Milk bath photography is a sub-genre of portrait photography. It focuses on natural, minimalist images.
Thanks to all the white negative space, you can focus on your model’s face and body. You don’t have to worry about distractions. Think of it as a simple yet effective indoor studio!
Now let’s see how you too can create beautiful milk bath photography.
Is Milk Bath Photography for You?
The concept of milk baths seems very specific. But all kinds of photographers find it useful.
Milk bath photography is perfect for those who like taking dreamy, atmospheric portraits. With the right props, you can turn your milk bath photos into gorgeous conceptual pictures. Try using an elegant dress and a crown for a fairy-tale inspired portrait.
White is associated with softness and purity. This is why milk bath maternity photography is so popular.
You can use a milk bath to emphasise the size of a baby bump and focus on the relationship between a mother and her child. Or simply to make your model feel beautiful in her skin.
And if you feel bold enough, you can get into the bathtub yourself for self-portraits!
Quick and Easy Milk Bath Recipe
You don’t need expensive products to make a visually appealing milk bath. All you need is a bathtub, warm water, and some whole milk.
Fill your bathtub with warm water and, once you’re happy with the amount, start adding milk to it. You can use milk powder instead of milk. Make sure the water is warm enough to dissolve everything, or else you’ll have to deal with unflattering chunks of powder.
The amount of milk you add depends on the look you’re going for. So don’t just pour gallons of whole milk into your bathtub.
If you add less milk, your mixture will be translucent. This means that most of your model’s body will be visible underwater.
If you add more milk, you’ll end up with an opaque mixture. This will cover anything that’s not above the milk’s surface.
To avoid ruining the effect, don’t use all the milk immediately. Use small amounts and experiment with various levels of translucency.
Important Milk Bath Tricks and Safety Tips
The uniqueness of milk bath photography comes with a set of equally unique challenges and risks. Keep these tips in mind before you start planning your photo shoot:
- You need to have an idea of how long your shoot will be. If you’ll be shooting for over half an hour, make sure you have access to warm water. That way you can keep your subject comfortable. This is especially important when it comes to children.
- Ask your model to bring a dry, clean outfit to wear after the photo shoot is over. This might sound very obvious. But it’s something you or your client could easily forget while preparing for your session.
- Bring a towel and a mat to keep your model’s face dry and to make sure she can get out of the bathtub safely. Most importantly, make sure that the floor isn’t slippery.
- If you’re going to be working with props like flowers, avoid using ones with lots of dirt, pollen, or thorns. This way you’ll avoid ruining the milk bath or hurting your model.
- Make sure your model isn’t allergic to the kinds of flowers you’ll be using. To avoid discomfort, I recommend using synthetic flowers over real flowers.
- Add your props to the bathtub after your model has settled down in it. This will help everything stay afloat.
Lighting Tricks for Impressive Milk Bath Portraits
For the best lighting effect, place your bathtub next to a large window. Natural window light will create soft shadows. These will allow you to experiment with different angles.
Of course, not every bathtub can be picked up and placed anywhere. This is why some photographers shoot in hotel rooms or use kiddie pools instead.
Avoid standing above your model during your shoot. This will create unflattering reflections in the bathtub and unwanted distractions. Shoot from different angles to avoid this.
If your location is too dark, use a reflector to remove harsh shadows and add a spark to your model’s eyes.
Using artificial light will make it harder for you to take well-lit portraits. I don’t recommend using it, stick with natural light.
If you have no other choice, though, change your colour temperature. Make sure it softens any over saturation created by the lights.
Styling Ideas for Maternity Shoots
You need to be aware of complementary colours when it comes to milk bath maternity photos. Keep things neutral. Pastel colours like lavender and baby pink won’t clash with the whiteness of the milk.
Also, make sure your model’s makeup isn’t too dramatic unless you’re planning to take glamour photos.
To emphasise the size of her bump, your model needs to wear something see-through. Lace dresses or any sheer fabric, for instance, will add an air of elegance and gentleness to your photos.
If your model wants to wear something more modest, a simple white dress will also work.
The milk bath will put the spotlight on your model’s body. It’s important that she wears the right accessories and poses as naturally as possible.
Simple jewellery, trimmed nails, and natural hand placements will all complement the size of her baby bump.
How to Edit Out Distractions From Milk Bath Photos
Distractions are inevitable when you’re working in a small space. Your photos might end up including the edges of a bathtub, a stray hair, or other unwanted details. You can edit these things out using several methods:
- Cropping – if your distractions are near the edge of your photograph, you can simply crop them out. Keep in mind that cropping a lot will reduce your image quality.
- Cloning – the clone stamp tool is perfect for removing objects of all shapes and sizes.
- Content aware – select the area you’d like to fix, right click, and click on Fill. You’ll find Content Aware next to Contents. I’ve found that this tool is perfect for fixing minimalist photos like the one above. If your selection is too large or is filled with too many colours, you won’t get the results you want.
6 Exciting Milk Bath Photography Challenges
Include Things That Complement the Whiteness of the Milk
You don’t have to focus exclusively on flowers and outfits during your shoot. If you want something more fantasy-themed, use glitter or a crown.
You can also experiment with different makeup looks and hairstyles. Make sure that every decision you make complements the whiteness of the milk bath.
If you’re out of ideas, find inspiration in your model’s features. For example, the model in the picture above has blue eyes. Her t-shirt and the glitter make her eyes stand out without clashing with the milk bath.
Simple details like this can take you very far.
Use the Negative Space to Focus on Glamour Photography
Milk baths are perfect for emphasising all kinds of things. But that doesn’t mean you have to use them conventionally.
If you’d like to take professional, studio-like glamour photos, you can easily do so with the help of a milk bath. All the negative space allows you to put the spotlight on your model’s makeup, hair, expressions, and so on.
This will also give you the perfect chance to experiment with different kinds of lighting techniques. All without having to worry about background distractions.
Use Different Outfits
If you’re an aspiring fashion photographer, why not use all that simplicity to focus on a set of outfits that you like?
Instead of using only one outfit during your shoot, change into different ones and create an inspiring lookbook!
Don’t Take Photos of Your Model’s Face
There’s so much more you can do with a milk bath than use it to photograph faces and expressions. Challenge yourself by photographing hairstyles, poses, and details. Avoid including your model’s face in your frame.
This challenge will inspire you to get out of your comfort zone. And it’ll teach you to find more opportunities in portrait photography.
Don’t Forget the Details
It might be tempting to make the most of all that negative space in the bathtub. But don’t forget to focus on the details.
Photograph your model’s face, any props that she might be holding, and her clothes.
Try out Floral Photography
Floral photography is a vibrant genre that you can experiment with at the end of your shoot. You can take photos of your location and the flowers you used in the milk bath. Or any other props that you find appealing.
You can use these results in double exposures, diptychs, or behind-the-scenes posts. If you’re a client photographer, you can use snapshots like this to show potential clients how creative you are.
Despite its simplicity, milk bath photography gives photographers a chance to take their portraits to the next level. They can experiment with negative space, and emphasise their models’ beauty.
What I like the most about it is its openness to all kinds of artists. Whether you’re a maternity, family, glamour, or conceptual photographer, you’ll find something inspiring in this unique genre.