New Focus on Jennifer McNeil Photography

by Jeff McNeil

Jennifer McNeil Photography LogoJennifer McNeil Photography – Orange County Maternity & Newborn Photographer

Renewed Focus on New Website

This month Jennifer and I have been really focused on her building a new website to share all the wonderful images of her maternity photos and newborn baby images with possible clients and pregnant mothers-to-be.  Building the website has been a long task and we are excited to launch it this month.  Jennifer McNeil Photography will be more focused on maternity and newborn photos than her previous sites in the past.  The photo galleries are updated with the best and most recent maternity photo sessions and we have updated the frequently asked questions and session planning information to be very helpful.

Maternity Photographer

As a maternity photographer, Jennifer prides herself on being able to work closely with pregnant mothers to be attentive to their wishes, wants and desires.  She makes her clients feel at ease during the photo shoot and allows them to shine in-front of the camera.  She creates beautiful images of mother-hood in any location, be it at the beach, local park or in the photo studio.  Maternity photography is the art of capturing the glow and happiness of being pregnant and Jennifer does such a good job that her reviews on these sessions are all 5 stars.  Trust Jennifer to take your maternity photos and you won’t go wrong.

Maternity Photographer Jennifer McNeil in Orange County

Pregnancy Photos at Newport Beach by Orange County Maternity Photographer Jennifer McNeil

 Newborn Photographer

Jennifer’s favorite session is newborn baby photos.  It can be in the hospital, in studio or in home, any way it happens, seeing those little feet and hands all wrapped up and wrinkly is such a joy to capture.  These precious first few weeks go by so fast, within 4 weeks newborns change so much in their feeding schedule, sleeping schedule and development.  It is best to preserve these slices of time with newborn photography by Jennifer McNeil.  Newborn photos are best done in a controlled environment for sound, lighting and temperature to soothe the baby into a very sleepy state.  That allows for re positioning and re-wrapping to create multiple looks and styles to let the parents choose from to hang on the walls.  So many times have parents said they wished they did newborn photos of their first born during the session of the second sibling.  Treasure your new baby for a lifetime with newborn photos by Jennifer McNeil Photography.

Newborn Photography Jennifer McNeil

Baby girl in purple wrapped with headband by Orange County Newborn Photographer Jennifer McNeil


Where are we registered?

by Jeff McNeil

Some people have been asking if Jenn and I are registered at a few stores around town.  The answer is Yes! We are registered at:

BRU_registrylogoBabies R Us – Search for Jeff and Jennifer McNeil  Registry# 57252583



Eetsy-thumbtsy – Use this link here

Our First Ultrasound

by Jeff McNeil

McNeil BabyWe did see our baby last time but this time we heard his heartbeat.  Yes, HIS!!!  (We also found out we are having a boy.)  So thoughts are going around for names – we know it will start with a J like our names do, but it is really hard picking out a boy’s J name.  First, there are a lot already in our families, and we want something new.  Second, there really aren’t too many “normal” sounding ones.  Third, there is no J in the Gaelic alphabet.  Also, we already had a girl’s name picked out and that was super easy but for some reason the boy name is just confusing us.  At any rate, from what we can tell he is healthy and happy and that’s the most important thing.  I had a blood test for risk factors for birth defects – I guess they do this State wide now.  It is a tad nerve wracking to say the least.  But for now I will relax and look forward to telling the family this weekend.

Week 12 Progress

by Jeff McNeil

Week 12 Progress:

We are discussing what your name will be, will it be a girl’s name or a boy’s name?  We don’t know yet.  We are excited to find out which sex you are, perhaps at our next visit.  We do know it will begin with a “J”. That is for sure.  Grandpa, Grandma and the rest of the San jose family will find out this weekend.  We are excited.  You are the size of a passion fruit right now.  Keep growing little baby.


We know it’s going to be a…

by Jeff McNeil

Today’s doctor visit was a big one for us.  We had a ultrasound done to confirm the baby’s due date and if the baby will be a boy or a girl.  The answer is…

It’s a boy!

We are so excited about having a baby boy! We will take him camping and traveling.  Teach him about nature and science.  Read to him and talk with him.  Jenn and I are so excited to know that he is doing well and protected by mommy.  Jenn is doing well and and we are deciding on names at this point.  It is hard because we have a few good choices but are trying to find the combination that just hits us right.  More news on the name later.

Week 11 Progress

by Jeff McNeil

Week 11 Progress:

Baby, you are the size of a fig.  Not that big, but you are growing fast.  Mommy is showing a little more, just wait until a few more weeks for a super cute baby belly.  We are about to tell Mommy’s parents up in San Jose.  It is going to be a fun time sharing with your future aunts and uncles.


Week 10 Progress

by Jeff McNeil

Week 10 Progress:

You are the size of a kumquat now.  We are starting to see you growth as evidence by mommy’s cute tummy.  You are a good little baby, very little morning sickness.  You seem to like milk because it helps your Mom overcome what she does feel in the mornings.  Take your time and grow little baby.  We will take good care of you.


Photo Session / Pregnancy Reveal

by Jeff McNeil

It is a funny thing being the holder of a big secret.  I liken it only to Jeff knowing he was going to propose and not telling me anything till it was happening.  I wanted to give him a surprise – albeit one he saw coming – and document his reaction with a photo shoot.  For this, I enlisted the help of a good friend and former co-worker, Briana Caster.  She is an amazing photographer and was so helpful in making this as stress free as possible for me.  Because Jeff is crafty and pinteresty, etc, I was worried he would really see it coming, or wonder why in the world we were having a portrait session when our last one was only about 6 months ago.  In the end, Brianna suggested telling him it was to help train a new photographer on her team and this worked brilliantly.  Of course he got right into helpful teacher mode when we met Alex – giving her friendly tips from his days behind a camera.  That was great because it assured me he didn’t know what we were really doing there.

But of course I was a bundle of nerves anyway.  I don’t love being in front of the camera – go figure! – so it takes me a while to warm up.  Most of the session was just me trying not to look super awkward but when it came time to hold up my “I’m pregnant” sign – all I had to do was hold it and I got that wrong – it was upside down for a ½ second!  Opps!  But once those words got straightened out and he got the message, his face went from highly confused, to super excited and that was worth all the nerves in the world.  From my standpoint, the reality set in slow and his initial “REALLY!?” sounded to me like he thought I was pranking him.  It wasn’t until we took a breath and relaxed and he looked at me and sort of half whispered “awesome!” that I knew he was stoked.  Lots of hugs and giggles and some tears came next but I felt totally relaxed in his arms.

To round out the evening I had told him I’d take him out to dinner for being a sport and helping Briana – so we ate Bang Bang Shrimp at Bone Fish – sooo good!  And he treated himself to a fancy glass of scotch.  Maybe he was a little nervous after all 😉

Week 9 Progress

by Jeff McNeil

Week 9 Progress:

Mommy and Daddy saw you for the first time on an un-official sonogram at the doctor’s office.  You are the size of a grape.  We were nervous about the first doctor visit but with everything we learned it put us at ease.  We are so excited to meet you in 31 weeks.Week9bump

Our First Doctor Visit

by Jeff McNeil

StehoscopeOur first doctor visit was on July 30th in Westminster.  Thanks to HealthNet our doctor in the network is so far away from our home in Tustin.  It is in Little Saigon section of the city.  As we pulled up the office looked heavily influenced by Asian styled architecture.  We entered the office and did our usual check in with the front desk, filled out some new forms and waited.  We waited a bit longer than we had thought necessary, being that we had arrived early.  A lady behind the desk then told us we could have waited inside the office in a separate waiting section just for our OB.

This half hallway was packed with chairs and boxes of medical supplies.  It seemed like there was a delicate way to walk around to not bump into the boxes of supplies like formula, brochures and sterile gloves.  About 30 minutes into waiting we got our first positive test that Jenn is 100% pregnant.  We were a bit giddy about it.  After a few more tests in a crowded room, Jenn and I were able to sit in an exam room.

The exam room was small but served it’s function.  Amount 8 feet by 8 feet with the exam table and tons of 1980’s health posters on the wall.  They were faded and torn, looks like a medical rep needs to come in and update those for them.  The doctor was polite, caring and nice.  She had a good bedside manner. After a few examinations, she goes “Yup you are about 7-8 weeks along”  “Nothing too out of the ordinary.  Congratulations!  Let’s go see your baby.”  My eyes did a double take.  *Blink * *Blink* See it so soon?

The baby was only the size of a kidney bean at this stage, how can we find that on a sonogram this early?  The doctor took us into a room and had Jenn lay down.  A few quick seconds and she had found our baby.  Tucked away and protected by Jenn in her lower tummy.  The doctor then told us “Ahh there we go, about oh a inch or so.  Yup definitely 8 weeks.  Oh and look, see baby’s heart beat”.  Double take again, my mouth got dry.  A heart beat already?  Woah!  Jenn took a photo with her cell phone.  This old office had some old equipment too.

Jenn and I were kind of shocked we didn’t expect to have it go this far on visit one.  We thought there would be a few tests to confirm the pregnancy, a few words of guidance “Do this, don’t do that” etc. and then be out of there with a appointment to meet every few weeks to check on progress.  I didn’t expect to see the little bean shaped baby.  It was so amazing.

So as Jenn and I left, I thought it would be a good idea to celebrate our first doctor’s visit with a burger from The Habbit.  A great burger, a good hit the spot moment, to celebrate our first photo of what will be many more for the McNeil baby.  I love you Jennifer, and I love you little baby.

Jenn’s view…

We left the house with just enough time to drive across town to our first visit with OBGYN Dr. Hoang in Westminster.  With our new insurance plan, we were not accustomed to this location but the staff was all very friendly.  Jenn took yet another pregnancy test and for the first time, a medical professional confirmed that we are pregnant.  Well just Jenn is, but we are in this together.  It was nice to reconfirm what we already knew.  After some blood was drawn we saw the doctor and she escorted us to an ultrasound machine.  We got to SEE our baby for the very first time and saw the teeny tiny heart beating rapidly.  Currently our little one is measuring a little ahead of gestation, Dr. Hoang said 9 weeks – although by our best calculation it is about 8.5.  Either way that means we are due sometime in March of next year.

After our visit we celebrated with Burgers from The Habbit and a little fabric and pattern shopping at Joanns.  Not sure where all the time to sew is going to come from, but it is fun to watch Jenn turn pieces of fabric into things I can wear.

Week 8 Progress

by Jeff McNeil

Week8BumpWeek 8 update:

Baby is now the size of a kidney bean.  We are so excited about having you we decided to celebrate with a trip to Tahiti.  It is well within the time frame for the second trimester and okay to travel with you.  We want to show you how travel is done right with warm beaches, swimming, amazing sunsets and loving parents.  We can’t wait to see you

Nightly Routine

by Jeff McNeil

tbp567812_v0_lEvery night before Jenn and I go to bed, Jenn and I have had a little routine.  First I put some lotion on her belly to help hydrate her skin for the impending expansion.  Then I tell the baby, “Good night baby.  I hope you had a good day.  Please be nice to your mama and let her sleep well tonight, okay?  I love you.  Sweet dreams”  I then kiss the tummy and rub the belly.  I then tell Jenn the same thing, but ya know with more kissing 🙂  I wish her sweet dreams and that I hope she has a good day at work tomorrow.

It is nice to be talking to the baby already, even though he/she doesn’t have ears just yet.  It helps me feel part of the process to do this each night.  And the times when Jenn really has had a long day, I have some lavender lotion to rub on her upper chest to help her sleep though the night.  The changes to her body have left her with a very unusual sleeping schedule that we are trying to bring back into the norms.  If you ask me, I think the lotions are working.


Week 7 Progress

by Jeff McNeil

Week7BumpWeek 7 Progress:

Mom and dad are excited to have you on your way.  We are like uber excited!  So excited we cried we ere so happy you are coming.  You are the size of a blueberry now and will grow so much larger.  Mom’s tummy is not showing much, if at all.  You need to get bigger for us to see the growth.  Your mom took photos of the reveal to your dad and it was priceless.

How Jeff Found Out about the Baby

by Jeff McNeil

Irvine Regional Park Pregnancy AnncouncementJennifer took a pregnancy test and didn’t tell me about her pregnancy results for a few days.  She wanted to surprise me and have a special photo session at Irvine Regional Park.  She asked me to be part of a photographer training session with a friend of her’s.  Here is my take on that afternoon.

So there I was, back turned, waiting for the go-ahead to turn around for a model session bride reveal… but wait I totally forgot about the pretext.  Let me back you up here a bit.

It was a Monday, my wonderful wife Jenn had asked if we could do a photographer friend of ours a favor.  She had a new photographer she wanted to teach how to do first looks and engagement shooting.  After considering the positives of getting free photos, helping out a fellow photographer, nothing better to do that day (since I was unemployed at the time) and passing on some key knowledge to someone in the biz, I agreed to go and help out.  I was excited for photos.  I am so supporting of Jenn and her efforts because I value photography that I would love to do more photos anytime we can.  I got out a collared shirt I wore in Africa, some nice jeans, showered, shaved and made my hair look all nice.  Jenn was excited about it too and wanted to do something different for it so I had suggested a few days ago she get her makeup done.

Jenn got off work a little early on that day down in Mission Viejo and went to the mall to have her makeup done.  When she got home it looked like stage makeup and as a good husband I was strong and positive about it.  I told her she looked good and would praise her for being brave about doing the makeup. She looked beautiful to me, even it was a bit more than she ever wears, or most women ever wear for that matter.  After rubbing a bit of it off, she looked more like herself.  She also seemed happier with her makeup.  I liked the smoky eye look and her lipstick, it made me just want to kiss it all off before we got to the photo shoot.

The photo shoot wasn’t far from our place here in Tustin, just up the road at the Irvine Regional Park.  We met Jenn’s photographer friend Briana Caster and her assistant she was going to “break in” Alex.  I put my keys in the glovebox, it was not going to be good to have a rough pocket to sit on or a bulge in my pocket in photos.  Then we were off.  There was some brush area that Briana wanted to shoot photos under.  Showing Alex the framing technique she uses at weddings.  When Briana was talking with Jenn I was talking with Alex telling her about pose books and things I use when I do wedding photo shoots.  I like to talk and was trying to impart my wisdom on a new shooter.

When we were done with the dried brush photos we all walked out to the green grassy areas of the park for some mock first look scenarios.  No problem I was ready to ham it up.  I knew all about it since I had shot photos like this before and had a first look reveal done at our wedding.  I got this.  Be all serious then turn on the amazement and charm.  Oh my gosh I had to over react to be sure the photos were going to give some emotion and fast paced action.  So they we reset for a second version where Briana and Alex switched focus.  “Now turn on 3…2…1…”

The next thing I saw as Jenn holding some paperwork.  What was this paperwork, I was confused.  This was a model shoot for Alex to learn more about photography so what is this paperwork!?  I couldn’t read it to I had to get closer.  I looked puzzled.  Then Jenn removed the paperwork to show a sign saying “I’m Pregnant” I was shocked.  My brain hit the pause button.

My brain went to look at synopsis of this movie for a moment. I didn’t see this in the plot line so early in the movie.  I had to think in the blink of an eye… pregnant, I know we had been trying for the last month.  But she had only been off birth control for just 45 days or so at this time.  She had only cycled once, so what is all this?  My mind kept thinking, when did this happen, how did this… well no, I know HOW this happened, but how long ago… and I thought this was a model photo shoot.  I am so confused.  Then it hit me, my beautiful amazing wife is pregnant with our child.  She is going to be a mother and I a father.  She is pregnant, oh my gosh this is so cool!  We HAD been trying and it was something we both wanted.  This is wonderful news to hear.  This is amazing new.  All I could say was “This is so awesome!” and of course throwing out “I love you” like twenty times.  I pulled her close to me as she walked towards me.  I was so excited that I cried a few tears of joy.

I held her tight, wrapping my arms around her and having her whisper in my ear she was so excited and nervous and worried and all those other early pregnancy emotions.  I told her everything was going to be okay and that we were going to be so happy with a baby boy or girl.  It took a few good minutes for me to be calm enough to then ask the major question, “Who’s idea was it to lie to me this whole time?  Ehh?”  I wasn’t mad but more felt foolish.  I was being a goober during the photoshoot that everyone else was in on the joke.  Oh my gosh was I easy to lie to and get to go on an impromptu photoshoot and dance monkey dance.  It was a fun afternoon.  I love every minute of it.

So now that the veil of secrets had been revealed, I asked all the questions, and got a few answers about when Briana knew, how long it took to get setup etc.  I apologized to Alex for all my musing, she worked with Briana for years and was an accomplished photographer.  Oy!

The remaining photos were fun and light hearted as before the reveal.  I had some ideas and so did Jenn.  We both had a good time and boy did she look radiant in those pictures afterward.  I love her so much and this just made me feel so special that she could fool me twice within one month.  She is a good secret keeper and surpriser.  I am proud of her for that.

Twice, yeah I mentioned it.  The other time was when she took me up to Hotel Angeleno on our 5th anniversary of my proposal.  I had no clue she was doing that.  Totally took me by surprise and I was so happy to be there.  She is a wonderful wife, and soon to be an amazing mother.

Important Announcement – We are pregnant!

by Jeff McNeil

Stork_Blue_PCJennifer and I are proud to announce that we are expecting a baby.  This is our first child and we are totally excited about it. Our expected due date is March 8th 2016.

Jenn and I have always had good conversations about when to have kids and how they would fit into our travel lifestyle.  Well we had thought about this long and hard last summer when looking into booking our trip to Tanzania.  We knew that a trip to Africa would not be a place we would want to travel with a newborn, baby, toddler, kid or early teen. The logistics of it just didn’t add up for us.  So we decided to make Tanzania our last trip before our serious discussion about when to have a baby.

Once we returned in December 2014, we had a few long talks about how we were doing financially, emotionally and mentally to get into the right mindset to agree that in April was the right time to make preparations to have a child.  We visited our doctor to get some advice on what good steps there were to take before getting pregnant.

She mentioned the use of DHA in the first few months of development, and a prenatal vitamin and healthy diet were the best things we could do.  So Jenn and I went to Costco to get a giant size bottle of vitamins and decided to have her stop taking her contraceptives.  It was only a few weeks until Jenn had an idea she might be pregnant.  She kept things on the down-low from me and surprised me later on.