Maternity Session Tips

I like to say that a maternity session is essentially an anniversary session with a bump, so I thought I'd round out our little anniversary session series with some tips for maternity sessions. There are two main considerations: when to schedule and what to wear.

WHEN TO SCHEDULE:

It's easy to put off scheduling a maternity session, because you want to have a nice, rounded bump for their session. Most mamas 'pop' sometime between 20 and 30 weeks. After 30 weeks, it's common to experience swollen feet and the general feeling of uncomfortableness just seems to increase week by week until delivery. And of course, some babies come early, so you might miss your chance for a maternity session if you schedule it for 37 weeks or later.

We did our maternity session at 30 weeks and I'm so glad we did, because my finger was already swelling and I had to stop wearing my ring right after that. I wore a flowy dress for our session, so I felt like my bump wasn't super noticeable unless I was holding underneath my belly. But looking back at my weekly bump photos, I think I started to look 'great with child' around 34 weeks and I can see a little bit of puffiness in my face at that point too. So 30 weeks was the perfect time for us.

I typically book sessions 6-8 weeks ahead of time so we have plenty of time to decide on a location and you have time to go shopping, so I recommend inquiring between 18 and 22 weeks.

Karen & Zack Maternity-112_WEB.jpg

WHAT TO WEAR

The most flattering maternity session dresses are ones with a defined empire waistline. Wearing a dress with a seam between the bust and the belly (or tightly fitted throughout the torso) is my #1 tip for mamas who express a concern that they will look 'big' instead of pregnant. We will also do a lot of poses with the arms around the belly, which will help to define the waist.

In addition to an empire waistline, the most flattering dresses are either tight fitting over the belly or flowy over the bump. The key is to avoid styles that are shapeless and overly-drapey, because you'd look bigger in the photos than you actually are in real life. If you really want to highlight your bump, wear a tight fitting dress. This is also a great tip if you're concerned that your bump isn't obvious enough.

Soft colors, flowy fabrics, and dresses that cover the arms are all super flattering and beautiful on camera.

Caitlin's weekly baby photos-23_WEB.jpg

A few photos from my weekly bump series to illustrate... Notice the difference in the gray dress when it's belted? Without the belt to define my waistline at 33 weeks pregnant, I feel like I just look big. And the stretchy shift-style dress is a great compromise if you want something fitted without being skin tight.

I LOVED the purple dress and wore it constantly during my pregnancy. The belt was perfect for defining a waist, but it is very flowy, so holding under the belly helps to define my bump. The blue on the other hand, is form fitting and would have been perfect for a maternity session. (If only it was a dress and not a top!)

WEAR TO SHOP

I purchased my signature purple dress from Sew Trendy Accessories, which offers a ton of gorgeous maternity gowns that are PERFECT for photo sessions. I also love everything from Wren and Ivory. They have 'bump friendly' dresses that can be now and after the baby is born! And of course, Pink Blush Maternity is another great site to browse!

Want to Read More About Anniversary & Maternity Sesssions?
Why I Love Anniversary Sessions
Why We're Doing Another Anniversary Session
Choosing a Location
My Favorite Hampton Roads Locations
What To Wear
What Not to Wear
What Happens if it Rains
How I Chose My Outfits
Maternity Session Tips

The Anniversary Session: A Blog Series

Engaged couples don't get to have all the fun. Married people can have romantic portraits too! We have loved photographing anniversary sessions for past CGP couples and others in the Hampton Roads area. It's a great anniversary gift for your spouse and a fun excuse for a dressed-up date night. Maybe you want to do an anniversary session because you feel like you've changed so much from the people you were on your wedding day. An anniversary session can also be a time to focus on the two of you as a couple, even though you feel like just 'mom and dad' all the time.

Whatever your reason for booking an anniversary session, here's a whole series of blog posts to help you prepare for your anniversary session.
Why I Love Anniversary Sessions
Why We're Doing Another Anniversary Session
Choosing a Location
My Favorite Hampton Roads Locations
What To Wear
What Not to Wear
What Happens if it Rains
How I Chose My Outfits
Maternity Session Tips

Cindy & Scott - Colonial Williamsburg Engagement Session

Cindy & Scott - Colonial Williamsburg Engagement Session

Scott knew the perfect way to propose to Cindy. They were enjoying a beautiful spring day on the beach, and as he often does, Scott tossed Cindy up on his shoulders to do some squats. Cindy and Scott often train together and squats like this have become a regular occurrence. They attracted the attention of a few spectators, one of whom pulled out a cell phone to film. So Cindy and Scott hammed it up a bit for the camera. Scott tipped Cindy off his shoulder and as soon as her toes hit the sand, he knelt and reached for the ring box in his pocket.

Jessica & David - Summer Wedding at Norfolk Botanical Garden

Jessica & David - Summer Wedding at Norfolk Botanical Garden

A cold drink in one hand and a crab cake in the other. In a beautiful flower garden. Surrounded by their friends and family. That was exactly where Jessica & David wanted to be.

Jessica & David wanted a colorful summer wedding full of wildflowers. They wanted to dine under cafe lights as the sun set. Add in a preppy striped summer suit, a colorful bouquet, and floral napkins sewn by the bride and her mother, and you've got a recipe for a perfect garden wedding.

But what Jessica & David wanted more than any of the little details was to enjoy their wedding day with their guests. From a toast with friends while getting ready to cocktail hour with their guests by the perennial garden fountain. And it was a beautiful day from start to finish.

Life Right Now - Summer 2018

2018 Family Headshots-152.jpg

I started the Life Right Now series to help me remember some of the little moments of our lives. The kinds of things that don't even make it to Instagram (because we all know there's a LOT that doesn't make it to Instagram!) The kinds of things that would slip through the cracks of our memories if we didn't record them. The kinds of things that I never want to forget, no matter how small they might seem.

You might remember that we sold our house at the end of April. You might have assumed that you missed our 'new house' blog post. You didn't... because we haven't bought one yet.

My parents have GRACIOUSLY allowed us to live with them for the last 10 weeks while we looked for another house. If all goes well, we will be moving into our new home in just a few weeks, and I wanted to share a little bit of what this season of our lives has been like.

Life right now is realizing that I had no idea what I was in for when I chose 'season' as my word of the year.

Life right now is making sure Lucy stays sequestered from my parents' cats. Their first meetings didn't go so well.

Life right now is telling my mom whether or not I'll be home for dinner.

Life right now is enjoying every square inch of my parents' 3 acre lot - wagon rides, stick gathering, and watching trucks drive by.

Life right now is looking at hundreds of house photos, second guessing previous decisions, and waiting... lots of waiting.

Life right now is enjoying a break from cooking dinner.

Life right now is watching Darcy hug his grandparents every night before bed.

Life right now is a rubbermaid tub overflowing with Ryan's clothes, a pile of papers to be filed when we can reach our filing cabinet again, and a snack shelf in our bedroom.

Life right now is Darcy saying thank you and meowing to the cats.
 

Want to read more Life Right Now posts?
July 2018
March 2018
November 2017
May 2017
March 2017
October 2016
July 2016
March 2016
August 2015
June 2014
August 2013

Why I Love Anniversary Sessions

I wrote this post in 2015, and I wanted to share it again today, since we've just finished our engagement session series. Romantic portraits aren't just for engaged couples!

Ryan and I are coming up on our 4th wedding anniversary. And we have been told that the way we feel about each other will change. That we’re “still newlyweds.” Like one day we’ll wake up and not be in love anymore. And that we should expect that to happen and be ok with it.

But I don't want being newlyweds to just be a phase. I want to be that cute old couple that goes to the grocery store together and holds hands while buying toothpaste. I don’t want to accept that falling out of love with my husband is normal. Isn’t that like setting myself up for failure? 

I know that still loving someone 50 years after you said your vows is hard work. Because it’s not just giving 50%. It’s giving 100% all the time, regardless of what your spouse is giving. That's why marriage is hard. It's hard to give 100%. It's hard to serve when you'd rather be served. Sometimes it's hard to remember the butterflies and goosebumps you used to get when you were together.

When you've been married a few years, when you've passed the "newlywed" stage, love is quieter. Love is emptying the dishwasher and making a bank deposit. Love is going to the store for crackers when your spouse is sick. This quieter love doesn't seem romantic, but in reality, it's so much more important than all the flowers and fancy dates in the world.

We asked our pastor to read an excerpt from Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis during our ceremony. And it's not the most romantic wedding reading. Because it's real. It talks about the choice to love, to serve, to fight for your marriage. And that's why I picked it. Because I knew our marriage wasn't going to be a fairy-tale. Because we are real people with real problems.

If the old fairy-tale ending "They lived happily ever after" is taken to mean "They felt for the next fifty years exactly as they felt the day before they were married," then it says what probably never was nor ever would be true, and would be highly undesirable if it were. Who could bear to live in that excitement for even five years? What would become of your work, your appetite, your sleep, your friendships?

But, of course, ceasing to be "in love" need not mean ceasing to love. Love in this second sense-love as distinct from "being in love"—is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by (in Christian marriages) the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God.

They can have this love for each other even at those moments when they do not like each other; as you love yourself even when you do not like yourself. They can retain this love even when each would easily, if they allowed themselves, be "in love" with someone else.

"Being in love" first moved them to promise fidelity: this quieter love enables them to keep the promise. It is on this love that the engine of marriage is run: being in love was the explosion that started it.

Caitlin + Ryan - October 2013-0032.jpg

I love anniversary sessions because they combine the quiet servant love with the cuddly romantic feelings. An anniversary session is the fancy date night you've been missing. It's the perfect opportunity to cuddle and hold hands and stare into each other's eyes. It's the perfect way to remember the butterflies and the goosebumps and why you couldn't keep your eyes off each other.

As much as I love engagement photos, I think anniversary photos are even more important. After the marriage has already begun, after you've settled into your lives together, there's something different about the photos. Because there's something different about you! Your love is deeper... richer... perhaps quieter... and more true.

 

I love to shoot anniversary sessions for my past couples but you don't have to be a #cgpbride to do an anniversary session with me! Contact me here to find out more.

Photos by Bit of Ivory Photography

Want to read more about anniversary sessions?
Why I Love Anniversary Sessions
Why We're Doing Another Anniversary Session
Choosing a Location
My Favorite Hampton Roads Locations
What To Wear
What Not to Wear
What Happens if it Rains
How I Chose My Outfits
Maternity Session Tips