Having 5 kids and being a photographer, I have had the opportunity to have some pretty amazing photos of my family. Sadly, I missed the boat of maternity & newborn photography when my oldest 2 were born, but since then have made up for it with my other 3. I will be completely honest with you – I HATE being in front of the camera. It makes me feel naked and all throughout life especially in my teen years, I was always teased about my tall forehead and big nose – think Time Burton’s Alice In Wonderland meets Toucan Sam Fruit loop bird! So it is very hard for me to get in front of the camera without a very big guard up. Luckily, I still let me kids take photos of me and I have found amazing photographers who I trust that will capture my inner and outer beauty.
When I was pregnant with my number 5 child, a good friend of mine (professional photographer) agreed to do my photos, and trust me I asked her loads of questions and gave her lots of “limitations” to work with, but she did so wonderfully and to this day, I still love looking back at those photos she documented for me.
I wanted to share a few tips on planning and preparing for a maternity session – as a client.
First it is very important to do some research on what you want to capture and photographers in your area. Do not think of price just yet – that can really take your focus away from the meaning of WHY. Some things to keep in mind when researching and finding your photographer. Do they offer maternity sessions – and do they offer newborn photography sessions. Usually a mom that does maternity wants someone she can trust to follow up with newborn photos – so that too is to be researched.
Take some time and view the photographers website and social media, if the photos speak to you and or your heart happy, make a list of those photographers.
Check out the reviews. If you received a referral to a certain photog, ask questions from your friend. Feel free to also ask that photog for a list of referrals or testimonials.
Experience. Does the photographer have experience with maternity clients – does she/he have a gallery for you to view. Are the images flattering? A trusting maternity photographer should be able to direct you comfortably to highlight your beautiful areas- like that awesome baby bump of yours. If you have concerns of your new pregnancy body- it is ok to share that. Light, clothing and gentle direction is an amazing gift!
Clothing. Ask photographers if they supply clothing/ dresses/ wraps for the session. Ask for ideas and suggestions on what to wear – especially colors. What might be popular today will make your images look dated. Simple, clean and classy is a wonderful way to go. I love to look back at my moms maternity photo she has (yes- she only has 1) but I always laugh and ask her what the heck was up with the hippie flannel shirt and bell bottom pants. Granted that was the clothing and it’s hilarious and special to look at, but for your professional portrait session, stay simple. There are many places that offer maternity gowns to purchase or to rent. Sew Trendy, JH Gowns, and Two Birds Bridesmaid have been my favorite. Check out local thrift and vintage store too – you can find some pretty awesome nightgowns and dresses there.
For your under garments – something we don’t think about too often when it comes to a photo session. Nude colors are often the best. They hide beautifully under dresses and wraps and if you choose to be more *natural* the lines can easily be blended into your skin in post production. Avoid tight fitting clothing like shoes, bras, undies that are too tight- anything that can leave a mark on your skin. During your consultation with your photographer, you can go over items needed and what to avoid.
Pinterest has lots of lovely images of clothing ideas for sessions and it is best used as a GUIDE. Having that exact expectation in mind can make you stressed – this is about you and your baby. Don’t get too wrapped up in clothing options. Again this is where your photographer can come in handy if they have a collection or simple options for you.
Accessories are fun and can help bring an outfit or vision alive. Between necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and even henna – they can help complete what you have in mind. Shoes… This is a great question for your photog as well. Depending on location and look, most of the time your feet will be hidden. But just in case, make sure they are clean!
Hair/Makeup. I am personally one to not stress over that because honestly my day to day is a pony tail and I put my kids in attack of “where you going momma” when I do put on makeup. But for the camera, a little something to help with dark circles and chapped lips helps. If you want to get all glammed up, ask for referrals to a makeup artist – preferably one that has worked with that photographer before. Same for hair- make sure it is cleaned and brushed- ready to go! Again, nothing wrong with having a day getting pampered if you so wish. Ask your list of photographers if their session includes hair and Makeup.
Locations. What do you envision for your session – what brings you some peace and calmness when you think of you and your baby. It could be as simple as your home, the nursery, or somewhere on location at the river, the beach, in the forest or out playing in the streets of the city. Did you envision a dreamy milk bath session or a private setting inside a studio. Does the photographer charge a location fee?
Do you want to document this moment with your hubby and or children? Ask your list of photogs if there is an additional fee for having your family a part of your photos. Ask them clothing suggestions and again location ideas that will fit all of you.
Do you want more of a documented style session or a more posed style session. Either one is beautiful, but choose what fits your personality the best.
When To Schedule. The best time to schedule your session is between 31-36 weeks. Every momma is different but doing a session between these weeks is *usually the time where momma is comfortable and her baby bump has filled out. Please keep your photographer in formed if you have limitations and make sure they can accommodate. Even if you are on bed rest, a maternity session can still be beautiful and lovely!
Planning. Pregnancy can seem like it is forever – depending on how sick you are. It is best to start searching for your photog and doing research as soon as you can. Some photogs are booked 6months to a year in advanced.
Ask your photographer how long the session should last. Again this is a great moment to bring up any limitations you might have. High/low blood pressure, hurts to stand too long, bad back, bad knees, etc. Each photographer has their own different session time and it is always good to know how long you will be there – especially if hubby and kids are coming along. It is always a great idea to bring something to keep little ones entertained.
Finally – what is included in the session. How many images – what is the turn around time? Is the session fee in your budget? Do they offer payment plans?
How do you personally want to remember this moment to share with your child(ren) and grandkids? In an album. photos on a wall, as cards, or tucked away somewhere on your computer – (YIKES- not the safest option). Take some time to think of how you want to display your beautiful self. This is an amazing journey you are on and you ARE beautiful – no matter how you are feeling- you are beautiful!
I think my biggest thing I hope to stress to you if you are in the planning stages of looking for a photographer – do not let price be your starting point. Build a relationship with this photographer. You want to be able to walk into your session and future sessions with a feeling of trust and open communication.
Especially if you are wanting this photographer to document your birth and or newborn- please check references, their safety, and experience. This is a beautiful moment – Enjoy it!
If you have any questions, please feel free to comment or message me. Jax Creations Photography is a member of The Bump Society. Feel free to check out the Bump Society page to find a local photographer for you.