The most valuable photos are those you can’t take anymore
Let me tell you a personal story. A couple of months ago Fabiana and I spent an entire evening browsing through more than ten years of personal photos that made us re-live unique moments. It was better than a film: we had a glass of wine in our hands and we laughed and cried remembering everything we had lived as a couple. There was a particular troubled year in our story together in which we went through hard times but in the end our relationship came out strengthened, and that experience made us the couple we are today (luck in any relationship is not as important as hard work and understanding). It was somehow sad to realise that we have little if no photos of those challenging but incredibly important days. Those photos – the images of the moments we did not capture – will never come back and they are missed forever. I would have loved to see how we were back then.
Every Bump is different
How many people go back in time by looking at their images and showing them to their children? Countless. And how many women have shown photos of their bump to one of their kids saying “This was mummy when she was carrying you” just to hear the other baby asking “And what about me?”.
Being pregnant is a unique experience and those of you who have more than one child can confirm it. Being pregnant is a very intimate and unique experience so do you really think that one photo of “when you were pregnant the first time” will remind you of your second, third or maybe fourth child? Every bump is different because it is a unique life that you are forming and having photos of that baby who is developing and becoming a person is priceless!
Your body IS changing, but you are neither fat, nor you look like you are
Yes, you read well. You are certainly NOT fat and the weight you have put on is serving the amazing purpose of forming a new life! When Fabiana was expecting our Ethan, she was complaining quite a lot about her figure without realising the truth was in front of anyone else’s eyes: she was stunningly beautiful, radiant and her shape was so amazing that wherever she was going, people were turning their heads to look at her.
It is true that your body is changing, it is true that you have more weight on you and it is absolutely true that everything you do is affected by it. If men had to endure such radical changes (starting from no alcohol and no sleep on their tummy) they would be moaning and whining all day long. No one denies that the way your self is reflected through the mirror shows a different person from the one that was quickly walking the streets of London just some months before, but if you could see yourself for the beautiful Woman (in the deepest sense of the word) you are, for the lovely curves you are holding with such pride, you would love yourself so much more!
The lessons I learned from Fabiana’s pregnancy
As a good husband, father and photographer (and I will leave any judgement to those who know me) I wanted to have everlasting memories of Fabiana’s pregnancy. Fabiana has always been quite challenging to photograph because she has an image of herself that not always reflects the vision I have of her and in that particular case I made the mistake of taking pictures of her too late in her pregnancy (she was already saying “ok, that’s enough! When is he coming?!?”).
First lesson learned: You want to be photographed when you are around your seventh month, that is when your bump is more prominent than your breast.
When I finally photographed her she was almost at the end of her eighth month. Being pregnant – and I probably won’t be able to grasp this in its entirety – means being in a state that spans between excesses, calm or hyperactivity, tears or laughters in few milliseconds. As father-to-be I realised this earlier in Fabiana’s pregnancy, but as photographer I did not realise how much a camera can accelerate changes in mood in a heartbeat and to make things worse there was a lot of noise around her that definitively did not help.
Second lesson learned: There is a lot going on inside you and your emotional state can be altered in a fraction of a second, and Faby and I now know how to adjust our pace and volume to let you be yourself!
When I photographed Fabiana, I decided not to go for the typical bump shots: hands in the shape of heart on the belly button, one hand up and one down and so on. Fabiana was fully on board with that so I simply did not take those shots. In retrospective we would have loved to have a couple of those photos, but again, a picture not taken is missed forever!
Third lesson learned: Do your researches on the images you love and listen to your photographer’s advice!
When we planned the photo session Faby and I decided to use the pregnancy lingerie she had. It was not bad but it was not the most feminine one. Let’s be honest: during the months before the delivery when it comes to clothing or lingerie, comfort and practicality come before aesthetic. That said, I would have liked to see Fabiana wearing at least one nice bra!
Fourth lesson learned: Everybody knows you are a mum-to-be but you are also a woman, and a nice touch of lace goes a long way in reminding yourself that you are still sensual and attractive.
Small details are very important during a photo session, but I always stay focused on the bigger picture as well. Alas during my wife’s bump shot I was deeply involved and because I wanted so much to produce amazing images for us I forgot to have fun, to enjoy and to capture everything I wanted. For example I forgot to ask Faby to pose nude, and on the other hand she was so overwhelmed by the session that she let her fear silence her.
Fifth lesson learned: there are images that may require some courage or a leap of faith and it is sometime hard to ask for them. As a photographer I should have gently nudged her to obtain the images I knew she wanted as well.
The photo session with Fabiana, partly because I was so personally involved and also because she was so self conscious was a tough one to handle. We had a chat a couple of months later to analyse what we could have done better, she confessed that she was so tired and heavily pregnant that during the photo shoot she did not allow herself to live the moment and to be herself.
Sixth lesson learned: Be yourself, let everything else go and enjoy: you will get so much from this that you will be grateful to have focused on the moment!
Last but not least, I forgot to do something that I now regret a lot. I forgot to place my camera in the hands of our make up artist asking her to “Take a photo of me with my wife and our son to be.”
Seventh lesson learned: The partner should always have his own role in a bump shoot. Having images of the couple is always important and significant.
Seven tips to get the best out of your bump shot!
As you can see the very emotional experience of shooting Fabiana gave us a lot of food for thoughts and good tips. I believe that being so personally involved on both sides gave us some amazing feedback on how to do things in the best possible way. We have then prepared a very simple, actionable list of things to do to make sure you make the most out of your pregnancy shoot!
- If you are already in your eight month, do it, do it now; but if you are still at the early stages of pregnancy plan your photo session in advance: it will be a much better experience.
- Just because your hormones may play hard-ball with your mood, you don’t have to worry. Just let your mood be and tell your photographer what is that you are feeling: they will do everything to make you feel comfortable and happy.
- As part of the planning be sure to have some reference images ready to go, but don’t rule out the typical bump shots: they are best sellers and for a good reason.
- Everybody knows you are pregnant, everyone knows you Love the baby growing inside yourself, so be the WOMAN you are and never forget that every mum-to-be or mum IS a darn attractive woman.
- There is nothing wrong in a pregnant woman showing her skin. Naked is lovely. Discuss this in advance with your photographer and don’t feel shy. Ask for what you desire!
- A photo session should be enjoyable, personal, fun and light-hearted. If you leave all your worries at the door the experience will be amazing!
- Bring him with you. Make sure he will get at least one image with you (or your bump). Memories are important for all of you!
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