Maternity Photo-Shoot Tips and Ideas
August 31, 2011 5 Comments
As a photographer, having a maternity photo-shoot set up of a client can be a great opportunity to take some creative and fun pictures for your own portfolio. However, much like some other types of photo-shoots, it can be difficult to deal with a client who is pregnant and about to give birth. I have had the pleasure to photograph pregnant friends and even the most intimate and precious moment of the actual birth.
As the photographer, you must always keep in mind the safety and comfortableness of your subject, the mommy to be and her baby. It might be a great opportunity for you to get some amazing pregnancy shots for your portfolio, but you must always keep your client’s needs in mind. Here are some great tips for both the mommy to be and the photographer, as well as some cool photo ideas.
Preparations For the Mommy
– The Spa Treatment: Mommies need to be relaxed and worriless the day of their photo-shoot. Having their photos taken, may bring up emotions of how much weight they have gained, and feel like they don’t look their best. Mommies also have a hard time reaching lower parts of their bodies, because of the shape of their bellies, so they couldn’t be able to paint their own toenails, for example. A good idea is to have a full day spa treatment the day before or a couple of hours before the photo-shoot. That way the mommy to be can have her hair done, manicure and pedicure, everything waxed, and even professional makeup. By the time the camera turns on, the mommy-to-be won’t have to worry or feel self-conscious about her nails, hair or makeup.
– Moisturize: Mommies should prepare their skin for the photo-shoot by moisturizing with lotion the most troublesome areas like knuckles, elbows and knees.
– Skin Marks: The day of the photo-shoot, mommies should refrain from wearing any tight clothing or underwear that would have elastic bands that could leave marks on the skin. This includes socks, because they will leave marks.
– Tannin: Some mommies have the luck to have gorgeous sun-kissed skin. For those who feel self-conscious about their skin being too pale, there is an option. Of course I am not recommending that you sunbathe all day before the photo-shoot. You are pregnant! And the most important thing is the safety of your baby. However, you can consult your doctor on the safety of spray-tans. I have read that home spray tans have been ruled completely safe for pregnancy, but I would still research and ask your doctor. You can also make sure you read the product’s label before you use it to be sure. There are also some other at-home tanning products, which seem less harmful, which include some tanning wipes. It is also a good idea not to try a new product the day of the photo-shoot, just in case it doesn’t work just right. Ask your doctor, and make sure to try it a couple of weeks before the photo-shoot.
– Daddy: If the daddy will be included in the photo-shoot, lets remind him to shave and prep as well.
Odds are that most of the props needed for the maternity shots, the mommy-to-be already has. Ask her to bring them to the photo-shoot, but if you think you will have more maternity shots in the feature, it would be a good idea to invest in some of these props. For example, you can get baby blocks to spell out “baby”, “boy”, “girl”, or even the name of the baby. Get a measuring tape, preferably pink for girl, and blue for boy. Get the mommy to bring some baby booties or shoes. Get a large picture frame, just the frame with nothing on the inside, either gold, black or silver would do. Get a mirror. Ask the parents to bring something special they have purchased or inherited for the baby, like a special toy that means something to them, they favorite sports team logo, a blanket, etc. Buy the mommy-to-be’s favorite flowers. Solid colored blankets are good to have, especially plush ones, so the mommy can sit on and not have to get her outfit dirty. Outfits that they have already bought for the baby, the sonogram picture of the baby, a scale, blue or pink ribbons, and a label that reads “Do not open until___” (Baby’s due date). Of course the mommy to be can bring her hubby, her other children, and even her pets to the photo-shoot.
Always think of the mommy’s comfort, and remember pregnant woman can be bothered by the weather. Be prepared and bring an umbrella if the shoot is outdoors to shield her from the sun. A little hand-held fan can go a long way. If the weather is cold, then bring a sweater or two. Paper towels would be needed if it is hot outside to wipe off any sweat and fix makeup, extra makeup would be good, too. Mommies also get hungry most of the time, so cold drinks and healthy snacks are good to keep handy, and keep her in a good mood. An iPod with some relaxing music can put our mommy-to-be in a relaxed mood. It is also a good idea to have the mommy-to-be search the internet for maternity pictures and have her send you the ones that she likes. Then on the day of the photo-shoot print them out and bring them with you for inspiration.
For outdoor photo-shoots is best to stay away from WHITE outfits. Suggest that the mommy-to-be wear clean and ironed outfits that are mostly solid colors, and nothing that is too big on her. The idea is to accentuate the belly; so buttoned shirts are good, because buttons can be opened if she wishes to take photos of her bare belly. Tops that completely reveal the belly are good too, so something that would be like a cardigan covering only the breasts and arms could be a good option. Wraps and scarves can be used as a top without covering the belly as well. If the hubby, siblings and other family members will be joining the mommy in the photo-shoot, their clothes should be color coordinated as well. Something like a solid top (blue, black, green, etc.), and jeans or khakis is always a good combination. Long shirts and dresses that wrap the belly are a good option for mommies who don’t wish to bear too much skin.
Location, Location, Location
Maternity photo-shoots could be very private in the client’s home. The privacy can allow for the mommy-to-be to feel more comfortable showing off her baby bump. Pictures can be taken inside the baby’s room, in front of a well-lit window, a solid color wall or even in bed. In this case, is good to have the client prep the house so that everything is in order and the baby’s room is ready and clean. Taking it outside can be fun too. A park, a botanical garden, or the beaches are great places to start. Local historical buildings and areas are a good too. Be sure to discuss this with the client and decide on locations before you head out.
Some mommies like the cliché, more traditional pictures; you know the ones everyone gets. Like the silhouetted belly, the hand-hearts over the belly, the baby blocks spelling the name or gender of the baby, the due date tag with the ribbon, the ribbon by itself, the measuring tape, the daddy kissing the belly, the daddy listening to the belly, the sonogram picture, the baby outfit on top of the belly, the booties on top of the belly. Even though, you as a photographer wish to be different, you shouldn’t limit your clients by telling them to stay away from cliché shots. If your client wants the common and overused shots, then provide them. Afterwards, you can suggest some more unusual shots for them and for your portfolio.
To spice things up in a maternity photo-shoot, you can’t just read a list of unusual shots on the Internet, because that would mean that those photos have already been done, and most likely other people are reading those lists too. Go with your instinct and take photos of anything that seems interesting and different. Try zooming in and not using your flash, try different views, your view, mommy’s view, dad’s view, the pet’s view, anything you can think of. It may not work, but you may end up with something amazing. You just have to take a chance. You can try to modify some of the already common ideas. Like instead of using baby blocks to spell the baby’s name or gender, you can write it on the sand and then position mommy and daddy’s feet on top. You can play with silhouettes and shadows, reflections on the mirror or the water, change the focus, take the shot from outside or inside an odd spot, like from a window looking in or out.
***Special Thanks to Jennifer for allowing me to share images of her pregnancy on this post