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Cherishing children and memories

Amanda Rachael, 38, is offering 10-plus years of photography experience to new and soon-to-be parents at her Western Branch studio. The North Suffolk resident opened her new studio at 3105 Western Branch Blvd. in January with a focus on customized newborn baby photography, as well as maternity shoots.

She’s worked in temporary spaces in Carrollton since 2015 and is excited to provide her services in a convenient, centrally located section of Hampton Roads.

“Western Branch seemed really centrally located, and that’s what I’m hearing from all of my clients,” Rachael said. “I have clients from Yorktown, Virginia Beach and locals. All of them think it’s just a really good, central location, and within a good 30-minute drive for everyone it seems.”

Rachael’s photography experience goes back to when she was 17 years old in Waterville, Maine. She went on to learn the business side of the art when she worked at a photographer’s studio while studying at the University of Maine at Augusta.

She’s been doing this professionally since her first wedding gig in 2003 — before she opened her first studio in Maine in 2006 — but she’s since transitioned from event photography to primarily newborns and families. This allowed her to spend more time with her husband and their five children, an experience that’s helped her become a natural with infants.

“It’s my niche. It’s something that really fit me, (and) something I had a lot of experience in and I was good at. I think that’s why I really ended up focusing on this,” she said.

She’s focused on safety and comfort for the children at her studio. It’s a quiet space that’s roughly 500 square feet, she said, in which she can ensure the children are comfortable as the scenes are customized to the parents’ liking.

She’s designed her own, patented prop that allows her to safely pose the babies in photogenic positions. Each customized session varies from one to the other, from babies sleeping soundly to smiling widely at the camera in a “cake smash” shoot.

Families are also encouraged to incorporate unique personal details about themselves into each session, such as with heirlooms. One of her recent sessions featured a newborn girl wearing her father’s christening gown from when he was that age, along with her great-grandmother’s shawl, she said.

“I get a lot of unique, customized details that way,” she said.

Darcy Knoblich has been having Rachael take photos of her and her family since 2016. She did both her son E.J. and daughter Lena’s 1-year-old photos, plus maternity shots and a plethora of outdoor family scenes.

Knoblich said that she’s an “absolute pleasure to work with” and consistently delivers professional, “framable” photos.

“She’s patient and calm, especially when working with children,” Knoblich said. “There was one photo session where my toddler was uncooperative, yet Amanda did not seem bothered by his behavior and was able to work with him to create really cute photographs.”

Rachael said children need to be cherished and that motherhood is the most rewarding experience. She also understands how important it is to have professionally made keepsakes.

“I want my studio to be a safe, clean, comfortable environment for new parents to relax while I capture the tiny details that make each baby unique. I know from experience that in a blink of an eye, babies become teenagers and the portraits of when they were tiny can turn our most precious memories into our most valued keepsakes,” she said.

Amanda Rachael Photography is located at 3105 Western Branch Blvd. and is by appointment only. Call 942-5367 or visit amandarachael.com for more information.