When you're pregnant it's such an exciting time in your family's life. Whether it's the first or the fifth child, whether you know the sex or you don't, whether you're carrying one, twins, or even triplets, capturing images that become part of that child's (or children's) story is a fun, important way to document your family history.
What Makes a Pregnancy Portrait Session Unique?
A session for a pregnancy portrait is one that can not be rushed, and must be done at the right timing. Assuming that the mother to be is carrying a single baby, these sessions should be done after week 31 or so, as to have a very nice "baby bump". Most of this information may seem obvious, but needs to expressed none the less. These sessions will go at a slower pace, as we have to consider that mom will need plenty of time to get into poses that will show off her beauty and glow. Pregnant woman will move slower and in a more "deliberate" manner. As a father that has gone through two pregnancies of my wife's (one with twins), I'm well versed in understanding this situation.
When it comes to the session itself, unlike more traditional portraits, we will have a different focus on these portraits. Yes, we will still have shots similar to those of a normal family portrait session. However, what makes these sessions unique is that we can do more creative shots, featuring or focusing on only a part of Mom's body (of course, we're talking about that beautiful belly).
Notice in the shot above, this is really a portrait of both Mom and Dad. The fact that we cant see Dad's face is irrelevant. The couple know the heart's fingers are Dad's, projecting the heart shadow on Mom's belly. Of course, this type of shot is done best when done outside, taking advantage of a sunny day.
Should We Shoot Inside or Outside?
Deciding to shoot inside or outside is a personal decision. The decision will be driven by the type of images that you want to produce, the couple's desire, weather, and everyone's schedule. If we're shooting at 32 weeks, it's raining on the day we're shooting, and rescheduling is not practical before the due date, then you may need to shoot only indoors. Many couples prefer to incorporate a natural environment as part of the pregnancy portraits because they feel that their house is not "good enough" or "clean enough" to shoot indoors. Not to worry, as creative lighting can convert a shot done in a room that has lots of distractions into a beautiful dramatic image. Shooting indoors also allow's the Mom to be more at ease in exposing her belly.
This was the case of the two black and white shots above. The day scheduled turned out to be a terribly rainy, cold day in North Raleigh. As the father travels for business, this was the only good day to take these portraits before the due date. So we used creative off camera lighting and natural lighting from a window to create the two images above.
What makes this session especially meaningful to me is that I was honored to capture images of their first child in a Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep session the year before this session. The couple was so excited about their second pregnancy that they called me to ask if I'd do these pregnancy shots. I was so honored and was very surprised to see many of my Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep images hanging up in their home. Read about a photographer's point of view working with this great organization in my earlier blog entry
Shooting indoors also has the advantage of allowing some fun, special effects photography. What better image than to see an expectant Mom looking in the mirror thinking about her pregnancy, the new exciting times to come, the entrance of this beautiful baby into the world in just a few weeks. Combine that image with that of the Mother looking in the mirror weeks later holding that beautiful new born and you get the image above. One thing to keep in mind when preparing for this type of image is that you will want to wear something that will be simple and comfortable to do both shots. This has the largest impact on the image.
Though shooting outside may remove some of the dramatic lighting shots that can be captured inside, shooting outdoors has great advantages as well. Incorporating nature, plants and other factors can make the images even more meaningful. With the above shot of Chris and Courtney, they were immensely proud of their yard and wanted to be sure to incorporate some of their flowers (in this case a hanging basket) in the images.
In the case of Jessie and Matt, the carrousel at Pullen Park in Raleigh NC had a very special meaning to them. They wanted to be sure that I include them in this session. OK, I know what you're thinking... isn't this an indoor shot? Yes, technically that's true. However, it was done during an outdoor session at the park (the heart shadow shot above was taken outside in front of the carrousel).
Pregnancy sessions are FUN! I find my clients to be the most relaxed during these sessions. There are so many emotions in play here, but it's such a joyful, delightful, exciting time in their lives that in the end, we all have a lot of fun in producing these images!