Photo by Tracey Clark
Make sure to pick up that camera a lot while you've got a bump -- you'll be glad you did later. In fact, I'm sorry I didn't snap away more.... Anyway, in that capture-it-while-you've-got-it spirit, I spoke to Tracey Clark, a photographer, writer, and mom to two daughters, about how to make the belly pictures you take look great. Tracey has a cool photo blog called Shutter Sisters and her personal blog is Mother May I -- here's how she became a photo-shooting mama (that's her gorgeous bump right there) and how you can become a pretty decent semi-pro.
How did you get into photography and how long have you been doing it?
Right after I graduated from college, I got a job with a professional portrait and wedding photographer. I had no idea what I was doing technically (I didn't go to school for photography) but managed to get some pretty good photos and I loved shooting! The man who hired me ended up being my mentor and taught me everything I needed to know. I slowly began to build my own photography business and have been doing it ever since. I've been shooting professionally now for 14 years.
Do you get a lot of requests for belly pictures from clients?
Yes, it's a very popular genre now. Personally, I love the pregnant body so it's always a wonderful experience. it's such a sacred time of one's life and getting to share that with someone and documenting it is such an honor.
What are your best belly-shooting tips?
1. Strip down!
Belly shots are awesome when they're all belly! If you are planning a shoot (pro or not), be sure to remove anything that binds or leaves marks on your skin way ahead of time (panties and bras are the most binding) so that if you do show some skin, it's smooth and not irritated or creased.
2. Play with natural light.
I use natural light for all of my pregnancy sessions. Shoot near a window and have whoever's helping you watch for the way the light (preferably indirect or soft) hits the belly and picks up the contours and roundness. It's just a matter of small movements to find when the light hits you just right.
3. Shoot self-portraits.
This can be a very fun and rewarding way to spend a morning. Use a mirror to shoot into or try using the self-timer on the camera. Get creative and have fun with it. There are no rules. When it's just you with your camera, you don't have to be self-conscious! And you can always delete the ones you don't like.
4. Shoot indoors.
Shooting inside -- in a living room, bedroom or bathroom -- can add add intimacy to your portraits. I love the indoor shots because they feel so special and sacred. Try different angles and perspectives, too. Shoot up at the belly, shoot down at the belly, straight on or profile or anywhere in between.
5. Shoot outdoors.
This is when the clothes should probably come back on. Shooting outdoors gives you some room to play with using wider angles in your shots. Incorporating the landscape (the sun, the sky, and other natural elements) can bring a whole other creative element to your images. Try having the photographer (or friend) shoot into the sun (you, the subject, would need to be between the camera and the sun) to capture some ethereal backlight and sunspots. This can make for some lovely unexpected surprises, too. Just remember to relax and have fun. If you are enjoying yourself it will show in your photos.
And if you're interested in playing around in a slightly more serious way, check out the moms in School of Photography (it's a private group, so you'll need to join.)
Have you tried getting creative with a camera and your belly yet?