Week 19 of the 52 Weeks of Photo Inspiration challenge I’m working on was appropriately titled “Mother”. Since my own mother lives out in the Maritimes I sought out some help from a soon-to-be mom friend! She is expecting her first baby this coming July and one evening a couple weeks ago, arms full of props rooted from the not-quite-ready nursery, we set out to do some ‘bump photos’ in her beautiful front yard.
Prior to doing the shoot, I had read a number of blogs about maternity photos, as well as tutorials and explored pinterest for ideas. So even though our session was somewhat spur of the moment, I felt relatively prepared. However, there are some things that you just can’t know until you try.
We did the shoot about an hour or so before the sunset so we had lots of light but because of where the yard features were (the rock wall, trees, and house etc), most of the light was behind my subject. This worked for some photos but not all. I did try to use my new reflector, especially at the beginning but found it very challenging as I had lazily opted to leave my tripod in the car. So managing both the camera and the reflector just wasn’t working for me, and as a result the photos were much more shadowed than I would have liked.
As an example of the things that weren’t working, see the image below. From where I was standing, she was back-lit nicely, had nice and soft glow, the bump was featured well as the breeze pressed her flowy shirt against, and you could see the whole shot (meaning the background, subject head to toe and the balloon props). But once I had the image up on the big screen, you could see that in fact that soft glow I thought I was looking at earlier produced a particularly uneven shadow across her, that even with editing it wouldn’t be balanced (at least not at my editing skill level). While the shirt itself wasn’t unflattering in this pose, I felt the belt drew attention to behind her elbow making her look wider than she really was (fitter shirts would probably be better). This could also have been corrected if I had turned her upper body a little more towards me and pushed that elbow back more. But overall this particular set of photos (with the balloons) just didn’t tell the story I wanted. Close but no cigar.
With this next set below, I don’t think the pictures were bad per say, aside from a bit of shadow, but the colouring was just so bright that I wonder if it doesn’t overtake the photo? I had asked her to wear something bright, jewel toned to contrast well with the grass, but I hadn’t thought about how bright the grass would be or would make the shirt by comparison! And they just didn’t seem as good in black and white. So while they aren’t bad photos, they’re not my favourite either. Perhaps its just personal preference! Proof that wardrobe matters!
But they weren’t all a loss! Out of the (literally) 430 photos I took, I deleted a solid 300 or more (because they were blurred, talking, hair or balloons covering face etc), and opted to edit only about 30. My favourites (the ones with the clothesline in particular!), are below.
Since this session was a bit spur of the moment (I think I gave her a day’s notice…sorry Lisa!), she has since had some time to go back to pinterest and find some inspiration herself that she’d like to try which will give me the opportunity to build on some of my ideas from this set. Maybe we can talk her hubby into joining us for some family shots! Gotta make use of that bump before July!
In preparation for the next round, I will definitely set up and use my tripod, as well as a remote control shutter release (currently on order) so I can handle the reflector where I need it (especially since my reflector is somewhat small), and still get the right shot without a second person to assist. Maybe this time we’ll go for a softer toned outfit that’s more snug to her bump (so breeze-proof), and try some indoor shots for a softer more balanced light.
So all in all, I’d say it was a success, and I’m looking forward to another chance to experiment with capturing the bump.