My Pregnancy Experience + Working as a Photographer Full TimeJan 10, 2024
I had my daughter Luch 9 weeks ago and I wanted to take some time to share my pregnancy experience on the blog and podcast. I worked full-time as a wedding photographer throughout my entire pregnancy..like up until the week before I gave birth (don't recommend lol). So, I am going to answer some of the most common questions I get like when to stop working, when to go back to work, hiring second shooters and associates, and some bonus tips for you.
One of the most common pregnancy questions photographers typically have is when should I stop taking on work? How close to my due date can I work? This is totally different for everyone and depends on your situation. In my situation, we do depend on my income so I planned on taking one month before the due date off. She was due Thanksgiving day in November and I ended up having weddings until the last weekend of October. I had a full busy October and it was really hard on me. I underestimated that part a little bit and I really would recommend giving yourself six weeks before your due date. You have to remember that after you are done photographing, you still have to edit those photos and get your business ready for you to take some time off. You also never know what can happen. Lucy ended up coming almost three weeks early so I had one week between the time she was born and my last weekend of weddings which was not ideal at all. If you have the ability to do so, give yourself time so you aren’t like me trying to edit a bunch of busy season weddings with a newborn at home.
Next, let’s talk second shooters and associate shooters. The majority of my weddings in October didn’t have contracted second shooters. I went back and forth on whether or not to hire second shooters to help me. In all honestly, I went back and forth because I just didn’t want to come out of pocket for that money. I ended up deciding to hire a second shooter for all of my weddings mid to end of October. This was good for my peace of mind and my couples. I hired second shooters that I knew and trusted and I was confident that they could step in and photograph the wedding for me if I ran into complications. I payed them their normal second shooter rate then told them if they became the lead shooter it would be at a higher rate. I was able to also give my couples peace of mind by telling them they were taken care of no matter what and I had a back up plan. Imagine having a pregnant photographer who has no backup plan...stressful. I ended up being so incredibly grateful that I had hired these seconds because I ended up needing the help. I underestimated how much I would struggle. If you haven’t been pregnant before, having fun trying to bend over and fluff dresses and run around grabbing people. I really needed someone to fluff dresses and go grab people for me so I wasn’t having to bend over and run around a lot. That was so so so helpful. I had one wedding where I was having crazy bad braxton hicks, I honestly was getting worried I was going into labor. Thankfully I wasn’t but I was so glad to have someone there helping me when I was so uncomfortable. So even if you have to come out of pocket for them, hire them. You will be so glad that you did.
I also had a handful of weddings that I needed to hire associates to be the lead photographer because I wouldn’t be there at all. I went to my couples and told them I was pregnant and that I would be hiring an associate to work for my company to photograph their wedding day. Thankfully, they were all understanding and so sweet and happy for me so I persoanlly didn’t have any issues with this. My contract does state that I am able to hire an associate to photograph the wedding for medical reasons so I was covered by my contract for that as well. One thing I recommend is hiring a photographer that has the same level of experience or more than you. It just isn’t fair to your couples to hire a less experienced photographer than they booked. You want to make sure you are hiring people you know and trust. You don’t want to have to be worrying about it they are going to show up or do a good job, you really want to have that peace of mind that they have it covered. I told my couples about this associate. I still took their engagement photos, I did their timeline planning session, kept in contact with them, and got their wedding day questionnaire. From there, I sent the details to the associate who just showed up to shoot the wedding. After the wedding, I edited the galleries and continued the communication with the couple. So the only thing you aren’t doing is the actual photographing of the wedding. Some people might do this different, but that is how I did things. I know some people do have their associate photograph the engagement session so the couple is familiar with their photographer, that would obviously be at an additional cost to you.
The next thing is when to go back to work. This is going to be different for everyone and what you are personally comfortable with. I recommend giving yourself the full six weeks for recovery. A lot of people end up having to have c-sections even though they didn’t plan on that and you will need that recovery time. Honestly, you also need that time because you are running on a total lack of sleep and your brain just doesn’t want to work. You are tired and you will not be at your best and honestly you couples deserve more than what most of us can give at that point. I started easing my way back with some portrait sessions and not full weddings. My maternity leave ended up being longer than planned because she came three weeks early so I had an extra three weeks I wasn’t planning on. So you will just have to guage your situation and what you are comfortable with when it comes to this.
Let’s talk thing I recommend doing and tips and things I would do differently.
Number one, I live in Oklahoma and it is hot as heck and summer was miserable. I recommend getting a neck fan. I wore a neck fan at all of my weddings and it was so helpful at keeping me a little cooler so I wasn’t overheating as much. They have some more expensive ones that actually put out cold air instead of just blowing the air around you, if you can swing it, i’d get one of those. I know I will be purchasing this for my next baby! Check that one here
I recommend using your connections for your baby shower. My mom and sister helped plan my baby shower and I hated the thought of them spending so much money. So I ended up trading photo services for a lot of the things at my baby shower like the balloon decor, all the desserts, the venue, the photographer, and the florist. So use your connections and you ability to trade services to help keep costs down. I am really glad I traded with another photographer so I could have good shots of the baby shower and with my family without having to worry about taking them myself or cell phone shots. I was also able to get some shots for the vendors I used.
If you don’t already ge ta good heating pad, you will want it because your back will hurt after shooting. This is something I dealt with before I was pregnant and it just got worse towards the end of my pregnancy.
Get an exercise ball/birthing ball to sit on, after a long day it was the best thing for me to come home sit on the ball for a bit and stretch out then go to bed and sit on my heating pad.
Don’t put off your own maternity session. It was busy season and I ended up doing our maternity photos the week before she was born and I cut it way too close even though I knew better. To be fair, my husband had been out of town traveling for work for three months before that so we didn’t have much of an option but I was miserably fat and uncomfortable during my session and then I didn’t get them back before she was born to enjoy. So don’t forget to set up your own maternity session or trade with another photographer. Same goes with newborn photos. You are going to want to get some good shots of you and the baby and you and dad the baby so don’t try to do them all yourself.
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