If Facebook is any indication, for most women, professional maternity photos are significant the first time around …and have all but fallen off the radar by the second pregnancy. But when I think of my soon-to-be son, I want him to be able to look back and know that I was as proud to be home to him as I was for my daughter. Pregnancy is a surreal journey, an evolution of emotion because it’s such a life-changer, and for me, documenting the most beautiful parts is especially important because I’ve been so candid about the other not-so-certain moments. That’s why I was excited to collaborate with my dear friend, sister-in-law, and acclaimed photographer Nicole Romanoff on what any woman needs to know before booking a maternity session. Here are my top seven thoughts to review before booking in!
1. WHAT’S THE BEST TIMING? First, know that planning ahead is a must. Photographers’ schedules aren’t blank slates and if you’re hoping for hair and makeup, your dream team could be impossible to muster together without a couple months’ notice. As for the timing in your court, it’s best to book your session between 28 and 35 weeks so that your bump is visible but you’re not uncomfortable.
2. HOW TO CHOOSE YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER. This is a personal decision because, since technical prowess and art collide in the profession, there is such a wide range of styles. Dig into online portfolios to see the one with which your vision aligns, and read reviews. Nicole’s style ranges from candid to editorial but in my opinion, there’s usually a slant toward fashion which is right up my alley, and her studio lighting is A-game. Speaking of studios, Nicole’s is in her home in Stonebridge: it’s a comfortable and spacious place, right down the street from me… another win.
3. MAKEUP MATTERS. Don’t overlook the importance of a professional Makeup Artist. I made that mistake at my wedding a dozen years ago before the popular advent of MUAs and I look back at the photos wondering where my eyebrows were. Ugh. Much like when you pick a photographer, portfolios are available online and you should find a person whose style matches yours. I was honored to be in the hands of Moose Jaw’s Caitlyn Dixon for these photos, who you might recognize as the winner of L’Oreal Canada’s prestigious “The Brush” contest a couple years back—a win that catapulted her career to heights in major centres like Toronto and New York. For MUAs in your area, find names through friends, your hairstylist, by Googling, or via Facebook and then, creep their work!
4. SET A VISION. If you’re hoping for a styled feel, get inspired with the help of Google Images and Pinterest and from there, you can talk with your photographer who’ll probably have some ideas of her own to add. With Nicole, I said I’d be into something “classic, dramatic, and elegant with neutral colours” and she sent me a few image ideas to further define that direction as well as a set idea that would complement the look. Being on the same page as your photographer before you arrive is key to getting photos that reflect you. Alternatively, you can put your trust totally in the hands of your photographer. If you’re going with a pro like Nicole, it’s not her first rodeo and she won’t steer you wrong.
5. WHAT TO WEAR. Choosing what to wear for photos is often a struggle for people, maternity or not. I recommend having two outfits at the ready that are timeless, lean toward solid colours rather than prints to best show your shape, and that you bring a few different accessories like a flower crown, belt to frame your bump from above, and/or jewelry. If you’re going for an editorial angle, be sure to pack a few pieces you can add at your whim like a long slinky waistcoat or kimono—layering is often the key to making a look feel styled. As for clingy vs flowy, both can work with the right poses but no matter what you wear, be sure there are seamless panties and a good bra underneath.
6. ENVISION THE LOCATION. Decide on the backdrop you’d like to have for your photos keeping in mind that “outdoor” is weather-dependent so if you’re due late in Winter, it might not be an option. Your photographer will have suggestions for indoor spaces, you can shoot at home or, of course, you can opt for the studio! The best part of a studio is that the light is perfection, it’s comfortable, and you don’t have to tidy your own house.
7. "WHAT DO I DO WITH MY HANDS?" Don't worry, a professional photographer will be your guide. But here's my posing advice anyway: keep your chest up, your neck tall, and drop your front hip to best accentuate your curves. Side and 3/4 shows your tummy the best, of course, but don't avoid head-on completely; your arms can cradle or frame your baby bump. Looking down at your baby-to-be creates a sense of connection, gazing away from the camera feels more pensive, and looking right into the lens invites the viewer in (which makes a great print for your partner). I also find movement to be key in creating an engaging image and it's easiest to do with a layer that moves like a shawl, stole, kimono, or scarf. As for your hands, avoid fists, straight-on, and clenched fingers and instead think long, pretty, and relaxed.
8. ENJOY YOURSELF. Soon you’ll be pampering someone other than yourself, and 100% more literally, so soak up this experience! Your photographer is there to capture the precious connection you have with your baby-to-be and that will radiate if you just relax and feel the love. Oh, and make sure you plan a dinner afterwards to get more mileage out of your flawless makeup!
Whether you use the photos for your child-to-be’s baby book, to print for your home or partner’s office, or just for a Facebook profile photo that will make your dear friends and family smile, a professional maternity session is well worth it no matter if this is your first or fifth baby bump. So reread my advice, think about what you’d like to get out of a session of your own, and then just keep on #8-ing.