My Pregnancy Journey as a Luxury Wedding Photographer & Videographer


luxury wedding photographer and videographer maternity and pregnancy journey




I consider myself incredibly lucky to have fallen in love with a career that allows me to balance my personal life with my business on my own terms. While it definitely stinks that I don’t get a paid maternity leave like I would’ve at a corporate job, I’m very blessed to have the flexibility to amend my business model to fit with my personal goals, as needed. With a High Value Low Volume business model, I’m lucky enough to be able to more easily schedule big life milestones around the weddings that I book.

My husband and I decided to try starting our family in 2023, but long before we even started trying, I have been mentally planning how I would juggle being a wedding photographer & videographer with being a mom.


having a baby as a wedding photographer



Timing The Pregnancy

Based upon the feedback I’ve heard from fellow moms in the wedding industry, the trickiest pregnancy time periods are the first trimester (due to morning sickness & fatigue), and the last trimester (because of the toll that the growing belly takes on your body and the unpredictability of going into labor). The consensus seems to be that the middle trimester seems to be the sweet spot (and now that I’ve been through it – I agree!).

The nice thing about luxury weddings is that they typically book around 9-12+ months in advance, which allows me to have a good overview of what wedding bookings I will have coming up that year. Looking at my yearly calendar, I strategically determined that it would be ideal to be due in the winter so that I would be in my first trimester during spring wedding season (when I have a medium load of weddings), in my second trimester during the peak summer/fall season (when I have the most weddings), and in my final trimester during the late fall/early winter (when I don’t typically book many weddings and it would make the most sense financially to block off my calendar and turn down any potential bookings in order to give myself a “maternity leave”).

I always knew that it was a bit of a pipe dream to “decide” exactly when I would like to get pregnant, and I mentally prepared myself that it’s entirely possible that our plan would not work, but luckily, I got pregnant right when I hoped I would, and, so far, our strategy has been working out perfectly!


wedding photographer pregnancy and maternity advice




Pre-Pregnancy:

  • A year before my husband and I even started trying, I explicitly added the word “pregnancy” to the Liability Clause in my contracts, so that there wouldn’t be any confusion or gray area in the event that I wasn’t able to shoot the wedding last minute:

… In the unlikely event that the Photographer is unable to provide the services described in this Agreement for any reason including, but not limited to, illness, injury, medical concern, pregnancy complications, physical impairment, emergency, or act of God, sudden event or other circumstances beyond the control of the Photographer, the Photographer will provide an associate photographer as a replacement at no extra cost to Client.

Here are some tips that helped us conceive within our goal timeframe:

  • Get an annual physical including bloodwork to make sure you’re in great health to conceive and carry a baby.
  • Start taking prenatal vitamins early (luckily I’ve been taking these vitamins since I was a teenager so my iron & folate levels were fantastic!)
  • Wean off of caffeine. As most entrepreneurs tend to be, I’m fueled by lattes and tea, so I gradually started weaning myself off of caffeine ahead of time. Over several months, I started replacing my regular coffee beans with more and more organic swiss water process decaf beans. I went from half-caff to quarter-caff to decaf without feeling any withdrawal. Technically, you’re “allowed” up to 200-300mg of caffeine per day (1 small latte is only 80mg), but I was so proud of myself for proving to myself that I wasn’t “dependent” upon caffeine to keep up my energy or productivity.
  • Stop taking hormonal birth control 3-6 months in advance. I wanted to give myself at least one “recovery” cycle to allow my uterine lining to thicken and “start fresh” before beginning to try.
  • After a month or two off of birth control, track your [hopefully regular by now] ovulation cycle each month (I used the charts in the back of the WTEBYE book). Use ovulation strips to calculate your LH levels and record what day of your cycle it typically peaks.
    • How the strips work: Twice a day (the same time each morning and evening – I did 10am and 8pm – don’t overly hydrate for two hours before peeing, so the urine isn’t diluted), you pee in a cup, dip the strip in it for 5 seconds, then check the strip after 5 minutes. If the test line is equal to or darker than the control line, it indicates a high level of the LH hormone. Keep track of all your results (I took photos in the PreMom app to record them). The highest result you get that month is your peak. You typically ovulate 24-48 hours after the peak. (Note: there will likely always be at least a faint line, because you always have a low level of LH throughout your cycle. What matters is the peak.)
    • TTC (“trying to conceive”): Start using ovulation strips around day 10 of that cycle. The goal is to have unprotected sex each of the 2-3 days leading up to your LH peak, plus a couple days after. (In other words, the 4-5 days before & including your ovulation date). The highest chances of getting pregnant are the day before and the day of your ovulation. (That means, as soon as you see an LH peak, it’s definitely go time!)
    • The 2WW (“two week wait”): The dreadfully long two weeks after ovulation. All you can do is impatiently wait until it’s time to take a pregnancy test when your period would be due.
  • We were very lucky to get pregnant on our second try!! I know that not all couples are that lucky (and we consider ourselves very very blessed – our hearts go out to any couples struggling with infertility), and I continually reminded myself that we could only do our part & hope – the rest was up to biology and the Universe. I knew I would need to learn to let go of control, judgement, self-criticism, and blame, and learn to manage expectations while still having faith and optimism. Joining Gurminder Banga’s “Soul Care meditation group for high-achieving wedding professionals helped me stay in this mindset of “calm, balance, peace, and ease” and has been literally life changing!



being pregnant as a wedding photographer and videographer




First Trimester:

  • Luckily, I hardly felt any symptoms the first 6 weeks. I photographed Sara & Matt’s Rock Island wedding when our baby was just a zygote, Grace & Gavin’s St Patrick’s Cathedral wedding when our embryo was just starting to form, and Jackie & Cole’s wedding at The Abbey when my bump was just beginning to show!
  • My morning sickness was worst at 7 weeks (no vomiting, just very sensitive stomach, strong food aversions, and picky appetite), and I had extreme fatigue at 12 weeks (I could sleep 9 hours and still be exhausted all day long – luckily, the “wedding day adrenaline” distracted me and helped me keep up my momentum throughout the day). I also had to remind myself to get up slowly after squatting down (taking detail shots, reaching in my camera bag, etc) so I wouldn’t get lightheaded.
  • To overcome the morning sickness: I brought my own tummy-approved snacks and grazed throughout the day, as well as ginger lemon tea to sip on. (These gummies also seemed to work well!)
  • To prevent overheating: I brought lots of ice water, a first aid ice pack in case I needed something super cold super fast, and a handheld fan that I could use in case I ever got too hot.


pregnant first trimester wedding photographer maternity dress




Second Trimester:

  • For all of my peak-pregnancy weddings, I hired an additional photographer to be an assistant and third shooter. In addition to covering the wedding from additional angles, she also helped me carry bags, set up equipment, refill my water, get me a plate of food during cocktail hour if I was too busy shooting, helped me carry my equipment to my car, and countless other helpful tasks. In case there was an emergency or I wasn’t able to shoot the wedding last minute, my second shooter would’ve been promoted to lead shooter and my third shooter would’ve been promoted to second shooter. (This “in case of emergency plan” was laid out in the Liability Clause that I referenced above.) – Thank you for your help, Caryn!
  • Thankfully, it’s true what they say – the second trimester is the “sweet spot” in terms of higher energy and less symptoms! Other than having a small baby bump to get used to maneuvering around, I felt great during the second trimester. I’m very thankful that the bulk of my weddings were scheduled during my second trimester. It was also so joyful knowing that I had a little “assistant” along for the ride for so many weddings this year – we even shot a double header one weekend: Katie & Ricky’s Smith Farm Gardens wedding and Allison & Rob’s Minerals Hotel wedding!



maternity leave and pregnancy tips and advice for luxury wedding photographer videographer business owner




Third Trimester:

The three trickiest parts about the third trimester for me were: the suppressed immune system, the strained ligaments, and the “mom brain”.

  • I used to be able shoot weddings with 200+ guests in cramped spaces during cold & flu season and never get sick. After becoming pregnant, if I’m even in a room with someone with a cough, I’m going to catch that cough – and it’s going to last for weeks. If you’re pregnant during the winter months, I highly recommend masking up in any scenarios where you think you might catch something, and/or reminding people to reschedule their hangouts with you if they’re feeling under the weather.
  • As the pregnancy progressed and my belly grew, I could definitely feel my ligaments loosening (due to the relaxin hormones that your body releases to prepare you for childbirth). While I stayed active my whole pregnancy (which I highly recommend!), I could definitely feel myself needing to be very careful and intentional about how much I lifted and using good form so that I didn’t strain or pull anything. As photographers and videographers know, those jam-packed Pelican cases and massive bags with stands and tripods and gear are not light! Do not be afraid to ask for help lifting or moving or setting up equipment. This is why having an assistant is crucial, as mentioned above!
  • I came to learn that “mom brain” is a real thing. For me, there were two aspects to this:
    • Pregnancy Brain: All the pregnancy hormones flowing through you affect the neurons in your brain and can cause memory problems, poor concentration, and absentmindedness, often nicknamed “pregnancy brain”. A funny example of this: While we were in the car on the way to our maternity session, I was so bummed that I forgot to grab a belt that went with one of my outfits. When we showed up at our shoot, it was magically in our bag. For the life of me, I could not figure out how it got in our bag. While running around packing for our shoot, I have a distinct memory of telling myself “oh no, the belt is missing for this outfit, don’t forget to find it and pack it” but I have absolutely no memory of actually packing it – I don’t even know where I found it! For some reason, that memory just did not even form. 🤷‍♀️ This is why having a detailed timeline on a wedding day is crucial – and having a helpful/involved second shooter and assistant to keep you on track and prevent you from missing or forgetting anything. Be sure to give them the go-ahead to remind you of anything & everything, even if it seems obvious, and that you won’t be offended if they do!
    • Mom Mode: As we approached our due date, I could definitely feel my mental priorities shifting towards our baby, the birth, and motherhood. 90% of my daily thoughts were consumed with concerns like registering for the birth center, writing up our birth preferences, packing our birth bag, setting up the nursery, stocking up our freezer with meals, etc. If this is how much “brain space” the baby was taking up before he even arrived, I could only imagine how much it would take up when he’s actually here! That’s why I realized how important it was to pre-plan, automate, pre-schedule, and prepare as much of my business tasks before taking maternity leave so I can mentally “check out” and just focus on our baby.


second trimester as a wedding photographer and videographer

If your schedule allows, I wouldn’t recommend shooting weddings past 35 weeks. That’s when I started feeling the most limited due to weight of the belly. If you must shoot up until your due date, I would recommend avoiding heavy lifting and contorting into weird positions to keep your body from getting tense or tight or asymmetrical (not ideal for optimal fetal positioning and preparing your body for labor), and to prevent pulling anything. Also be sure to stretch/loosen up and stay hydrated!

Symptoms

Something liberating that I wish I realized going into pregnancy: all the symptoms you read about in pregnancy books & apps MIGHT happen to you but it’s unlikely that ALL of them will apply to you.

Pregnancy symptoms I did get:

  • First trimester food aversions & smell sensitivity
  • Linea nigra (first visible sign I was pregnant!)
  • First trimester fatigue/napping
  • Catching colds & foodborne illnesses easier
  • Heartburn (more frequent/intense in third trimester)
  • Waking up once per night to pee
  • Sore pelvis/hip flexors/round ligaments
  • Rib numbness/tingling


Pregnancy symptoms I didn’t get:

  • No vomiting from morning sickness
  • No stretch marks 🤞
  • No weird food cravings (just prefer milder flavors)
  • Hair didn’t get noticeably thicker
  • Boobs didn’t get much bigger (maybe when I breastfeed they will? 🤷‍♀️)
  • No bleeding gums/dental issues
  • Feet didn’t get any larger
  • No digestive issues 🙏



Mentally, the most anxiety-provoking stages for me were:

  • early on in the pregnancy, worrying about miscarriage, wondering if baby was ok at every moment
  • a few months in, worrying that my bump was too small and that baby wasn’t growing enough
  • towards the end of the pregnancy, worrying because baby wasn’t head-down yet

Looking back now, it seems so silly that I was worried about any of these things because everything turned out fine (which I’m super thankful for and don’t take for granted!).

My best advice is: if you don’t have any concrete reason to believe you will be the “exception”, assume that you’re in the positive spectrum of all the statistical chances. Don’t let worry rob you of the joy of the present (easier said than done, I know!). Whatever the outcome ends up being will still be the outcome regardless of whether or not you’re consumed with worry. Focus on putting your energy into any actions you DO have control over, and let go of the rest. Make your peace with Outcome A and Outcome B and move forward with positivity knowing that everything will work out one way or another. Whatever happens, it’ll all be part of Baby’s story, and all stories are beautiful.







Maternity Leave as a Wedding Professional

While I have always affectionately considered my business “my baby” all of these years, and I still do truly love it, a human baby, with actual biological needs (lol), deserves to be my #1 priority while he’s a helpless little adorable newborn. 👶 Luckily, there are many business tasks that can be prepped and automated or taken care of before I enter postpartum life.

Here is a list of all the main tasks I did to prepare my business for maternity leave:

My Maternity Leave Checklist:

Update all email templates – I made templates for every scenario I could possibly think of! I went through my Sent folder to give myself an idea of questions I typically get asked and wrote up “copy and paste-able” responses to everything I could think of. My hope is that this will make it easier to stay on top of my inbox and still reply to emails while I’m sleep deprived or my mind is elsewhere. Note: The template is just a great starting point that takes a big mental load off of email drafting but I always personalize and proofread any templates before sending. I always want my clients to feel like they’re receiving customized, personal attention. Weddings are a very sentimental event and I never want my clients to feel neglected or like “just another client”.

☑ Update my list of reliable go-to second shooters and assistants, plus their current contact information, to be able to quickly and easily contact colleagues in case I need an extra hand at the last minute.

☑ Detail out my workflows – This may sound overkill, but I wrote out every single step I take throughout every single task I do in my business. That way, if I’m stuck in a “mom brain” fog, all I have to do is follow my own step-by-step instructions to remind myself of how I like to operate every aspect my business. Not only that, but I can use these instructions as an SOP (Standing Operation Procedure) so that I can easily and quickly outsource any given task to an assistant or VA if I feel like I need any extra help.

☑ Made sure my website was completely up-to-date with new prices, images from my most recent weddings, updated copy, recent reviews, etc. That way, my website is one less thing I need to worry about for several months, and potential future clients can easily find me and continue to book me so I can dive back into work after my Leave is over.

☑ Plus all of the usual admin tasks that I do every winter/slow season, including filing 1099’s and annual reports, reconciling my bookkeeping and filing my taxes [early – I wanted to have this squared away ahead of time since our baby is due in March], updating my contracts, making sure I’m caught up with all of my usual marketing & PR tasks, cleaning up & backing up all my files, organizing my equipment, etc.





Business Goals as a New Momtographer

When it came time to set my business goals for 2024, my motto (and our overall motto when it comes to figuring out “this whole parenting thing”) was “just wing it and course-correct if needed!”

I touched upon how goal setting looked a little different for me this January on my interview with Ingvild Kolnes on the Sustainable Photography Podcast. Because this is a new journey for me, I don’t have a clear picture of what balancing motherhood and entrepreneurship will look or feel like. I did my best to “guess” what our future might look like, taking into account my personality and values and lifestyle, and set some goals for what I think I will want to achieve in 2024 – but if I realize halfway through the year that they’re not realistic or in line with my actual desires, it’s totally fine to change my mind! I recognize that I may very well decide to shift my focus once I have an actual idea of what my day-to-day life will be like. And there’s nothing wrong with that!

For me, it all comes back to feeling fulfilled: if I feel like I am being a good mom, nurturing my baby, and feeling valuable, accomplished, and fulfilled as a photographer & videographer, I would consider that a huge success.





How I Prepared My Mind, Body, and Soul for Childbirth (and Parenting)

While I’m really hoping to be able to experience a natural, unmedicated childbirth, I understand that I can’t control outcomes, I can only control my own actions and mindset. I can’t “decide” how my baby is going to come into the world, I can only control how I prepare myself the 9 months leading up to it. These are some of the steps I took over the past several months – it was actually a super enjoyable process! I loved learning about childbirth and definitely want to add birth videography to my list of services in the future! No matter what my birth story ends up looking like, the habits I’ve formed and the positive impact all of this preparation has had on my mindset, my relationship with my husband, and my outlook on life has be truly life changing and positive.






Our Favorite Baby & Parenting Books: (in chronological order)



Favorite Pregnancy Apps:

  • Pregnancy+: I love how realistic the baby renderings are – I felt like I was actually looking into my womb! It made the pregnancy feel more real, especially early on in the pregnancy when I was still in disbelief. It also provides you with tons of articles with answers to questions you may be wondering.
  • What to Expect: We love the corny & informative weekly videos. My husband and I made it a tradition to watch them every Sunday morning. In addition to the baby renderings, I love that you can also see how your uterus is changing within the context of your body. It will also tell you the obligatory “your baby is the size of a ___” (you can choose from a variety of categories, but I went with the classic fruit comparisons).
  • Full Term: An app to time and track contractions (makes it easy to send a screenshot of the chart to your doula so she can analyze and understand your stage of labor)



Favorite Maternity Finds:

Our Nursery Theme:





My Baby Shower:

Baby Registry Wishes:

  • These are the items we wished for on our baby registry (a lot of the items were hand-me-downs from my sister/niece 🫶). We haven’t gotten a chance to use most of them yet so I can’t vouch for them personally, but most of them came highly recommended!








Returning to Shooting Weddings After Becoming a Mom


I can’t share too much insight about this because I haven’t gotten there yet! But here’s my [flexible] plan as of right now:

  • I took off 8 weeks postpartum to be exclusively “a mom”. Though I will definitely “allow” myself to answer emails and post on social media as much as I feel I have the time, energy, and headspace for, I decided to turn down any inquiries in this 8-week period following our baby’s due date. Hopefully that will be enough time for my body to heal, to get used to our “new normal”, and to get breastfeeding off to a good start.


  • My goal is to exclusively breastfeed our baby, so my plan is to:

    • Be diligent about feeding every 2-3 hours for the first 2+ weeks, to establish my supply and get breastfeeding off to a great start. Slowly start introducing 1 pumping session per day to start building up my “milk stash” at around 6 weeks so that our baby can drink bottled breastmilk while I’m away when I return to shooting weddings after 8 weeks.
    • When I’m at a wedding, I plan to use a Willow Go wearable hands-free pump to extract milk every 3 hours or so (perhaps right when I arrive, before the ceremony, during down-time/dancing during the reception, etc), plus 1 or 2 sessions with a stronger Spectra pump (maybe during cocktail hour or dinner) to get some more effective extraction. We’ll see how that strategy goes! 🤞
    • Your insurance will most likely cover at least one consultation with a lactation specialist – I highly recommend setting one up (I used Aeroflow and loved them! My doula also offers lactation consultations) to talk about your specific needs and goals and to come up with a custom plan for feeding your baby after you go back to work.



luxury wedding photographer maternity leave advice




If you took the time to read this entire, massive blog post, you’re either a very supportive friend who’s curious about my own journey (if so, thank you for your love and support!!) or you’re considering embarking on this journey yourself, in which case I wish you all of the luck and good fortune in the world! Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any comments to add, advice to give, or just want another momtographer to talk to! <3


wedding photographer pregnancy journey advice and tips


Studio maternity photos by Nicolette Sarzosa & Karina Mekel. Snapshots by Lin Pernille.

February 15, 2024

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