Milk Bath Photography, Herbal Bath Sessions, and Floral Baths are making a huge splash these days- cheesy pun intended. (Sorry, I’m still sleepy.) These beautiful milky photo sessions always bring a ton of questions, so I thought I would share this gorgeous Floral Milk Bath session with you and share what I did. (Though I don’t claim to be an expert, please feel free to login to ask questions in the comments section!)
Both Professional Maternity Photographers and pregnant moms always seem to ask one question first- “Is it real milk?” Which is always following immediately by, “It seems like it would take gallons of milk to fill a bath!” So let’s start there! I think this answer varies from photographer to photographer, and maybe even from milk bath to milk bath, depending on the look and feel desired by the artist. Most often, real milk is used in at least some form, yes! However, that does NOT mean that you need to stray away from these beautiful portraits if you have a problem with dairy! Almond milk, coconut milk, goats milk, even breast milk… pretty much any milk substitute could likely be used in place of regular milk- just give it a try! You do not need to have gallons and gallons to fill the bath tub. Surprisingly, a lot of times one gallon will do the trick, depending on how translucent you want the water to be. Now, to get really honest, most professional maternity photographers I know will not use a gallon of any kind of milk! (What?!) Yeah, I know. The trade secrets: There are many other options that allow more room for creative control. These beautiful milk bath images were created with a powdered creamer, something like this: (click for link.) This is still a milk product, so not a really great substitute if you are trying to avoid dairy. This worked out really well for me, and a little bit goes a long way. At this point, you may be thinking about the last time you used powdered creamer, and it all just clumped at the top of your coffee. Well, don’t worry about that. I have another little trick. Simply mix it up in a pitcher (or shake it in an empty bottle) before you add it to the bath. Once that condensed “milk” is made, then you can add it in to the bath water as needed. My pitcher actually has a handle on it for easy mixing, so it was really a speedy process. (I use one like this.) Another dairy-free option is corn starch, though I have not tried that one. Please comment below, if you have!
After your milk bath is created, many maternity photographers choose at add floating flowers. This is such a gorgeous option, but please make sure to ask your expecting momma if she has any allergies. If she does, be certain to find non-allergenic flowers, or use silk flowers. I added my flowers as the momma was getting in, and then throughout the photo session. They did start to immerse deeper, the longer we photographed, so it was nice to have more to add in. We also needed them in various places as we changed poses, so having extras to toss here and there was nice. If you are photographing from above, it may be a good idea to have something long that you can reach down and move the flowers around, without moving up and down. If you are planning to use silk flowers, I’ve heard that they often sink. To avoid this, try dipping the bottom in melted wax well before your bath session. (Sorry, I haven’t personally tried this one, so let me know if you have!)
So you’ve got your pregnant momma, your milk, your flowers…. what about the tub? This seems to be the hardest problem, I’m not going to lie! The ideal location would be a beautiful jacuzzi bath tub, with sides the photographer can stand on, lots of space in the bathroom, and glorious natural light. Good luck! If you have access to one, take advantage of it! Most photographers don’t, so here’s what you can do: call around to local Bed and Breakfast locations, or do a quick search on airbnb.com. Many local places are looking to make a few dollars and have beautiful options. If that doesn’t work, there’s another option, but it will be more challenging. That is…. a blow up swimming pool. Don’t believe it will work? That’s what we used in all of these images. It left us with a lot of laughs and a few stories to tell, but it got the job done! If you can do this outside, in the shade, you may have a great lighting situation, naturally. If not, try to do it in the studio with your strobe lights. That’s what we did, and I think the images are beautiful.
If you are planning to do a session like this with a newborn, it would be a better idea to do a Postpartum Herbal Bath. Lots of babies have sensitive skin and dairy allergies, and who wants to find that out the hard way? There are a lot of Herbal Bath kits on the market, so just be sure you’re getting one that is safe and gentle for babies. If you want your water to look darker, make sure you steep the herbs for a long time before pouring it in the bath. Start this process well before the bath!
If you have any other tips or tricks for a maternity or glamour milk bath or floral bath, please share them in the comments below!
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