Dare YOU Bare Your Bump? Since those infamous pictures of Demi Moore, semi naked supporting her rather large bump and embracing her pending motherhood, photographing mums to be has become increasingly popular.
For me personally it’s something I love doing as very often when we chat to expectant mums in the studio we find that they are frequently feeling, rather than “blooming marvellous”, frumpy and uncomfortable. If we can create images that reflect the beauty and intimacy of this time with mum and her baby then we have done our job well.
So how to tackle recording this special time forever without producing something mum doesn’t want to look back on later and think how large she was? Firstly lighting is key to everything. In the studio we like to use a variety of lighting techniques but my favourite for “bump” pictures is probably low key lighting on a dark background. By “low Key” lighting I mean the lighting is quite subdued, not bright and often set up in such a way to illuminate only the area of the subject I want to be the centre of attention. Bare flesh also adds to the effect in this type of portraiture but if mum is a little nervous or embarrassed by this it doesn’t have to be completely naked as the Demi pictures were but it could just be the bump showing with the ladies top rolled up but cropped out of the picture.
Sometimes however we use “high Key” lighting (i.e. bright lights and a white background) together with strong colours to emphasise the mums’ sense of fun and “joie de vivre”. All photography is subjective and it’s important to remember that, in photography especially, one size does not fit all – so in other words we match the lighting and backgrounds to the subject – sometimes using a combination of different lighting techniques.
Go Topless – And That’s Only Dad! The intimacy between mum, dad and bump is further accentuated if you can get Dad to go topless! Positioning Dad kneeling and either cradling or kissing the bump is also good because this shows us how he is looking up to his wife in awe at her carrying the most precious gift she could ever give him. Your studio lights should be positioned to highlight the bump and if you are lucky Dad may kisses the baby he already loves through mums’ tummy. The captured moments can be very personal and intimate – into which the viewer can read many things.
Speaking personally, as the photographer who often knows the couple well since the chances are they will have started out as one of our wedding couples, these photograph show me not only that Dad is loving mum for the size and shape she is but also that he is loving his unborn baby.
Don’t Be Afraid to Crop Don’t be afraid to crop your images in an unusual way. One of my favourites pictures I have taken is made special because of the “letterbox” crop we have applied to it – without cropping this image so tightly some of the impact of the image would have been lost. This picture was shot on a “high key” or white background, using a totally different lighting set up for a different look completely. This is a picture which shows Dad kissing mum and his unborn baby and mum kissing dad. The emphasis of this image and why it is so moving, in my opinion is the love that is clearly within the family unit. What we are witnessing here in viewing this picture is a love story – Mum loves Dad who loves both mum and baby.
One of the lessons here is that computers cannot make a bad picture good but it can make a good picture great. In implementing the letterbox crop to the picture it has changed completely the look of the picture and what it says to the viewer. We knew when we took the picture in the first place exactly what crop we were going to put on it afterwards but I guess here the message is don’t be afraid to experiment with your pictures – try out different crops and see what it does to the images. Often if you crop right in to the focus of the picture you will see a different picture forming in front of your eyes – but the real skill in photography is to see that picture before you crop it or, better still crop it in camera in the first place.
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