Preparing for the arrival of a newborn can bring all sorts of emotions and feels. After all, newborns do not come with a manual. Parents-to-be are expected to jump into the parent role knowing what to do; and that can sometimes make them forget how fun and exciting it can be to prepare for the new addition to the family. One of the best ways to prepare, celebrate, and relax a bit for the arrival of a new baby is by documenting the experience with a maternity photo session. The thought of a maternity photo session can sometimes make parents uneasy – especially moms because they may or may not be feeling their best while pregnant. Dad’s sometimes feel uneasy because they are not sure how to pose during these sessions, or how to come off masculine in such a soft and precious set-up (true story told to me by a dad). However maternity sessions, just like any other photo session, can turn out to be some of the most momentous and amazing photo sessions if the session is well prepared for. I always say, great photo sessions don’t just happen - they are planned! If you are an expecting parent and want to know what to expect during a maternity photo session, here are a few tips on what to expect and how to prepare!
Scheduling the maternity session: One of the most consistent questions I receive regarding maternity sessions is: When should I take my maternity photos? Expectant moms are always nervous about how they will feel, and even more, how they will look on their maternity photos. Like anyone else, expectant moms want to look good in their maternity photos and not tired, exhausted, or fat (client's words - not mine). Let's face it, expectant moms are in the process of working on a HUGE project. They are creating a life, and carrying it around every day. It's a big deal! So its fully acceptable for them not to look or feel their best at all times. Totally acceptable and totally expected. With that said, there are still ways to make sure that an expectant mom looks and feels her absolute best on the day of this session. I always recommend that my clients take their maternity session photos at the end of the second trimester - around the 6 or 7 month mark. Most of the expectant mom's that I've had the privilege to photograph took their photos around this time and they all not only looked great, but they felt great. They had nice round bellies, didn't feel too exhausted, and felt cute around this stage of the pregnancy. So from personal experience, and from professional experience with expectant moms, the sixth and seventh months of pregnancy are ideal for maternity photo sessions. However if this is not possible, please do not let this stop you from taking maternity photos. Your pregnancy, with each child you have, is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Whatever month photos are taken in is a good month! The mentioned months are just time periods you can plan for if planning is possible.
Location: The location of your maternity session will play a huge part in the look, feel, and outcome of your maternity photos. You’ll need to ask yourself what type of photos you want to take for this session. Do you want indoor photos with controlled lighting and backdrop options? Do you want relaxed indoor photos in your home? Do you want to step away for a moment at your baby shower to take a few maternity shots? OR - Do you want an outdoor session with a city view; lots of greenery and flowers; or the ocean as a background? There are many options to choose from when it comes to the location of your maternity session. This decision is important because it will portray the look and feel of the outcome of your photos.
Wardrobe: The decision about what you’re going to wear in your photos is just as important as the location of your maternity session. These two factors also play off of each other and your location will have a big effect on your wardrobe. You’ll need to ask yourself if you want to dress up fancy in your session – dress/suit and tie for dad; or do you want to dress casual? Do you want your photos to be over the top, with a pretty floral headpiece or a couture gown? Or do you want to wear your birthday suit, and show off your full baby bump? It is important to remember that you’re not just boxed into having one outfit selection. In fact, I encourage that you have at least two outfits with you when you arrive at your session. This gives you and your photographer and chance to play around with different looks during the session in case what was planned doesn’t work out. The old saying, ‘If it can go wrong, it will’ comes to mind here. You always want to be over prepared for your photo sessions. Two or more wardrobe options helps with this. Make sure that if your spouse is in the photos that your wardrobes are coordinating. Your clothes do not have to match. In fact, we don't want that. Your clothes should compliment each other; and they should be either in the same color family or be complimentary colors. If you are not sure about how to choose your wardrobe, reach out to your photographer! We've done this many times and will be able to walk you through this process.
Budget: Once you’ve visited various photography websites, and viewed the various ranges in maternity session pricing, decide what budget range you can afford. If you cannot pay for your photos all at once, ask your selected photographer if they can take a retainer fee and arrange a payment plan that will be finalized by the day of the photo session. Most photographers will arrange a payment plan if necessary. Either way, I advise that you do not go cheap on your budget for momentous photos. It could be the difference between ‘What I asked for’ vs ‘What I got.’ These are once-in-a-lifetime photos for this child. You want them to be documented beautifully so that you can have these memories for years to come.
Your Photographer: Make sure that your photographer is a good fit for you. It is important that you not only pick a professional photographer, but that you also like them and feel comfortable around them. Maternity photo sessions are private and special sessions. They are sessions that should capture how you feel about the anticipation of your baby, and how much of a miracle this really is. A good photographer will have your best interest in mind when taking your photo sessions, and they will also know how to make you look good in them. Its always a good idea to talk to and get a feel for your photographer’s personality, as well as their ideas about your maternity session before the big day.