TIPS FOR WORKING AS A WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER WHILST PREGNANT
So, you’re expecting a baby – wahoo! You’re also a working wedding photographer whilst pregnant… Wondering how on earth you’re going to deal with your pregnancy symptoms? Here are my tips for getting through wedding season.
In the last instalment, we talked all about planning and timings. Let’s fast forward a bit now, whenever you’ve decided is the best time to try and however long it’s taken, you’re working as a wedding photographer whilst pregnant and jumping for joy.
Now, this post is, spoiler alert, intentionally a bit of a reality check. There’s a lot of things I didn’t consider about pregnancy and the impact some aspects of it could/would have on me working as a wedding photographer whilst pregnant. Some people sail through pregnancy with not a single symptom other than their glorious growing tummy, gorgeous hair and glowing skin, but in case that’s not the situation, I just want to keep it real and to give you some tips to survive wedding season. With each symptom I’ve talked about, I’ve explained some things that helped me through in hope it will help you too!
Before we crack on, I’ll start by saying, as soon as you’re past 12 weeks or whenever you’re happy to – let everyone know you’re pregnant. I assure you that if you do, the mother of the bride or an aunty will have their eye on you all day making sure you’re looking after yourself. Having someone check in on you regularly is a blessing in disguise – when you’re in the thick of a wedding day, it’s easy to forget you’re actually growing a tiny human in your belly and need to look after yourself!
Of course, not everyone is affected by this, but it is a common pregnancy symptom and one I definitely was not prepared for. I mean, I knew I’d be tired, but this isn’t just tiredness, I’m talking about full on fatigue where you can barely drag yourself out of bed in the morning and keep your eyes open all day long. Particularly in the first trimester and it kindly returns in the third! This massively impacted me during wedding season because not only did I find the actual shooting hard work, but it impacted on the timescale I wanted to give my clients their images in – I didn’t physically have the energy to edit their photos some days.
I like to give my clients their images as soon as they are ready and try not to have an editing queue at all when I can help it. This means during wedding season, I’m pretty much editing non-stop so I can deliver the images ideally in just a few weeks. Now luckily, none of my clients were effected by the change in my timescale because I always do the age old thing of under-promise and over-deliver.
Plan for fatigue by eating a balanced, carb-rich diet on shooting days. Have a big breakfast, take lots of snacks and most importantly keep well hydrated. Unless it’s in your contract, you could consider adjusting the timescales you promise to deliver your images in – just to give you a bit more flexibility and to take the pressure off if you’re feeling knackered. You could even consider outsourcing your editing if need be!
Again, not something everyone gets, but nausea and vomiting is a very, very common pregnancy symptom. For some it lasts just for the first three months and unfortunately for others, it can last for the entire pregnancy, eeeek. I’ve been lucky with both pregnancies and only suffered mildly. However, before I got pregnant, I never imagined myself having to pull over at the side of the road on the way to a ceremony to be sick, or be stood in the corner of bridal prep silently praying that I didn’t spew all over the mother of the bride. Nice hey. It’s also important to mention hyperemesis, which is very severe morning sickness. It’s not uncommon to be hospitalised for this to stop you becoming dehydrated, so something to at least be aware of as it would obviously massively impact you if you were unfortunate enough to get this during wedding season.
Plan for this by prepping lots snacks to eat little and often. Prepare for the worst case scenario “I’m gonna be sick…right now!” moment by having a paper bag discreetly but easily accessible in your kit bag. Take some mouthwash too – no bride or groom wants a photographer that smells like vom!
Cankles! (Aka Leg Oedema)
Ok, this sounds like the most vain thing to write ever, doesn’t it?! Bear with me though! We all know the exhaustion of standing all day shooting a wedding, and how much your feet and legs ache by the end of it. Does anyone else finally get home and then just sit in their car for another 10 minutes because they don’t have the energy to get out, or is that just me?!
When you’re pregnant and on your feet for periods of time, for some lucky people like me, fluid gathers in your lower legs and feet which is obviously not only super attractive but also really comfortable, naaaaaaat. With Astrid, I worked my entire wedding season before she was born. With it being summer it was really hot. Some days I would get home and my ankles were easily the size of my calves, maybe bigger, and they would be painful and throbbing and I wanted to cry a bit. Don’t worry, thankfully it all disperses again overnight.
My advice to plan for this, would be to have lots of different pairs of shoes in your car. For me, those gel and memory foam insole things you can buy were a godsend. Sit down whenever it’s an option and appropriate to. Also an option – this sounds like the most ridiculous thing, but I’ll admit it – I used to take a cool bag with some freezer packs in, purely for the purpose of sticking my feet in it during a lull in the day. Ha!
Weight of your gear
Again, we all know that our camera gear weighs a bloody tonne. When you get pregnant and your body begins to change, you lose your core abdominal muscles and it’s really easy to injure yourself. Plus for a lot of women, you generally have back ache to start with because of the weight of the baby on your front.
This might mean that you have to be more choosey about what gear you use and what you pack for a wedding day. I did one lot of bridal prep in a hotel with about a thousand flights of stairs to climb and no lift… With a roller bag containing pretty much everything I use on a wedding day (probably weighed more than me!), by the time I reached the bride I was completely crippled.
I soon learnt to split things in to multiple bags and leave lots in the car instead; one bag for prep, one for the ceremony, extra bits for portraits and candids in the other and any lighting for the reception, plus another bag of spares. My car boot was rammed full. Having to go back and forth between different parts of the day wasn’t ideal, but at least from then on I was never crippled before I even started! I understand that if you’re shooting somewhere super urban like London and travelling on the underground, this wouldn’t be possible, but just some things to think about for those of you that work in more rural locations like I mainly do.
If you use a neck strap, you could also consider using a spider holster or a dual harness instead. I first bought the Camera Swagg harness (the vegan friendly option from Holdfast) when I got pregnant and it really helped with back pain. So much so that I can’t go back to a neck strap even now!
Have you read the rest of this series?
Planning and Timing Pregnancy as a Wedding Photographer, How to Tell Your Wedding Photography Clients You are Pregnant, and Our Story (for anyone that’s a bit nosy like me and loves posts like that!).
I really hope you’ve found this post helpful. I’d love to hear from you – get in touch on Instagram or drop me an email!
Photo credit to Ellie Gillard for our lovely couples photos.