Talking life through a lens
This month’s “The Bump” is someone very close to Team Sassy Mama. Michelle Proctor is a Hong Kong-based portrait and lifestyle photographer, who has been the women behind the camera in many of our photoshoots, showcasing amazing mums and mamas-to-be. Along with many of our previous The Bump features, Michelle has beautifully shot past That Mamas, too, such as Claire Yates and Maggie Wong. Originally hailing from Canada, she moved to Hong Kong over six years ago and has been snapping away since, boasting an impressive portfolio that covers family portraits, weddings, brands and media. But now, it’s time for Michelle to step in front of the camera and chat to us about her experience of becoming a first-time mama. We chat about how she broke the news to her loved ones, what drew her to photography, and how she’s preparing for the arrival of “little bean”.
Tell us about yourself.
I’m originally from Canada and have been living in Hong Kong for the past six years. I’ve taken the time to travel as much as possible and have worked hard developing my business. I have been fortunate enough to have amazing clients, and many have become good friends. Travelling keeps me inspired. I love new adventures, places and food. When I’m not shooting you can find me out in nature.
How did you end up in HK and what was your first impression of Hong Kong?
I had just finished university and my husband got a job offer in Hong Kong. I love the buzz of the city and the blend of Eastern and Western culture. Having access to the beaches and mountains is a great way to decompress from the city. I saw living in Hong Kong as an adventure and jumped at the opportunity.
What drew you to photography? How did you find being in front of the camera for a change?
I’ve been fascinated with imagery since I can remember. I was 14 when my parents bought me my first camera. We went to Cuba later that year and I remember loving the colours, light and vibrancy of Havana. That’s when I fell in love with photography.
To be honest I don’t really like being in front of the camera. I wish I enjoyed it more but I’m 100% happier with a camera in hand. At least that helps me empathise with people who don’t enjoy it and I can help them feel at ease when we’re shooting.
Do you know the gender of the baby? Are you keeping it a secret or doing a reveal?
We do, we’re having a boy! We thought it would be special to do a reveal with our families in Canada. It was great to share some of the baby excitement with them. We gave the envelope to a baker and had a little party. Everyone placed their bets on whether they thought it would be a boy or a girl. We cut into the cake and team blue won!
How did you break the news of your pregnancy to your friends and family?
We face-timed with our families and their reactions were so sweet. I somehow remembered to screenshot the moment I told them and I love those pictures. There were definitely happy tears.
I’ve saved all the messages from friends and loved ones and I’ve put them in a notebook. Little bean can read them later on and see how loved he was even before he was born.
My favourite reaction was Mark’s [Michelle’s husband] of course. I found out I was pregnant while he was away on a trip. I surprised him with a little gift and when he unwrapped it he found a pair of baby shoes inside.
Any books that you’ve read that you would recommend?
Pre-pregnancy, I read “What to Expect Before You’re Expecting” and found it really interesting. It was like taking biology class all over again. During pregnancy, I’ve really liked “How to Grow a Baby and Push it Out” by Clemmie Hooper. It’s everything you need to know without bogging you down with too many details. “Brain Rules for Baby” by John Medina was great to understand how baby’s and children’s brains develop.
What’s the most supportive thing your other half has done throughout your pregnancy so far?
It’s been all the little things that have added up. Whether it’s making food, being at the check-ups or carrying my bag for me. Above all, he’s so excited to meet this little one. I know he’s going to be very hands-on and they’re going to be the best of friends.
What have been your favourite moments during pregnancy and what have you struggled with?
Seeing him for the first time during the scan was amazing. The first time I felt him move was so exciting. On top of that, everyone has been extremely kind and generous. The love this little bean has gotten has been incredible.
I miss being as active as I was, but I know it’s just temporary so I try not to dwell on it.
Do you have any pregnancy style or beauty favourites?
I’ve tried to stay true to my personal style as much as I can. I don’t usually wear dresses but they’ve proven to be the most comfortable later on in pregnancy. The Align pant from Lululemon is super comfortable and fits the bump without having to size up.
Beauty-wise, I haven’t changed much either, I’ve just used some more Shea butter than usual.
Do you follow a specific fitness programme to stay in shape?
Apart from having to give up playing soccer, I was able to keep up my normal exercise routine of running and HIIT training with some modifications until a few months ago. I’ve had to take it easier because of the pain in my hips but I try to get my 10,000 steps in a day. I don’t beat myself up over exercising at this time, as long as I keep moving every day. I’ll get back to training once this little guy gets out.
Have you received any advice during your pregnancy that you think is worth sharing?
Take B12 and sleep. Someone told me to sleep as much as I can now as I’ll never sleep this peacefully again. I thought that was funny and true.
What advice would you give to any expecting mamas – especially in Hong Kong?
Everyone’s pregnancy is different so it’s hard to give out advice. I just tried to continue living as I did pre-pregnancy. I gave myself the time to rest if I needed to, growing a baby can be tiring. Getting some fresh air and eating well can make a world of difference.
Thanks to the talented Michelle Proctor of Michelle Proctor Photography for all of the beautiful images above! Follow her on Instagram @michellejproctor