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Photographing Pregnancy

Camaro 15 7 United Kingdom
31 Jul 2006 1:52AM
A close friend of mine has asked that I record the progress of her first pregnancy with a series of black & white photographs. She has suggested that she may like a few nude shots be included. I am very new to portrait photography and would really appreciate a few pointers with regards to suitable poses/general settings.

I don't have access to a studio and therefore will be shooting at my friend's home using Canon EOS20d, 17-85mm, 70-200mm and 580EX flash.

Any help, tips, suggestions gratefully received!

Many thanks

mikeb380 15 39 United States
31 Jul 2006 3:53AM
Glynn; I think the 17-85 would be best for what you want. You have a portrait lens (85mm) for the head and shoulders stuff and go wider gradually as you go to full length. I prefer available light as much as possible. Have your friend posed at a window with sheer curtains if you can. Let he be looking out, this is good for a 3/4 length shot and you have natural light. You can always use a reflector from foamcore or aluminum foil to help light the dark side of her face. I think the same pose would be a very good nude also. Since you have no film or processing to worry about costs, experiment. Try not to use the flash unless it swivels and you can bounce off a wall or a ceiling (tilt) you can also get a diffuser for the flash or just use a white hankerchief to diffuse light. Bottom of a baby talc bottle is good for that also. A rocker with window light falling on her would be good, also. Use a tripod as you will be shooting a lot of slow shutter speeds. Use fairly large aperture to blur background. you can use trial and error to get the result you want.

Use outside and scenery for a lot of shots. Just let your imagination run wild. Perhaps a shady hidden glen would be good for some nudes. I think you can get some very fine nudes and in good taste for her. Avoid harsh sunlight as it makes for harsh photos. Shade or late evening/early morning are good. I think light in early am is beautiful. Sounds to me like a fun project. Good luck with it. I'd love to see photos from some of the shoots.

If you have any more questions, give a yell, I'll be glad to try to help.

Good light
Michael Smile
sarzM 15 55
31 Jul 2006 11:15AM
Hi Glynn and Michael
Sounds great!. Good advice Michael! Can you expand a bit on the the reflector (foamcoar and aluminum foil) stuff. How do you go about doing this in your own home. Would also love to hear about the white hankerchief and baby talc bottle. Sound really interesting. I'm into baby and kids shots and think I could apply some of these principles to this area of photopraphy as I take alot of the photos in my own home. Looking forward to hearing from you. Hope this helps you too Glynn.
Cheers, Sarah.
robporter 17 156 United Kingdom
31 Jul 2006 11:32AM
Hi Glynn,

My wife has just given birth; during the pregnancy I was very keen to take a range of different shots of her. I have posted some of them on EPZ.

What sort of body shape does your friend have? The reason I ask is that early pregnancy can look great on a tall, thin woman, but if you are not careful you can make a shorter woman, or an already larger lady look just a bit fat. As the uterus initially expands it will emphasise any little rolls of extra flesh on the abdomen. What you want is to take pictures that she will love. Depending upon her physique, experiment with how she stands, sits or lies to try and get the most flattering pose. By the third trimester these problems are usually solved by the shear size of the uterus. It pushes itself out and has that 'typical' pregnant look. However, by this stage her breasts may be changing, and if it is her first baby she may become more self-conscious. She may of course love all the changes, but just make sure you are sensitive about how she sees her body, and try and use your photography to complement it.

My wife is quite short, and I found it could be quite difficult to take photos that she liked. Some women also get very sick/tired/achey/grumpy during pregnancy, and so it is worth bearing that in mind if you arrange a photo-shoot and she then doesn't feel like it. Just back off and let her be.

For lighting I used a mix of diffuse daylight, and bounced flash (Canon 430EX). A reflector can be very useful, especially as you may be able to get her partner to help out positioning it whilst you take the photos. It would also be nice to try and involve him in the photos too (assuming that he and she are still together).

If you have any specific questions I might be able to help with let me know. If I am slow to answer though I'm probably busy changing dirty nappies!!

malum 17 630 1 United Kingdom
31 Jul 2006 3:49PM
I can point you at the only time I've tried this (on my wife) which also includes the method (if you look down the posts a bit)

Camaro 15 7 United Kingdom
31 Jul 2006 7:26PM
Wow....very comprehensive replies!

Thanks ever so much, I now have a few ideas as starting points.

As the project progresses I'll post some shots on here if my friend is okay with it.

Once again - thanks,


ps - Malum, love your photo of your wife, will definitely try that pose
mikeb380 15 39 United States
1 Aug 2006 1:30AM
Hi, Sarah
on the foamcore, cut a white board to about 4feet square. You can lean it against a chair, stool, or whatever. On the reverse side, I used aluminum foil taped on the board. Try using both sides. The large board gives better reflection than a smaller board. Play with the angle, have someonbe sit at a window facing the camera so the left side is well lit. The right side could be in dqark shadow on the photo. Aim one side of the board at the shadow area til it is lit to your satisfaction. You can also bounce flash off the board to give more fill on the right side. If the flash is too much, you can take a men's white handkerchief ( it is larger I think and usually more body than a ladies) try a single thickness and then fold it one or more times to get the light balanced as you want. The bottom of the talc bottle or any other white plastic bottle can be used a a diffuser also. Cut the bottom off the container and push it over the flash head. THat will give you more diffusion than the handerchief. All of this being free allows you to experiment very inexpensivly. You can buy reflectors and diffusers in many places, it just gives me pleasure to do things as inexpensively as possible.

Once you have figured out bhow to use the equipment, try different poses and shoot form the child's level unless you are trying for a specific look. I take a lot of pix of my grandson but I can't get to the floor; well, I can get down but I need two strong men to get me upright again. Old knees are a bother.

As with any type of photography, play play play, and makme notes so you can see what works without trying to remember the info. You may find that for the same subject, you can get different looks by adjusting light and exposure. I think there are also some good books on baby/child photography, check Amazon/Barnes and nobles. Also do a Google search on the web for baby photography or child photography. You should find a lot. I like doing outdoor photography with kids, you can get them to run and play with toys, etc. For that you need a good zoom and preset exposure. ( Take a reading off grass in the child's area and use that unless the light changes. )

Good luck to all of you and if I can answer further questions, just ask.

MIchael Smile
sarzM 15 55
1 Aug 2006 10:28AM
Hi Michael,
You are full of great advice and information. Thank-you so much. I have so many questions that (by the sound of your knowledge) you could help me out with. Is there a way I can ask you some of these questions on this website. I'm new to ephotozine and not sure if it offers such a thing....that's if you have time of course!
Thanks again,
Camaro 15 7 United Kingdom
1 Aug 2006 3:24PM
The willingness to assist fellow photographers and the quality of assistance given never ceases to amaze me.

Thank you.

mikeb380 15 39 United States
1 Aug 2006 6:00PM
Thanks for the nice comments. I love teaching and teach a series of beginning basic photo classes here for our camera club. It pleases me to see the change in photos as they progress.

Sarah, any questions are welcome. I tried to find a way to do private messaging but found none, so you can continue on this thread or start a new one. If you continue here 'twill be off topic, perhaps but I will be notified of additions here.

I just found that there is private messaging but it is turned off till you have been a member for a month. JUst ask here

Michael Smile

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