Amy's Maternity Session: Strength and Grace

I had the pleasure of meeting Amy and Chris recently for a maternity session at their gorgeous home.  The house was full of light, love and laughs, and I cannot wait to go back to photograph their sweet baby girl.


Doesn't she look fabulous??  Amy just radiated such a peaceful strength the entire evening, and I was so impressed by her confidence.

This little fluffy sweetheart was just begging me to photograph him too.  I still wonder if he has any idea what he's in for, in just a few short weeks.  ;)  Oh how life will change.

The most difficult part about this photo shoot, to be honest, was just narrowing down the final images for the gallery.  It was so hard to choose!  There are so many dramatic and wonderful images from our evening together.  I am once again so grateful to be able to do this work, and for the opportunity to work with such amazing families time and time again.

Chris and Amy, big hugs to you!  I am looking so forward to meeting your sweet girl in the coming weeks.

xo, Stacey

Welcoming Ryder | St. Petersburg Maternity and Newborn Photography

When I first met Amy, I was amazed at her strength.  She and her husband were expecting a child in a few weeks, and they were in the middle of a move to a new house as well.  So many changes happening at once, but she handled them all beautifully. We had a wonderful time at her maternity session, held at her home and then at one of the gorgeous local beaches close by.

And just a few short weeks later... I got to visit her again.  Only this time, Amy had a beautiful baby boy in her arms.

lifestyle newborn portraits by Stacey Woods

newborn baby photos tampa

Ahh.  Sweet boy.  Don't I have the greatest job in the entire world?


Blessed | Safety Harbor Maternity Photographer

I'm always honored to photograph expecting mamas during this amazing time in their lives.  I'm thrilled when they choose me to document their pregnancy for them, and to give them photographic proof of the love for their child, that started long before they were even born.  And... when that expecting mama is a dear friend and fellow photographer, well that just makes it even more exciting for me.  Double that when you consider the beautiful story of how much Cilla and Bret have been through in order to bring Baby Steffen into the world... just makes me tear up with gratefulness for them and what lies ahead for their sweet family. The Baierleins and the Woodses have met up for three years in a row, every June, when they come down for vacation.  I photograph her family, and she photographs mine.  Imagine my excitement when we realized that during her visit this year, she'd be at the perfect stage for maternity photos!  I whisked her and Bret off to one of my very favorite locations for the evening.

clearwater maternity photographs

maternity photographer tampaPriscilla and I met through my sister Amy, actually.  We went to the same high school back in Kentucky, but never knew each other back then (I graduated just before her freshman year).  Years later (I won't tell how many, lol), photography joined us together five states away.  It's funny how life somehow brings us back to the same people and places, no matter how far away we roam.

pregnancy photos in safety harborThe next image is already hanging in Baby Steffen's room, just awaiting his arrival.  :)

couples pregnancy photos tampa

safety harbor pregnancy photosIf you couldn't tell, they're going to make AMAZING parents.  Just look at how sweet they are together.  Steffen is one lucky little man.

couples maternity photos floridaI just loved her confidence and beauty in these next two images.  Her contented laugh just makes my heart so full.

tampa maternity photographerAnd perhaps my favorite image... she just exudes strength in this last photo.  She's been through so much to get here, and I'm so very proud of my friend for her determination, and her heart.  I feel so blessed that she chose me to photograph this beautiful time in their lives.

Just four three! more weeks until your due date, sweet friend!  All my love and blessings.  It's been a wonderful experience to share our pregnancies this go around, and I'm so grateful for your love and support in return.  Much love.

xo, Stacey


A Milestone and a Cornerstone | My Pregnancy

I have reached a milestone with this, my last pregnancy.  I am twenty weeks with this tiny sweet baby, and I am happy to say that I finally have some of my energy back!  I haven't been terribly sick with this pregnancy, however the exhaustion has been overwhelming at times.  Caring for two young children, running a full-time business, managing first grade homework and a two-year-old's temper and desire to change clothes five times a day, plus dealing with the woes of a normal first trimester of pregnancy...  oh my.  It's been more than I can bear on some days.  And did I forget to mention that I gave up my Starbucks obsession, cold turkey, once our pregnancy test showed two pink lines?  Sweet tea, too.  Yep, "tired" was never, ever an adequate word to describe my state of mind for the first thirteen weeks! I try not to complain, because, really... it's such an honor to carry a child within your body, and there are thousands of women out there who would do anything to be in my shoes right now.  Anything.  I am blessed to be able to assist the Heavenly Father in a miracle, for the third time in my life, and I am so very grateful for this opportunity once more!

Now that my first trimester is behind us and I am nearing the end of my fifth month, I do feel more rested, energized, and my focus is actually renewed.  I'm so thankful!  I felt like I was running on about 40-50% capacity for a while there.  At this point, we are making birth plans, deciding on a name for our littlest baby, and looking at what the rest of 2011 might look like for my photography business.

maternity photography in tampa bayphoto courtesy of my son Parker, taken of me at 20 weeks 3 days

We actually did have a scare, you might call it, about two weeks ago.  (I didn't share it here, but I divulged a little bit of our story with my Facebook friends.)  I'll share the story with you today, not to complain, but because I have a feeling that I'm not alone in my thoughts about all this.  I'm still trying to make sense of it myself.  I've felt shocked, angry, confused, stressed, thankful, peaceful, frightened, relieved, suspicious, and most of all, grateful once more.  (As if expecting mothers need yet another reason to feel one hundred different emotions in a single day!)

My OB called us on Monday, April 5, with the surprising news that my alpha-feta proteins were elevated, according to my second round of the triple-screen testing.  This meant that our baby's risk of having spina bifida was higher than normal.  She said that our risk was actually 1:130.

Okay, stop right there.  When a mother hears something like this, she immediately shifts gears, mentally.  I certainly did.  I began right in with the questions: "what does this mean?  What is the normal risk ratio for spina bifida?  How high of a risk am I?  Are you sure?  Can you tell me about spina bifida?  What does it mean for our baby?  Will the baby be okay?"  I was disappointed, to say the least, to discover how very little my OB knew about spina bifida (next to nothing, in fact), and about what a normal risk ratio is for a patient like me.  When I inquired about the details of spina bifida, I was actually directed to a pamphlet that was given to me in a plastic bag of forms and coupons at one of my earlier visits.  A pamphlet.  This Doctor couldn't tell me what the "normal" risk range was... she said she really didn't know and she "wasn't smart enough" to read the tests, just the result it gave out.  She honestly only knew what my risk factor was.  And that they would have to take extra precautions at our baby's birth.... for instance, if its spinal cord was exposed, they would have to wear gloves during delivery.  (This is the point at which I almost lost it.)  She cheerfully proclaimed me "high risk" and recommended a Level 2 Ultrasound by a local perinatologist.  The peri's office was to call me in a couple of days, and schedule the sonogram for sometime in the next two weeks.

Are you kidding me? Two days seems like a lifetime to an expecting mother, who is imagining the worst at this point.  Two weeks sounds impossible to bear.  I didn't know what to even think.

The only positive things she said were, "There is still a 1:129 chance that your baby is healthy," and "It's still a very rare chance, but we have to test further anyway," and that she would not recommend an amnio at this point.  Honestly... all I heard was "Your child is at increased risk for spina bifida and we might have to deliver him or her wearing gloves so that we don't touch the exposed spinal cord."  Oh, and "I don't know what normal risk is, and I don't know how to read the tests."  Any positivity she tried to project after those words were uttered, was completely lost on me.  I numbly thanked her, hung up the phone, sobbed violently, begged God for this not to be happening, googled spina bifida, sobbed even more, and prayed the entire time, never stopping.  Over and over, out loud, I prayed for mercy for my child.  For this all to be a mistake.  For our baby to be healthy and to not have to suffer in this way.

I called Chris at work, and the message that I left him was almost illegible and broken because I was still crying.  When he called back, I still had not gained my composure, and I was even worse to try and talk to.  By this time, I had researched spina bifida on Wikipedia, and was shocked at what I saw and read.  Wheelchairs.  Leg braces.  Shortened life expectancy.  Among other things that I couldn't bear to read any longer.  I was an emotional wreck.  Chris sweetly and calmly assured me that whatever this ultrasound showed, that we would get through it together, and that hopefully, for our baby's sake, the test was simply incorrect and all would be well with our last child.  I love that man with all my heart.

maternity photography stacey woodsoh my sweet Lila... she says she has a baby girl in her tummy too

Four agonizing days later, Chris and I walked hand-in-hand into the perinatologist's waiting room.  My always-strong husband appeared as calm and cool as ever.  Mostly for me, I suspect.  I was a bit anxious still, even despite the peace I'd come to feel in the hours and days after that phone call.  I held tears back and tried to breathe deeply as the technician scanned for any abnormalities with our baby's head shape... its cerebellum... its spinal cord... any markers or other signs of abnormality that might indicate spina bifida in our baby.  I pensively asked questions of the technician, unsure of whether or not she would actually divulge any details or if we would have to sit and wait for the physician to inform us after the scan was complete.  I confided to her that I knew what the "lemon and banana signs" were, and she so sweetly smiled at me.  She praised me for doing my homework (what other choice did I have?) and reassured me that she saw no such thing on her monitor.  [Huge sigh of relief!]  Next she scanned many different body parts, I can't even remember all of them, but the baby finally turned so that its spinal cord presented itself beautifully to our technician.  She scanned our baby's back, zoomed in so close that I could count our baby's vertebrae, she panned up and down, and made sure to get at least three different views for the doctor to see... all confirming that our sweet baby's spine is indeed closed, fused, and that there are no further markers or signs of spina bifida whatsoever!  Our little one is perfect, as far as we can tell, and we are beyond grateful!!

stacey woods ultrasoundYou can probably guess that I sobbed again at this point, and you would be correct.  Of course.

Now, generally speaking, I do believe that most physicians actually care about our health, and that most of them truly mean well.  However, I still cannot wrap my brain around the manner in which this news was presented to us, with the utter lack of knowledge or understanding of the condition that our baby was supposedly at a higher risk for.  These are never wise words to say to an expectant mother, without facts and supporting information to give her as well!

Unrelated to this four-day nightmare, Chris and I had already decided to plan for a natural delivery, in a wonderful birth center near our home.  That phone call from my OB simply confirmed my decision that I was headed in the right direction by leaving my OB's practice.  In fact, I also called my certified nurse midwife on the day I received that terrifying phone call, and she was so reassuring to me.  She actually PRAYED with me over the phone, while I just sobbed in silence.  I can't express how powerful those moments were, on the phone with my midwife, hot tears rolling down my cheeks as she prayed for my peace, and for our sweet baby's health.

Our sweet baby GIRL, that is.  That's right, we are having another little girl!  Isn't she adorable already?

Much love,


As They Await His Arrival... A Maternity Session for a Beautiful Couple

I recently spent an evening with such a warm and gracious family.  A family of two for now... by Thanksgiving, Leanna and Gavin will have one more heart to be grateful for. leann and gavin

They opened their gorgeous home to me, and it was a pleasure photographing them within its walls and in the spaces they love.

leann maternity photos

leann and gavin maternity photosIsn't she gorgeous?  Leanna was 34 weeks in these images, and could not have looked more stunning.  They both really made my job so very easy!

leann maternity photosThank you so much for welcoming me right in and having me photograph this beautiful time for you.  I'm looking so forward to meeting your baby boy next month!


maternity quoteI recently spent a weekend morning with Kristine and Charles at the home of his aunt and uncle, Marilyn and John Connelly, in Belleair.  It was truly a gorgeous home: full of light and beautiful spaces, filled with years of memories and special touches.  It was absolutely perfect for our session! I've said it before, and I'll say it again: you just can't create custom photographs like these in a studio.  I will forever travel to clients' homes for their sessions because it means I have the opportunity to give them something even more exclusive and genuine... something that is theirs alone.  A custom photograph created in a private home cannot be recreated in duplicate for just anyone else.  These authentic, honest photographs will truly tell a story with their surroundings, the environment, the family history that lies within the walls.  Thank you, Marilyn and John, for opening your home to us for this session.

Kristine is expecting their first child, who will be born later this month, and I was blessed to be the one to document this amazing ~ and short-lived, in the grand scheme of things ~ time in their lives.  What a beautiful, welcoming family.  I couldn't have asked for a more amazing session!

maternity photography in clearwater

couples maternity photographer clearwater

maternity photography clearwater

in home family photographer tampaI wish I'd looked this fabulous when I was carrying my own babies.  At the time of our session, Kristine was actually 36 weeks pregnant.  36 weeks glowing.  36 weeks radiant as can be.  And might I add, Charles could have been a bit on the radiant side as well, judging from the way he looked at his bride.

modern maternity photographer

modern maternity photography tampaSo grateful to Kristine and Charles for indulging me this beautiful morning.  I have so many more images to share with you, soon.  And I am eager to meet your darling boy in the coming weeks.


the wait | madeira beach maternity photographer

I spent a recent morning with the sweetest couple ~ who are going to make fantastic parents very soon. billie027



One of the most exciting things about their pregnancy is that they're waiting to find out the gender of the baby until he or she is born.  I LOVE THAT!  (Granted, I didn't have the courage ~ nor the capacity to keep from planning every detail ~ to be surprised with either of my own pregnancies, which might make their decision all the more appealing to me!)  ;)


They are already amazing parents to three (enormous) four-legged "babies", one of whom I was able to meet at the session.  She was precious, and was so very attached to her owners while the other two dogs were off playing at doggie daycare (I think she was happy to have all the attention to herself!).  In fact, she could barely stay away from her mommy while we were shooting, as you can see below...

blog I indulged her a little.  :)  Every single time I'd turn my camera away, she'd put her paw on my arm as if to say, "Hey, I'm still here, and I'm still photogenic!"  Sweet girl.


Billie and Doug, I hope you both enjoy your sneak peek!  I've got lots more to show you, and your entire gallery will be ready in just a bit.  I can't wait to meet your new little one in a few weeks!  xo

waiting for anna | tampa maternity photography

I always love turning my lens on these gorgeous girls.  Jill's maternity shoot was not just directed toward herself and her beautiful tummy, but it was also very much about Ella, who is going to make for one fine big sister.  This is the third time I've photographed this family, and I can't wait to meet baby Anna in a few weeks. jill005bw







Oh, and did I mention that there is also a supercute and hilarious terrier snuggled up in that tickle fight?  I am pretty certain that right beside his "girls" is exactly where he wanted to be.  :)


Well, maybe except for that moment....  or this one...  ;)


But they are an adorable bunch, no?


Told ya...  he was snuggled up to his girls the entire shoot.


Jill, I can't wait to meet your new baby girl!  Thank you for having me over to play once more.  I had such a great time, as always.  See you soon!


a beautiful announcement ~ the maternity club

maternity club maternityclub

I am so excited to let you in on this fabulous little secret...  listen up, all my beautiful expecting mommies in the Tampa Bay area ~ you've just found your Haven!


I am proud to announce The Maternity Club, Tampa Bay's premier maternity day spa and wellness club.  A place where a mom-to-be can relax, rejuvenate, learn and connect with other mommies.  Full details to come a bit later, however I can tell you this:  Stacey Woods Photography will be offering custom on-location maternity photo sessions with your enrollment in The Maternity Club!

The Club will also allow you to experience a 3D/4D ultrasound of your beautiful baby in the privacy of a beautiful and luxurious setting, while indulging in spa services, prenatal massage and yoga, baby shower planning ~ among SO MANY OTHER LUXURIOUS OFFERINGS.


The Maternity Club will be anchored at the beautiful Indaba Spa (the same Spa that is graciously hosting my Holiday Mini Sessions this Saturday!).  The Spa is a new addition to the Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club in Palm Harbor, FL.  Indaba is such a beautiful retreat ~ I immediately felt at peace upon entering the grounds and walking through their amazing space.  Indaba boasts a meditation labyrinth, beautiful aethetician suites with private lanais, couples treatment rooms with gorgeous views, and a full luxury spa and salon.  The spa offers a sauna and heated indoor spa pool, as well as a fitness center and nature walk.


The Maternity Club is now taking appointments for ultrasounds.  Please contact Mara, The Maternity Club's Ultrasound Specialist at 727.565.4590 to make your appointments and learn more about this amazing experience!



More details about The Maternity Club's Grand Opening to come soon!  I'm thrilled to be a part of this new venture ~ I hope to meet many of you and to help make your pregnancy as wonderful, relaxing and as memorable as it was meant to be.

xo, Stacey