My official due date of January 3rd has come and gone, so we're officially on Baby Watch 2011 around here. He could come any day now, so stay tuned for our exciting news! I'll update my blogs with baby photos as soon as I can, and I'll be keeping my Facebook and Twitter accounts updated as we go. :)
In the meanwhile, I thought I'd share a few things that I've learned this year about how to photograph weddings while pregnant. I know that I was nervous about how to handle a pregnancy with my hectic and physically demanding career, and I would have loved to have someone offer me tips before I got started. So if you are a wedding photographer who is planning to have a baby soon, here are some tips to help you out.
Before you get pregnant
1. Get in shape.
Shooting weddings requires strength and endurance under normal conditions, so if you gain 25 pounds of awkwardly-distributed baby weight, you'll need to be very fit to handle an eight-hour wedding shoot. Thanks to Weight Watchers and frequent workouts, I lost 13 pounds before getting pregnant. By the time wedding season came along, I was strong enough to trek around steep mountain venues at 11,000 feet of altitude.
2. Try to schedule your pregnancy around wedding season.
Timing a pregnancy is very difficult for most people, but if you can, consider your wedding schedule while planning your pregnancy. I hoped to have a January baby, and amazingly, that worked out just right for us.
My slower spring months took place during my first trimester, when I was at my sickest. By the time my hectic summer months of July, August, and September arrived, I was in my second trimester and feeling much livelier. My last wedding of the year took place in mid-November, when I was 7.5 months along and still very active. I wouldn't have wanted to shoot later than eight months along, because by then I was large, unwieldly, and achy.
The baby is due to arrive in January, my slowest month of the year. I'll have a few months of maternity leave before wedding season begins again.
Surviving morning sickness
1. Rely on adrenaline
I won't sugarcoat it: morning sickness is a lot worse than I'd expected. I was sick all day, every day, for about 17 or 18 weeks. But every weekend I'd arrive at a wedding and suddenly feel great. The excitement of the wedding, the stress of the job, and the thrill of loving my work all created a happy buzz that I could only attribute to adrenaline. Often the only time I felt good was while shooting. If you find yourself suffering from morning sickness, just dive right into the photo shoot and you'll be fine. Really.
2. Bring food and water.
I felt sicker when I was hungry. As soon as hunger pangs hit, I would need to eat immediately. During my morning sickness months, I brought tons of easily digestible snacks to weddings, such as bagels, oranges, and snack bars. Hydration is also extremely important, because pregnant women need more water than other people. Do not let yourself skip water breaks.
3. Rest during the weekdays.
Take as many naps and breaks as you can manage when you're not shooting. I was lucky enough to have a few hours of productive time per day before I started feeling really sick. I used those morning hours to get tons of work done before lying down during the rough afternoon hours. I don't know who in their right mind named it "morning sickness" -- morning was the only time I felt decent!
Outsource what you can
1. Hire good help for the wedding days.
It's risky for a pregnant woman to carry heavy bags, so consider hiring an assistant to do your heavy lifting for you. If you find yourself needing more breaks to rest your feet or use the restroom, make sure that you bring a skilled second shooter to cover those moments.
2. Hire help for when you're not shooting.
Outsource your work during the weekdays, too. If you're too tired or sick to spend much time at the computer, outsource your photo processing. Or hire a bookkeeper. Or administrative assistant. I decided that I wanted to keep doing my own work for the business, but I hired a house cleaner to take care of the home that I was neglecting. I loved having someone clean the house while I was napping!
If your photographer turns out to be pregnant
Please don't worry! I created some of my best work of all time this year, so the pregnancy didn't slow me down at all. Take good care of your pregnant photographer, and offer her lots of water, and everything will be just fine.
Later this year I plan to share tips on how to photograph your babies, so stay tuned!