Is it just me or can maternity images be some of the trickiest types of sessions to photograph??!!? Hey! I’ve got an idea, let’s take a woman who has put on an additional 30+ pounds, whose feet are tired and body aches and hasn’t gotten a good nights sleep in weeks and build her confidence up enough to get her to rock it for the camera. Sound easy? At first, I didn’t think it was, in fact I found it outright daunting. Let’s step back… to my very first attempt at a Maternity Session. I found a gal who was pregnant (sister in law of a college friend) who agreed to let me practice on her. So far so good! The price: Free. Status: Portfolio Building. Confidence: Hiding somewhere in the closet. Thought Process: Maternity images are beautiful and magical and women who have babies, usually start out with bellies. Must photograph bellies, can’t be that hard. Besides, I’d been pregnant a few times myself… I know what it’s all about! Right? Wrong! At least I didn’t show it. The funny thing is that I (me the person) hasn’t really changed. Yes, I’ve gotten better with my camera, I’ve switched off of Auto and onto Manual – and I’ve practiced a lot since than. But I still have been pregnant a few times and I still love people and yet that me on the very first attempt was so skeptical of herself that I couldn’t allow any of what makes me shine — shine! I was lacking a really key component, confidence – not cockiness (as Shannon Sewell would say) but confidence. Forget the technical stuff (although it is a intricate part of gaining confidence), I didn’t know how to act. Maybe that sounds silly to some, but to me it was scary. My head was playing mind games with me (I really hate when it does that…) ‘Should I ask her to lift up her shirt, is that weird, will she be offended, maybe she doesn’t want to, maybe she has stretch marks, maybe I should just keep to the covered belly, besides she would tell you if she wanted to show off her bare belly, right? ! But I want to show her perfect round belly… But you’ll probably mess it up anyway and by the time you get your setting right she’ll be in active labor.’ So I never asked. In fact I never even really took her aside to take some shots of just her. There is one image of her belly (no face) and that’s the only image of her by herself. I think I can say I’ve leaned a lot since that first attempt. But more than anything what I learned was to find my own inner confidence. It’s intimidating to be in front of the camera… For almost everyone but especially when you feel more like a blimp than a blossom. I’ve learned that it’s about building trust with your clients – but if you don’t trust yourself you’ll never be able to convince them to trust you. It’s about a confidence and a deep desire to create images that are best for that particular client. I’ve learned that not only do I have to know my camera and lighting but I also have to know how to make my clients feel at ease! …. Have you found this to be true also? Are you not quite there yet? I want to know!
yes! Maternity can be so difficult! What people are looking for and willing to do varies to much also!! I have had a large run of maternity/family sessions … feel free to check them out and comment 😉
I just had my very first maternity session this weekend. I was pretty nervous, but I’m also happy with the results. I’m looking forward to the next!
That’s awesome Melissa!
I love Pregnant women, they always seem so eager and happy!!! It makes it easy to strike up a conversation (baby talk), and as for the bare belly, I usually say something alongs these lines “U want to show you’re belly, it’s totally up to you, we can do a few with and without… ” then they are happy that I gave them the option, but really decided for them, if that makes any sense! lol.. Leah, I kind of wrote a guest post to share with you, but waiting till I can update my blog to share the photos, but since I totally suck at writing not sure it’s good enough… let me know if you’d like to read it and if I should go ahead and share and maybe you will be wanting to re-write it or not use it at all…. ps love your latest photo, wow, I wouldn’t be brave enough to pose like that, but have shot women in boudoir, so i’m not shy when it comes to nakedness…. (better to be behind the camera then in front!!!)
Jamie!! I’m dying to read it! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I LOVE guest posts! And ummm yes, totally agree that I’m pretty good with nakedness as long as I get to be the one on this side of the lens! I do much prefer suggestive nudity than actual nudity, because I do want to be careful of keeping their body from exploitation. If that makes any sense.
This is exactly how I feel with newborns. I’ve had 2 babies of my own to practice with, a few nieces and nephews, friends kids, and several clients. But I’m still nervous. You can’t redo a 5 day old’s session. They’re only 5 days old for one day. But I’m more nervous of not getting the shots that I see all the other fantastic photogs out there getting. I get my favorite shots, and by the time I feel I have what I need to get, the babies and parents are done. But, I just have to remember that I have some beautiful newborn shots and I don’t have to be like everyone else. My clients choose me for MY pictures. And gosh darnit, people like me.
I sure like you Cherie!!! 🙂
What I struggled with most when I first did Maternity is I didn’t love what I was doing. I was doing the same thing everybody else did. Now that I know what my style is – I have done multiple maternity sessions that I love and I feel very comfortable doing them.
I love maternity photos. It is such a fantastic moment. So far, I have only done two sessions, but look forward to some scheduled shoots in the next couple of months. It was definitely hard trying to get my clients comfortable. For that matter, it still is sometimes, in general, and I am still working on the best way to get them comfortable. Also, I think maternity shots bring another challenge. The fine line between sensual and sexual. There is a very sensual beauty to a clothing-less pregnant woman. However, I find it necessary to be careful so that it isn’t too sexual. I really hope no one ever said that photography was easy.
BTW Leah, gorgeous photo of that woman. Love it!
Thank you Amanda! And you are so right! I love what that you said, “There is a very sensual beauty to a clothing-less pregnant woman” so true!!! And something we should remember!
I’ll work on a post about getting clients comfortable…It may take a while but it’ll be a fun topic! Thanks for the great idea!!
I have never done a maternity shoot, but have always thought it would be interesting to. I think that we need to be confident in any type of shoot we do. It really makes a huge difference with the clients and how they feel in front of the camera. Two weeks ago I took pictures of a group of cheerleaders. I thought it was going to be super easy. These girls are use to being in front of people and every one of them was stunningly beautiful. Not the case. They were just as nervous as most people can be. They all asked me to edit their ‘fat’. I just told them over and over that they had no fat and that they were beautiful. I even let them look at their pictures. It made a huge difference.
I think it is all about finding those different tricks for different sessions. It really is all about actually knowing your clients.
I actually adore maternity sessions–they are probably the sessions I’m most comfortable with! I’m always able to find so much to draw from, what with having the Mom to showcase as well as the soon-to-be addition! I also am very passionate about making women feel absolutely beautiful when they are pregnant (whether I’m photographing them or not!) and the words needed to persuade them into the mindset that they are absolutely stunning right now seem to come easily to me, and I believe that it’s because I *Really* mean it! They are carrying this beautiful miracle, and often far better than they give themselves credit for 🙂 While most women hate being pregnant while they are pregnant, they more often than not look back fondly on their baby-carrying days 🙂 which is what I try and remind every woman of!
As far as asking about the belly shots–that’s actually a question I ask prior to the session in the consultation. Some women are very modest and don’t want to show their belly in public. I recently had a Momma who didn’t mind doing 1 or 2 bare belly shots in her home (which is always 1/2 of my maternity sessions 🙂 take advantage of that cute cute nursery if you can!), but didn’t want any in the second half of her session while we were out on the *public* beach. It’s a very simple question to include in your pre-session questions and saves awkwardness during the session!
I agree Amy! That’s exactly what I do as well! 🙂
I completely agree, confidence is key to a successfull shoot. My first maternity shoot was of my best friend which was perfect for me. It allowed me to figure things out a bit and not worry too much about how to approach something.
I actually think the hardest shoots for me are families. I haven’t quite mastered how to coach the parents for the shoots. You don’t want to tell them how to handle their children yet I’ve realized it’s best to give them some expectations ahead of time. If not you end up having the parents rangling their kids, trying to get them to look at the camera, which results in a hot mess! Plus the dads usually aren’t quite into the shoot so you have to try and get them to warm up to the camera as well. And I realize the only way I’m going to be able to achieve this is by being confident in myself.
You’re definitely on to something!!
Oh, my first maternity session was not really good. Actually, it was bad. Sigh. I had only been shooting one month and practiced on an acquaintance (for free). I keep those pics locked deep away in a hard drive to remind me of how much I have learned! I actually love shooting maternity and my approach is more of a fashion type shoot (shock of all shocks!). You have to help guide your clients on wearing just the right thing so that they feel SO BEAUTIFUL and then that confidence will shine out in their photos. Family sessions usually stress me out but when it is a maternity family session it is less stressful…I guess because there is something to interact with (the belly). Posing around the belly looks less…ummm…..contrived, I guess, then in a regular session.
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