Sometimes you are blessed with the generosity of the people you are photographing.
Then that generosity simply moves you and envelops you with emotions.
That’s how I felt after shooting my first maternity photography session.
At first this started out as a gift I was offering to very good friends of mine, the parents of my god daughter.
Photographically speaking, it was for me a first opportunity at shooting a maternity session. In many ways, it also was of them a gift to me.
I figured that if one day I want to go pro, this maternity shoots would be a great subject, an opportunity to capture a lot of emotions.
However, getting maternity assignments is like the chicken and the egg, which comes first? No experience, no client. No client, no experience. This is the slogan of the Hygrade sausage, except upside down.
I assume that most maternity photographers are women. It must have to do about the mother feeling comfortable in front of the camera, especially considering that some of the best shots to make are half-clothed.
I was counting on the fact that the mother-to-be was a friend and that there would not be a reserve factor that would veil the shooting.
As it turned out, to the contrary.
For no other reason than simply to change, I had decided to choose the black muslin background instead of the white infinite paper roll I had used in my last shoots. It turned to be a great choice.
As always, I setup my two speed lights in wireless mode with umbrellas. And as always, I was not satisfied with the light. Like not enough. I know that the issue is not the fact that I have only two units – I know that it should be enough. It must be something else, but what?
Got to practice, because practice makes perfect…
Actually, my first few shots were well light, it is when we started moving around that it got more challenging. So, I eventually “cheated” by changing the exposition in Lightroom – not ideal, I know. Raw shooting saves the day one once more.
I had done lots of preparation for this shooting. I read a good number of posts. And I am just realizing that I shared none of these. Shame on me :-).
I built a pose guide based on a number of pictures found on Pinterest.
Once at my friends’ place, I showed the mom and dad a number of poses that I was hopping we could take. It did serve as an inspiration, but it is not like we followed the “rules” too much.
Lesson learned: you go with the flow … but try to keep some control! You, as the photographer, must know what you are doing and what “artistic objective” you are aiming for, yet keep in mind that the people you are photographing are your clients. A fine line between being directive and adaptive.
Here are the pictures.
One of my first shot had to be the belly. A classic. Not a great a shot, not much emotion, but nice contrast of skin color, red and black.
I already told you that my friends are the parents of my god daughter. Here she is giving a kiss to sister-to-be. This shot is about capturing the emotion.
Although I was complaining about my lighting setup, I believe that this next shot deserves some merit. The umbrellas were set perfectly, and the moment between daddy and daughter is just magic.
Like in the previous shot, the black background contributes to isolating the subject “out of time and out of space”. The black and white processing accentuates this. I love this shot.
The reason that I was taking these dad and daughter shots was that mommy was changing attire. I very much like the self-confidence that my subject has in this next pose. The 3/4 angle of her face is close to perfect lighting wise. If I could have thought about bringing her body a little more aligned with her face, it would have “softened” the belly-button, it could have been great. But not a bad shot, or so I think!
As you know, making babies takes two people :-). And daddy deserves to be in the picture too. I very much like this shot, how they hold hands. One would say that we don’t see too much of the belly, nevertheless I love the love between them.
The next few shots are fun family moments.
The first one of my god daughter, not really realizing that I am taking pictures, the mother enjoying the tender moments and the ever watching father looking over his beloved family. I like the emotion in this shot, but I am not too sure about the composition. The three of them do not form the traditional triangle and my framing is off center. I do not know if it works.
On this next one, the mother’s knees are cropped at the bottom as I had to move quickly to capture the fast paced action with the daughter playing with her parents. On the positive side, I like the slight diagonal started from the mother’s lower body and onto the father’s head.
I made this next picture black and white because I liked the textures of the mother’s negligé and her daughter’s dress.
This next picture is the last in the series of the “family moments”. It really is a shot taken as fast as possible and I got lucky. Not a perfect shot, but a nice composition of foreground-background.
This shot is one of my favorites. I like the composition, taken from below, emphasizing the belly. Her look, Mona Lisa-like with the hint of a smile, shows her self-confidence and the trust she has of me taking these very personal pictures. Her left hand with her engagement ring is another nice symbol that makes this whole picture work.
I kept my favorite picture for last. A candid moment taken as she was buttoning her negligé. The black and white rendering adds to its rich texture. The knees at almost 45 degrees in the corner, leading to her hands and head. A quiet moment capturing the emotion.
The months leading to the coming of a new being on our planet are magic moments. I was so touched to be invited to capture these emotions.