Iwakuni Newborn Photographer | Nichols Family

This blog post is doubly special because it includes both a newborn session AND a military homecoming session.

As is the story with quite a few military families, baby girl’s daddy was deployed for her birth. This strong mom had her second child a few weeks before her husband was able to return home. Military families are a special kind of strong, and I am incredibly lucky to witness this strength every single day.

One of my newborn packages includes both a maternity mini session and a full newborn session, but instead of doing the maternity photos, we switched things up and did a mini homecoming session when daddy finally got to meet his new daughter at the Iwakuni airport.

Iwakuni Newborn Photographer | Walters Family

This was my first newborn session in Iwakuni that was off base at a Japanese home. The house was beautiful, just as beautiful as this couple and their new baby girl. When they said they had a vision for simple and classic newborn photos, I was thrilled to be the photographer they trusted to create those types of images for them.

When I got to their home, we had an instant connection. Anthony parked my car for me because my mini van was too big for their little Japanese car port, and Emily and I chatted about her graphic design background. The entire session was like a fun time between friends, and their baby girl is just the sweetest. Her expressions and her alertness were so much fun to capture, and their love for her and each other filled every room and every shot in my camera.

Iwakuni Newborn Photographer | Braudt Family

I love being reminded of just how connected we can be. When this mom got in touch with me, she mentioned that she graduated from Florida as well. Once we got to chatting we realized that not only were we at UF at the same time, but we even had a friend in common. But of course, we didn’t meet until both of us had husbands stationed in Japan.

Life is funny, but what is even crazier is that this baby girl was thought to be boy throughout the mama’s pregnancy. When I asked this little lady’s parents if it was hard to choose a girl name when they were in boy mode all along, mom smiled and said, “No. I’ve always wanted a girl.” That just melted my heart. This family is so sweet. I loved doing these photos for them. Enjoy!

Iwakuni Newborn Photographer | Glass Family

Another military spouse described friendships among military families recently like this: “The military says, ‘hey, you’re going to move here and these are going to be your friends. Good luck.’” It’s so true, and man, have we lucked out during this journey. This family became friends of ours instantly. When their sweet little lady was born in a Japanese hospital, the first photo we received of her was a picture of her tiny little foot, toes spread wide, with her last name written on the bottom in Japanese letters. This is a unique life we lead, and I am so lucky to be able to document it.

Iwakuni Newborn Photographer | Molina Family

I think one of my favorite aspects of newborn photography is the rawness of emotion that comes with bringing a new little human into the family. It can be your first baby or your fifth, but regardless - that baby is its own little self. It’s something new, special and unique. This was baby (and boy) number three for this family. I am so grateful to have been asked to create these images for them.

Iwakuni Family Photographer | Nichols Sakura Session

This was another session with extended family, which as I mentioned, I love to include. Grandparents add an additional layer of love, warmth and variety to family portraits. They’re also really good at standing behind the photographer and making funny noises/dangling snacks for the 18-month-old.

Iwakuni Family Photographer | Doyen Sakura Session

Sometimes being stationed in a foreign country is incredible, but other times, it’s easy to feel just how far from family we are. When this friend’s family made the trip to Japan to visit, the timing lined up perfectly with sakura season. I love when I have the chance to include extended family in photo sessions. Visits with grandmas and grandpas are not as regular as we would like as military families, so any time spent together is special and worth capturing.

Iwakuni Family Photographer | Chamberlin Sakura Session

All photographers know that golden hour is the most beautiful and magical time for portraits. Most clients, however, can only get on board with the evening golden hour timeframe. Enter: this family. My good friend and neighbor who also happens to be a fabulous photographer herself was all about getting some sunrise sakura photos, and I am so glad we did. The light was gorgeous on this particular morning, which made this family’s photo session of their last sakura season in Japan all the more memorable.

Iwakuni Family Photographer | Hillman Sakura Session

Fall is usually considered the busy season for family photographers, but after my first cherry blossom season in Japan, I can say with confidence that photographers here will, without a doubt, be busy as soon as the sakura trees are blooming. When my neighbor asked if I could do family portraits for them among the beautiful sakura trees, I jumped at the chance. And then, I did a few more sessions for other people as well. These trees bloom for such a short amount of time, and they are celebrated throughout the country. Sakura season is real, and it is everywhere. Standby for lots of family photos among these glorious trees.

Iwakuni Family Photographer | S turns 1!

Ever since a good friend had a great idea to do her daughter’s cake smash session at a bakery, I’ve tried to think of new ways to approach the idea of a cake smash. When this little cutie’s mom approached me about a 1-year-old portrait/cake smash session, I offered up the idea of getting an ice cream cone near the Kintai Bridge. There are quite a few ice cream shops in that area with tons of flavors. You can’t really visit the Kintai Bridge and leave without ice cream. You also can’t turn 1 in Iwakuni and not have an “ice cream smash” session. It was a more mild day weather-wise, so we decided to try it out and see how the little guy would do. Turns out he loves grape ice cream as much as every other kid I’ve met here. (I know it sounds weird. It’s delicious though.)

Iwakuni Military Photographer | VAW-125 Change of Command

This is not my typical photo gig. I usually stick to portraits, but when our soon-to-be-skipper’s wife asked me to photograph the change of command ceremony for her, I couldn’t pass it up. How do you say no to that? It was such an honor to be asked, and I am truly blessed to be able to witness such important and meaningful military traditions. Being married to someone in the Navy has made me that much more patriotic and appreciative of our country and those who serve.

Iwakuni Maternity Photographer | Stephanie

As a newborn photographer, I have a special opportunity to capture expecting mothers thanks to my maternity mini + newborn session combo. Every woman experiences pregnancy differently. Some love it, some hate it. Regardless of how you feel though, it is such a unique time of anticipation and hope, and there is so much to look forward to. I always say that maternity photos are not just for the mother. They are for that little one who is growing inside. That baby will one day be old enough to look at these images and cherish them the way you will cherish the memories of those little feet kicking from inside.

This beautiful mom has two little guys already and wanted to get some photos of her last pregnancy. I was so happy to be able to do this photos for her. We took these in her home and kept it clean and simple, just my style :)

[Click any photo to see the full image.]

Iwakuni Military Homecoming Photographer | Navy Homecoming

This job of documenting the highest highs in the lives of fellow military families never gets old. Military life for both the service member and the families is hard. It tests you, stretches you and constantly reminds you of just how much you can handle. On a personal note, this was the first deployment I’ve experienced with children, and it was just as difficult as the first time but in a different way. Military homecomings are the happiest reunions. The joy, the relief, the familiarity of having your person home. There is nothing like it.

Iwakuni Newborn Photographer | The Fields Family

When this little guy’s mom messaged me about doing newborn photos, I was so excited. Honestly, I’m excited anyone trusts me to preserve these moments for them because this newborn stage is so fleeting. Being so far from family and friends stateside who would love to be able to meet him adds even more reason to capture every little detail. We had such a great morning doing family photos, sibling photos and then solo portraits of this family’s new addition.

Iwakuni Family Photographer | K turns One!

One of the first people I connected with when we got to Japan was a spouse who has a husband in the same squadron as mine. Her son seemed like a good buddy for my son. Once we got to talking, we realized that not only were they both born in October, but they have the exact same birthday. Cool, right?! Well, technically this guy is juuuust a bit older than my guy cause he was born in Japan and my dude was born in Florida.

I was so excited for this to be my first portrait session here in Iwakuni. We met up at the Kintai Bridge and did photos at a park nearby. And as if all his cute expressions weren’t enough to make this session fun, we walked to get ice cream once we wrapped things up. Not too shabby of an intro to photographer life in our new ‘hood.

Iwakuni Newborn Photographer | Simple & Pure Workshop

I value simplicity. I think it's safe to say most people do. But we're good at making things complicated even when they don't have to be. When I started learning about newborn photography, my natural inclination was towards more simple, classic images. For some reason, I strayed from that. I guess I figured if everyone else was using bright colors, big bows and baskets, I needed to do the same. It's what I thought people wanted, so it's what I attempted.

Enter: Bethney Backhaus and Danielle Hobbs.

At some point in my continuous newborn photography research and learning, I discovered these two photographers who were doing exactly the kind of newborn photography I always wanted to do but didn't even realize was a thing. But that's what is great about art - it can be whatever you want to make it. Their images inspired me and reminded me of why ignoring your gut is never sustainable. 

When they announced they were teaming up for a newborn photography workshop in Charleston, it wasn't a question whether I'd be going. I signed up right away and then counted the days like it was Christmas. 

The night before the workshop officially began, they arranged for those of us who were there to do a beach shootout with a family in the area. Even though thunderstorms were in the forecast, the rain mercifully held off until we were done with our shoot.

The next two days were filled with the cutest little newborn models, including one session with the rest of the family, and tons of learning. We discussed everything: how to use light, fabrics that are best, baby-led posing, macro shots, editing, camera settings, lenses, camera bodies, business models...the list goes on. Bethney and Danielle were open books and were wonderful mentors. I'm so grateful to have learned from them and to finally feel inspired and excited about a kind of newborn photography that is so beautiful in its simplicity. 

Norfolk Family Photographer | A and V with both grandmas

This was my last portrait session while living in Virginia. These kiddos have two really special grandmas. One of them contacted me about setting up a session when she'd be in town over the summer and coordinated with their other grandmother so that she could be in the photos, too. This session was full of lots of fun, but even better than that is the fact that these cute little ladies now have some snapshots of these moments with two people who love them more than they know. I have a feeling they'll cherish these photos, which is exactly why I love to do what I do.

Norfolk Family Photographer | Brock Family

One of my last family sessions here in Virginia was this one, shot in the Freemason District of downtown Norfolk. I love it when kids are up for some fun. It makes posed shots easier and in-between ones special. That also means it results in a variety of both posed and candid photos, and lots of great moments.  

Not only is this family ridiculously good looking, but they have a special place in my heart. This was one of the first families I photographed when we moved to Virginia. In the six years we've lived here, I've done family sessions, a maternity session and a newborn session for them. The fact that they're one of my last sessions here brings things full circle. Funny how life is. 

Norfolk Family Photographer | Anderson Family

The youth group at the church we go to has spent the last year fundraising for a peace pilgrimage  to Ireland. This family won this session as part of a silent auction for that trip, and I'm so glad they did! I had the chance to get to know these sweet people from my church better than our usual quick hellos on Sunday mornings. We met up at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, which is a great location for family photos. With every family session I do, I make a conscious effort to create fun moments so that everyone (from kids to dads) is happy. This family showed up ready to join in the fun, and we ended up with some great images as a result.

Iwakuni Family Photographer | EHP is moving to Japan

I've been meaning to post something now that it's official, but it turns out that once you find out your family is moving to Japan in two months, life gets busy. So there you have it! We are taking off for Japan in August and will be there for two years. That means if you'd like a portrait session before I leave, my availability is limited. I can't thank my clients in Hampton Roads enough for trusting me to capture images of your families, your children, your pets, your military reunions... it has all meant so much to me. This isn't the end for Erica Hurlburt Photography though. It's just a new beginning in a new country. Be on the lookout for portrait sessions with some new backdrops in the future! Domo arigato! ❤️