Have you ever wondered how photoshoots come together? The inspiration behind it. The look. The small details. Well, today I am sharing my thought process behind a recent maternity session that I photographed this summer.
Charles and I were talking back in June, and I mentioned I wanted to change the direction of my maternity photographs. I was looking to create something a little different, but not exactly sure what that meant. I was just thinking out loud to Charles and sorta let the idea go. Life went on. We began sharing more news of our pregnancy. We celebrated birthdays. We started brainstorming ideas for the nursery. I gave the idea very little thought until my husband encouraged me to do a styled maternity session.
What is a styled maternity session? It is a shoot where every detail (e.g. location, outfits, couple/models, etc.) is chosen by the photographer. On a typical maternity session, I offer suggestions on locations and outfits, but I leave it to the client to make any final decisions. With this particular styled maternity session, every detail was chosen by me.
I had a break in my schedule back in July, and I put together the idea of what I wanted to create. This maternity shoot in my mind was feminine and filled with soft colors with a touch of romance on the side. It featured a dress that was flattering to pregnancy and motherhood. It had a Louisiana landscape to it. It was laid back and centered around motherhood. I had all these ideas going on in my mind, but no dress, no couple who happened to be expecting, and no location. But, somehow back in July a styled maternity shoot came together.
On my bucket list of sessions I would love to photograph was a beach theme. I am inspired by photographers who photograph on the coast of Maine. I love the texture of the rock and the color of the ocean in their images. It is so dark and blue and romantic. And, I love when they incorporate the seasons into their sessions – that is something that is hard to capture in Louisiana. I love the way the wind blows in the mother’s hair and the way it adds movement into a dress in just the right direction. I love the softness of the images created. So, I set out to create that feeling here in Louisiana, which led me to a location choice of Fontainebleau State Park.
Why Fontainebleau State Park? It gave me that “beach” feeling that I was looking for. It also has a great Louisiana feel to the area. The moss draped trees sorta hug the beach area and offer just the right light for a sunset. It has tons of greenery, and it provided a slight breeze, which was perfect to add movement to my images.
My inspiration for a dress and accessories came next. The dress had to be feminine, flattering to pregnancy, and neutral in color. Something with a classic, beautiful feel.
Why these choices? Experiencing pregnancy has opened my eyes to dressing a bump. One of the hardest parts of pregnancy for me has been accepting the fact that I am gaining weight and how to dress this ever-changing body. It is not easy. When I think about an expectant mother getting in front of my camera, I want her to feel confident, beautiful, and proud of her body because I believe those feelings will show in images.
The color choice was first. Neutrals (e.g. whites, creams, ivories, taupes, greys, etc.) look beautiful with any background. Specifically in Louisiana, we have a ton of greenery areas. I love them, but sometimes it is hard to stand out in a colored or printed dress if it does not compliment the greenery background. Neutrals will always compliment a greenery background and stand out in just the right way. So, I began looking for a dress that was neutral in color.
Searching through maternity dresses online can be… well, frustrating. Trying to figure out a size. How is it going to fit. And maternity dresses tend to have patterns, which was not what I was looking for. So, I switched gears and searched for a beach bridesmaid dress since I was looking for that “beach” look. I know. A bridesmaid dress. Who would have thought. But, it worked. I focused on a dress that was fitted in the chest and bump area and would flow towards the bottom. The flowiness would work well with a beach scene and a breeze, and the fitted chest and bump areas would highlight the body in the right spots.
I purchased the dress from Plum Sugar Pretty (they have an expectant mother section). I chatted with a stylist and asked questions about the dress and how it stretched to make sure it would work with an expectant mother. Also, I googled the specific dress on Pinterest and on other blogs to see if anyone had worn this dress before. I found images on Pinterest as well as a wedding planner who had recently worn the dress for a shoot. And I loved the images. So, I felt this dress could work and ordered it.
Accessories. My everyday style is to keep it simple with accessories. I channeled that same motto with this shoot. We did a simple gold/bronze earring with a classic gold cuff bracelet. That was it. Towards the end of the shoot I added a wide-brimmed beach hat because I felt like it went with the location we were shooting at as well as added another feminine touch to the outfit. I was hesitant to add the hat, but those are actually some of my favorites portraits.
A couple who happened to be expecting and would want to do a photoshoot in July/August in this heat… That would be easy to find, right?!
It actually was. I reached out to a co-worker that I used to work with that had a daughter who was expecting her first child. I reached out to her and her husband, gave them background on what I was looking to create, and asked if they were interested. They said yes, which led me to creating this beautiful photo shoot. If you would love to see more of their session, check out this post here.
A big thank you to my husband Charles who actually came along with me for this particular shoot (I think he was worried about me, pregnancy, and heat). I am so thankful he came because he was a huge help with everything. He actually photographed these behind the scenes images, helped with keeping me hydrated, and entertained an expectant dad as I photographed some maternity photographs. I couldn’t do these things without him.
So, what do you think? Did you enjoy seeing behind the scenes images of shoot?
XOXO – Ashley