Tips for photographing pregnancy
I wrote these tips last year for my column in Photo Professional magazine, but thought I’d share them here for you, too. Before I got pregnant, I was shooting maternity, but I feel that actually being a preggo myself gave me a whole new insight into the market. Here are a few tips to help you get your head around what it feels like to be pregnant and in front of the lens:
1. Get down with the lingo: Although we all think of pregnancy as happening in months, pregnant women actually track it in weeks. Weeks 1-13 are the first trimester; weeks 14-26 are the second trimester; and weeks 27-40 are the third. My bump didn’t really start showing properly enough to be photographed until the third trimester. My advice would be to get women to come in between 32-36 weeks, as the baby is technically full term at 37 weeks and could come at any time. You don’t want her to miss the opportunity to get photographed.
2. Beware of balance issues: Pregnant women can struggle with balance. Think about it: she’s suddenly carrying a huge front load and it can send her sense of equilibrium into freefall. Be careful when asking pregnant women to pose or balance and, if you want her to close her eyes, make it brief. I almost fell off my stool when I was getting my false eyelashes applied because I had to close my eyes for long periods.
3. Low energy: Pregnant women, especially in the third trimester, get tired easily. Also, because of the position of the baby, her lungs are being smooshed, which means she may have breathing difficulties. I suggest you have some quick energy food on hand, like energy bars, just in case she flags. It’s not necessary, but it would be appreciated if she had need of it.
4. Don’t stray too far from a toilet: As the lungs are being smooshed at the top, the bladder is being used as a trampoline by the baby at the bottom. Pregnant women have to wee a lot.
5. Be realistic about posing: It’s hard to move around when you feel like a whale. Before asking her to get down on the ground for a laying down shot, make sure she feels up to it. You may struggle to get these kinds of shots the closer she is to her due date. And if you do get her on the ground, offer to help her back up again.
6. Feel free to keep it simple: You don’t need loads of lighting for maternity shots; in fact, a window or a single softbox will do. The majority of the pregnancy images in our studio are taken with just simple lighting. That being said, the Vintage Boudoir Pregnancy photography that we shoot in our Wimbledon Studio require up to six heads. When I did my pregnancy shoot with Trevor Yerbury, most of the images were lit by a single window.