When it comes to photography, what I have found is that there are very few areas in wich people are willing to easy part with their money. Maternity, newborn, and wedding photography are 3 areas, however, that people will practically hunt you down and throw cash at you when it comes to pictures. Based on my personal experience, people will complain if the have to spend more than $25 on a business portrait, but when it comes to family, children, and loved ones, customers look at it as an investment. People just simply LOOOOVE to have pictures of their kids, and parents LOOVE to brag about their kids! Maternity and Newborn Photography is BIG business. Have you ever met someone that is an absolute stranger, or just someone who you have nothing in common with? Don’t know how to bypass the awkward silence of a conversation? Well I have a secret for you! All you have to do is talk about their kids, and most people will love you forever. Are you starting to get my drift?
Yesterday I had the wonderful opportunity to work locally with a young couple on maternity photos, and it was an absolute blast! Bonnie, CJ and their three daughters met me down by the Cobourg beach at Victoria park, and although it was probably the hottest day yet (30 degrees Celsius!) we still made it outside and captured a bunch of perfect moments.
One of the first things I noticed when doing yesterday’s maternity shoot was that I have become very used to conducting my photo shoots in-studio in a controlled setting, and at first I was struggling with the lighting outside. The clouds were constantly shifting which changed the F stops, and my white balance was also frequently changing, forcing me to change my camera settings from one extreme to another in a matter of seconds. If you have been shooting the majority of your work in a studio, and if you are a bit of a control freak (like me) then this is something you will find very frustrating and annoying (just a precaution!). Most people I meet who are new to photography will tell me they prefer to shoot in natural lighting, but in my personal opinion, I find it to be more challenging.
The original purpose of this blog when I first started was to provide aspiring photographers with photo inspiration, tips, and learning material, and so today I would like to share with you a few tips pertaining to the art of maternity photography.
TIP #1 – OVEREXPOSE
In general, when it comes to maternity and newborn photography, photos tend to be more visually pleasing with softer and lighter tones. Babies are soft, delicate, gentle creatures, and so a photographer should apply lighting in a similar matter. While there are some exceptions, in order to play it safe I would suggest overexposing almost all images for maternity and newborn photos to get a soft, bright, lighting effect.
Tip # 2 – TRY TO SHOOT MATERNITY CLOSE TO THE DUE DATE
Bonnie and CJ are due sometime around the 25th to the 28th of July, and so that is why I decided to photograph their maternity photos on the 16th of July. The point here is that you are trying to capture photos of moms nice ‘Large’ and ‘Healthy’ baby belly. Your goal should be to try and aim to capture photos of the baby bump at its largest point in growth. If the pregnancy is unpredictable, however, and the due date is uncertain, or if it is twins, I would suggest shooting within an earlier time frame so that there is no missed opportunity.
Tip #3 – IF IT IS YOUR FIRST MATERNITY SHOOT, TAKE PHOTOS OF JUST MOM AND DAD, DON’T BRING IN THE SIBLINGS
This tip is aimed specifically at those who are REALLY fresh with the maternity photography. It can sometimes be difficult working with large groups of people, especially young children. If you are new to maternity photography and have never done a maternity shoot before, I suggest that you do a more intimate shoot with just mom and dad first to get the hang of it. Do a second maternity shoot later with siblings once you boost your confidence.
Tip # 4 – RESEARCH THE CUSTOMER BEFORE THE SHOOT
It will be a lot easier for you as a photographer to capture the special moments your customer is looking for if you know a little bit about your customer! In particular, try to discretely find out more about the status of the family. Are they Common Law? are they married? Are there any siblings? Is it a gay couple? Is it a single mom? Are there any pets? Do they know if it is a boy or a girl, or are they keeping the gender of the baby a surprise? The Standard American family from such as the ‘Leave it to Beaver’ family is less common these days, and it is good to know these things in advance to prevent any potential awkward moments. Get to know the subject you are shooting, and it will really help you to capture their true personality.
Tip # 5 – STRONGLY ADVISE THE MOM-TO-BE TO WEAR SOMETHING COMFY TO THE SHOOT
Nothing is worse than doing a 2 hour photo shoot in a stuffy outfit that you cannot breathe in or sit down in. Please, whatever you do, make sure that mommy wears something that is comfortable to the photo shoot. If somebody is uncomfortable in their clothes at a photo shoot, you can really see it on their facial expressions in all of the photos. Your goal should be to get them to relax and be themselves, therefore comfy clothing is a must.
Tip # 5 – TRY TO NOT DO ALL YOUR MATERNITY PHOTOS IN A STUDIO
Be creative! I get all of the benefits that come along with doing maternity photos in a studio, but once in a while it is nice to take the natural beauty of a pregnant woman and combine it with the beauty of the outdoors Yes, studios are more private, and yes the lighting is more controlled, and yes it is nice to have a bathroom that is 5 paces away for the mommy who needs to tinkle every 10 minutes, but you also have to create diversity in your portfolio. Outdoor maternity photo shoots are also cheaper for those on a budget!
Tip # 6 – Help Her feel Beautiful
Most people have a hard time keeping their confidence boosted on a normal day, let alone when they are pregnant. You know what I mean…you walk funny, you have to pee all the time, you cannot wear jeans anymore, you get stretch marks etc. People don’t like to have their photo taken in general, so you have to make sure that all of your comments stay positive, even if the photo you just took made her look like…well…a beached whale. No one will ever see that bad photo, so you as a photographer have to act like every photo you take looks like it should be on the cover of the next mommy magazine. When she believes that she is beautiful, it shows in the photos and in her smile.
Tip # 7 – TAKE A BREAK
Don’t be afraid to take a break once in a while! I know that us photographers tend to get into the groove of things or we get lost in the moment of creativity, but pregnant women can get tired easily. Ask her about every 20 minutes or so if she would like to take a break, or if she needs a drink or a snack. Just make sure she is comfortable.
Tip # 8 – TRY TO USE BRIGHT OR WHITE CLOTHING
When doing maternity shoots, many couples will ask me what they should wear to the photo shoot. I often suggest that mom and dad (and anyone else that might be in the photos) wear either white or bright clothing. When it comes to babies, people generally think of them as delicate and innocent, so it is best if the colour theme matches this emotion.
Tip # 9 – TAKE DOWN THE CONTRAST AND THE SATURATION
Want to soften that photo up even further? In post, take down the contrast and the saturation levels of the photos!
Tip # 10 – GIVE IT A SPLASH OF YELLOW
I find that it is sometimes nice to give maternity photos a bit of a vintage look to add to the softness, so in post I will often adjust the white balance in the camera raw settings in photoshop to add to the softness. This is a personal preference, so you can take it or leave it.
If you have any questions or comments that you would like me to respond to, I will be glad to help you out! If there is a particular topic you would like me to write about for my next blog I am open to suggestions as well!
Goodnight photo Lovers!