This year has been one heck of a year! We moved across oceans, found out we are expecting a baby girl soon and realized that I have an appetite of a bottomless pit. Is it so bad that everything tastes so darn good lately?!
But seriously and more to the point, I photographed 7 weddings, 3 styled shoots, 4 engagements and 1 portrait shoot throughout my pregnancy. Not to mention that I also traveled to 7 countries (Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, USA, Jordan, UAE, Oman, Qatar) during this time too - yes, I've gone mad! It may not be a lot compared to other photographers, but I feel that I have some nuggets of wisdom to share with my fellow photographer friends who are planning on getting pregnant or who are currently pregnant and nervous about juggling the upcoming wedding season. Don’t worry girl, I got your back. Here’s how I managed to get through it all somewhat successfully without compromising the calibre of our work. Of course every situation is different, but these small tid bits helped make photographing weddings while pregnant very manageable.
1 - Let your client know and have a backup plan
I know, I know, this one is a toughy. And it’ll all depend on how far along you are in your pregnancy and how it’s going so far. In our case, we decided to let our clients know once the belly decided to make an appearance (around 5 months along). Maybe we’ve got the best clients, but they were thrilled about our news and fully trusted our professionalism and our proposed backup plan (to have a second shooter). You may not realize how understanding and supportive they’ll be with the news, so don’t worry too much when approaching them.
2 - Hire an assistant/second shooter
If you don’t already shoot with a second photographer, then make sure to hire someone! You’ll get extra leeway to run to the loo, take breaks in between and spend a few minutes eating those extra snacks you packed in your camera bag. Be prepared to let your second shooter take over at various intervals that are not particularly eventful (i.e. - speeches) so that you don’t burn out too soon before auntie Sue decides to sing her rendition of I Will Survive. I had the pleasure of having my good friends Amy of Amy Sturgeon Photography and Emma of Photography by Emma stand in when Ali was abroad to shoot alongside me. And besides, having awesome people like Amy and Emma to shoot with is always a fun experience (don’t worry Ali, you’re not being replaced!).
3 - Stretch before it’s go time
It doesn’t prevent the train wreck/stoned/hammered feeling you get on the Sunday morning after the wedding is over, but it’ll help warm up your joints that are likely already sore, for a day of lunging, squatting and squinting.
4 - Hydrate throughout the day + carry extra snacks
I mean it. Those 40 degree celsius, July and August weddings can make anyone feel lightheaded, especially when you’re carrying both a heavy camera body, lense and a growing belly. It’ll be worth lugging that warm water bottle around, melted granola bars and smushed apples (those things still make me hungry!) before the reception. If you’ve agreed to this with your second shooter, he or she could also play water replenisher for the day and bring you a glass every once in a while. Of course, you’ll need to consider the many number of times that you’ll need to use the washroom as a result, so planning for quick escapes based on the various milestones of the day is key.
5 - Rest, rest, rest, not werk, werk, werk
Make sure to have a full night’s sleep to the extent possible the night before and plan for your Sunday to be a day of rest. Your body (and mind!) is extra sensitive during these months, so you’ll be thankful to take at least one day to refresh from the craziness of the wedding day. So sure, go listen to some ‘werk, werk, werk, werk, werk, werk’, Rihanna-style, but you need to rest!
All this to say, your career as a wedding photographer can continue and even flourish while planning to bring tiny humans into this world. It's a matter of ensuring that you have systems and backup plans in place, take care of yourself in between the craze and allow others to help you along the way.