Hi Steve,

Here is a question for your column.  Real situation!

My best mate's wife has asked me to take her "pregnant photos".  Huh, I thought to myself!  I have never photographed a pregnant girl before and was wondering what I should be aware of.  I know this is a somewhat ambiguous question but this really is new to me - and it is important to her so I want to get it right!




Stick -

This is one of the single most difficult challenges for a photographer.  This is an area where your technical skills need to be superb, and your people skills better.  This is not an assignment to take without due consideration and I mean this as a caution.

Technically you need to determine what type of images the lady wants.  Hopefully (and usually) she'll show you something she's seen in a magazine or book so you'll have some ideal.  Otherwise, you'll need to show her samples and see what she wants, and she probably won't know until she sees it.  Needless to say pregnant women should be given exactly what the desire.

Almost all work of pregnant women involves some degree of nudity.  They want to record their changes during this time.  Some will be happy with a shirt pulled up over their belly, some will want the Demi Moore Vanity Fair treatment (very popular, I've done a few dozen of these).  Because there is nudity involved, and at a time in a woman's life where she'll often feel her least attractive and most vulnerable, you'll need all your people skills.  Be direct but respectful, and don’t leave anything that could surprise her during the shoot and spoil her mood.

Often the woman wants the husband to pose with her.  Some experience with 'couple' photography is desirable.  Now you're dealing with a man who is 100x more sensitive about the way he looks in such a situation as is a woman, especially if nudity is involved.  A common pose might have the man without a shirt, and the woman leaning with her back against his chest with both holding an exposed belly.. or some variation of.

Choose a quiet location.  You'll have to work hard to set the proper mood, and remember that 'mood' defines this sort of portrait.  The physical changes will be obvious and easy to emphasize, but the 'mood' you'll need to develop and in a way conjure.  This will take all of your people skills.

Meet with the couple before hand to discuss the shoot.  It's helpful if you can decide on the poses ahead of time.  If you were a professional you'd have portfolios, pose books, and a subscription to several photography/art magazines which will be very helpful.  Talk about their desires for showing her changes, if he'll pose with her, the setting, if other children might be part of the portrait as well.  This sort of portrait is either a highly individual portrait, or a family affair.  Find out what the woman wants.  Occasionally the man will do all the talking, if this is the case engage the woman directly.

Once you know these things you can move on to selecting the setting, what lighting style the setting dictates, and what lens and light combination will achieve the mood you're after.

At this point in the information gathering I could give specific advice on which lighting, lens, settings, and the such.. but as you can see there is much to consider.

Good on you for accepting such a challenging assignment!  I look forward to seeing the results.




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