It is the week before Christmas and I am still busy with last minute photo shoots! At this time of year, maternity photography is easily my most popular type of portrait photography. Families are mainly waiting until spring for photos, but pregnancies can’t wait! This lovely French couple from St John’s Wood are expecting their first baby in February - so their photoshoot was always going to be in the middle of winter. It’s admittedly a bit cold and bleak outdoors in December, but not all of the time! When the sun peeks out it is absolutely magical. For understandable reasons, lots of my clients are nervous about committing to shoots in winter, and often don’t know what the photos will look like, or what to expect. This pregnancy photoshoot in Regent’s Park is a really good example of outdoor winter portrait photography.
Benefits of pregnancy photography in winter
There are lots of advantages to doing a pregnancy photoshoot in winter (or indeed any type of portrait session); the light is extremely soft and has more colour tones than the equivalent time of day in summer. This session took place between 10-11am; at that time of day in summer the light would be harsh and high in the sky. In winter there is usually frost or water on the ground and on the foliage. The sunlight hitting those water droplets creates a gorgeous sparkling bokeh effect in the background of the photos. You can particularly see this effect in the portraits of Lea in front of the rose bushes.
On a more practical front, there is more time to get ready before a morning shoot, with no need to start by 8am (or earlier!). For clients who like to have their hair and make up done for their photos, this can be really helpful. Thirdly, the parks in London are so quiet! We had no-one around, even in the rose gardens in Regent’s Park, which can get very crowded at other times of the year. Clients who feel nervous or awkward in front of the camera (i.e. nearly everyone) will benefit from not having an audience, or people waiting to get by on the paths, and there won’t be people in the background spoiling the perfect shot!
Tips for professional maternity photographers
As a professional photographer using only natural light, there are some challenges to shooting in winter. The sun is low in the sky and this can be difficult to handle when shooting backlit portraits. There are no leaves left on the trees to block the sun, so you can end up with some intense sun-flare in your lens. Just the right amount of sun-flare can create a gorgeous dreamy look, but you can have too much of a good thing! It’s best to angle the lens slightly away from the sun, and allow in just the right amount into the camera, as well as using a lens hood. This comes with experience and lots of practice! Careful editing, by increasing the blacks and contrast will bring back vibrance in a photo that initially looks washed-out by sunflare.
It’s also worth being aware that there is less natural reflection on the ground, because the sun is weaker and therefore there is less bounce. You can solve this problem by finding puddles of water to bounce light (which are bright when the sun hits the wet ground), or by using a reflector (as used in the majority of these portraits). It’s important to work quickly during winter photoshoots because your clients will be getting cold! I always scope out the location beforehand (even a location I use regularly) so I have a plan of action as to where I am going to photograph my clients before they arrive. For clients, the main challenge is the cold! I recommend lots of layers and warm thermals underneath everything. Here’s some of my favourite photos from this session.
“Thank you so much, the photos are great!”