Thank you to my customers.. from Michelle Studios, Raleigh children’s photography.

A huge thank you to my customers is in order.  As a now Raleigh photographer, having relocated from my long time Holly Springs studio,  I have worked hard for to rebuild my business that took a bit of a hit when I was sick. I want to say I am honored and appreciative of the commitment that many have had to my studio through the ups and downs and stuck in there with me.  I am so happy to say that business is good now and it would not be without you all.  I am honored as well as thrilled to have been recognized in so many nice ways in the community lately.  I was asked to hang my portraits in a local fine dining establishment, The Chef’s Palette which was an honor and  lot of fun.  I was published twice this year by Inspire Fine Art Magazine with these two images and I just about jumped up and down when notified of publication.  


Award winning and published image in Raleigh NC  Thank you Vanessa for being such an amazing customer.

children and animal portraits
Award winning and published photograph in Raleigh NC  Thank you Caitlyn and Betty for being fantastic customers and for working hard with me Caitlyn, to get these shots.

The excitement this year continued for me when I was recognized by Expertise, a shopping guide for triangle area families, as one of the top newborn photographers in the Raleigh and surrounding areas.

Best Raleigh newborn photographer

I could not have done this without you guys.  My heartfelt thank you is here for you, along with a big smile on my face.  I love my job.  This is why I do it…

When I hear the words from Ed Sheeran “We keep this love in a photograph, we make these memories for ourselves,” I know why I want to document memories for clients and for myself. I am so thankful to have my own portraits of my family.  Sometimes our families include animals.

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And well of course to support myself and my wonderful family.  Thank you to my two beautiful children that have always been helpful knowing I work long hours.  Having my daughter Taylor help me with children and horse sessions has been the best. I get to do what I love to do and also be with my best girl. She was actually in the shot below, walking the horse,  and with the magic of Photoshop she disappeared into the leaves.

Children's photographer in the Triangle area

 I have been a photographer in the Raleigh and Triangle for over a decade.  My photography mostly focuses on children as I have never worked a day in my life that children were not part of that day.  I worked in mental health and in schools before becoming a photographer.  I also ran an equine 4H program when I stepped out of a classroom. Working with the children and horses was very exciting. I even gave photography lessons to a few of my students and they won ribbons at the 4H show with their photographs.  First place of course…  I believe nothing is more beautiful or fun to photograph than a child.  I specialize in the art of newborn photography and I love it.

The newborn images are so sweet. Oh how I wish I had images like this of my own children to hang on the wall. The newborn sessions are really a once in a lifetime session. I am so happy that the studio is filling up with new babies.

Thank you Thank you Thank you ALL!

Thank you to Marti Leone for getting the cutest pony in town for me to photograph with small children. I just love Lightning and so do the children.

Thank you Tara Needham for working with me so many times. I love all of your babies from Stampede of Love

Raleigh child photography with animals

Summer Magical Mini at Carriage Farm…Pony and child photo shoots

 I am currently booking 4 Magical Mini Sessions with Lighting, the cutest Shetland pony in Raleigh NC.  Pony and child photo shoots are very popular right now but some times lean towards little girls.  This one is fantastic for little boys too.  The sessions will be on Sunday June 25th.  I am only booking 4 so that he can spend the rest of his day doing what horses love to do which is graze and run around with his pasture mates. Magical Mini sessions have a customer discount, I pay the horse rental to the owner which is a $40 savings for you.  The full cost of this session is only $325 and it comes with 25 minutes of shoot time and 7 professionally edited portraits.   I edit 10 and you pick the 7 you love the best.

Lighting is the newest addition to the Leone family at Carriage farm In Raleigh NC.   I have worked with him several times now and he is just perfect pony and child photo shoots.  This session is wonderful for little boys and is more than just a photo shoot.  The children love the hands on experience of meeting Lighting, walking him around a bit and giving him a big hug.  He is super cuddly.

If you are interested in booking one of the 4 spots please send me an email through my website’s contact page. Link HERE  A $100 non refundable deposit is due the day you book to hold your spot and the remainder of the session is due the morning of your photo shoot.   The sessions are booked on a first come first serve basis so if you have a little boy who may be interested make sure to send your email. Lighting photographs best with children ages 7 and under since he is pretty small.  The children in the photos below are 3 and 5 years of age.  Aren’t they cute?

If you book a session please follow this LINK to read about pony and child photo shoots.

Child and horse photography in Raleigh NC

Children's photographer in the Triangle area

Raleigh child photography with animals

Raleigh child and animal photo shoot

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Lighting is so darned cute he even sneezes cute…..

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Please follow this LINK to read about your young child and horse photo shoot.

children's photographer in Raleigh, Cary, Apex

Children and animal portraits

People often ask me if it’s difficult to take children and animal portraits. The answer is yes and no. It is fun and an experience for your child.  I do have to take many photos during our time together because some of them may not be usable.  This is because I am working with a moving child and a moving animal.  Most of the children are young and I want them to have fun so that they will have relaxed facial expressions.  Telling them not to move an inch just does not illicit the proper mood.  Also the animals do move and don’t care one bit about my focal plane. Ha ha.  There is a chance that the animal will not be in focus as it should be in some of the images because of the way I choose to shoot.

 Although most people do not want a rundown of how a camera and lens work, it’s still important for parents to know that you will not see all of the images that I take when I am photographing children and animal portraits.   Why would the animal be out of focus?  It’s not because he or she may be moving.  It is because of the way I use my aperture to get the out of focus back ground that we want in your images.  Otherwise they look like snap shots and that is not what you pay a professional photographer to produce.  I have a horse handler with me if I am photographing a child with a horse.  That person has a good idea about what I need to happen with the animal for the animal and child to be in the same focal plane.  (That is what makes both child and animal in focus)  We work together to get the nice images you see posted on Facebook and here on my site.  We have fun with your children and I provide exquisite dresses for the girls from Dollcake in Australia. We are working on some cute ideas for boys too.   The ponies/horses/or miniature horses are sweet as are the bunnies.  The images are adorable and classic.  I will do unicorn photos if a client is interested but a less gimmicky and more classic portrait is more my style and may hang better in your home on a canvas.

Being a Raleigh children’s photographer and living on a farm gives me the advantage of being able to schedule many children and animal portraits. I hope that you will look through my galleries.  I have images posted in my regular children’s gallery as well as my magical mini session albums and in the gallery titled “Meet some of the animals“. I would love for you to schedule a session with me.  It is so much fun and the parents just love the images.

This is of course what we are going for when shooting children and animal portraits.

Raleigh children's photographer

Raleigh children's photographer

Children and animal portraits

children and animals portraits              

Sometimes I photograph BIG KIDS with their horses.  This first shot actually won an award and was published.

children and animal portraits

Children and animal portraits

I am also a Raleigh senior photographer and am so excited when they have a horse to add to their senior portraits.

High School Senior Portraits in Raleigh,, Cary, Holly Springs

Raleigh senior portraits

And of course, because as I mentioned I am often working with the animals and very young children there are always the bloopers.  Hope you enjoy as much as I did.

Sometimes you just get sneezed on:    I was laughing so hard when I saw this photo.  Little Lighting even sneezes with a cute facial expression.

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In the image below she is focused on the not so magical unicorn slobber on her hand.

Raleigh children's photographer

And some girls are cowgirls early…

Raleigh children's photography

And because safety comes first there is always a handler.  One of my handlers is my friend Tara Needham with Stampede of Love.  You can keep up with her sweet therapy horses on her website or Facebook page.  I am so thrilled to have a friendship as well as a working relationship with her.

Cary horse photographer

My other handler is my wonderful 21 year old daughter Taylor who has spent the majority of her life with horses.

Unicorn photography in Raleigh NC

Call me at 919-637-7985 or email me here to talk about getting your children photographed with some of the wonderful animals above. My work is featured at Carriage Farm in Raleigh NC as well.  I do most of my portraits there.  You can have a party there, a wedding, (link to new wedding pavilion)  horse back riding lessons, board your horse and have portraits taken.

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Now booking one seaside portrait session: Michelle Studios

I am excited to say that I will be at the beach for a few days in April.   I am booking one seaside portrait session for either Saturday the 22nd or Monday the 24th.  I will be there until the 26th so that covers a rain date reschedule if that was needed.  If you are interested please let me know as soon as possible as I only have time for one.  There is a $150 non refundable deposit to hold the spot.  The remainder of the session is due the day of the session.  Full cost for the session is  $650.  I edit about 25 portraits for your gallery and you choose the 15 that you would like. I would be happy to bring my Dollcake gown collection in your daughter’s size if you have a girl. They would be amazing on the beach.  The session will be at Topsail near the pier. We will meet an hour and a half before sunset.  I will give you more information if you decide you would like to join me for a beach photo shoot.



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Booking Now: Easter and Pony Portraits

Don’t forget Easter is right around the corner. Michelle Studios is a local Raleigh children’s photographer.  We are currently booking Easter sessions with bunnies and sessions with the sweet Shetland pony seen in the images.  The children love the animals and parents will love the images.  We have the bunnies for three weeks so there is limited weekend availability.  Bunnies do not like to be handled all day long so we only book two sessions per day to keep them happy. Sessions booked for the fairy gardens are booked in the morning before it’s too bright or right at sunset. Most very young children do best in the morning.  Book NOW, to save your spot.  Bunnies can be added to any type of session, mini or classic, in studio or outside.

Children's photographer Raleigh NC

Children's photography Raleigh NC

children's photography in Raleigh NC

children's portraits Raleigh NC

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Our new little friend Lightning is ready to take portraits with your children.  He is so sweet and cute.  If you have a little girl between the ages of 3 and 12 I have many beautiful Dollcake dresses for them to wear.  For boys I have a fishing pole, suitcase, cowboy hats etc… but generally  just recommend a comfortable outfit that compliments the colors of Lightnings fur. For safety I have to have a horse handler for these shoots so they are limited as well, right now I am mostly doing Sundays.  I only book a couple of mini sessions in a day so that he can do what little horses do most of his day. My portrait studio is in Raleigh NC.   It is very convenient to Raleigh areas, Cary, Holly Springs, Apex, Fuquay-Varina, Garner, Willow Spring, Clayton and Apex.

photographer in Raleigh NC,  pony and child

Photographer Raleigh, Cary, pony

Hope to hear from you. Emailing me through the contact page of my site is the best way to book an appointment.


newborn photography in Raleigh NC Michelle Studios

Spring is time for the fairy gardens: Raleigh newborn photographer

Spring is just around the corner and I am  getting ready here at the Michelle Studios. One of my favorite things about being a Raleigh newborn photographer is that my fairy gardens begin to bloom and I am able to get images like this.

Raleigh newborn photography

Raleigh newborn photography

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Flower seeds have been purchased and I am just waiting for the last freeze to get them in the ground.  I have a very talented vendor who makes most of my special little hats that I use to photograph these precious newborns. The delicate mohair she used in this cute bunny hat makes it so soft and cute for the sweet babies that come in.   You can check out her site HERE. Check out my latest arrivals from Precious Little Baby.  I asked her to custom make a few and I was beyond thrilled with the results. The little ears on the blue bear hat are amazing. I know just which baby boy I want to wear it first.  The little white bear hat came with pink bows but they can be removed  so that it is just as cute on a newborn boy.  One of my favorites is the little lamb hat.  Easter is just around the corner and it’s going to so cute outside.  The last two are so cute with the fur around the face.  Nataliya, you are just amazing and I am so glad I found you.

newborn photography in Raleigh NC

newborn photography in Raleigh NC

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I can’t wait to use this little newborn lamb bonnet in the fairy garden. It is so cute.

newborn photography in Raleigh NCI love the fur she added to this gray bonnet.  So sweet for any newborn baby girl or boy.

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This little newborn hat reminds me of a baby lion hat.  I will be using it in the outdoor area below that looks just like a little jungle.  I can’t wait.


 I absolutely have spring fever. I am ready and super excited about the newborns I already have on the books.  If you are looking for unique newborn images, a very experienced newborn photographer and plenty of access to outdoor areas for shooting give me a call or shoot me an email. If you live in Raleigh, Cary, Holly Springs, Fuquay- Varina, Garner, Clayton or Apex I am close and conveniently located.  I also sell gift certificates.  Happy ALMOST spring.

Raleigh newborn photographer

Artist Of the Month at the Chef’s Palette in Cary NC

I was so excited when I received a call from Johanna Campbell a few weeks ago.  She is the amazing marketing representative for the Chef’s Palette in Cary NC.  She asked if I would like to show my work at the restaurant for the month of March as the featured artist. Well yes!!!! and thank you so much, what an honor!  Jojo was so wonderful working with me getting my link on their webpage. She devoted some late nights to me and sent some wonderful emails that made my day/s.   Click HERE to see my exhibit. Thank you Diane Mckinney, another friend and local photographer,  for grabbing a photo of me in action. Thank you also to T. Wayne Grimes for grabbing a shot of my display. As a local photographer in Raleigh and Cary area I am honored by the offer. I specialize in art of newborn photography and high school senior sessions.  

Raleigh newborn photographer


A very special thank you to Patricia Anne who referred me as an artist that they may be interested in hosting.  Patricia is a wonderful artist and friend.  Like me Patricia is a horse girl…. that’s what we call people who have devoted a great percentage of their lives to the beast called “horse.”  I met her through a mutual friend in the horse world, the place where I have fortunately met most of the my friends.   I believe that her artwork must be  inspired by her love of this animal and is absolutely amazing. I could just stare at each and every piece for hours.  I can imagine a bedroom for a young girl completely decorated with her magical images.  If you love horses too you may be interested in purchasing one of her her masterpieces.  Below are some samples but you may also click  HERE to view her Facebook page.  She also was honored by sharing her work with the community at the Chef’s Palette.  Thank you so much Patricia Ann.

painting by Prancing Mare Designs

Can’t you just imagine a piece like this hanging in your little princesses bedroom?

horse designs by Prancing Mare Designs

Michelle Studios photography

Her work speaks for itself but I just have to say that I am in love and I follow her page.

I was fortunate to meet the Chef Ryan and the wonderful owner of the Chef’s Palette in Cary NC when I went to hang my work on the wall.  Kathie Clark has really set up an amazing experience for her customers.  If you are looking for an award winning menu you should try the Chef’s Palette.  The walls are covered with beautiful paintings and photographs from local artists. As an artist myself I could not stop looking.  What a unique idea for a restaurant.  They also have live music and trivia night.  My brother Bill Baragona said the Chef’s Palette is one of his favorite restaurants.  As a connoisseur of fine dining that says a lot to me.  I am sure it is a result of the wonderful atmosphere in conjunction with the talent of their chef Ryan Summers. Chef Ryan Summers was a state champion in the GotToBeNC competition dining series this year.  He is also getting ready to be a daddy. congratulations Ryan.

Click HERE to see what’s going on at the Chef’s Palette, see the menu, photo gallery and book a reservation.



Raleigh senior photography

Siana Senior 2017 Michelle Studios Raleigh senior photographer

I’m still a bit behind in blogging but can’t leave out one of my favorite senior photo shoots this year. Being a Raleigh senior photographer is a fantastic job. I just love photographing people during this special time of their lives.  Siana was a photographer’s dream.  She was so confident with the camera, could smile in a flash or throw a nice serious look.  She was easy to get along with and we had fun running around looking for unique places to capture these gorgeous images.  We even took a few minutes out to play in an echo shell.

She packed some really cute outfits, things that she looked nice but also comfortable wearing.  My favorite outfit ended up being just a huge pink and gray scarf she brought that we made into a shirt.  It was so pretty and unique.

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Raleigh senior photographer

Raleigh high school senior photos

high school senior portraits Raleigh

Raleigh senior photographer

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Raleigh High School Senior photography

Michelle Studios provides senior portraits for seniors in Raleigh, Cary, Fuquay-Varina, Holly Springs, Garner, Clayton and the surrounding areas.

Princess and the pony Magical Mini Sessions Booking Now for May 29th: Raleigh children’s photographer

One of the benefits of being a Raleigh children’s photographer that lives in the county on a horse farm is the pony portraits that we can easily offer.  We are currently booking our Magical Mini Sessions/ Princess and the Pony on May 29th. The clients that have participated in the past had lots of fun with this session.  The girls are pampered and styled and have the option of looking through our collection of princess dresses. Most of them were purchased from Dollcake in the Uk. They are just beautiful and perfect for portraits.  On this day in May the Princess/ Pony portraits are a bit discounted because clients are not paying the horse rentals, we covered that for the day.  This is a really unique portrait experience that little girls just love. As you can see in the images the ponies can be dressed up with flowers in the manes and even a unicorn horn if you like.

 If you are interested in a private session like this with a pony just email me and we can set something up.  We rent the horse from Carriage Farm so we must schedule our sessions on days when I can get a horse handler and the ponies are not busy in lessons.  The kids love the two white ponies, Sizzle and Angel.  Both ponies are handled by young children often and super sweet.  For any private session at my Raleigh portrait studio we can also use miniature horses as seen in my Meet The Animals section. I have two gorgeous Dollcake dresses to match the cute sheltland pony that they just got at Carriage Farm. He is always available for photos and absolutely adorable.   I just got the shipping invoice from Dollcake and can’t wait for those gorgeous dresses to arrive.

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Raleigh children's photographer

This is Grace and her adorable miniature horse Ferdinand.  He is her personal pony so not available for photo shoots but we can replicate this look with Lola, Taz or Lightning.  So cute.

Raleigh children's photographer

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Children's photography in Raleigh NC

Raleigh high school senior portraits

Taryn: Senior 2017 Raleigh senior photographer

     Taryn and her mom scheduled her high school senior photo session with me and I was super excited and happy to see them.  The first time I photographed Taryn she was about 11 years old.  What a beautiful child she was.  Her images have always been featured on my website.  The second time I photographed her she was about 15 and her family came in for family photos.  We had a great time and again gorgeous photos of Taryn and her beautiful family.  I have to say that her senior photo shoot was my favorite to date.  She has grown in to an absolutely stunning young woman. It’s so nice to have clients that keep coming back to me as the children grow up. I love having that relationship with a family.  I feel that it is easier for the children or young ladies as was the case here, to feel more comfortable with someone they already know.  I was absolutely in love with her portraits.

     She is also as sweet as she can be. We had fun looking for unique locations for her portraits. Yes we also played with the big domes that amplify sound. Ha ha, I am still a kid at heart.   Senior photography is very special as this session is a right of passage for most young ladies.  My specialties are newborns and high school seniors.  As a Raleigh senior photographer I enjoy scouting out cool locations in the area for senior pictures.  The self expressions tunnel at NC State is a really neat place to take photos.  They are always going to look different because the tunnel is always painted differently.  With the right lens you can get some really interesting colors and effects there too.  The lights in the tunnel also add extra dimension and color giving the images a very three dimensional look.  I just love these first two images here and you can see how different they look even though they were both taken in the tunnel.

Raleigh senior photography

Raleigh senior photography

This was my favorite portrait from her senior photo shoot. Her face is just gorgeous. She has amazing bone structure and gorgeous skin and eyes.  I love the bokeh, creamy back ground in this image that really pops her off the page.  Thanks to my very favorite lens….  The colors are just amazing and I tend to prefer low key images.  I will be printing this to hang in my studio.

Raleigh senior photography

I love Taryn’s sweet smile and the roses outline her so nicely.  It all stands out so well against the gorgeous back drop of yellow color.

high school senior photography in Raleigh NC Michelle Studios

You have to have long legs to pull of this pose. Taryn is really tall and I have always felt she would make a magnificent model. I could see her modeling wedding dresses for magazines.

Raleigh high school senior photography

Fall is such a nice time of year to take portraits.  We were able to find just the right colors to make the backgrounds really match the pretty clothes Taryn brought for her senior photo session.

Raleigh high school senior portraits

This portrait is just amazing to me. I could just stare at it.

Raleigh high school senior portraits Michelle Studios Photography

This photograph shows her sassy side.

Raleigh senior photography

I am a very up in the face photographer and I just love the next two images of Taryn.  The very creamy back ground really pops her gorgeous face off the page.

Raleigh senior photography

Raleigh senior photography

Raleigh senior photography

I am so glad you are my customer Taryn, I and my camera just love you. Haha.. I hope you come back when you graduate from college, when you are pregnant with your first child child for maternity photos and of course for newborn images after that.  Good luck in school, I know that you are going to be a huge success as an adult.