Personal Project | Milk Dress

As a maternity photographer based in Bothell, WA and serving the Seattle and Everett area, I am constantly seeking ways to improve my craft and advance my knowledge so I can serve my clients better. To do something different than the norm, think outside the box and learn a little more about myself along the way.

I am fascinated by Andrey Razoomovsky’s milk projects and Jaroslav Wieczorkiewics of Aurum Light‘s “Milky Pinups” and wanted to try the milky dress shoot for my maternity work. After research on the internet, I decided to take the plunge. I enlisted my colleague Adrienne of Gemini Visuals Creative Photography for collaboration (we share the photoshoot, the RAWs but process our own images) and a willing model-friend Elena who was 36 weeks pregnant.  (Check out her maternity session on my blog!)  Just in case this turns out to be an epic failure, I have a buddy to cry over spilt milk with—literally—and a friend that will forgive me for wasting her vacation day.

Thankfully the shoot turned out very well! Here’s what we did.

Creative maternity milk dress shoot



Camera: Nikon D3s, 85mm f/1.4G

Settings: f/8, 1/250, ISO400, 5260K

Tripod: Manfrotto tripod that I bought over 20 years ago that is probably not in production today. I’m too lazy to get off my chair to check.

Lighting: Paul C Buff Einstein E640s, Westcott softbox 54″x72″, Paul C Buff stripbox 10″x36″, Cyber Commander trigger and receiver



The shoot took place at Adrienne’s lovely studio in Surrey, BC. When I arrived with the gear at 9:00 AM, she had the kiddie pool, bucket, bowl, towels and 8 gallons of whole milk ready. We taped plastic on the floor and the walls and covered the stripbox. Like most photographers, I don’t like to be in photos but here I am in action behind the scenes. Enjoy my backside, heh heh heh.

We also turned up the heat in the studio for Elena’s comfort.

Setting up for the maternity milk dress shoot


We placed the main light about five feet from the model on the camera left and the fill light the same distance behind the model on the camera right. The camera on the tripod is in front of the model about 20 feet.

Maternity Milk Dress Shoot Setup


After some test shots, we settled on f/8, 1/250 and ISO 400. At this setting, we can freeze the movement and splash of the milk. We warmed up the milk in the microwave and we’re ready. Let the splashing begin!

Maternity Milk Dress Photoshoot behind the scenes

After some missed throws and messy splashes, Adrienne zeroed in on the technique, force and precision of her throws while I shot rapidfire. When we traded spots so I can try the splashing, it was clear that I sucked and was quickly removed from the post. Elena even did a better job than I did—while still posed!


Adrienne and I went back to our workspace with over 500 RAWs and started the painstaking work of piecing together the elements of the milk splashes to make a dress in Photoshop. Each image took about six hours to edit!  (To see Adrienne’s version of the milk dress shoot, visit

The cool thing about editing these milk dresses is that every dress is a surprise. You never know at the time of the shoot what you are going to get.

Maternity Milk Dress Seattle Eden Bao 1

Maternity Milk Dress Seattle Eden Bao 2

It was a fun project and I have the utmost respect for Andrey Razoomovsky’s and Jaroslav Wieczorkiewics’s amazing work.

Thank you t o Gemini Visuals Creative Photography for your collaboration and to our pregnant model Elena for agreeing to be drenched in milk for four hours. Doesn’t she look fabulous?!

Someone suggested that these images would make a great breastfeeding or baby formula advertisement. I don’t know how that would work but I am definitely open to it. I am waiting by the phone for your calls, Efamil, Similac and Nestle!