10 Tips For Staging a Maternity Shoot
A lot happens, and doesn't happen, with subsequent pregnancies. Those of you who are mommas to more than one know. This pregnancy has actually been identical to my first as far as the symptoms go, but a lot changes the second time around. There is still the excitement you and your husband share, of course, but somehow the thrill and the curiosity from neighbors and friends dissipates. The goo-goo, ga-ga, sort of fades away from everyone else. They assume you have been here before and care less about asking if you felt the baby kick and care more about asking themselves, "how in the heck is she going to handle two under two?!"
This second time, the nesting and planning have still been on my mind as early and often as it was the first time around, but finding the time to get it done just is not what it once was when we were a child-free home. With my first, the stroller was purchased in the first trimester, and the nursery was done by the early part of the second trimester. This time, we just now decorated a nursery nook within our master bedroom. To be fair though, part of the lag time was due to my indecisiveness on how to decorate this nursery area while blending it in with our room. The other thing that happens is you do things later because you realize it all comes together in the end. You will have a bed for baby to rest and a pair or two of jammies and a swaddle have you set, along with a pack of diapers. I am still a very big planner and list maker so it bothered me a little that I didn't have her room ready earlier on, but I am happy we got it done these past couple of weeks and love the results.
A big, BIG change the second time around- budget! The first time around I had just finished working, so I still had my income to prep a nursery and buy a lot of EXTRA things before I stopped working (i.e. fancy things my husband would have never agreed to like $30 onesies and $45 swaddles blanket sets).
We also had a professional maternity photo session done with our first pregnancy. I am so so glad I was able to do that and document my pregnancy! It was such a memorable day, and the images came out incredible. I know some mommas who just didn't have time because they delivered earlier than anticipated. Some mommas just hate pregnancy and would rather sooner forget it rather than immortalize it through photos. I think it is a big mistake to not capture yourself when pregnant if even for a bad selfie in the bathroom on your own, or a silly family photo from a BBQ. Some day you, or your little one, will want to look back at this incredible time in your life when you are growing a human! Swollen ankles, acne and all!
So this time, one thing I wanted to be sure to do again was a maternity photo shoot. However, the budget this time around was just not there. I was devastated, and frustrated. I want to celebrate and commemorate this baby just as I had the first time around. I was this close to being able to swing it, not really, with the same photographer from last time, but then something unexpected came up, as life happens, and out went that idea. Husband suggested I have someone I know take a few. I put on my thinking cap and put aside the comparisons of what I did BEFORE, I decided to do just that.
I called on my sister to help me with a maternity photo shoot of our own. I already had a location in mind, which I discovered back in May on my way to my niece's birthday party, and my sister had a great digital SLR camera and the creative eye. I had no clue what I was wearing this time around, up until the night before. It ended up being a vintage nightie that I had purchased for the first maternity shoot a year ago, but didn't end up using. This time, I didn't have a professional haircut prior, or a mani or pedi. I did my makeup myself, as I had done the last time, and I didn't gather up any props, or even have hubby along. It was a spontaneous, go-with-the-flow, sort of morning the day of the shoot, and in the end it was... perfect!
These are some of my favorite shots of the day, at 29 weeks, as captured by my talented sis, Stephanie Smith. They aren't photo shopped or edited, although she used a program on her end to edit a few favorites (not seen here). You can see that some may need cropping, or enhancing, and my blemishes on my chin need blotting and my bra straps need erasing, but you know what, I love them anyway! My sister, my niece and I had such a fun morning out in the sun, exploring this little abandoned piece of land and shared laughs and bonding and created amazing memories together. We spotted lady bugs, watched for snakes, listened to prairie dogs squeak out of there holes, photographed wild flowers and spotted a hawk. THAT is what a maternity photo shoot should be about- FAMILY!
Here are ten tips if you wanted to stage your own, FREE, maternity photo session:
1. LOCATION: Find a place that is sentimental, or picturesque. Find a place convenient or a place that you think would be visually appealing in photos, but not too distracting so as to keep the attention on you and your bump. Of course public, and free are bonuses.
2. ATTIRE: Wear something somewhat form fitting to show off the main attraction- that BUMP! Check all angles, and factor in lighting. My nightie, in the shaded shots, when facing head on, made it hard to tell I was preggo! Think about how it would look in photos against the back drop you choose. Solids are best. Be aware of your undergarments. Nude and smooth. Maybe you want to use tape. I unfortunately have not invested in a strapless bra that fits me right now so I used one I had and pulled the straps down. Do better than I did! Slip dresses are great, and last year I found a couple, simple, solid color floor length dresses at American Apparel.
3. TIME: I remember my photographer from the first pregnancy told me it was best to do the maternity shoot around the six month mark. You want to be showing, but not too big and uncomfortable, or swollen. I probably could have done my first shoot later on in pregnancy and still enjoyed the process, but I decided to time this second shoot around the same month mark as the first so I didn't look disproportionately large the second time around. I did both shoots around 6/7 month mark. Also, consider the time of day for lighting and traffic! We went around 10 am, on a Saturday, at the end of June. If your shoot is outside, consider doing it before high sun, or later on in the early evening, not only to avoid harsh lighting, but also to keep yourself comfy!
4. PHOTOGRAPHER: This is usually your first decision. Ask a friend or family member if they have any recommendations for professional photographers, if it is in your budget, or ask someone you know who has a good camera and a somewhat clever eye.
5. HAIR/MAKEUP: Keep it simple and NATURAL. These photos are going to be timeless. You do not want to have a face that's painted on, or worse, melting off, or crazy, trendy, up-dos and hair dyes. If you wear your hair straight most days, wear it straight for the photos. You want to look and FEEL like yourself!
6. PROPS: The first time around, I had a stuffed dog and some baby blocks and a pacifier that made an appearance in some shots. This time around, I haven't really received or purchased any stuffed toys or items specific to this baby, so instead I used flowers or sticks that I found on site the day of the shoot to make it unique and special to THIS pregnancy. I even found a cool railroad tie and a unique black stone that I took home with me to put in the nursery as a reminder of that day.
7. POSES: You definitely want to hold your bump. Cradle it, but keep plenty of negative space too. Also, switch it up! You don't want to have your hands on your tummy in EVERY photo. SNOOZE! I thought the whole heart-hands thing was cheesy, up until actually doing it myself upon my sister's direction, and you know, I actually like that photo a LOT! Do things you wouldn't normally do. Have FUN! I took some super dorky poses and was spinning around and laughing and really soaking it all up. Take photos from different angles; we unintentionally did this! We were just exploring this location, but in the end we realized we had photos facing each direction, (north, south, east, and west) and in the end we had more photos and lighting to choose from! If you are taking photos with your partner or other kiddos, plan on doing some shots with them and also some solo. Play with focus! Have your photographer focus in on you and blur out the background, and vice versa. Also, do close ups of just your bump, some belly ups, and some full body shots. The beauty of digital photography is that you can take as many photos as you want. The more the better!
8. MOOD: Go into it with a happy attitude! Be thankful for the blessing you have growing inside and let that happiness shine through. Oh, and go on a full tummy!
9. ACCESSORIES: Consider your baubles. Don't detract from yourself, but highlight. Maybe a special pair of earrings from your grandmother, or your new name plate necklace, if you have baby's name picked out already, or a cuff you purchased on your last trip with your partner. Make it mean something, and keep it simple. Remember: big earrings, small, or no necklace. Statement necklace, do a stud earring or bare lobes.
10. EXTRAS: If you are planning to do a wardrobe change, bring a blanket or sheet to change underneath if you are out in the open without a public restroom. Bring your water bottle for sipping and staying hydrated! Lip gloss for reapplication. Bring along a little kit with a mirror, comb, hairspray, blotting tissues and bobby pins. If you plan on hiking to your destination, or in my case, traipsing through sticker patches, consider wearing sneakers or boots and changing into your dainty sandals or bare feet once you get situated.
So that's it! That's my little tutorial on how to capture your pregnancy on a BUDGET! Have you done a maternity photo shoot, professional or on your own? Feel free to leave your tips in the comments!