Chantal Richard-Mercier – Featured Photographer

About Chantal
I am a devoted wife and attached mother to soon to be two little ones. I am also a natural light portrait photographer living in New Brunswick, Canada. I discovered photography shortly after my son was born, like many of us Mamas do. My passion for it grows deeper each day. Through both motherhood and photography, I have truly found myself as a human being and as an artist.
I wanted to document this pregnancy for myself and for my lovely family. I also felt that it was a perfect time to explore personal and artistic growth through self-portraiture. The inspiration behind these self-portraits came from my wanting to honour and celebrate my pregnant body and mind. I have such love and admiration for what it does and what it’s about to do…even if I’m at a point where I can hardly recognize it as my own any more. There is so much beauty, sweetness and power that comes with growing and bringing into the world a perfect little soul.

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Capturing the beauty, sensuality and essence of maternity and motherhood.

I have recently asked myself; “what moves me in a photograph”, “what makes me suddenly feel inspired and tear up on a shoot”, “what do I need to shoot more of”? These questions sat with me for a some time and I came to realize that I needed to see and feel honesty and raw beauty in my images. This is when I decided to shift my photography a bit and also where my journey into maternity self-portraiture began!
For this session, I was feeling the need to portray softness and sensuality, mind-fullness and confidence. I love to play with light and shadows so I thought that a dreamy feel would work perfectly here.

Finding Light
Light is crucial and it’s probably the first thing that comes to mind when I start processing an idea for a shoot. I think we all do this and also like almost every photographer, I have studied the different kinds of light all around my home at various times of day. I wanted soft backlight for these, so I chose my living room window on a sunny day and used white sheer curtains to diffuse the light a bit. I knew exactly when and where these photos were going to taken because they were done in my home, but this could be a bit challenging when going to a client’s home for the first time. In that case, I’d make sure to discuss my vision with my client ahead of time. We’d figure out what sort of light hits which room at what time, and let them know that we might need to move stuff around to make it work. And I sort of love the unknown of going to a client’s home and working with what I have…it often gives way to new inspiration.

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Styling
I keep it simple. I prefer minimal jewellery except for maybe a ring or something small. I personally love messy hair and natural makeup with the focus on either the eyes or the lips, not both. It’s honest and it doesn’t take away from her true beauty. For wardrobe, I love to see skin as much as possible, while keeping it chic using the light, shadows, clothing or materials. Just a light flowy top, a men’s shirt, a simple dress that shows off her neck and shoulders, a blanket or in my case, the train from my wedding dress. I am beyond obsessed with black and white images and I love pattern or texture that will pop when I do my conversion. I love whites, wools, lace and anything with a neat pattern or detail that will look great in BW…but I only choose one! Again, not to take the focus away from my subject or the mood.

Raw and True
Whether it’s a self-portrait or a client, I want to find the woman, the mother, the confidence, the raw and the true and bring that out in my images. Whatever she is, see it and capture it. If she’s feeling sexy and powerful, capture that. If she’s feeling sweet and maternal, capture that. Capturing the raw and true is easier when I photograph children because that’s automatically what you get…they give you themselves, 100%. But adults get self-concious, a little awkward and just think too much. I am still studying this and learning new ways to get that out of people as much as I can, but what I try to do is just be myself and make them feel like we’ve been friends for a long time. I’ll tell them how amazing they look and how I’m loving shooting them. As much as I want them to look natural, sometimes “natural” looses it’s meaning when a camera is suddenly pointed at your face! So I’ll move them around, fix their hair, talk a lot…and I’ll always ask them to look away from me and shift their focus on what’s going on inside, how they are feeling. Eventually things start to flow and magic happens!

Connect with Your Body and Your Loved Ones
Maternity portraits to me is about honouring and celebrating that beautiful body and the process of growing and birthing a baby. I help her get into that state of mind and to really connect with her body by touching and embracing her curves. Stroking big brother’s hair while he lays his head on her big belly. Placing her hand on top of her husband’s while he waits for baby kicks. Touch is everything and it can change an entire image! I want woman and their families to look back on their images and feel like I’ve really captured those honest feelings between Mama, her growing body, her baby and the people she loves the most.

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The artist: Chantal Richard-Mercier
The biz: Tall Grass Photography by Chantal
The location: Portland, OR
See more of Chantal:
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