Our top tips on how to capture the journey from bump to babe!
Right from the time you discover you’re pregnant, the journey to motherhood is an exciting ride. Despite nausea (natural with the emotional roller-coaster!), hormonal surges and bodily changes during pregnancy, it’s worth documenting this period in your life. And naturally, once you have your bundle of joy in your arms, you’ll want to capture every moment for posterity – all the toothless smiles and magical milestones! Here you’ll find tried and tested tips to plan the photoshoot for your growing family, from scheduling it at the right time to choosing the location, hiring a photographer and picking what to wear.
While you may not feel at your most photogenic, pregnancy shoots are about celebrating your shape! Almost every mum who started out camera-shy ends up being thrilled with the result when they see the final images. Once you have done a maternity shoot, you will probably be more open to the idea of a newborn photography session. If you feel that you will have your hands too full (literally!) after delivery to fix up a shoot, it’s best you do your research and start planning now (and save this in your bookmarks for once you’ve delivered!).
Maternity & Newborn Photography Tips: Hiring A Photographer
A professional photoshoot is often easier and more enjoyable than you would have imagined. Maternity shoots can be captured in natural or dramatic poses (some photographers will even shoot underwater!), at home or outdoors. When it comes to newborn shoots, professional photographers often manage to soothe and shush your baby to sleep and capture the most priceless moments!
Nestology Studio is a one-stop photography and event planning service that many readers of Sassy Mama Hong Kong have used, love and wholeheartedly vouch for. After all, it was the runner-up in the Readers Choice Awards for Best Family Photographer in 2019. Nestology offers Maternity and Newborn packages that are perfect for growing families, with prices that are kind on your purse strings. Plus, you’ll find a great combo package for both your growing bump and then baby (once you have used Nestology Studio’s services, you’re likely to want to book them again!). Because Nestology also offers bespoke party-planning, event styling and graphic design, the team can print invitations, design customised decorations and party favours, and of course, capture your most precious memories – whether it’s for a baby’s 100-day celebrations or a milestone birthday.
Nestology photos are warm, natural and the personal touch of the team shines through. Newborn shoots are done at the comfort of your own home (where you and bub feel most at ease!), instilling an organic feel to images, while maternity mini shoots are done at a location of your choice and as per the comfort of the mama-to-be.
Lullaby Images focuses exclusively on newborn and baby portraits so you can guarantee its founder, Louise, has perfected the art of capturing gorgeous images of your pride and joy that you’ll treasure for years to come. Not only is she a UK award-winning photographer with a keen eye for capturing beautifully candid shots, but Louise is also a mum herself (in other words, she’s a bit of a baby whisperer and will put your little one at ease in no time!). You’ll be glad to hear she places the highest emphasis on safety and won’t be twisting your baby into any unnatural poses. We love her “In Your Arms” signature series (pictured above) which includes the parents’ hands too so you will always remember just how tiny your little bundle was in those early days.
Her home studio (which even has home-baked nibbles) is cosy and inviting and prioritises perfect lighting and angles over distracting props. Louise does use simple wraps, blankets, hats and flower halos that complement the composition and many of the crochets and knits have been hand-made by this multi-talented mum! The lighting and carefully curated props reflect Louise’s minimalist neutral style and help give a timeless feel to her work. Lullaby Images also offers baby milestone photoshoots, sitter sessions and first birthday cake smashes.
NB: Louise will be on maternity leave until April 2021 but if you are expecting a baby after May 2021 and book your newborn photography session by Chinese New Year, you’ll get a free Mini Milestone Sitter session.
For any newborn photography package booked, Sassy Mama readers will receive one extra newborn art image free. Just remember to enter the discount code sassynewbornart2021.
Want a family photoshoot that’s not your standard, cookie-cutter experience? Janelle of By Janelle photography provides a tailored photography service, working with each family to develop unique photo ideas. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Photography from the US and has worked with over 500 families in Hong Kong and the US in the last seven years, focusing mainly on newborn and maternity photography.
Janelle’s maternity shoots (called “Bellies” on her website) are timeless! She can shoot at your home or against a Hong Kong backdrop – such as old streets, beaches and parks. Janelle’s clients vouch for her patience and trust her completely – after seeing her at work on a pregnancy shoot, they are only too happy to book her again for a newborn photography session. Janelle knows that newborns are highly unpredictable, so she only takes limited bookings to be able to accommodate any last-minute changes. If you are making use of the cute props for your newborn or maternity photo session, you don’t have to worry about hygiene. Janelle is a self-confessed germophobe and spends ages cleaning each item after every shoot!
Exclusively for Sassy Mama readers, Janelle is offering a complimentary family film, documenting the wonders of parenthood, upon booking of a shoot package. Valid for bookings until Saturday, 30 January 2021.
Sometimes, numbers portray the most accurate picture! Well-established Hong Kong photographer, Betty of Bettitude photography has built up a loyal base of over 1,000 clients in the last 10 years. She has a high rate of returning customers who love her unique take on photography, her skill when it comes to working with young kids and toddlers, and (most importantly) the rapport and bond she develops with the families. Bettitude Photography specialises in newborn, maternity, infant and family portraits. Whether shooting at home or at her Kwai Chung studio, outdoors with one of Hong Kong’s many stunning landscapes as a backdrop or on-location for a special event, Betty is able to capture the most natural moments. Her tone, composition and style is to keep images warm and simple.
Sassy Mama readers who make shoot bookings from now until Monday, 31 May 2021 can use the code EXTRA5 to get five free images when they book a 1.5-hour (or above) shoot session for their Newborn/Infant/Toddler/Family (outdoors) photography package.
This list is by no means comprehensive. Hong Kong has no shortage of skilled photographers and many of them offer unique maternity and newborn photography packages. You could go through our guide to family photographers or ask your friends, family and fellow parents for their personal recommendations.
Maternity & Newborn Photography Tips: Timing
The ideal time for a professional pregnancy shoot is early in your third trimester. At this stage, the bump is at its best shape, and mum is not too uncomfortable to move around.
However, you don’t need to wait for a professional. Taking weekly and monthly shots at home is a lovely way to document your pregnancy and show your body changing. Keep the same (profile!) pose in front of the same background, with the same outfit and the same props (we like these milestone cards, but you could always make your own). When Baby arrives, you recreate these same setting and put the photos together in a collage!
For a professional newborn shoot, try to plan it within the first fortnight. There are also some photographers who offer sessions in the first 48 hours of life at home or in the hospital (if allowed, of course!). At this stage, babies have the lovely fresh-out-of-the-oven look and these pictures have an almost unreal, dream-like quality. If you prefer to wait a bit, most photographers also offer sitter sessions and milestone shoots.
Of course, with smartphones getting better, you will find yourself snapping up every special moment on your phone as well. Don’t forget to preserve these memories with apps like Cinemama, Tiny Beans, etc.
Maternity & Newborn Photography Tips: Clothes And Location
Pregnancy isn’t always comfortable, especially in the later stages. Wear something that you feel good in so your confidence will be reflected in your pictures. Unfortunately, you may have to sacrifice a bit of comfort as loose, flowing clothes look rather shapeless. Simple patterns and block colours work best as these aren’t distracting. Clingy maxi dresses, leggings and tank tops are all great for keeping it casual and comfortable. After all, the idea is to show off your bump. Your photographer will be able to help with sheer and draped material that can give your maternity shoot a beautiful, feminine look. If you are comfortable, show some skin! Take off your bra and trust your photographer to use the perfect angles to capture your beautiful baby-making body.
What you wear will also be determined by the location you choose. Maternity shoots offer a lot of flexibility when it comes to location. You could choose to shoot in the photographer’s studio (perfect for beautifully composed images with drapes or taking off your clothes), at your own home or in an outdoor spot of your choice. There is something gorgeous about a sun-kissed pregnancy shoot at a Hong Kong beach. Similarly, if there is a special story to your baby journey, you may like to bring that out with your choice of shoot venue.
When it comes to newborn shoots, the ideal colour palette is pretty pastels. The rest of the family can be dressed to match what the star of the show is wearing (even if your baby is in the nude, he or she will still be the best-dressed in the photo!). Your photographer will guide you depending on whether you are shooting during summer or winter, and with siblings, fur babies, etc.
Newborn shoots are usually taken at home. This allows mums and babies to be comfortable and natural, sleep comfortably while shots are being set up, etc. If you do choose to shoot at a studio, most newborn photographers are well set up with temporary baby-changing facilities and even a comfortable chair for mum to use while feeding.
Maternity & Newborn Photography Tips: Poses And Props
Mamas-to-be can naturally be quite awkward about being the centre of attention. Start off slow by taking pictures of only your belly. Highlight your bump by placing your fingers in a heart shape around the bump. If you have an older child, you can have him or her kiss your stomach. As the shoot goes on, you will find yourself getting more comfortable and the poses will become more natural. Besides their excellent technical skills, most photographers are masters at getting their subjects to be at ease. Rest assured that you are in good hands and your unique personality will get reflected in these images.
Props for a professional pregnancy shoot are easy. They would include anything that you already have in preparation for your bub already. You could use your pregnancy scans, a favourite onesie, baby shoes, mum-to-be sashes, etc. that you wore for your baby shower, etc. The highlight of every shoot is growing inside of you and don’t really need to highlight much else. For the photos that you take at home, use milestone cards (as mentioned earlier) or take some fun shots – comparing bellies with your other half, balancing a tray on your bump, etc.
You can’t teach a baby to pose so opt for the most natural shots for your little one’s own moment in the camera. Lying down with your baby, kissing, breastfeeding and holding him or her make for the most heartwarming pictures. If you have beautiful bedding (cute prints work for candid home photos, soft and comfortable fabrics for a more timeless feel) and swaddles, you could use those as props. Most photographers will bring their own props which could include flower wreaths, toy trains (to lie the baby in), baskets, blankets, etc.
Editor’s note: This post was originally written by Elizabeth of Lumo Photography in August 2016 and updated by Anita Balagopalan in December 2020.