A photoshoot is a powerful way to document your growth, changes, and inner beauty as a breast cancer survivor. Your diagnosis date, the end of chemotherapy, or maybe your surgery date -- for each person the date you choose to celebrate may vary. Then comes the fun part of choosing what type of a photoshoot you want to do. In this post, I'll share 9 breast cancer photo shoot ideas from both my own experience and social media.
Planning Your Breast Cancer Photoshoot
When it comes to choosing the type of photoshoot for your celebration and the style, here are a few questions to explore.
- Do you want to highlight your double mastectomy or breast cancer surgery?
- Do you want to document your hair loss or wait until it has begun to return?
- Is there a particular date that is important to your cancer journey?
- Would you be comfortable doing a boudoir-style photoshoot or do you prefer formal portraits or more playful styles?
- Are there symbols of breast cancer awareness or your experience you want to include (ie. colors, ribbons, boxing gloves, etc)
Thinking about these questions will help you narrow down what you want and then you can begin exploring professional photographers that specialize in the style you like.
Breast Cancer Survivor Photoshoot Ideas
For me, photos are a meaningful way to look back and see my growth both physically (with my hair), and emotionally. I can track my healing and celebrate being cancer free through the images. who doesn't love getting glammed up and taking beautiful photos? I have taken photoshoots almost every year since my cancer diagnosis and I love reflecting on those images. Take a look back in time with me: year 1, year 2, year 3, year 4 year 5, and year 6. Now approaching year 8, I need to brainstorm which of these 9 ideas I will implement this summer.
1. Milk Bath
I had to include milk baths first because I think they are such a beautiful breast cancer survivor photoshoot idea. I did a milk bath photoshoot for my maternity photos and the photos with my double mastectomy scars in the bath were so powerful. I also included some images from another milk bath photoshoot originally included in Wildfire Magazine in 2022. The best part is a milk bath photoshoot is relatively easy by mixing milk and hot water and adding your favorite flowers and props such as tulle or lace.
2. Boudoir Shoot
Boudoir photography can elicit different feelings for different people. In my experience, a boudoir photoshoot, particularly after a cancer diagnosis, can be a beautiful way to rebuild love for your body, document your recovery and find strength in yourself through beautiful photos. Also keep in mind that for a boudoir shoot, there are varying levels of nudity, and a professional photographer will tailor the shoot and style to your comfort level and desired style. If you have had nipple tattoos this is another aspect you can document and celebrate in your photoshoot.
I had the blessing to do a boudoir shoot before I had my cancer diagnosis and now looking back I am able to see those photos through new light and appreciation after my breast cancer. Here are a few images from my own two boudoir shoots after breast cancer and before as well as other thrivers from social media to inspire you.
3. Body Paint Photoshoot
If you want a variation to a boudoir shoot, using body paint is a beautiful option. It is a great way to highlight and celebrate your scars after cancer treatment and can be extremely creative. @Jenrozenbaum's use of paint in breast cancer survivor photoshoots is mesmerizing and so powerful. My thriver friend Abby looks like a goddess in this breast cancer photoshoot below with silver body paint. Another powerful idea is using writing on your body to send a powerful message! Check out the images from the AnaOno Cancerland NYFW show.
4. Breast Cancer Props
Some breast cancer thrivers feel drawn to symbols and imagery of breast cancer such as the pink ribbon, pink boxing gloves, or other symbolism. If these things speak to you, this can be a meaningful way to coordinate your photoshoot and radiate your positive attitude. Maybe you go nude and use pink boxing gloves or you can plan your outfit around your breast cancer props.
5. Formal Portraits (Sitting or Standing )
There is something so classic and stunning about the formal portrait style photoshoot. You can be so creative with lighting, outfit, jewelry and setting. There is also so much power in showing your inner beauty and attitude through your facial expressions. Here are a few class portrait ideas to inspire your photoshoot choices.
6. Glam & Fantasy Photoshoots
Glam breast cancer photoshoots have become my go-to. When else do you get to through on a fabulous dress, have your makeup done and feel like a princess? I think we all deserve a moment of glam once a year on our cancer anniversary or a special date of our choosing. Here are a few glam and fantasy themed breast cancer photoshoots to inspire you.
7. Pink Background | Pink Smoke Bomb
I am a HUGE fan of pink in all photoshoots. Using a pink background is very common in breast cancer photoshoots but don't feel like you have to be tied to pink as your only option. If you're shooting in a studio using a pink backdrop is an option and if you're shooting outside pink smoke bombs, glitter or sparklers are a great option to add color to your shoot. I also love breast cancer survivor shoots that use tulle or fabric as a pink background or integrated into the look. Nature can offer beautiful pink backgrounds as well during spring and summer time.
8. Hair Loss Breast Cancer Patient Photoshoot
Losing your hair during cancer treatment can be an extremely traumatic moment but also one many patients want to document. In this beautiful and heartwrenching photoshoot, MandyParksPhotography captures the moment this woman has her head shaved by her husband before treatment. If you are interested in doing a breast cancer photoshoot to document your hair loss, think about finding your photographer early on because hair loss normally begins 1-2 weeks after your first chemotherapy treatment.
9. Breast Cancer Campaign
Another option for a photo shoot is one with a deep campaign purpose beyond your own personal journey. There have been so many powerful breast cancer campaign photoshoots I have seen over the years and a few I have had the honor to be involved in. Keep this in mind if you want to time your photoshoot around October and Breast Cancer awareness month.
This breast cancer campaign video 'Pink is Not The Problem' from The Breasties still sticks with me to this day.
10. Breast Cancer Photoshoot with Spouse or Loved Ones
If this is your first time in front of the camera, you may feel more comfortable doing a breast cancer photoshoot with your spouse or loved ones. It is also a meaningful way to honor and celebrate the people that have been by your side during the cancer treatment experience. I still look back on these breast cancer photos from the Young Survival Coalition Summit from 2016 with so much joy seeing my husband and I in love and unites despite the trauma we faced.
I hope these ideas got you excited to celebrate your own cancer milestones with a breast cancer photo shoot. Which breast cancer survivor photoshoot idea was your favorite? After a cancer diagnosis, fear can be paralyzing but I have found that every moment is worth celebrating. Tag me in your breast cancer photoshoot images on social @mycancerchic
11. Breast Cancer Photoshoot with Other Thrivers
I have had the most fun over the years doing breast cancer photoshoots with other thrivers. Not only is it a way to celebrate your own milestones, but the energy and joy you gain shooting together is priceless. I will never forget this photoshoot I did in California shot by my late friend Melissa of my thriver friend Christine and I. We are sporting her breast cancer t-shirts she used to sell before her passing and I am so grateful her husband snapped these photos of the three of us that we can hold onto now as memories of her.