Table of Contents
- What are Maternity Photos?
- Why are Maternity Photos Important?
- The Different Types of Maternity Sessions
- When to Book Your Sessions
- Things to Consider When Scouting for a Photographer
- Before Your Session
Everything you need to know about maternity sessions from the different types, choosing the best location for your session, picking the perfect outfit, embracing your body and capturing your precious moments
1. What are maternity portraits?
Perhaps you are expecting, or expecting to expect or have already expected and delivered and expecting again. If so you may have had a maternity session or considered one. A maternity session is designed to celebrate and document the precious new life growing within. They are intended to capture those moments when a mother is well into her pregnancy. To capture her in her fullest pregnancy state before that moment of discomfort in the last weeks of pregnancy.
2. Why maternity portraits are important?
As a mother, I took on the personal project of documenting both of my pregnancies, from the moment the pregnancy test read "PREGNANT" until the last day before I was admitted into the Maternity Ward and continued well after I was sent home with my little babies. Time is fleeting and so are seasons. Pregnancy is a very brief season in the Seasons of Motherhood. You will only have those 9 months of pregnancy of just you and your baby. It has only been the two (or three for twins) for that period of time before your baby makes their grand entrance into the world. By having maternity portraits done, you are documenting those precious moments for your child to cherish and look back on and see and know just how much they were loved and wanted from the beginning.
As my kids have gotten older and review their albums they ask a ton of questions of what was it like being in my belly, how was I feeling, where did I take the photos, how did they get in my belly? Let's just say it has sparked many conversations and lots of laughs. With each weekly entry I would write about how I was feeling, what was happening at that time or just a note to them. My reason for making these albums was to provide my kids their own books on how they came to be and how much they were wanted. That is my wish for everyone who becomes a parent. To always shower their kids with as much love from the beginning, because that love and those memories will endure long after we are gone.
3.The different types of maternity session
There are many types of sessions and questions to consider when you are expecting. But where to start. Here I will briefly go over a few maternity sessions to consider.
- The Pregnancy Announcement
- The Gender Revel
- The Maternity Session
- The Birth Session
- The Fresh 48 Session
- The Birth Announcement
- The Milestones
The pregnancy announcement
Finding out that you are pregnant or expecting is a very overwhelming moment, deciding when to share with friends and family is also a decision not lightly made. There are many fun ways to make a pregnancy or expecting announcements: Bun in The Oven, 1st ultrasound scan, Our Home has Expanded by Two Feet, an older child being promoted to Big Brother or Sister. These are just a few.
The gender reveal
A gender-reveal party is a party held during pregnancy to reveal the baby's sex to the expectant parents, family, and friends. The reveal can be through pink or blue balloons, cake, opening a box, or something similar. The gender is one of the first things you get to find out about the baby. It's a new piece of them you get to meet so it's special and exciting. When the parents learn the gender they can start planning clothes, their babies room, and even the child's name.
The maternity session
A maternity shoot is a photo shoot or series of photo shoots done throughout pregnancy or the maternity period for a soon-to-be mother. Maternity sessions capture the beauty of your growing baby bump and glorify the unity of mom and baby. You and your bump are the stars of the shoot. Being yourself, feeling joyful and allowing yourself to be filled with happiness are the secrets for you to be the best you can be for the shoot. It also provides the opportunity to vividly relive that time through photos.
The birth session and fresh 48 session
Over the course of my first pregnancy I stumbled upon birth photography. I was referred to an amazing woman at Captivating Creation to document my first birth in Hawaii at Tripler Army Medical Center. For my second pregnancy I had Tiffany Hudson Film photography and document or departure from our home until after the delivery at Laundstuhl Medical Center in Germany. A birth photographer is there to document the moments leading up to, during and after delivery. They typically stay quiet and out of of the way as they observe, capture details and document the events that are going on.
A few things to consider documenting are: the exterior of the hospital, maternity ward, room number, medical tags, monitors, time of birth, first time holding baby, baby's birth stats, first meal after delivery, discharging from the hospital, baby's first ride home and arrival home. It will all happen so quickly and these moments will be fleeting, making sure to capture these precious moments for you and your child to treasure as your new chapter beginnings.
Some mother's have chosen to take the home delivery route. This type of birth allows for more flexibility for who an expectant mother and allows her to be in the comforts of her own space with her support system. Because births are unpredictable and babies often make their debut on their terms, many photographers only take a limited amount of sessions a month. It is important to book a photographer as early as possible.
A Fresh 48 Photo Session is a special session for families who want their baby's first hours documented, including those uniquely newborn details, without having the entire labor and birth photographed. This session would typically be shot in a documentary style. These would typically be scheduled before you are discharged from the hospital or shortly after your arrival home.
The Birth Announcement
A birth announcement is considered the formal announcement made by a family upon the birth of a child. Traditionally they were a notice sent within the first year of the baby’s birth by the baby’s parents to alert family and friends of the newest addition.
Basic Information to Include on Birth Announcement
- Parents’ full names (followed by names of baby’s siblings)
- Baby’s full name
- Baby’s birth date
- Baby’s gender (if the name is not clear)
- Baby’s weight and length
Basic Information to Include for Adopted child:
If you have adopted a baby or a child who is no longer an infant, you can include the baby’s birth location (especially if a birth abroad), birth date, and adoption date.
When it comes to sending birth announcements, etiquette says you have up to 6 months. However, even though you have 6 months you probably want to send them in a timely manner. Try to stick within a 2 – 8 week timeframe after the birth. If over the 3 to 4 month mark, consider sending out a holiday card or family letter instead.
The Baby Milestones
These simple milestone sessions are perfect for documenting your little one’s milestones within the first year, events like tummy time, smiles, giggles, toe grabbing, sitting and standing. I want to capture these fleeting moments so that you can cherish them long after they’re gone. These sessions are typically for babies between 3 and 12 months, however it is not necessary to schedule right at 3, 6, 9 or 12 months. I want you to schedule whenever you feel like you want to capture your babies progress. Every baby is different and that is what makes them special.
4.When to book your sessions?
Pregnancy Announcement- A rule of thumb is waiting until after the 1st trimester or 12-13 weeks of pregnancy. The reason for waiting is that statistically most miscarriages happen in the 1st trimester. We experienced a few miscarriages prior to expecting our son so we were cautious of the timing before sharing any news and making an announcement.
Gender Reveal- gender ultrasounds are typically available as early as 16 weeks. You can book anytime during your second trimester or plan a fun gender reveal to share. We used the ultrasounds for our gender reveals. Nowadays smoke bombs and cake cutting, promoting an older sibling, gender props. There are multiple ways to be creative with a gender reveal.
Maternity Session-I recommend booking between 30-34 weeks of pregnancy. If you are expecting twins you will probably want to book around 20-25 weeks. Pay attention to how your body is reacting to your pregnancy. If you feel like you will be swollen and uncomfortable, waiting until 34 weeks might not be the best plan for you. Every woman and pregnancy is different and can vary from from one to the next.
Birth Session/Fresh 48 Session- I'd recommend booking as early as possible. Birth Photographers only take a handful of clients at a time based on their clients due dates and availability. Fresh 48 sessions allow for a bit more flexibility but again, most photographers limit the number of sessions they book due to potential shifts in delivery and discharge dates.
Newborn Session- most schedule newborn sessions when the baby is between 6-14 days old. This gives the parents a few days at home to adjust after the birth. After 6-7 days they are usually ready to start making trips out and about or welcome a photographer into your home.
Milestone Session-I'd recommend booking these a few weeks prior or shortly after your baby's 6th month or 12th month. This way you will have your final edits prior their actual birthday or shortly afterwards.
5.Things to consider when scouting for a photographer?
Not all photographers are cut from the same cloth. Photographers come from many different backgrounds and a variety of experience levels. From novices to highly experienced. Each photographer has their method and process of capturing moments. We do not simply pick up a camera and shoot in the same way that a cooking pan doesn't determine how well our food will taste. A lot of time, practice, work and dedication goes into a photographers craft. When deciding on a photographer, consider what it is that you want from your session.
What is their specialty?
What is their photographic style?
Do they shoot in-home, natural light or at a studio?
Do they pose their clients or shoot lifestyle?
What all is included with the session?
Are dress options made available? Are rental options recommended?
Is hair and makeup optional or included?
Many newborn photographers go the extra mile and get infant CPR certification and share the number of newborns they have handled. This helps to put the parent at ease when a photographer is handling and posing a new baby.
So what are you actually paying for? You are paying for a photographer's time, experience, artistic talent. Once the session has been completed there is post session editing of your gallery to review all of the images adding the photographer's artist touch. Photographers invest a lot of time and resources in become experts in their crafts. From education, investment in equipment, studio set up, dresses, location scouting of beautiful locations. Photographers are running businesses and have operating costs to cover. Their fees will vary depending on the structure and experience level of the photographer. There is a lot that goes on in the backend of running a successful photography business than just taking photos.
6.How to prepare before your maternity and newborn session
Choosing a Location
I love this part of the planning! You might not have any clue where you would like these photos taken or you might have a location that has special meaning to you. I love shooting on location at parks and trails. I consider location to be a critical element of your session, as it serves as the backdrop for your session and also helps determine what colors to wear. More on color theory in a later post.
In home sessions serve a much more intimate setting, as it is the place we spend the most time when we bring a new baby home. For in home sessions, the best locations are in front if a window for some amazing light, your new baby's nursery or just comfy areas around your home.
What to Wear
The sky is the limit! It really depends on your inspiration for your session and your style. You might want to do a sweet in-home session with your significant other in jeans and a t-shirt. A flowy dress, at sunset or a snug fitting dress to show the fullness of your belly. Most importantly, whatever you choose to wear make sure you love it and feel comfortable. A few recommendations I will make are to stay clear from bold prints and stripes. You and your bump are the focal point of your portraits, and should take center stage. Prints and patterns can be overwhelming in photos. If you feel like solid colors are too boring, consider fabrics with texture or bring in some bold accessories. A necklace or scarf can add some flair without being overly distracting.
Where to Look
Start with what you already have in your closet, items that are roomy, still fit or consider renting a dress from Reclamation dresses. If you do opt to rent a dress ensure that you place your order in enough time to have your top pick available and delivered in time for your session.
If your partner or other children will be included in the session, pick out complementary colors to your dress for them yo wear. Refrain from any big logos or distracting patterns.
What to Do Before your Session
Pamper yourself. Treat yourself you a manicure and a pedicure. Your hands will be a focal point for in your portraits when you are cradling your baby.
Speaking of hands, consider cleaning any hand jewelry you make wear, your wedding band or earnings.
Give your self a body scrub. Your hormone are in full overdrive which means more oil, more hair, more skin follicles. Exfoliate your skin a day or two prior to your session so that your skin is at its freshest state.
Drink water. Hydration does wonders for an expectant mother's glow. But refrain from drinking too much water shortly before your session as restrooms may be limited depending on location.
What to Pack
Towel-depending on the location, water or mud may be involved
Sandals or comfortable walking shoes
Small Make-up bag for touch ups
Snacks-if you have any snack preference to avoid any hunger discomforts for yourself of small children
Mementos-any special baby item you want to incorporate during your session
How to Prepare for a Newborn Photo Session
For newborn sessions, I prefer to photograph at my client has a home with a lot of natural light. It's where you will be bringing baby home and where you will spend so many months just waiting for baby's arrival and after your baby's arrival. Keep it simple, keep it you. If you opt for comfy pjs and baby onsie or a blanket thats ok too. You are home and should be nesting and resting so why not be as comfortable as possible. There are so many options. I recommend that you look at inspiration photos and see what really speaks to you and your family.
Plan some awake time for your baby before the photo session. The easiest way to do this is give you baby a bath. It’s nearly impossible for a baby to sleep through a bath, so it’s an easy way to keep them awake. This will ensure, they’ll be ready for a nap when they arrive.
Feed the baby just before the session. You can arrive a little early to breast feed the baby. Or you could bring a bottle and feed the baby just before we start. This also helps in making sure the baby is ready to sleep right through the photo session.
Dress the baby is a snap front outfit. This will allow for removal the clothing without disturbing the sleeping baby.
Have a pacifier.....just in case. I know the doctor might tell you to hold off on giving your baby a pacifier. Of course, you need to do what you feel comfortable doing. But, there are times, when letting the baby soothe with a pacifier for a minute or two will make the difference in getting more photos. (And you never have to use it again if you don’t want to!)
If the photo session is at your home, make sure it’s very warm. When we do bare skin photos with the baby, this is extra important.