Maternity – {The Inside View}

Are you there? Can you hear me? Are you reading this? Good… because this is an important blog post. So go top up that coffee mug, put your feet up and read this post all the way through, and then share it with all your friends and family. Do it. Because i said so!

Topic: Maternity Photography

Now there are a few things that i want to address here, so i warn you now this might be a long one… but i hope that this blog post gives an inside view and does exactly that.

Behind the scenes here i have been putting a lot into trying to help educate clients about working with me and what the experience is like, what the service is that i offer.

And through this i have been asking a lot of questions, and this post being about maternity, and i have been in some cases very surprised and others not so much by the answers that i have been receiving.

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I will break these down into the four most common points that i have found:

Point One:  The Body Factor

A lot of women, i have found, are unsure about booking maternity for their individual insecurities about their changing body. If you didn’t already see the feature “beautiful belly, beautiful bump, you are beautiful” from January, you can view it here. This is always going to be something that each woman has at the front of her mind when considering maternity photography, and i understand that, there is no quick fix or cure, and it is very much a case by case basis, so complex and personal.

The idea that we are all beautiful and that each and every woman can have maternity and be shown this will be something that i will continue to strive to promote as my business grows and reach out to as many women as possible to embrace their changing bodies and capture these precious moments for their forever collection. This is at the forefront of my business, it is a constant thought that is in my personal foundation, and it is something that i will continue to work towards.

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Point Two: The Financial Factor

Another factor of feedback was financial. Often families are under added financial strain when a new baby is due, whether because of all the things you need to buy to provide for baby, or perhaps medical expenses, or down to one income, awaiting parenting payments or paid maternity leave to come. I understand. I was there once as well. And sometimes even today i am at the local store paying for bread with only silver!

Often pennies are saved up for the newborn photos, and maternity is seen to be a less than must have luxury, fair enough, i can see why. BUT… but in my eyes, maternity is so precious and is part of a greater story, it is something that we can’t do over and in time we forget how we looked, how it felt, how we changed, how we connected with our baby bump with such excitement and anticipation for the bundle inside, waiting for them to be in our arms.

I would love to just give photography away, i really would, but lets remember that i am running a business here and besides paying for the tools to learn and master this craft, the insurance and other overheads, i to need to make something for my own pocket so that i can have that silver to get that bread!

But it got me thinking. Hard. And after hearing all this, i instantly re-configured my services and ensure that every woman has the opportunity to have her pregnancy photographed as well as her newborn, the two go hand in hand. Maternity is complimentary with newborn bookings, and this includes a free gift print as well. So even if it isn’t a large session with multiple images, each and every client will have one. One record, one image, one treasured moment captured to share with their baby when they grow. And one is better than none.

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Point Three:  The Negative Factor

I, to honest, wasn’t surprised when i found a whole lot of people have had negative, or less than positive, experiences with “professional photographers” in the past, or who may not have personally but have heard the horror stories. Whether it be things such as hidden fine print, feeling like “just another number” so to speak where there hasn’t been the attention to the individual as they would have liked, whether it be the price and quality, whether perhaps it was a shopping center pop up booth or large corporate chain and the difference between that style and a smaller more custom business. Perhaps over use of photoshop and not being able to identify with the images, or the opposite and no enhancing and the lack of a polished finish. And so one or more of these example reasons has left a sour taste for photography, thus not giving the industry and experience a great reputation and therefore great desire to have more images taken.

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Point Four: The Unknown Factor

Now this one surprised me a little. And not because it doesn’t make sense, it really does, but it wasn’t actually something i had considered. Women were scared. They were nervous and afraid. Felt uncomfortable at the idea of maternity sessions.. why? Because they were unsure, they don’t know what to expect. Because everything about them was unknown. Yes, they see beautiful images as the finished product when searching online or browsing local photographers portfolio galleries… but they actually have no idea how these images were created or what is required or expected of them when having a maternity session, especially for those who actually haven’t been to a professional photographer in the past, or as mentioned above, have that sour taste.

Lines like “i could never look like that” or “those women must have had photos done before to know how to stand and look”… i am sure you know the lines i mean. They are the same ones i said about my own wedding photos thinking that i would never look like all those other brides photos i had seen.

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So where does this leave us now?

Firstly, if you can identify with maternity images as something beautiful, as something to be treasured, as a keep sake of an important and special time in your life, something the embrace… if you can identify maternity images as something that you would like for yourself… then there is nothing more to it than that. You need to book a session. There will always be ifs and buts on the end, but if you can take it to be as simple as something that you would want, then book. We can deal with the rest later, together.

Secondly, if one of those ifs and buts is a financial factor, i’ve already blown that argument up at the start of this post, that isn’t an excuse anymore… maternity is complimentary, so all that you are risking by having a session is your time. You aren’t at risk of loosing financially. But you do have a whole lot to gain…

Now the last two points… it is these last two points that i want the focus of this blog post to be.

And i hope that you are still here with me reading this and haven’t left me just yet… i am getting to the good bit, i promise…

I want to be able to give women an inside view into what it is like having maternity sessions WITH ME. Now i am not the best in the business, and i am certainly no master either, how i do things may not be the technical right way or the best way, but i do them because they work for me. And as i grow and develop as a photographer, a woman and a business owner, i can adapt and change things to best suit me, and my clients too. This isn’t an insight about maternity photography as a whole, please understand that this is an insight into just me and my photography studio… i want to be able to take you through what you can expect, how your images are taken, show you what its like behind the finished image, how i edit and post-process your images with particular detail to how little or how much enhancement is done, and ultimately try and give you a better picture of maternity photography with me so that it is a little less unknown and a little more positive for you…

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So what can you expect?

You can expect to come into a session just as you are.
And you can leave having enjoyed the experience and will have lovely images from it too.
It is that simple.

I am not like all the others out there… and this is why:

You don’t need to know how to stand or where to look. That is my job. I have spent years now, and still am, learning how to pose and position you to flatter your body type, how to light you and shade you to highlight and hide all those bits we need to draw attention to and away from. It is my job to direct you, work with you, guide you… to help you.

You aren’t on your own. And nothing is expected of you. You don’t need to know what to do or how to do it. You don’t need to know what looks good or where to look or how to stand. What expression to use when. You don’t need to know the tricks and tips to highlight your bump or hide that double chin we all get when we look down.

All of that, that is my job to know. This is what you are coming to me for. I don’t just take a photo, a lot more goes into it.

And then in post production work on your images to enhance them to take them from “good” to “wow!”.

Now, that doesn’t mean that i am going to edit you beyond recognition, nor am i going to change you… because, go back a step, i have already posed and positioned and used lighting techniques in a ways that flatter you…. and no, this isn’t just a line i use to make you think that and i go away and edit and edit more in Photoshop later. Everything from the angle the shot is taken on, to the shadow used, to the push out of your chin to the way you bend your legs or blow out your belly or arch your back, where i put your hands, how he stands around you and touches you… each pose and position is quite intricate and is especially designed to highlight and hide, to lengthen and round.

And this is why you come to a maternity photographer, because i specialise in knowing these and working with the female form during pregnancy.

And i think you might be surprised at how little editing is actually done in this regard…
I encourage you to carefully look at the samples in this blog post, kinda play spot the difference!

Now yes, the way i photograph maternity is the showing of skin. My clients wear just bra and knickers and i am sure for some the idea of stripping to their underwear in front of a stranger and to be photographed like that is a little… well… daunting. Understandable.

I can try and explain to you that you don’t need to worry or be shy, that i have seen every size and shape of woman that there is. That when i look at you, i don’t see a bra or breasts or the wobbly bits or the cellulite. I see a woman. And that’s it. I don’t even notice that you are in your underwear, it doesn’t factor into my though process anymore. I see a woman. Just as she is. Nothing more and nothing less. But a woman. A woman who i am going to photograph.

But although i can say this, until you are there and experience it, its so hard to actually convey that comfort to you.

You don’t walk into a corporate studio and be rushed out the door when your hours time slot is up.
You aren’t put in front of several lights beaming down on you, and told to just “stand there and look here”.
You aren’t locked in a sales room and told that the special offer is today only and you need to make the decision now.
You don’t need to remember all those other experiences you have had and expect this to be the same.

You walk into a studio where i’ve already kicked off my shoes, you are welcomed into casual and relaxed, informal environment…
I will sit and chat with you, make you a cuppa. Answer your questions, get to know you.
Your kids can make a mess colouring laying on the floor and raid the fridge for fruitboxes and even leave with a lollypop!
It is not at all a scary process, its not hard to do or too uncomfortable to bare, you are very much supported and encouraged and listened to… You are seen as an individual, someone special, not just another number.

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So maternity photography… it is beautiful. It is special. It is timeless. It is something to treasure and embrace.

It isn’t about convincing you, or persuading you… it’s about identifying with your insecurities, hesitations, worries and explaining these to you in a way that you can relate to… it is about showing you that we can work together, that it is one on one and that i am and a real woman as well, and that support and encourage you individually, that we take you through the process step by step, with guidance and explanation, that it isn’t scary or corporate and that there are no expectations on you to know what to do. That maternity photography is an enjoyable experience, and one that you will be so grateful for!

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A huge thank you must go out to Hayley and Cassandra for their willingness to be part of creating some behind the scenes images and allowing me to show their before and after edited images as well…

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These women are real, every day women who responded to a casting call via Facebook, and both of these women had the negative factor, the financial factor and most certainly the unknown and the body factor. And this is exactly why i chose them… because they are just like you! And they are beautiful!

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I would like to open this up now to any questions, posted here or Facebook or privately through email or the website… anything regarding maternity photography that you would like to know… if there is something you are unsure of, would like to know… the floor is open to any and all questions and i would love to chat further and assist you in any way that i possibly can.

{as always} x

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