See how this last-minute maternity photoshoot, taking place all day, brought some epic results.
Last-minute maternity photoshoots do not happen often, let alone taking an entire day… My readers know me as a proponent and believer in the all-day photo sessions. They are expectedly more expensive but not as much as one might think! Ponder this: without even doubling my starter two-hour rate, you at least quadruply the time, efforts, and impact. The math wouldn’t make sense there, but art does. I am pushing for artistic freedom, an arsenal of equipment, a spectrum of locations, and a sleeve of themes.
Here come my EngagEd contest winners from 2015, Alyona and Elman. I did their quantum leap engagement session when we tried combining two eras without Photoshop, then antique-car themed trash-the-dress.
A few years later Alyona wanted to do a maternity session with me but kept postponing the business part, then went into labor. The same was bound to happen again now, but she got in touch to catch up on a short notice. We had her session the following week, and she gave birth the next week. Talk about last-minute maternity photoshoot… I photographed one other very expecting mom on a similar term in Alaska.
So yes, a last-minute maternity photoshoot can turn successful and even epic. I still recommend shooting much earlier. Many sites suggest doing it in the seventh or eighth month (28-32 weeks), when the belly is nicely rounded. I say earlier, fifth or sixth! Not only is the lady still short on “baby fat” but she also feels more mobile, comfortable, and enduring. A natural concern could be a limited visibility of the belly but with the proper posing and lighting this can be professionally addressed. Not least, photo retouching could also help if the photographer is proficient. I think greater flexibility wins over the necessity to manipulate the image a little. This would not be lying—the lady will get there in a month or two, anyway. I would just make the belly rounder and paint the shadow where needed. Consider the following example of a mom-to-be in her fifth month. She easily handled a half-day underwater photoshoot!
Back to Alyona. Whether to catch up with her missed first pregnancy photography, or being in agreement with my “all-day photoshoot” pitch, she went all in. I began shooting at 10 AM and ended at 7:30 PM, almost 10 hours! The time frame allowed for both indoor and outdoor photography. Their Brooklyn apartment served as a makeshift studio which I packed with my heavy lighting equipment, same that I used the day before in another Brooklyn apartment for very special grandma’s portraits. I used a 9-ft seamless paper background but I’ve been to even tighter surroundings using a narrower backdrop. Point is, we can transform almost any apartment into a professional walk-in studio to create high-end portraits of commercial quality.
That being a last-minute maternity photoshoot, Alyona still managed to put together several outfits, and I brought fabrics that I like to use. We did not go heavy on the props, focusing instead on the pure game of light, poses, and emotions. Minimalism works wonders. Her son compensated for the lack of props, however, adding a unique touch to the portraits, literally and figuratively. There were also intimate portraits that I will not include here. Working on this indoor segment felt like doing a billboard or magazine shoot with a hot couple as models! One image is of a particular artistic interest to me; I think of it as a Renaissance portrait. I’m in a crunch now but hope to get back to it to craft it into an old masters painting. UPDATE 10/07/19: I worked on that image and it turned out spectacular, I have to say immodestly… Look at the end of the blog.
Click images for full size. Kindly refrain from re-uploading images to social media during the first week of feature. Share instead and give credit to @ZorzStudios!
Then we packed everything back into my car and I drove them to Staten Island, NY for the outdoor portion. The little one tagged along. Having Elman helped a lot not only being a handsome supplement to their last-minute maternity photoshoot but also entertaining and putting the toddler to afternoon sleep while I was working with the mom. In general, the fidget scored pretty well, considering how long the day was for him. As always, I tried to feed his curiosity and keep him busy. Only at dusk, as we were wrapping up, did the parents give him a phone as a last distracting resort. The phone is out of reach otherwise—a plausible child-raising practice being introduced by more and more friends of mine which we will also favor for our new 11-month-old.
We had to do Elman’s signature jump as a follow-up to their trash-the-dress shoot.
The day was ending and as the darkness started to fall, we went to a hideout for the concluding dramatic shots using off-camera flashes. Alyona wore a ravishing black lace maternity dress. It stood remarkably against her blond hair and a jungle background reminiscent of a “Lost City”.
The theme prompted me to have Elman go shirtless again and climb up the tree. Yes, Tarzan. There surfaced an obstacle. He was way above my portable light and as often the case, low-angle light resulted in dull unflattering imagery. I needed it to be even higher and to the side. No one among us could climb there except for me so I let go of the camera… I showed the camera basics to Alyona, got up there, and handled the light while advising our Mrs. Bump on framing and angling her shots.
I’m happy that the guys jumped on this last-minute maternity photoshoot. It’s ok that the preparations were not very committing—Alyona was afraid of not making it to the photoshoot, and we had a backup plan to work with a newborn instead. That we had an entire day at our disposal helped achieve my bliss. I am pleased with the results. Enjoy them, too!
Here’s my oil painting revision of the cover image. It will serve as a fine addition to my developing fantasy art style. If you wish to own a similar art piece of your own, please inquire about the custom pricing.
Behind the scenes
A few backstage shots for you. I spent the night in my “Zotel” in Brooklyn, treated to a picturesque bay sunrise. Next is the preparing for the apartment shoot. Lastly, squeezing out the last hours of the boy’s patience.