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What is Milk Bath Photography?
Milk Bath photography is simply a picture of someone in a bath, where the water resembles milk. These milk baths can be taken overhead or at an angle. Often the photo features other items in the bath with the person, the most common being a milk bath with flowers.
Where did the idea for milk baths come from?
It’s actually quite hard to find the origins. I noticed them a couple of years ago and took my first one in January 2018. Their popularity according to some photographers can be linked back to 2009, who knows why. And who can forget that famous shoot of Whoopi Goldberg by Annie Leibovitz in 1984 where she photographed Whoopi in a milk bath. This photo was as a nod to Whoopi’s revelations of trying to whiten her skin with Clorox?
Milk Baths seem to be very popular with pregnant mothers and these maternity shoots have become very popular. We will not be discussing this style of shot in this article because is not something I do.
I’d like to think that perhaps Instagram helped their popularity since these photos really appeal to the dreamy, floral somewhat ethereal Instagram aesthetic but I don’t know if that is the truth or not.
What are the types of Milk Baths?
There are so many types of milk bath and to be honest the only limit is your imagination. However, there tend to be several types of milk bath photos that you see repeatedly. And if you are thinking of creating one for a social platform the ones with flowers always seem to do better.
simple milk baths
These photos will have nothing else in but the person in the water, there tends to be an interesting pose or interesting face makeup. They are simple and very striking.
Milk Bath with flowers
These are by far the most popular form, milk baths with flowers to ones with just petals. They are so pretty and super stunning. They can be taken overhead showing the face, full-body or from an angle. Some will just show legs, arms, hands. These flowers can be real or fake we have shot with both but obviously real do look better but you can edit fake ones to look great too.
Milk Bath with green foliage
You don’t see many of these around but when you do they are breathtaking, sometimes taken in milk sometimes just in water. From ferns, lily pads, you get the idea. They focus on just green in the bath, sometimes with the occasional splash of colour.
Coloured milk baths
Again you don’t see many of these but they are highly effective. The milk is dyed a certain colour and the milk bath photo is taken.
Milk Bath with other things in
And when I mean other things I mean ANYTHING. From fruit to book pages, we have even done one with teacups in.
Milk bath that shows the whole bath
You don’t see these very often but I think they can be really effective as they can also allow you to see a little mess around the bathtub. Take the one below, I could have also added the cereal box and some cereal on the floor for more interest.
We will cover other types of bath photography that don’t include milk at the end of this article but these are the main types.
How do you do a milk bath photo?
They are in essence exactly what they sound like; you fill a bath with water and then add milk until you get the depth you want. We have tried many milk alternatives and these have most produced really awful results, but Oilatum is an option if you really don’t want to use milk. We will often use nine pints of milk in a full bathtub. I have heard people say how wasteful this is and while in one way I agree, it is really like telling an artist they are wasting paint in their picture. You have to make a personal choice to use milk or not and like I say, the only alternative we have found is Oilatum but if you have found any other we would love to know.
So you put your water in, then the milk, then the model or yourself, then whatever else you want in if you are using it, then move things around until you have a picture that looks good. They can take ages sometimes to get right, depending on how well everything is cooperating.
We mostly take them overhead with my mum holding the camera; I’ll discuss how to take them yourself later.
A point to note is that you or your model’s head will most likely start to hurt from holding it up so long in the water. We put a bowl upside down in the water for me to rest my head on.
We always just take these in natural light as that is our preference.
How do you edit a milk bath photo?
When editing milk baths, it’s important to know what type of mood you want to give across; do you want light and airy or moody and dark? I always play around with my exposure for bath photos are this can change the feel of the photo dramatically. I’ll also adjust the tint of the image to complement the colours in the photo. I like to make my milk bath photos pop so I’ll usually turn up the saturation of the colours just a little bit to make them stand out.
How do you create a milk bath photo without a bath?
We have a bath so I have never had to employ this method however to create one without a bath you would use a small inflatable paddling pool and treat that like the bath. This often means you just put yourself in up to with your waist with your legs bent over the side.
Milk Bath Ideas
Below are some of the milk baths we have taken to give you some inspiration but as I said, let your imagination run wild, Here is a Pinterest Board on milk bath photography.
Do I need to use a camera or an i-phone for my milk bath photography?
It really doesn’t matter; obviously, if you shoot on a camera in raw you have a little bit more control over editing but the first ones we shot were on an i-phone
How do I take a milk bath photo by myself?
They are not the easiest of photos to take alone but there are ways to do it. You can get tripods with a side angle handle, in fact we have one, so the camera or phone could be placed on the tripod and the arm put over the bath and shot on a timer. Please be aware if you are using one of these you will need to weigh down the arm we often just put a bag of books on it as they often tip with the weight of the camera. It’s a bit risky and I have never done it so please weigh up carefully if is this is the right way for you to take a photo.
The other way is what is known to us Instagrammers as the cardboard box way. You would get a cereal box and cut a hole in it large enough for your phone camera to fit through then you tape the box to the ceiling with very strong tape and shoot on a timer. Some people have done this with cameras; I have not although at one point I did have a wooden box screwed into the ceiling with a hole in that my camera lens would fit though.
Just be cautious if you are shooting into water, as whatever you use must be secure.
Who takes good milk bath photos?
To get some ideas of the milk bath photography you like, take a look at these hashtags on Instagram.
What other bath photos ideas are there?
Take out the milk
For most of the milk bath photos, you can do the same just without the milk, obviously, you need to be a bit more careful with what you wear. In a milk bath photo you may get away with underwear but in a water photo more of you is showing so you might have to wear something if you want to. So just shoot the same concepts but without the milk added.
You also might want to consider using your bath as a storytelling prop.
Or you could go all extra and create a glitter bath or if you have the resources a Taylor Swift inspired diamond bath.
Whatever you decide to do these photos always tend to turn out well and are received well. And if you do one, please message me and let me know or e-mail me; I’d love to see your creations.