As a photographer and a mother, photographing my life and the lives of my children is one of my greatest passions. So it was a no brainer, that when I got pregnant, I was going to be documenting my pregnancy every step of the way! I knew I wanted to capture as many pregnancy self portraits as I could during this precious time. Having these memories to look back on and share with my child will be priceless!
Since these were going to be pregnancy self portraits (not photos taken by another photographer), I was excited at the idea of planning my own maternity shoots. There is so much that goes into planning a shoot behind the scenes. Everything from the location, to what I would wear, to including other family members in the shots, was something to be considered.
If you have looked at my work, it will become apparent that I am pretty much obsessed with nature! I love to photograph my kids in nature as they go about their lives playing in the dirt, climbing trees, and splashing in puddles. Nature feeds my soul and my creativity. So I knew right off the bat that I wanted a majority of my pregnancy photographs to be in nature. It is reflective of who I am as an artist and what it truly important to me.
There is so much I love about nature, but two locations that really speak to my soul are the beach and the mountains. So you can bet that I planned our Summer vacation to the beach around my pregnancy! I was 37 weeks pregnant when we visited the beach. And while I honestly do not recommend going to the beach for a week when you are THAT pregnant, (it is so hard to get around, especially in the sand) it did make for some amazing pregnancy self portraits.
Shooting self portraits on the beach can be tricky, especially if you are using a tripod! So full disclosure, I had my husband be my human tripod and snap these photos for me. I set up my exposure, focus, and aperture in the camera. Then I told him exactly where to stand and how I wanted him to shoot the photos. It was very windy on the beach and the waves were rough. I was worried that if I used my tripod, one of the two was going to end up knocking it over.
Luckily for me we live fairly close to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. So a drive up to the blue ridge mountains was a much easier trip to plan. I didn’t get as many photographs as I would have liked, because we got held up by a car accident blocking the road on the mountain. We barely managed to make it to our location before sundown, but at least I got pregnancy self portrait which I love!
Since I was going to be shooting a lot outdoors, I knew I wanted dresses that were long and flowy. This way they would blow in the wind and really flow with the natural surroundings. Also, I wanted colors that would blend with and compliment nature. So I chose a blue, a yellow and a white dress. I ended up purchasing my two favorite dresses from Baltic Born. It was my first time purchasing a dress through them and I was very happy with both dresses. They were well made and the material was nice and extra flowy. They worked out beautifully for my pregnancy self portraits. And I can even wear them after I have the baby!
I knew I wanted some pregnancy self portraits of myself and some with my children. It was important for me to include them in the process. My youngest daughter loved to feel my belly for baby kicks, so that was something I really wanted to document. So I chose to capture a scene of the two of us relaxing under a tree with her head on my belly. It will be such a great reminder of all the time we spent cuddling and feeling the baby move. I also made sure to get a shot of myself with all four children, and one with myself and my husband as well!
There is so much prep work that goes into having a baby; from purchasing essentials, to washing the baby clothes, to decorating the baby’s room. I wanted to be sure that I documented that special feeling. My youngest daughter, again, was very excited about getting everything ready for the arrival of her new sibling. She helped me fold and put away all the baby clothes. Every time a package arrived she was eager to open it and set it up in the baby’s room right away. So I decided I wanted to capture one of these moments, not only for her to remember, but to show her future brother how excited she was about his arrival. I think it will be the best memory for the two of them.
While creating my own pregnancy self portraits was definitely a challenge at times (picture me 37 weeks pregnant, hauling my camera gear through the sand on a hot, windy beach) it was definitely worth it in the end. If the photographer in you is up for the challenge I highly recommend documenting this special and very fleeting time in your life!
If you are pregnant and thinking of having your own maternity photos done (or a photographer who does maternity shoots) you can check out my post here all about preparing for/planning a maternity shoot!
Ruth Young is a professional portrait photographer based in Culpeper County, Virginia. She spends her days homeschooling and documenting the lives of her four (soon to be 5) children. To learn more about Ruth and her journey you can follow her here on Instagram, where she posts daily!