Have you ever seen a photo of your mom pregnant with you?
I have one of my mom. It was a photo nearly 3 decades ago at a family reunion. She was standing there, 5 months along, watching the children’s games take place (the highlight of the Zywicki Family Reunion). It is the only photo I have of her pregnant… maternity pictures weren’t really a thing back then in the early 80’s 😉
Now, have you ever thought about what was happening in that phase of your parent’s world as they were entering parenthood?
The photos I would love to have of my mom (and even my dad) would be images that fill in the blanks of my family heritage. My parents each worked and had their first little home on Coe Ct. They were high school sweethearts, married at 19. But those are just the facts.
What were their thoughts on this journey into parenthood? Were they nervous or fully confident? Did your mom have to deal with morning-sickness throughout pregnancy or was she living the best time in her life?
What did they like to do together in their free time? Did they have a little date ritual back then that they now haven’t done in years?
What were their personalities and passions like before parenthood? Has it changed?
What was their everyday life like?
These are the answers I would love to know… and have visual, tangible proof of. And for this reason, telling maternity stories through documentary-inspired photography has been my mission. Not to mention, maternity sessions open the doors for you to build a client-base of repeat clients as they have many phases, the firsts and the lasts, of life around the corner to be photographed. Keep reading if you want to learn more about unposed maternity sessions.
Truth be told, I very much love artistic photos that have become all the rage over beautiful baby bumps in flowy dresses on a mountain, in a river, or field. Honestly, they are gorgeous. The photographers are beyond talented and serve a very important place in our industry too. My perspective is this: if you want an artistic image of you in your bump, do it. Just don’t neglect to document your story.
When I was pregnant with my daughter, I handed over my Canon Rebel T2i to my little sister and we went to a couple of pretty places – the park and a cider mill – for photos of my baby bump. I remember getting dressed that day, trying to figure out what outfit made me look the slimmest yet revealed that I had a big, beautiful bump. Sitting on big boulders at the park near a fountain or on the pumpkin-covered hay bale at the cider mill, I remember feeling stiff. I sat up straight, trying to off-set my wide hips and prevent slouching.
THE PHOTOS WERE ALL ABOUT WHAT I LOOKED LIKE.
They were beautiful and lifeless.
My smiles were for the camera.
The real story was that I felt amazing. Pregnancy, for both kiddos, was the single best time in my life! I felt my most-beautiful (though you’d never know it by the stress I felt that day dressing up for my maternity session with my sis). I was terrified of giving birth… of the pain and tearing in places that should never be teared. I was dreaming of a work-from-home life that I confidently believed I’d balance like it was no big deal while raising a family (silly me!). My husband and I ate up every bit of time we had together with this small fear in wondering how our married life would be affected with a child in the mix. We went on a baby moon that I secretly planned and surprised him with… a crazy, detailed scavenger hunt where I walked out on him at a restaurant during a lunch date leaving only behind clues of where to find me.
Without my voice to my children, they wouldn’t know anything about how I felt in this revolutionary era in my life.
I was about to become a freaking parent!
And the only way I knew how to document this time was by decorating my maternity photos with mini pumpkins. Don’t you think proof of my love for my husband, my love for my babies from the time of utero as sparked early on and growing through the doctor appointments, the planning, the gushing with my girlfriends over her new outfits and booties, the sitting around the house alone with my dreams, and the little truths about me caught on camera would have been much more meaningful?
All it takes is for a photographer and client to spend some time to get to know each other and more time for the photographer to follow the client around for a few hours or a day to make it possible. It’s so much easier than you probably think!
Stories DO matter.
If not for today, then for a few decades from now when your child wonders what your life was like back then… or for next year when your child starts walking and you are wondering how you’ve made it this far already.
Because of the missing details of my own family story, I’ve vowed never again to take another client to the park and put heart-shaped hands over mom-to-be’s belly. I’ve vowed to take on clients that have a story to tell – their story – and believe me when I say: everyone has a story to tell.
Be the storyteller and leave the storymaker in silence during my documentary-style maternity sessions, because the session is about them, not you.
The photos in this blog post are of a couple about to become first-time parents. Baby E will have a photo book filled with photos of her parents living their laid-back Saturdays at home spent together while dreaming of her arrival.
Baby E will see her parents from a time before her memory allows. Let’s face it, aging has a way of changing us faster than we’d like to see, and it is always an awe-stricken moment when you see a photo of family members 20+ years ago. She will see the passion her parents have as individuals during this time for dad’s motorcycle and mom’s crafting.
Every image here is unposed and a real page to their life as they know it. From a photographer’s perspective, it was pretty easy to record on camera.
You will understand the planning and the shooting of one of my documentary-style maternity sessions in the Goodbye, Posing Guide: Documentary-style Maternity Sessions book.
You will close the book with confidence in taking on one of these sessions for yourself – unposed and being the storyteller.
You will learn how to make your clients comfortable, gain insight on other types of maternity sessions you can shoot outside of the home or with siblings, details on what to photograph, and more.
What would you like to know about your parent’s life when you were on your way into the world?