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Bellies, Babies & Boobies: Tips on Motherhood and Staying a Professional Wedding Photographer | Crissy Everhart
Managing a Wedding Photography Career During Pregnancy/Nursing
by Crissy Everhart
The decision to have children is always a big one, but when you are a female wedding photographer and pregnant, you have a few extra decisions to make regarding what to tell your clients, when to stop shooting before the baby is born, how on earth you will pump during a wedding (if you choose to breastfeed), and even if you should try to conceive at a certain time so the baby is born during your slow season. I somehow managed to keep both myself and my two children alive and continued to shoot weddings, so a lot of my newly pregnant photographer friends have been asking me for advice lately. So, for all the women wedding photographers stressing about how you can continue to run a photography business and have a kid or two along the way, this post is for you.
First, a little about myself… I began shooting weddings as an assistant in 2002, became a main photographer for a studio in 2006, and opened my own business in 2011. I have two boys; my first was born in August 2009 and my second was born in June 2011. They are now 3-1/2 and 5-1/2 years old. I nursed my first son for 14 months and never supplemented with formula, while my second had more severe allergies and was exclusively breastfed until five months old when we switched to expensive hypoallergenic formula, which helped him immensely.
A small disclaimer to my current and future clients: No, I will not be having any more children! This post is purely informational for my colleagues!
Continue reading for my advice on pregnancy and nursing from a wedding photographer’s point of view. What worked for me may not work for everyone, which is the case with nearly everything parenting-related, but hopefully it will ease your mind that it ispossible to keep photographing weddings into the third trimester and then return to shooting shortly after birth, even while maintaining a good nursing relationship.
“Okay, I’m pregnant…”
So the two lines came up on the stick, you told your loved ones, and now you realize you have ten weddings booked between now and your due date. When do you tell them? First of all, I would not tell a current or prospective client that you are trying to get pregnant. You just don’t know how quickly it will happen and I guarantee that you will add stress by “counting your chickens before they hatch.” Do you tell all your friends, family and acquaintances when you are trying? If not, why tell clients until it’s a sure thing?
As for when to tell, I waited until the 12-week / second trimester mark. Since statistically the highest percentages of miscarriages happen before then, it didn’t seem appropriate or necessary until that time. Your first OB appointment to confirm the pregnancy is not until you are eight weeks along, so this gives you about one month from that to start preparing. During that time I found several second shooters available for those contracted dates and explained my situation to them, so when the time to tell the clients arrived, I had all my backup information ready to share.
In the meantime, inquiries that came in for the month before, month of, and month after I was due got an “unavailable for your date” reply and I referred them to several people I trust.
If I met with a couple for a date after my child would be three months old, I didn’t say anything. It really didn’t matter too much, I expected to have it all worked out by that point (which I did, fair assumption on my part).
So what about the ones you already have booked, who have an event in your last trimester or first two months after the due date? I was lucky in that I did not have to cancel any contracts during either of my pregnancies, and photographed into my seventh month both times. I had two booked for the month after my second child was due and when I made it to about 12 weeks I offered them two options:
1. I would refund their deposit and cancel the contract, and even give them a few recommendations of who to hire. I think if the client chooses this option you need to be polite and understanding and give them some names to start looking elsewhere, so you don’t look like the bad guy who left them high and dry with no photographer.
2. I would plan on shooting the wedding but would have a competent main shooter as my second shooter, so in the event that I could not be there, this shooter would be the main and I would only need to hire a different second shooter. I presented each client with at least two options of second photographers I trusted (who I had already talked to about their event) and let the clients view their websites to make a decision on which photographer they like best.
If your clients choose option 2, secure your second shooters and give your clients REALISTIC expectations that you may not know until a week or so before their wedding if you will be the main or not. I paid my seconds a higher rate than normal, and we had a “main photographer rate” secured in the event I was unable to make it, but I would still do the post production work. In the end, it worked out fine, and I was at both weddings, only three and four weeks after I delivered. I did not have a C-section and I don’t think it would be wise to do a wedding so shortly after a C-section, so take that into consideration. I do not feel the quality suffered on these jobs at all, and having a second shooter who is able to be a main gives great peace of mind that the event will be well documented.
Staying comfortable while shooting with a big belly…
Bring an assistant to hold your gear if the weight bothers you. Rolling bags are the best, but avoid overfilling it so when you lift it in and out of your car it doesn’t strain you too much. GET COMFORTABLE SHOES. And then get another pair. Switch shoes right before the reception- just putting on a different shoe helps so much with the pain from standing all day. And don’t buy cute shoes, make sure they are comfortable. Flip flops are not shoes.
If you do portraits as well as weddings, follow your body, but I felt comfortable shooting them up until the week before I delivered. Engagements especially– two adults who can stand still and smile on command is always easier than a toddler and a newborn session.
Oh, the Places I’ve Pumped… Continue reading