This week, we’re featuring one of our preferred photographers for maternity photo shoots, Ksenia Pro, a Washington, D.C.-based portrait photographer with an extensive background in fashion photography, specializing in maternity and magazine style portrait sessions.
Ksenia truly cares about her clients and delivers the best experience. She is known for her love of dramatic dresses and signature editing style – clean, polished magazine quality images. Her work has appeared in magazines in the U.S. and internationally. Outside of photography, Ksenia is a busy mom and loves to spend time outdoors with her family and listen to podcasts about personal development.
We asked Ksenia several questions about shooting maternity portraits and what advice she gives to her clients.
1. Where do you find inspiration for your maternity photo shoots?
Inspiration for my work comes from multiple sources, but my clients and their life stories inspire me the most. When someone tells me a story about their rainbow baby, or how they would love to have a picture with horses because a horse is their spirit animal–that’s gold to me. Of course, visual references from fashion photography and some images that I see on social media or in the movies help create and shape my vision and my photography style, but the stories and my clients’ energy is what makes me come up with colors and style ideas for their session.
2. What’s your process for working with clients?
Everything starts with a pre-consultation phone call, where I learn more about them and their journey into motherhood. By asking simple questions and making small talk, you can really learn what they like and care about, and based on that we talk about the outfits, location and the vision for the photo shoot. I also provide resources to set my clients for success, such as hair and makeup artists, outfit ideas and resources (Mama Bump is the first place I send every client, because of the quality of their rental gowns at a fraction of the cost and amazing customer service.)
3. What advice would you give a mom-to-be for creating the perfect maternity photo shoot?
Don’t wait till the last minute to book your session. Once you’re in your second trimester, in most cases it’s safe to start planning ahead and contacting your first-choice photographer. I get a lot of inquiries from moms who are due in 3-4 weeks and I am rarely available on such a short notice. Best time to have a maternity session is 28-36 weeks, but the “sweet spot” is around 30-33 weeks, when you have lots of energy, and the baby bump is usually the perfect size and shape.
Also, good planning is key to a successful session—it’s important to decide on the style, outfits and location early on to ensure the dress arrives on time, the location is available and ready, and the photographer knows what to expect and how to set up for your session.
On the day of your session, bring a few essentials: hair and makeup touch up kit with basic makeup products and a hair brush, your favorite lotion (in case you want to show some skin and look truly glowing), and underwear that fits you right and doesn’t create unwanted lines.
Communicate with your photographer. Show them a few pictures and then trust their experience and the creative process. A great photographer will give you all the posing suggestions and will make sure you look great and feel comfortable throughout the photo shoot.
4. What tips would you give a mom-to-be when selecting a dress from Mama Bump Rentals for her photo shoot?
I love using Mama Bump Rentals because their dresses are high quality and they offer a variety of styles from super dramatic to more romantic and down to earth. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, just browse their collection of maternity dresses and see what speaks to you. It’s good to have options, in case certain styles, sizes or colors may not be available for the date of your session. Most of the dresses are very stretchy and soft, so there’s no need to go a size up. It looks much better when a dress is a snug fit, rather than loose. They also have a very helpful size chart on their website and a support team happy to answer any questions.
5. What advice do you offer a mom-to-be for a studio portrait shoot vs. an outdoor lifestyle shoot?
It totally depends on the style and the vision you have for your session. I often ask my clients to close their eyes and try to imagine how they’d want their photo shoot to be—where, what’s around them and what are they wearing. If it’s hard for you to visualize, go online and look through the maternity photos, save the ones that you love most, and you will most likely see a pattern of a certain style or look you’re most drawn to. Your photographer will help you make the right decision based on the outfit and some of the requested shots.
For example, sunset photos can only be done outside, but very revealing or nude silhouette photos most likely have to be done in the studio.
My clients often opt for indoor and outdoor mixed sessions, when we do one outfit in the studio and then move outside for an on-location shoot. Luckily, my studio is in a beautiful area with lots of natural locations close by–fields, a lake, wooded trails, streams and more.
Also, when shooting outside, be sure to have a backup plan in case the weather doesn’t cooperate.
6. What is the most unique or wildest maternity photo shoot you’ve done? Please give details.
I just did a maternity session for a mom who is really into pole dancing and she was flawless with her poses even being 7 months pregnant! We assembled a pylon in the studio, and she did some of the poses she had practiced for her shoot. It was challenging for me to get the right angle while she was spinning, especially because you want to make sure to capture the curves beautifully. It was physically challenging for her for sure, but it was a successful shoot, thanks to all the planning beforehand.
Another one that I just did this weekend was with horses, and my maternity client got on the tallest horse and she looked so graceful! And one more—one of my clients ordered hundreds of fresh flowers for her shoot. It was so beautiful!