How to Survive Being a Pregnant Photographer

When I was pregnant with Brayden, I thought I was superwoman.  I wasn’t going to let a little baby bump stop me from my busy work schedule.  I got lucky because Brayden was due in February.  I did have two weddings already scheduled for January (at 36 and 37 weeks pregnant), but I thought it would be no problem.  That is until I got into a car accident the night before my last wedding and I realized that I was indeed invincible.  The HUGE, swollen feet after each wedding was also a good reminder that I couldn’t do it all (my feet were so big I had to change into a pair of flip flops when I couldn’t get my feet back into my flats after taking them off for a few minutes).  In 2008, the year Brayden was born, I shot 23 weddings in 10 months.  It was insanity.  I was tired.  And I wasn’t getting to enjoy being a new mom.  I wasn’t happy.

This time, I’m doing things differently.  Here are a few things I learned along the way:

1)  Tell your brides whose weddings will be directly affected ASAP.  I told my brides right after I had my first doctor appointment and ultrasound to confirm the pregnancy at around 6 weeks.  I had to cancel a few weddings and it wasn’t fun.  I hate letting people down.  Hate it.  But, I also knew that while I could have shot one of the weddings at 38 weeks pregnant, I wouldn’t have performed at my best.  And my brides deserve the best.

2)  With Brayden I hired photographers to take over my weddings last two weddings for me.  I was still at the weddings, but I wanted real photographers with real businesses there to cover for me if I couldn’t be there or had to leave early.  You can read more abut that here.  But, remember that it’s not just the shooting.  It’s all the work that you have to do after the weddings that is time consuming as well.  And I remember how hard it was trying to sit in a chair and edit when I was 40 weeks pregnant for a couple of hours when all I wanted to do is lay down and take a nap.  Or worse, trying to edit while holding a crying newborn!  This time I didn’t even want the stress of hiring another photographer and having to worry about the details.  I referred my brides to awesome photographers and will let them take care of it.  I know they will be in great hands.

3)  I’m keeping my schedule very light this year and next year.  I’ve notified all my clients that I will be taking maternity leave.  It’s important to set aside those couple of months and clear your schedule.  With Brayden, I had an emergency c-section.  I needed those entire two months to recover.  Even if you don’t have a c-section you will be tired, emotionally drained, and probably a little overwhelmed.  Take those two months to get to know your new baby and set a routine.  And if you feel like going back to work earlier, you can.  But by leaving your schedule open you’re not obligated to.

4)  Think about if you are going to nurse or not.  That’s one of the biggest challenges about being a wedding photographer.  At least for me.  When do you find time to pump during an 8 hour wedding?  And what if your baby refuses to take a bottle?  It happens!  Luckily, Brayden was super easy and ate any way he could.  And I got lucky because my milk supply was great.  Most weddings I pumped right before and right after and I was fine.  But, realize you will probably have to find time during a wedding to pump.

It would also be smart to inform your clients that you are choosing to breastfeed and you might have to step away for a few minutes during their wedding.  Assure them that their photography will be covered and that you will not leave them high and dry during the important parts of their wedding.  That way they feel taken care of and they won’t be wondering where you ran off to.

5)  If you’re shooting weddings, hire an assistant to carry your bags.  It’s the best money you’ll ever spend.  Do it for your weddings while you’re pregnant and after as well.  Even if you don’t think you need an assistant at the beginning of your pregnancy, do it anyways.  You never know when or if you’ll develop morning sickness.  It can be a lifesaver to have someone there to grab you water or a snack when you don’t have time to do it yourself.  And for the weddings after you have the baby your second shooter can cover for you if you need to leave to pump and the assistant can take over for the second shooter.  Then you don’t feel guilty for having to leave.

This baby will most likely be our last.  While, I want to continue having a successful business, I also want to enjoy life.  That’s why I chose to be a photographer.  So I can make my own schedule and stay home with my kids.  I hate saying no and passing up opportunities, but life is short.  Our kids are little for such a short period of time and I want to make sure I’m enjoying it, not just rushing through it.

Comments

  1. Jenny G says

    Thanks for this post. I am due in August as well and am trying to figure out how to balance everything. It sure is nice to hear how you did it and what you’re doing to make it better this time around! Good luck to us both:)
    Jenny G´s last blog post ..Laura Turns One

  2. Kristin B says

    Good post! Good stuff to remember!

  3. Jessica says

    Thank you for this post! Definitely some things to think about for the future!
    Jessica´s last blog post ..Just having some fun

  4. Karlee says

    Great post Drew! I am also due in August and am wondering how I am going to “do it all”. This post reminds me that I don’t! Thanks!

  5. Lindsey says

    Great post! I have to add that my first (and only so far) baby was born at 36 weeks when I went into labor. I was also put on bedrest at 23 weeks. Be sure to be prepared for anything! You just never know when you are pregnant!

  6. erin says

    Yay for you for knowing when to slow down. Enjoy your little ones! They grow up so fast. 🙂

  7. this is a great post! when I booked the wedding I’m shooing next month all I could think about is how you were 36-37wks pregnant photographing weddings and the photo of you standing the chair taking the photo of the bride since I’ll be almost 33 weeks pregnant at this wedding
    misty smith´s last blog post ..The Hewetts Beaufort family photography

  8. Wendy says

    Well Said. So happy you’re taking the time to slow down and enjoy! 🙂
    Wendy´s last blog post ..Alessandra

  9. Shannon K says

    Thank you so much for posting this!! I am also expecting our 2nd child and after suffering a miscarriage in December of 2010 I am much more conscious of what I am doing and trying not to overwhelm myself. I am due October the 8th and I had a bride ask me to shoot her wedding at the end of October. I absolutely hated to say that I couldnt do it but there will not be any way that I could leave my child for that long of a time that soon after having him or her. Plus I will also be nursing and it would not be possible for me to shoot a wedding which takes literally all DAY. However I do have 2 weddings in July and I will be 6 months pregnant at the time and one of them is in Tennessee which is about 5 hours from where we live. I am getting a little worried as to how my body will feel being on my feet for a very long time but I am going to pray really hard that it wont be to bad. God Bless you and your growing family!!!!
    Shannon K´s last blog post ..Family Portraits

  10. Rachel says

    I agree, really great post. Shannon – I like you just lost our 2nd baby in Dec and am 7 wks along now. It is so hard to shoot weddings being pregnant when you don’t know what you’ll be going through. My first I had to shoot a couple with morning sickness, which I usually have all…. day. That was miserable, but just sucked it up, because I had to. But time does go by so quickly with them and I have always wanted to spend every moment with my son and of course next one – Lord willing. So I agree, that if you can put things on the back burner, it’s totally worth it and nothing you’ll look back on and regret. I have a hard enough time currently just juggling work in general – family shoots and outstanding wedding albums, and caring for my son. First year with him I think I shot 8 weddings and we didn’t get him sleeping through the night for a whole year! I was so incredibly wore out at the weddings I did and I know, not the client, that I didn’t do my best for them and that just killed me. I agree Drew – they deserve our 100%. I shot some wedding having to stress when to pump, others on just 3 hours, total of sleep, etc. It was miserable. So after talking with my husband, I’ve decided not to take on any more weddings for at least a few years, and will see later on. I’ll take on a few family shoots here and there as they come, but not pushing for them either. Since I miscarried, I don’t want to have to stress about work.
    What I’d love to know from all the Mom’s, is how do you juggle shooting and all the work afterwards while caring for you child, (children)? I want to keep working, but I’m just not able to keep up on all my outstanding work and it’s a killer! My office assistant took off with his own biz, so I’m doing all the work alone. Which is half the problem, I know. 😉 Blessings Drew on your next baby and working along the way… I’m new to your site and just love it!

  11. Thanks for sharing your experience, Drew! Such a great post! There is plenty of time to work, but these babies change so quickly! There are quite a few of us commenting who are due in August… Best wishes to all! 🙂

    Ryann

  12. Drew-
    This article is so well timed. I am just inside of my second tri-mester (15 weeks). I am lucky enough to have a wonderful support group of area photographers that counciled me to pass on two weddings that were a few weeks before my due date & a few weeks after. It really pained me to have to give up those weddings, but I haven’t second guessed myself since I did. Thank you for sharing your experience, because Lord knows that every peice of advice I can muster I will.
    Marissa Nicole´s last blog post ..Together at Last Augusta- GA Engagement Photographer Engagement Photography

  13. Lindsay says

    Awesome post! I’m also pregnant (due in July) with our second, and while I don’t shoot weddings, I’m very nervous about handling a busy portrait season with a newborn and nursing. I opted to just take the rest of the year off and come back strong in 2012 with a 7 month old. 🙂 Glad that you will be taking it easy too! They are only so little once …. and I’m very blessed that I’m able to take such liberties with my business.
    Lindsay´s last blog post ..Kirby Class of 2011 Dallas Senior Photographer

  14. Julie says

    Dude. I am stressing out over the 23 weddings. I can’t even wrap my mind around that number. One year we went to 8 and Jason officiated 4 of them. I thought that year was wedding crazy. But I think we are total wimps! 23????? How did you not run off to a tropical island for a couple years after that? Maybe because you are a superhuman radtastic superhero.
    Julie´s last blog post ..The perfect number

  15. Colleen says

    I am so glad my google-fu came up with this blog post!

    I just found out I’m expecting #2 in November (which, with first glance is perfect, right? right at the end of wedding season!) NOT! I had JUST booked a Nov 4th wedding like, a week before i found out.

    Whaaaaaaaat?! And I worked SO HARD to book this effing wedding! I want to shoot it so bad, and I don’t want to lose them as clients, but I realize I might have to. I fortunately have a partner, and never shoot weddings alone, so they will at least be getting one of us (or both if I’m able). I’m just so worried about HOW exactly to word the email letting them know. I’ll search to see if you have a blog on that subject.

    Thanks!