Five Important Things to Consider for a Successful Maternity Session

Many of my clients have confessed that besides their wedding or engagement pictures, their maternity session is their first professional photography experience. Obviously they're nervous and feel like they don't know what to expect, how to pose and what to wear. Although feeling that way is completely normal, there's no need for it! The fear can go away by simply having a little bit of information. So without further ado, here are five things you must consider for a successful and fun maternity session!

How to prepare

No matter if this is your first pregnancy or the fifth, it is a very special time for you and your growing family. Being pregnant is a miracle that lasts for a short period of time and doing something to remember it forever is always a good idea. You've already started with the right foot by booking your session, but how to be ready for the big day?

Well, these photos will be part of your still unborn child's legacy and story. They will last for generations to come, so you might want to consider making an appointment with your hair stylist and makeup artist. It's also a good idea to consider having a manicure done, since some shoots can include closeups of your hands on your belly.

Make sure to leave that day clear and open so you're not stressed out thinking about other things you have to do. Think of it as a day for you and your significant other. I always suggest to make some dinner reservations for after the session, that way they can finish a magical day on a high note.

Choosing a location

Although the center of attention will be you and your belly, the surroundings are very important to get wonderful photos. We are very lucky that in the Bay Area, we have amazing spots that make for truly unique backgrounds for your photos. From Baker Beach and Fort Point to the Legion of Honor and the Palace of Fine Arts, each location has its magic and enchantment. Golden Gate Park offers tons of shaded green areas with flowers, trees and bodies of water. Looking for an urban look? Walking around the mission murals could be a good idea. There are many different parks in and out of San Francisco. Some of them make for very suburban looks, even though they're just minutes away from the city. If you're more into a private setting, your backyard or your own home are good options too. Keep in mind that some photographers are natural light photographers only, so if you're planning to use your own house as a location, make sure you have a room with a big window that allows for beautiful light.

From top left: Palace of Fine Arts. Hap Magee Park, Baker Beach, Fort Point, Legion of Honor

From top left: Palace of Fine Arts. Hap Magee Park, Baker Beach, Fort Point, Legion of Honor

What to wear

The pregnant body is beautiful. I'm aware that most women don't feel that way when they are expecting, because they only focus in the pounds they have gained, how their clothes don't fit anymore, they're conscious of their stretch marks and swollen feet and just feel overall not photographic material. But the truth is, you look stunning and you glow. We photographers are here to bring out that beauty and show you how stunning you look with your big round belly. Some clothes are more flattering than others. Wearing maternity gowns that were designed to show your curves while pregnant are the best option, since they will contour your body to show the big star of the day: your belly. I have about 17 maternity gowns (and counting) designed specially for maternity photography. They range from sheer to full coverage, from tight to loose, so you can choose one that goes with your style and personality.

Some of the maternity gowns you can use during your session with Lemonshoots

Some of the maternity gowns you can use during your session with Lemonshoots

If your husband or little ones are joining the session, you can tell them to wear something casual and timeless that reflects their personality. Jeans and a solid, buttoned shirt are always great options. Little boys can wear shorts and buttoned shirts or solid polo shirts, while little girls can wear light colored dresses or jeans with a cute top. Choose colors that go well with the colors of the gowns you chose. Avoid very bright colors or very heavy patterns, since they can cast weird colors on your skin and overpower the pictures.

What to bring

The session is about you and your future baby. Make it unique! You're more than welcome to bring anything that adds a personal touch to your photos. It could be as simple as your ultrasound picture. Maybe the grandparents are already busy at work knitting cute little things for their grandchild, or maybe you told your husband he was going to be a dad by buying the baby's first teddy bear! All these things are what make your session yours and I encourage you to bring them. Your pets are also welcome!

There are also fun items that can give a special something to your images, like balloons, flowers, glitter or body paint.

Ultrasounds, teddy bears, booties and pets, if it is special for you, it is welcome!

Ultrasounds, teddy bears, booties and pets, if it is special for you, it is welcome!

What to expect

Since the moment you decided you wanted maternity photos, you might have been practicing poses in front of the mirror to see what's your best angle. The thing is, you're hiring a professional photographer because we know how to get the best out of each pose. Don't think that you have to know how to stand and where to put your hands, that's why we're there! We know how to capture the best 'you'. At Lemonshoots, maternity sessions last between 90 minutes and 2 hours. You might change outfit about 3 times so you can have different looks. We will walk around during the session so we can have variety in your photos, stopping here and there for a few shots and then moving on.

From perfectly posed photos to candid moments, your maternity photos will sure be something that will bring a smile to you and your loved ones

From perfectly posed photos to candid moments, your maternity photos will sure be something that will bring a smile to you and your loved ones

This is a time to have fun and be present. Remember that pictures are little windows that allow us to revive the past, and we want those to be happy memories. This session is all about you and your family, it's a time to be together and enjoy each other's company while creating lifetime memories. Just let go of your worries that day, focus on the here and now and prepare for a fun evening while we chase the sun to the horizon and surround yourself in dreamy golden light.

Ready to book your maternity session? Contact me to schedule it! =)






Is My Baby Too Old for Newborn Pictures?

First things first! 

We photographers always tell our clients that newborn sessions must take place between day 5 and day 14 after birth. But why do we do that? There's a reason for it. When babies are that young, they are still very familiar with the womb environment. This means they are very flexible, which leads to easier to pose babies. Their sleep cycles are also more predictable, thus allowing for better manipulation of the baby during the NREM phase (deep sleep). This all starts to change around the second week of age making having a sleepy baby (and keeping him that way) more of a challenge. If baby is awake, some cute poses you might want are not possible due to safety reasons, and that's why we always suggest that you book for the earlier days of life.

That said, every baby is different and every situation is different. Sometimes older babies have better sessions than younger babies. Sometimes they don't, but you never know for sure how a session will be, really. 

A mom with an older baby

I was on a two week long trip during the holidays when I got an email from Kalpita, telling me that she had delivered her firstborn two weeks prior and that she wanted to book a session. Oh my, I would have loved to, but I was several thousand miles away! By the time I would have returned, he would already be five weeks old. I haven't had a session with a five week old baby before, but even though I encourage to book for the first 14 days, I also believe that older newborns sessions are completely doable, and that every mother should have the opportunity to have pictures of their newborn babies. I felt honored when Kalpita and her husband Nimish said they would wait for me to come back, so we scheduled the session for as soon as I returned to the Bay Area.

Tiny sleepy Kiaan

Baby Kiaan was a small little fellow. At five weeks, he looked like a ten day old newborn. He was such a good baby! At first he was awake for a bit, giving us analytical glances. He eventually got tired and fell asleep. He was such a sweetheart to pose! He was still very flexible and was comfortable in most poses and he didn't wake up from them while posing him.

After a feeding break, he decided he no longer wanted to sleep. We had to skip the props and go straight to family pictures. By the end he was getting a bit fussy, but the pictures came out great and both parents loved them!

So, it is possible!

Now that you know the whys, you know that yes, of course it is! Some poses may change if baby is awake, and other might be skipped altogether, but you can still have a newborn session. At five weeks old, baby Kiaan was a sweetheart to work with. So if for some reason you couldn't book your session right away after birth, if you have an older newborn and are on the edge thinking that you just lost the time window or if you have been told by other photographers that it's too late, don't despair! As an emotion photographer, a moment freezer, I will capture your baby's smallness and delicacy, no matter if he's ten days old or six weeks old. The session might flow a little different. We might encounter more challenges, yes, but aren't challenges what makes us grow?