Occasionally I blog about me venturing outside my usual street- and travel photography. I’m always eager to step out of my photographic comfort zone and try new things. Like taking on a gig for my first ever pregnancy session. As it turned out, not a week too soon, because the baby eventually decided to arrive a good three weeks ahead of schedule. Have I mentioned that yesterday I also did the newborn session? But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, here’s first the post with the images of the expectant couple, the gear I brought along and the approach I took…
We had planned doing the pregnancy session as a home shooting in the couple’s living room. To prepare, I took to Instagram, always a good source for ideas and inspirations. I copied some images into a mood board that I shared with the couple during a preparatory visit prior to the shooting. This was helpful to see what kind of photographs would resonate with the clients and what could be realized in the setting of their living room. Based on their feedback and the location, I did prepare a rough shooting roadmap for the afternoon. I like to have this structure as a red line to steer us through the shooting, while leaving enough space for impromptu creative ideas that come up during the session.
In terms of gear I like to keep it simple when doing a home shooting. I usually bring two cameras. My workhorse is the trusted Olympus OM-D E-M1X with the mZuiko 12-100mm F/4 zoom. In a home shooting setting I like to have the flexibility of a capable zoom, as you never now how much space you have to work with when you are after a particular scene. That allows me to take wide angle, contextual shots while also being able to zoom in tight to get a clean background or capture details, without having to fiddle with different prime lenses. A big plus of the 12-100 F/4 is its superb image quality across the board (apertures and focal lengths) and the awesome image stabilization, that allows me handholding very slow shutter speeds when shooting indoor with available light.
The second camera I bring is my Leica M (Type 240) with the Summicron 50mm F/2 for those special portrait shots with the legendary Leica look, as this camera and lens combo renders like no other. Just by looking at the images in this post, the photographic connoisseur can instantly tell what scenes were shot with the (for the digital age) vintage, fully manual rangefinder.
I find that with these two camera-lens combos I can handle all situations in a home shooting environment without having to worry too much about my gear or which lenses to take. I can operate them blindly and I now what I can and can’t do. I seamlessly swap the cameras during the shoot, so we stay in the flow.
As additional gear I bring a lithium battery powered strobe, a Godox AD200Pro strobe, that I have on a lightstand with a white shoot-through umbrella. A very simple lighting set-up that is more than enough in a living room environment. For cases that I need to control the direction of the strobe, I also have a soft box with a grid that I can mount on the strobe.
My last piece of gear is a large collapsible background (5′ by 7′) with a black and a white side, that I use if I need a clean background that I can place behind my subjects.
I started the session with some easy silhouette shots in front of the large windows, followed by some high key shots of the couple, all emphasizing the belly. This fun photos eased everybody into the session. Always important is to share the results via the back screen of the camera, so the subjects know they are doing great and getting great results. After doing some shots posing them on their couch, we moved back to the window for those soft, available light images that I love so much and that always seem to be the favorites of the clients. And here is really the time to use the Leica with the 50mm Summicron.
When the natural light was fading, we took a late afternoon coffee break. Afterwards we continued with some more fun shots to close out the session. I had the future dad painting the belly with a “loading” bar. Accurately calculated at 90% (the shooting was at the start of week 36), we could not have known that Sunday afternoon that the progress bar in reality was already much more advanced.
After doing some more fun shots using some props, we finished with the most ambitious shot of the session, a silhouette shot of the expectant mother in a red dress.
The photograph was taken with the Olympus OM-D E-M1X with the mZuiko 12-100 F/4. Image specs 1/250 sec @ f/5.6 and ISO 200, 31mm focal length. Shooting indoors (it was a home shooting), those settings (I was using manual mode) eliminated all ambient light in the living room. The only light source was the Godox AD200Pro strobe to the right, firing through a large strip light softbox at 1/8 power (also in manual mode). The strip light prohibited stray light from the flash falling on the background, illuminating only the front of the lady in red. Another perfect example that photography is essentially playing with light and composition.
We all loved how the image came out, and this was the perfect ending to our session.
After retuning home, I downloaded the images from the shooting onto the computer and did some initial editing of the shots I felt were the highlights. I always try to send the clients some initial images via WhatsApp the night of the session. This is always well received and gets the tired photographer some quick initial praise. I then do the rest of the editing during the next days, returning all edits the next weekend.
I hope you liked the newest post in my “Off Topic” series, describing the gear and my approach to my first pregnancy session.
I have mentioned before that the baby has been born last week, almost three weeks early. Mother, Dad and baby are all fine and happy. And yesterday, I returned to them to do my first every newborn shooting of a baby not even a week old. And we got great results again. So stay tuned for part II….
Have a great week!