by Julie Hughes Published 01/01/2005
I was fortunate enough to have a beautiful bride become a beautiful mommy, and she was very comfortable in her beautiful skin. She let me experiment with her in all sorts poses, and I really learned a lot about what works, and what doesn't.
Some important points to remember: Have a comfortable quiet environment to work in. Do not schedule anyone else when you are working with pregnant ladies. ALWAYS work with a female assistant. Never work alone. Have the daddy there, and also a part of the action. Showcase the father in a least 30% of the poses. Posing with the couple is very similar to romantic wedding photography but instead of the rings there is the beautiful belly to look at. Also feature dad's hands on the belly; you can also have daddy kneel in front of the belly, and have both of his eyes in the camera He can also kiss the belly.
Posing should be intimate, and use of soft focus is highly recommended. Experiment with poses where the subject's eyes are not in the camera. Having them appear to be unaware of the camera adds to the level of intimacy I am trying to achieve. Always ask, and make sure that mom to be is very comfortable. Make sure you have plenty of bottled water on hand as pregnant ladies get very thirsty A very nice changing area and well stocked toilet are also a must
Start with fully clothed portraits, and ask her to bring a favourite robe or dressing gown, solid colours only. I always have a consultation with the couple prior to the photo shoot so they can decide how far they want the photo session to go. I show them slide shows of images that I have releases for, including birth and newborn slide shows so they can see what there options are. We offer beach and studio maternity photography, and have packages that include both. Decide what kind of clothing they will be wearing, and obviously for darker clothes, we want a darker background, and for lighter clothing we want to stick with mid-key tones, or pure white.
If the couple decides they want some more intimate portraiture, do that last. Be quick when your subject is nude. Do not practice, or take your time with paying clients. Do something gratis, and explain to your client you might be a bit long-winded if you plan to do lots of different poses while she is nude. Be sure to have your assistant offer the robe or a cover-up at every opportunity and ask if your studio is a pleasing temperature to your client.
We have a good selection of high key dresses many in lace plus drapes including a long bridal veil that we dyed purple which looks wonderful draped over a nude body. Have a female assistant do the wrapping for her; use a small clip to secure it in the back.
We always keep cheesecloth both in its natural state, and dyed darker colours for gently wrapping mom to be. Winding it around the breasts, leaving the belly exposed, and then wrapping the hips. The wrap adds visual interest, and covers up undesirable parts. Graphic nudity should never be the goal of a portrait artist.
Even pregnant women do not want to look fat!!! Use side lighting with reflector fill only to illuminate the belly, and face, letting swollen arms and legs drift delicately into the shadows. In Photoshop, we use the liquefy tool to push in waist lines, hindquarters, and trim down arms. Gently blurring undesirable body parts also works well. Liquefy can also be used to round up a lop-sided belly. Many pregnant ladies have very dark nipples due to hormonal changes, and most if not all of my moms want these softened or barely visible in the finished portraits.
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