OUTDOOR MATERNITY PHOTOGRAPHY
Pregnancy session is undoubtedly one of the most important photo sessions for future parents. Pregnancy is a magical time, full of hope and expectation of the birth of a new family member. Many women decide to go on maternity photo sessions and capture this period and tummy. There are many types of pregnancy photography sessions. Photographic sessions for couples, maternity photo sessions, photographic sessions in the studio and outdoors. Today I will present an outdoor pregnancy session and tell you a bit about how it was created. More and more women decide to take part in the outdoor maternity portrait session. This unique time is worth capturing a few photos shoots that you can show your child after many years.
TIPS AND IDEAS FOR A PREGNANCY PHOTO SESSION.
WHAT TO REMEMBER?
Before starting any photo session, especially a pregnancy session, you should ensure the well-being of the woman and make sure that her health and condition allow a trip to the outdoor sessions.
It should be remembered that such a session can be very demanding for a woman in advanced pregnancy.
WHEN AND WHERE TO SHOOT?
Place of a pregnancy photo session.
Today I will present an outdoor maternity photo session. It is worth asking our model about a place especially special for her. The emotions that accompany such places help to relax the model and improve well-being. If the model prefers me to choose places, then I try to make it not too far from the place of residence. Any longer trip can be simply uncomfortable for a pregnant woman.
I choose a place away from the crowds with easy access to the forest, park or gardens. Waiting for a convenient moment until people in the background give way makes the photo session longer and thus exposes our model with the tummy to fatigue.
During this photo session, we chose a garden full of flowers with a manor house in the background, which we came across quite by accident. I don’t even remember the name of that place, but if I remember, I will update this post. Ultimately, it was simply to be a park found somewhere on the internet, not too far from the model’s place of residence. It was already quite late then and the garden was closing, so without wasting time we started taking pictures.
The selection of photos shoots scenery was based on a nice background. In our case, a garden full of different colourful flowers seemed the most appropriate. Our model had a long floral dress. The garden`s background like this, behind the model`s back, is great to blur achieving the Bokeh effect.
WHEN IS THE BEST MOMENT FOR A PREGNANCY PHOTO SESSION?
In my opinion, the best moment for sessions is when you can already see a big pretty tummy. This is an individual matter. In many pregnant women, the tummy appears later and in others, it is visible much earlier. I think a convenient moment is when the tummy is already nicely rounded and it is significantly visible from under a dress or other covering. Of course, many women decide to photograph the bare tummy, so it’s worth it to be visible enough. Naked bellies are photographed mainly in the studio, where it is warmer. Outside the studio, it is good to ensure that the model is properly warmed, depending on the season. The comfort of a pregnant woman is paramount. I advise you not to wait with the photo session until the very end. First of all, walking is much more difficult, and secondly, the risk that our model may get cramps and start giving birth increases. So it’s better to be at home near the hospital than outdoor on pregnancy photoshoots.
Of course, it’s not always possible to plan the perfect time for a photo shoot. 😉
It is worth following the weather conditions, although it is not always convenient to shoot. Sometimes it just depends on luck.
When we got in the car and started the journey it started to rain. But when we got there it luckily stopped. However, there was one big grey cloud in the sky, which admittedly acted like a natural softbox, it was so dense that little light passed through. So the colours were faded like on a grey, cloudy day. It didn’t stop us and we didn’t give up, but we went into the outdoor maternity portrait photo session!
WHAT TO DRESS FOR A PREGNANCY PHOTOGRAPHY SESSION?
It’s best to wear what’s at your hand! It is not so easy. Woman know best about that. For a man it is madness 😉 The whole action with searching for “creation” is not so simple. This was my first pregnancy photo session. The model trusted me, so the idea of some nice “petticoat” appeared. We found a few dresses on the internet. As the budget was rather limited, we suggested price rather than quality. The dresses in the pictures looked incredibly fabulous, they were not so cheap either. But when we got the parcel, it turned out that our curtains on the window would have done better! We ordered a few different ones just in case because you know shopping online. Unfortunately, all sizes were very bad and nothing matched. We went to the store, but we couldn’t find and buy anything that could be right for that pregnancy photography. So we chose what we had in the closet. Fairytale dresses, unfortunately, proved to be far too expensive for a one-time adventure. Maybe another time. Probably, if the photographer typically deals with pregnancy photography, he has a set of cool dresses. I didn’t deal with it at that time. Now I have more knowledge. You can rent cool dresses. I’m talking about really great dresses. It’s like having a dream to deal with this kind of photography.
It is more about memory and souvenir for life. Everything can be improved in post-production. It would be perfect if everything was perfect.
Then many photographers would think that this is true art! But photography is a pleasure. Does not matter what other people say. I do not worry if I do something in a different way. I prefer it to be like I want. It is better to break the rules in photography. Of course, when it comes to correct exposure, it is better to stick to the rules. I know that developing raw files and post-production is a part of the photography “photo-graphy”. So if you don’t have what you like, you like what you have or what you can conjure up in Photoshop!
It is worth remembering a warm sweater or jacket on colder days.
MAKEUP AND STYLIZATION
Makeup is a real art. Real magic. You can change a woman beyond recognition, almost as well as in Photoshop 😉 But in this case, we definitely chose light and natural makeup. Similarly with the hairstyle. Total minimalism. After all, it is a portrait photography that we will see and remember after many years how it was on pregnancy period. It is better to make the model look like she looks in reality and could remember herself. Of course, light skin retouching is advisable. For portrait photography, it is better to show people who they really are. Unlike the beauty photography (different kind of portrait photography), where people are shown in that fabulous and perfect way as most of us would like to watch them. Where the maximum beauty of the model is extracted and its appearance is even more embellished. After all, it’s better for children to recognize their mother.
DREAMS and REALITY – OR HOW TO NOT LOSE YOUR HEAD.
EXPECTATIONS vs THE REALITY.
Let`s talk about the beginning of this photo session. A few technical issues. Usually, before each portrait photo session, I think at home about its course, check the weather, the location of even nearby parking lots. I make a plan in my head. I wonder what a great shoots I will do and the effects I will use in post-production. I check various camera settings to conduct the session more efficiently. I choose the right lenses and charge spare batteries. I’m finally packing up and going! Full of optimism!
Sounds professional, doesn’t it? But in fact, only the car was refuelled properly. The weather broke down, but luckily it stopped raining when we got in the point. Location totally random, there is nothing bad that would not work out, because it turned out to be a very cool and beautiful place, but completely new, so we wandered here and there. Fortunately, the parking lot was quite close. Batteries charged but left at home. One battery only inside the camera. About 60% of the battery load. One lens, fortunately, the one I meant, Canon 70-200 L f2.8. Although, on this day, I could use my Sigma Art 85mm f1.4, which I did not pack for unknown reasons. Just like mistakenly packed discharged batteries to my Yongnuo Speedlight (funny think it did the job). Some unnecessary rush broke into us then morning. And nothing went very well at first. The plan had to be changed completely. In general, the session was to be using natural sunlight. But on this day it was so cloudy that the light was just not enough and it was very soft, too soft. The whining has been started. Problems with the setting of the light set up. Problems with the Speedlight and the trigger stopped working.
A little trick from photographer
We were so close to giving it up, but finally, we let go and relaxed. We still could just go for a walk in a nice garden and that is when our good mood returned. We could start making nice images.
LIGHTING SETTING, FLASH LAMP and SILVER Umbrella.
We started with a classic photo between trees, the central frame. My assistant was holding a flash lamp directed at the model. As a modifier, I used a silver umbrella. A white umbrella would give too soft light, and because it was already soft I put on silver. The silver umbrella gives sharper light, thanks to which the shadows and outline of the model’s face are sharpened. Lamp settings and its power were set up near on the maximum power. However, not every shot was at maximum due to low batteries. The lamp itself can give a large amount of flashes, but with each subsequent, its power decreases and needs a moment to load the charge.
The assistant held the lamp at a height of about 1.5m – 2m, as well as high as possible. The Speedlight flashed on the side of the model once on one side and on the other. Depending on the frame and scenery. The camera I used: Canon 5d Mark IV with Canon 70-200 L f2.8 telephoto lens. There was not much time to set the lamp on a tripod, so I had my personal assistant. We were in the open field and the wind was blowing strongly, which would blow the lamp with a tripod anyway. The assistant responded quickly to commands to change the angle and height of the flash lamp position with the lamp`s modifier. From time to time she whined a bit. Then she was looking at the phone.
An interesting fact, how to make the assistant concentrate on work instead of staring at the phone?
When the assistant forgot and looked into the phone instead of concentrating on work, just wait for her to point the flash towards her own face, and then take a picture. A quick and intense flash of eyes will remind the assistant about work. Sorry, I had to paste this photo 😉
I set the aperture to f-stop 2.8 to get the bokeh effect of blurred background and to get more light into the camera’s matrix. I usually try to keep ISO at the level of ISO 100. The flash lamp helps brightens the model enough, so I can afford it. Possibly ISO within 100-320(in that kind of photography and light set up). I try not to go to a higher ISO because then there is a noise, such as grain in the photo. This can be seen especially in enlarged photos. Shutter speed 1/200 sec. A Focal length depending on the frame from 70mm to 200 mm. The Speedlight was triggered by the Youngnuo trigger – radio transmitter, thanks to which the flashlight could be controlled remotely.
A FEW WORDS ABOUT POSITIONING AND HOW TO SET UP THE MODEL
For a pregnancy photography session, the most important position of the model is the one that attracts attention to the tummy. It is the tummy that plays the most important role here and that is why you should focus on it. Pregnant women intuitively grab the tummy and during the session, you can not miss this gesture and touch of the belly. In the pictures, I wanted to show the model thoughtful and dreamy. After all, it’s a magical time full of hope and love. To a large extent, I told the model to keep her eyes directly at the tummy or somewhere, far away into the distance to get a look like she was thinking and meditating.
It is better to leave posing alone and let the model pose in a natural way as it is most convenient for our future mother. From time to time, I remind about suggestions of different posing. And when we changed the scenery, we change the layout of the hands or body positions. Here the model had got a long dress, so it was worth using and holding her hands and body position in various ways. It changes the style of photography a bit more fashion look. Because who said pregnancy photos can’t be stylish? It’s good experimenting with different photo styles. Take approximations, wider shots, take a picture behind a bush or tree from different sides. But the most important thing is to capture the moment when the model forgets for a moment that she is at a photo session. It’s a bit like revealing a piece of the soul.