I was on the fence about doing a maternity photo shoot. I pictured myself as a pregnant woman in a floral sundress, standing in a wheat field plucking petals from a daisy. My imagined visual, as lovely (narrow minded!) as it was, felt unnatural to me. But after perusing local photographer Scarlet O’Neill’s blog, I decided that a maternity photo shoot could be whatever I wanted it to be.

It’s been an awesome journey and although the idea of a second child is appealing, no one can predict how the future will unfold; this could well be my only pregnancy. I’ve loved these past nine months. Why not capture this time with photos that aren’t snapped on an iPhone?

A few days before our shoot, at her whimsical studio on Queen West, Scarlet asked whether I had chosen my outfits. I had not. I had not done anything to prepare and was a bit concerned that I had no theme, or whatever, organized. I decided to just pull clothes that made me feel good; clothes I’d worn during pregnancy that I liked, (even if they didn’t really fit). These were pieces from my closet that I love, that feel natural for me. (If picking an outfit still seems like a daunting task, Scarlet will often send clients Pinterest boards to help inspire them.)

To ensure photos don’t come out looking awkward or forced, Scarlet puts women and couples at ease by chatting openly with them during the shoot. “I am really curious about pregnancy and because I have been around a lot of births, I am a birth photographer as well, I really like hearing the stories about their journey,” she says. “People seem to understand that my goal is to capture really honest real photos and that alone often lifts the pressure off the shoot and they seem to have a lot of fun!” I had fun. Especially with her dog Lucy, who is a dead ringer for Charlotte York’s dog, Elizabeth Taylor.

Although it may be tempting to snap pics of your cute six-month bump, Scarlet recommends that women and couples wait until the eighth month, “They look really full in the belly and that’s the point of a maternity shoot. Some women experience more discomfort as their pregnancy goes on; I advise those women to listen to their body and book a little earlier. Ideally, eight months is best.”

Whether you want to capture your transformed body as a keepsake to show your little one or wait a little to book a session after his or her arrival, Scarlet is a professional who will put you and your family at ease. I enjoyed our time together, laughed a lot and found it to be yet another slice of precious time when I was able to remove myself from the everyday and focus on the life growing inside me; my baby who is set to arrive any day.

Check out Scarlet O’Neill’s portfolio and follow her on instagram, @scarletoneill. Scarlet is also one of the city’s most in demand wedding photographers. BOOK SOON!