You're having a baby! This is such an incredibly important time in your life and I am truly honoured to be capturing these fleeting moments for you. Throughout this guide, I will be giving you tips and tricks for a successful maternity session. If I have not answered all the questions that might be in your mind, please do not hesitate to contact me to ask. I don't want you to feel nervous or unsure throughout this process
When to book?
Maternity sessions should take place somewhere between 32-36 weeks. At the beginning of your third trimester is the ideal time. This way we have time to reschedule due to weather or sickness if you're having a rough pregnancy. Your belly will also be showing beautifully and you haven't quite hit the uncomfortable stage yet, or hopefully haven't! If you are having multiples or have any complications throughout your pregnancy then adjustments to this time frame should be made. We can talk about your ideal time frame and go from there, this is just a general guideline.
For outdoor sessions, I love to stick to natural light. Sunsets give me life and overcast days make the richest warm tones. I love nature in the background of images and love to capture movement. I have favorite locations based on season and weather. If you have a favorite or meaningful location that you'd like to use, let me know! I am completely open to trying new places.
The absolute best time to do a session is golden hour, this is an hour and a half before sunset. Golden hour offers diffused and even lighting which enhances colors. That being said, if we book a session and it ends up being completely cloudy and overcast with no chance of sun, then anytime is a good time to shoot. We won't be fighting the bright sun and harsh shadows. I don't ever shoot midday because of this and it also doesn't fit my style of photography. If you have looked through my portfolio, you'll have noticed all my sessions are done during golden hour or during a sunset. I do realize that this may not be ideal during some seasons when the sun sets later and there will be younger kids joining us for the sessions. I try and encourage a later nap that day, especially if you love the sunset feel to images.
Together we will choose a beautiful location that meets the vision you have and also has beautiful light.
For studio sessions, I stick to studio lighting. The reason behind this, I can control the lighting much better indoors when I use a light vs. trying to stay close to my windows. I also am able to create the feel of your images by either casting dramatic shadows for the "Vogue" look or creating light and airy images that have a timeless feel. All studio work is done with either fabric backdrops or my favorite- seamless paper backdrops.
Because there is no requirement to work with daylight, I am able to create your session at any time of the day without worrying about weather. With that being said, if you book a session with me and you have a little one coming along please make sure your session is not booked around your child's nap time, that way we are not interrupting their scheduled sleeping time.
What to wear
Ah, the age-old question always associated with photoshoots. Styling is one thing I love to help with. Most importantly is try to dress yourself and your family in something they would wear again but is a bit more dressed up then you would usually wear. You want to look back on these images and look like yourself. Think layers. Probably the biggest difference between sessions that look great and sessions that look amazing. Little boys in a t-shirt, with a button-up over it, or suspenders over top of a t-shirt and some cords! All little boys look so cute in a Fedora for a cute little extra touch. Little girls: same thing, leggings, a fun skirt, tank with a sweater and a tasteful (not too big and overwhelming) headband or hair clips.
*Side note: Stay away from neon or bright colors, ball caps, clothing with logos or anything with wording. They look dated and tend to take away from everyone's gorgeous features.
Coordinate. As you think about your color palette, imagine your family being one complete piece of artwork. Each person/outfit will bring together a feeling of formality and coordination. Instead of everyone wearing the same shade of blue - think about what accent colors might look nice with said blue. Perhaps blue plaid shorts for your son with a t-shirt, suspenders and a hat. Pull some of the colors of his plaid shorts to find a great skirt or dress for your little girl. Dad can wear some jeans and a shirt that coordinates with the plaid shorts and skirt on your daughter, and finish it off with an awesome jacket. Mom will round the entire family out with some great boots, leggings and dress that (again) coordinates with the family color story.
Neutrals or earth tones are a personal favorite, they are timeless and classic, they will never date an image.
Head to toe.
Remember to dress down to you and your family's feet! No scuffed runners for boys, but fun and dressier shoes. Runners are great if they are a solid color but anything that has vibrant or neon colors will likely stand out quite a bit in your images. Same for girls, try to stay away from Frozen crocs or runners or shoes, but more traditional Mary Janes or boots work best! Shoes stand out in photos.
What NOT to wear. Remember the look of everyone in khakis + white button-down shirts? That isn’t the kind of matching I’d like you to do. Again, think to coordinate without matching perfectly. Dads, instead of defaulting to a plain ole polo, get a shirt to compliment your wife’s outfit with textures, they photograph amazingly. Get creative! Only one person should be in a pattern (usually mom) and everyone else should have a complementing color that pulls from her outfit. Too many patterns can get distracting and take away from the beauty of your family. Also, let's talk hats (by hats I mean the ball cap style)! I know men can be more comfortable in them but they will always hide your face or cover someone else's face in certain poses. If dad must wear a hat, try and convince them to wear a solid colored one rather then one with sports logos. I understand how men can be very sensitive to hairlines (my husband is) but we can do so many more close cuddling poses without them!
Helpful tip! Head into Old Navy (or the like) and mention you’re styling for family photos. They are happy to direct you - and free of charge! No need to pay a stylist when you have knowledgeable fashion advice right there in the store. Old Navy is a great resource as their entire brand is to be able to dress an entire family. One of my favorite kids' online clothing stores would be Zara Kids. Feel free to send me a message if you need any more ideas! A great site for expecting moms is Pink Blush and Chicaboo.
Preparing your kids for our session as much as possible often takes the timidness out of the evening. Let them know what we will be doing the moment we book our session if they are unfamiliar with having their pictures taken during a professional family session. Let them know we are going to have fun & tell jokes. Talk to them about me as if I am a friend so that they see you are comfortable with me, this usually helps them feel comfortable as well. Don't worry about telling them to smile during our session, some kids who have been coached to smile for the photographer get so nervous that they are fighting to laugh, relaxing and being their true selves. But I promise you that letting me get them to smile genuinely will make you the happiest when you see your final result. If I need your help to let them loosen up, I’ll let you know! Try getting them to practice kissing your tummy, hugging your tummy or just touching it. I will ask them to do this a lot during our session so if they are familiar with it and think its super fun, it will capture those incredible shots you see of loving siblings.
I’m a huge fan of bribery - (candy or ice cream after!) is always a great idea for the ones who need a little extra encouragement. Treats during the session are totally ok! Just please make sure they won't leave their face messy. Smarties and gummy candy are always great but try and stay away from anything that has crumbs or chocolate.
Moms, I’m speaking to you. Is your husband feeling less than thrilled about our upcoming photoshoot? Don’t worry, this is totally normal. They likely already know how important this is to you and that is why they are a part of the session but remind them it's going to be painless. I have a pretty relaxed vibe so it never feels overwhelming or stiff.
More often then not I get messages from mom's after the session telling me how their husband said the entire experience was less painful then they thought it would be. I have also had moms tell me their husband mentioned they should do another session a year or so later for updated family pictures. If the dads are giving the mom's the reminder to rebook, that in itself is the biggest success for me!
You also deserve a huge pat on the back. Getting in the frame is just as important for you as it is for your kids and your husband or partner. It is so often that moms are the ones taking the pictures because it is always, always on our mind. When your kids sit down with you as they grow older you never want to have to answer the question "Where were you, mom?".
Because you were there too and it will be so nice to have proof of that. You. need to document your beautiful bump and the bond you've already formed with your baby.
On the day of our session, I am sure you will be nervous and that's so natural! All I ask for you is to come as yourself, live in the moment and love on your bump. If anything is out of place then I will let you know. Just be present in the moment.
Additional Thoughts + Tips
Moisturize your belly before the session to avoid any dry looking skin. Especially if you're looking to get a few bare belly shots.
I have a client wardrobe with a few maternity dresses. At the bottom of this guide is a list of the dresses I have on hand. Please, please let me know if you would like to come over before our session to try any of them on. It can be nice to have outfit changes throughout your session for a wide variety of images.
Nude panties and nude strapless bra are best if you choose any of the maternity gowns in my collection. If you've picked anything with black lace then black bra and panties are great! You'll have a better idea of what will be needed once you try things on.
Try to avoid wearing tight panties and bra. A looser fit will ensure that no lines will form through tighter fitting gowns.
If you're interested in any images of you in just your panties and bra then sets are perfect for this. Nudes, blacks, whites or any coloured set you prefer. Soft colours and lace photograph best. This is also a great option to have just a blanket or cozy cardigan wrapped around you with your belly popping out.
Pay attention to your nails! A lot of images will be focused around your hands and having them on your tummy and cradling your bump. I will be taking lots of images of you holding your partner's hands, your children's hands and all those little details. Hands are a huge part of any session.
If we will be heading into the water for any of your images then I suggest bringing a pair of flip flops that can get wet. This way you can walk easily into the water without slipping if there are rocks. We can take them off once you are in place. The dollar store usually has cheap flip flops during summer months, same as Old Navy. If it is possible to get clear or nude, we won't have to take them off.
Professional hair and make-up DO make a difference in maternity photos. I know this is a beautiful but stressful time in your life and hiring someone to do your hair and makeup for your shoot is a wonderful way to pamper yourself to that you don’t have to worry about it. If this isn’t in your budget, stores like MAC and Ulta can be helpful. If you do your own make-up, date night makeup works like a dream.