As a wedding photographer, working while pregnant is a topic that doesn’t get talked about very often. People ask me “when did you shoot weddings until?” and “when did you go back to work after you had a baby?”. Having my first baby was very overwhelming, especially with juggling my wedding photography business. As most of you know, being a wedding photographer is a very labor intensive job (we carry so much gear!) and being on your feet for 8+ hours at time is can be very grueling on your body especially when you are carrying an extra 10, 20, 30+ lbs because you are making another human being. So, I wanted to share some advice and things I’ve learned along the way from my own experience when I was expecting my Daughter.
Oh, and I also shared my thoughts on my latest Instagram IGTV episode of Tea with Jainé. Be sure to hop on over and watch the episode for even more advice! Let’s jump in…
No. 1 - Know Your Timeline - Once I confirmed that I was in-fact pregnant, we celebrated and then panicked about the timeline. My daughter was going-to be coming right in the heart of my wedding season so I had to start planning what I was going to do for my upcoming wedding season. I decided to photograph my last wedding at 36 weeks, and to be honest, I will never do that again. I was so H U G E at the end that it was totally uncomfortable for me. No one ever tells you that you gain ALL THE WEIGHT at the end of the pregnancy and the baby gains 1-2 lbs a week in the last month alone so you go from “semi-big” to “huge” pretty quickly. Well, at least it was for me :)
No. 2 - Tell Your Couples In Advance - Once I figured out my timeline, I started to let my clients know the good news and let them know I was expecting. For the majority of my weddings, I was going to be able to make the date but for one couple, I had to gracefully bow out of covering their day. I was so sad that I didn’t have an associate to fill in but if and when it happens again, I will look for someone to fill my spot vs. refund the retainer and cancel my services. I do regret not photographing their wedding (they were one of my favorite couples to date!) BUT I helped them find someone new, refunded their retainer, and gave them their engagement session as a gift to make up for cancelling. Not that you have to do that but for me, I wanted to end on a positive note.
No. 3 - Hire A Backup Photographer/Extra Assistant - For most of my couples, letting them know I was expecting was was not a big deal. Everyone was really happy and thanked me for letting them know so far in advance. I assured them that I would be at their wedding and I would be bringing along a third photographer/assistant to cover me when I needed a break. This was an additional expense that I paid for out of my own pocket because I wanted them to know that I had on-site backup when if necessary. My assistant also carried all of my gear and food for me throughout the day so I only had to wear my two cameras on my body. It was very helpful to know that I didn’t have to lug my gear anywhere or wear any additional lenses.
No. 4 - Bring ALL THE FOOD - Depending on your pregnancy, and your cravings, you could be hungry like ALL THE TIME especially when you are working. For me, I knew that I was eating every few hours and brought a little cooler filled with food to keep me fed throughout the day. It might have looked like “A LOT” to some but I really did eat just about everything in my cooler when the day was done. A snack here, a bar there, it all adds up, and you want to make sure you are fed to keep your energy levels up. I also drank a ton of water to keep me hydrated.
No. 5 - Take Breaks Throughout the Day - This might seem obvious but when you are photographing a wedding, you never rest. We are always on the go, standing up, bending down, and going from place to place so when you are expecting, remember sit down and takes breaks whenever you can. This is why having the third photographer/assistant was so important for me. Whenever I needed a break, especially towards the end of my pregnancy, I would sit down and my third shooter would go on the dance floor to cover the crowd. I would save my energy for the key moments like speeches, dances, and toasts and then go sit back down while people were dancing or eating their meals.
No. 6 - Wear Comfortable Shoes and Supportive Undergarments - If you know me, you will know that I HATE (no, LOATHE) sneakers. I only wear them to work out and if I had a choice, I wouldn’t even wear them then. Ha! I just do not like how sneakers look and I’m always searching for an “prettier” alternative option.
When I was pregnant, I wore a pair of Women's Jambu JSport Spin Encore Ballet Flats that I absolutely LOVED! They were very comfortable and supportive for my body weight and were not ugly sneakers ;) For me, this was a happy medium that I could still do my job and look cute. Hey, it’s important to me!
I also wore a pair of supportive Maternity Spanx to give my belly some extra support. The weight of your gear plus the weight of the baby gets very heavy over the course of the day and having a bit of support to lift your belly actually felt amazing.
No. 7 - Hire Help - To get my work done, I hired an outside editor to work on my weddings and intern to take care of my social media while I was “out of the office”. I found out that I could no longer sit at my desk for hours because I needed to walk around and move my body so editing became very difficult for me. I strongly encourage you to outsource and hire help whenever you can to help you when you are pregnant and go on maternity leave. I still use my digital editor to this day because it makes taking care of my daughter so much easier. It’s worth the investment!
No. 8 - Decide When to Go Back to Work - After my daughter was born, I wanted to have 3 months off to be with her and let myself readjust to my new life as a mother. Becoming a new mom is truly life changing and one of the biggest joys of my life, but it’s also really stressful. Simply put, you do not know what you are doing and have to figure it out as you go, so having that time off was invaluable, at least for me. I also liked NOT having the pressure of a client looming over me while I was on maternity leave.
I photographed my first engagement session 8 weeks and my first wedding 12 weeks after delivery. For me, this was perfect timing. I was physically well enough to get back to work and excited to get out of the house too! It was definitely more emotionally challenging for me to leave my baby for the first time, but it gets easier as they get older. Heck, now I”m like “see you later!” when I leave the house :) but I’m always excited to come home to a big smile and good hug!
I hope that was helpful for you expecting or plan to be expecting mom’s out there who are wedding photographers. I’d love to hear from you or answer any additional questions you may have. Please leave a comment below and let me know how I can help you! xo - Jainé