Look Before You Shoot {Guest Feature}

{I featured Kristen before and loved her writing. This is a great article for every mommy or mom to be to read. I agree with so much she said. My weekly update photos were just as she described in her article and I'm so glad I did that. I've definitely seen some creative ones on the Internet. There is so much out there when it comes to maternity/birth/or baby photography. Make sure you look for a great photographer or invest in your own camera (which is what we have done) to capture endless photos of your little one as they grow. Yes, they grow so FAST -- hope you enjoy it! xoxo Sasha}

Look Before You Shoot: A Guide to Maternity and First Year Photography

In the age of Pinterest, you’d be unlikely to scramble for photo shoot ideas—everyone with a camera, white sheet, and high powered flashlight is taking their own (sometimes ridiculous) maternity and first year photos. Which isn’t to say that the DIY option is a bad one—there are tons of examples of well-planned, beautiful photos produced at home for a fraction of the cost. Still, we’ve all seen the photos that fall into the not-so-great category—Awkward Family Photos has a whole section dedicated to maternity.

Maternity photos aren’t something many are willing to invest in, likely because the cost of photo shoots is excessive and the arrival of baby will certainly be a more fun (and mom-friendly) opportunity for pictures. The most successful maternity photographs (and you can define success however you’d like—I’m referring to the number of likes you can get on Facebook or perhaps friendly comments on your blog) are simple and relatively professional. Mom poses in front of a white board/chalk board/crafty sign advertising how far along she is and a few details like size in relation to a vegetable. You aren’t breaking the mold, sure—but you’ve got a record of how you and baby looked to send to your family for purposes of preservation.

When performing such maternity shoots, it is helpful to wear the same thing in every photograph. This way, viewers are able to accurately measure the growth of the baby. I like dark, solid colors, which highlight the baby growth and minimize other growth you may not be so comfortable with. No need to accessorize, since the purpose of the photograph is to highlight the baby. Do, however, take some time and comb your hair/put on the amount of makeup you’re used to wearing.  Remember, the purpose of this picture is to show friends and family how you’re doing, and a messy head of hair might raise some questions.

While birth room photography is a growing market, I’ve never been especially comfortable with that many people in the birth room—especially when I’m doing my best to bring an eight pound human into this world. What I do love about this option is the easy-to-miss moments captured forever—the look when dad and mom first see the baby, grandma’s face as she snuggles her first grandchild. If you choose to go this route, there isn’t much advice to be given. Focus on doing what you’ve been preparing for nine months to do and don’t stress about that funny face you’re making in 90% of the photos.

Once baby is here, you’ll be taking photographs every time you’re able. Remember (and I recommend it because it was such a struggle!) to be a good self-editor. While you love (love) every photo of your precious human, your Facebook friends will be quick to hide you. Save the best and ditch (or, like me, store) the rest for another day.

find images and sources on The Mushy Mommy's Pinterest

If you choose to go the professional route for first year photographs, make sure that you are able to view previous examples of a photographer’s work. I’ve noticed that every mommy and daddy with a fancy camera has created a “Photography by John Doe” webpage, which by no means makes one a photographer. Capturing children on camera is a trick best left to the professionals, if that’s what you’re paying for.

If you choose the DIY route, make sure you have access to good lighting, a professional or otherwise beautiful background, and preferably a second adult to make faces at baby in order to coax a smile. Again, think simple. A baby in a cornucopia might seem cute, but Anne Geddes kind of captured that trend. These photos look dated and forced—and your tiny person probably won’t sleep as peacefully as the infants pictured. If you’re shooting with your I-Phone (and some of my best photographs have happened this way) invest in the Pic-Tap-Go app. It’s around 3 dollars and can turn poorly lit/focused photographs into beautiful pictures.

Finally, for both profession and DIY photo seekers, check the internet for ideas you’d like to recreate (and maybe those you’d like to avoid). Going into a photo shoot with a clear vision will ensure you get the photographs you’d like.  

Kristen Hurst is a stay at home mother of three who enjoys blogging. She received her bachelor's degree in fashion marketing, and writes often about nursing clothes. When she's not trying to juggle the lives of Casey, Austin and Ben, she enjoys painting and catching up with a great Jane Austen novel.