When you have your first baby, all you want to do as a new momma is take pictures of your precious little one. But unless you have some serious photography skills (and a studio), your portraits might come out less than perfect. Professional photographer Mary Jane Farnsworth and her longtime friend (and business partner) Yvonne Tully created Baby Box Studio, a portable studio you can set up in your home that will give you gorgeous baby photos — every time.
What were you both doing prior to launching Baby Box Studio?
Mary Jane: I was shooting privately for people, which is what I still do.
Yvonne: I’ve known Mary Jane for 14 years. We have kids around the same age. For about 15 years, I was home raising my four kids, and I launched a career completely unrelated to Baby Box Studio. I was getting used to being a working mom again and Mary Jane said she had an idea, and I immediately loved it.
Mary Jane: She’s a genius. It was at the inception process. I’m a real DIY-er, so I was at the stage where I was cutting things and spray painting them. I said to her, “Do you get it? It’s like a studio!” Yvonne was such a big part of the development of where we are now.
So let’s talk about Baby Box Studio and what it is.
Mary Jane: As a newborn photographer in NYC, I bring my equipment to people’s apartments. I always have a bag of tricks; I’ll have a little outfit and then a blanket that matches the outfit. And one mother said to me (which they so often do), “I wish you were here yesterday. The baby was so much better yesterday.” Babies feel the tension and energy that something different is happening. And when people are paying a photographer, which is expensive, they get stressed out.
So when I was pulling the things out, she said, “I wish I could put you in a box so I could pull you out at any time!” As I was driving home, I was thinking, “Wouldn’t it be great if there were some kind of a kit that they could pull these tools out that I’m so accustomed to using but they might not know how to use, and put it all in a box and make it easy for them to use anytime.” The whole idea was born from that.
I mean, hiring a professional is a great thing. We’re not trying to squash that business or take over from them. But now with COVID-19, they can have it at any time that they want.
Yvonne: This resonated with me because I experienced so many of the problems that Mary Jane talked about. So when Mary Jane explained the idea, I thought, “Hey, this is something that I could do myself.” The beauty of the idea is that it’s designed so that anyone can use it.
To your point earlier, when you hire a professional, you want your baby to be on, but babies don’t work like that.
And if you’re paying a photographer $700 or $1000, you get two hours and you’re done. Plus, the first two weeks are the best time to photograph a baby, but they’re not vaccinated. But now you can get those perfectly posed sleepy shots because we give you the pillow. We give you the posing blanket and the outfits that match the backgrounds, and then you bring the baby into the background virtually on our app, and it looks like the baby was really in a photography studio. And honestly, the better the smart phones get, the better Baby Box Studio will get, because you’re taking the photos with your iPhone.
Up to what age can you use Baby Box Studio?
Yvonne: Typically, up to the point where they’re at tummy time or sitting up. Depending on the size of your baby, it can be from newborn up until 6-9 months. It grows with your baby!
Mary Jane: Even though it’s green screen and a virtual studio, when the baby gets older you can flip the floorboard over and it looks like a white barnwood floor that you use in a photography studio, and the background is green, so when the baby is tummy time or sitting up, they still look like they’re in a photography studio and you can change out the backgrounds. There are so many backgrounds from solids to fall and holiday-themed. You can make your holiday card in like, 2 seconds.
I think when you have your first baby, you’re photo crazy. And it’s just a really fun thing to do with your baby. If you’re home with them and you have the time, it’s so much fun to put them in an adorable outfit and take professional portraits of them.
It’s also at an affordable price point, so you can really photograph your baby for their entire first year. You can do those monthly photos easily, and we currently have 60 backgrounds, and they’re only going to get better. And if you have a photo that you like but see a new background, in a year from now, you can always go back and change out the background and you have a completely new picture.
Yvonne: We launched in September, and the response has been amazing. We’re so excited about our growth and what the future holds as the business continues to do so well.