to this spring maternity session, Andrea trusted me to do my first ever milk bath maternity session with her. If you know me well, you know that I love hearing and sharing birth stories so when she asked if I would share my birth stories I was delighted. I can not wait to hear all about how their little one comes into the world. For now, enjoy these beautiful photos in the orchard.

Melissa Engle Photography offers portrait and lifestyle photography in Lancaster, PA. Please contact me if you would like to make some photo magic together!

Lancaster Portrait Photography: A Vintage Peacock Flapper Inspired Glamour Session in Lancaster City

Vintage flapper peacock glamour creative portraits in Lancaster City, PA

This winter I was itching to do something creative just for myself and so I started tossing around some ideas. After much contemplating I ended up with this vintage peacock flapper inspired glamour session with my new friend and fellow creative Rachel as model. Rachel has this vintage vibe about her (she also collects vintage clothing) and I thought she would be perfect for this. I love jewel tones, especially peacock colors, and so naturally I was drawn to this room with a teal wall above Realm and Reason Shop in Lancaster City.

The idea for this vintage flapper inspired glamour session began when I decided I wanted to dress up fancy for a friend’s New Year’s Eve party. I had ordered this awesome flapper dress on Amazon only to end up with my first ever emergency room visit on NYE due to what I thought was a bone stuck in my throat (thankfully turned out to be nothing) which meant no NYE party for me. I also happened to have a ton of peacock feathers on hand from my wedding back in 2012. We made our own bouquets and used some of the feathers in them. They complemented the flapper look perfectly and I had fun holding them in front of the lens to create some additional depth and color.

We had a limited time window for this shoot since it happened during the 2 hours my daughter was in preschool. I managed to not only shoot digital but also shot a roll of 800 speed Kodak film that was more than 10 years old on my Canon AE-1, my very first camera which functions completely manually. If you scroll down to the bottom of this post you’ll probably be able to tell which images were shot on film.

I have so many favorites from this session that I found it hard to narrow these down. These are the colors of my soul! The light was gorgeous that morning, pouring in through the windows. Rachel was getting over a bad head cold but you can hardly even tell in these photos. She was a real trouper and even smoked a cigarette and sat on an old toilet for some of the shots. The room with the peeling floral wall paper was also a perfect setting for capturing Rachel’s vintage flapper essence and I enjoyed messing around with some freelensing there too.

Melissa Engle Photography offers portrait and lifestyle photography in Lancaster, PA. Please contact me if you would like to make some photo magic together!

Media Newborn Photography: An In Home Newborn Lifestyle Session With Baby Henry


Say hello to baby Henry! This was my first newborn lifestyle session of 2019 and it could not have been more perfect. It took big brother Oliver a little while to warm up to the strange lady with the camera, but once he did he was excited to show me his toys and how much he loves chocolate chip cookies (me too!). I love that the family dog was even able to pose for a few photos and give baby Henry some puppy kisses. I have to say, baby Henry made my job as a photographer pretty darn easy. He was alert and happy pretty much the entire time and even dozed off for a little while towards the end before pushing out a big poop, newborn style. And look at his little forehead wrinkles!

I am looking forward to photographing many more newborn lifestyle sessions in the near future. I know for myself as a mom those first few weeks can feel like such a blur and then you blink and your baby is not so tiny anymore. I am so very thankful for the images I have from our newborn lifestyle session when my son was a few weeks old (he turns one this month!). Even though I was exhausted the morning the photographer came and still feeling overwhelmed as a new mom of two, I look back at those photos fondly and I’m so glad we have them to treasure.

Melissa Engle Photography offers portrait and lifestyle photography in Lancaster, PA. Please contact me if you would like to make some photo magic together!