Maternity Photography Tips - A Guide for Expectant Parents

May 18, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

Maternity Photography Tips

A Guide for Expectant Parents

First of all, many congratulations!

If you are reading this, it is probably because you are either considering booking a maternity photography session or looking for tips on how to pose for a DIY shoot at home.

Whether or not to have a bump shoot is a purely personal decision.  Some mums will desperately want to capture their pregnant belly in all it’s glory before baby arrives. Others? Not so much! When I was expecting our third, my face and feet swelled up, my skin broke out and my hair was dry and frizzy. I was firmly in the ‘maternity photography is not for me’ camp.

There is no doubt that images, whether moving or still, provide us with the best way of remembering the important times in our lives. If you have decided that it is for you, a maternity shoot will certainly enable you to capture this magical time forever. One day your child will be able to marvel at these photos, taken before they had even taken their first breath, at a time when mummy really was the centre of their world.

I’ve been photographing mums-to-be for over twelve years now, and I’ve written this blog to hopefully give advice to expectant families in their search for a maternity photographer.

How do you choose a photographer?

There is no doubt that a maternity shoot, with so much focus on your body, is a highly personal thing.  You will want to choose a photographer who you feel comfortable with, so it does pay to do your homework beforehand.

Check their portfolio:

  • Do you like their style of work?
  • Is their work of a consistently good quality?
  • Are they experienced? (I’m not saying new photographers would be unable to give you the results you want, but for a maternity session you may feel more comfortable with a photographer who has been established for a while.)
  • Do they demonstrate an ability to work with a range of body shapes and utilise a variety of lighting setups?

What about price? 

Of course, this can be a huge deciding factor.  You will usually find that a higher price means better quality images.  There will be plenty of cheap deals to be had, but the old adage ‘you get what you pay for’ very much applies to photographic services.  Try and find a photographer within your budget who can demonstrate an ability to provide you with the images you want.

When should you have your maternity photo shoot?

The whole point of a maternity photo shoot is to showcase your wonderful bump. Therefore, you will want to wait until you’ve got a nicely rounded belly to show off, but are still comfortable enough to pose.

I like to photograph my ladies at around 31 – 35 weeks. That way, I’ve got a lovely baby belly to photograph but mum hopefully isn’t too tired or uncomfortable.  I did photograph a lady at 37 weeks once, her waters broke on her way home from the session and I worried for days that I had been over-exerting her (she later assured me I had not!)

Each pregnancy is, of course, unique.  Most photographers will want to photograph you a little into your third trimester but only you will know, based on how your pregnancy has progressed so far, whether a slightly earlier session will be more comfortable for you.

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Clothing Choices

Before a maternity session, I send my clients an information booklet giving advice on what to wear and bring to the studio on the day of their shoot. I am sure whichever photographer you choose for your maternity session will do the same, but in the meantime, you may find the following of use.

As mentioned earlier, the whole point of your session is to show off your bump. There would be little point, therefore, in wearing clothes that will disguise your belly. A nice slim fitting dress is perfect, or perhaps you don’t mind having your bump on display?  In that case, what about an oversized shirt or bra top and leggings that can be pulled down under the bump?


 

I have photographed many mums-to-be either nude or partially/implied nude. Again, this is purely a matter of personal preference. A professional photographer would never try and pressure you into posing this way unless you are absolutely comfortable with the idea.

Many photographers these days (myself included) will have special outfits designed to put your wonderful bump on display.  The floaty dress images are extremely popular!  Remember to check with your photographer what clothes and props they may have before your session to avoid spending money on an outfit yourself.

Underwear colour should be considered and again, your photographer can advise on this.  For example, I use light coloured sheer fabrics in my shoots, so I ask my clients to bring along nude or white coloured underwear if possible.


 
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Finally, if dad/partner or any siblings are going to be involved think about clothing for them too.

If mum is wearing a lovely formal outfit, bring along a shirt or something smart for dad and the kids to wear. 

Likewise, If mum is wearing a more casual outfit, jeans and t-shirts are fab.

What about Props?

I personally am not a fan of ‘over propped’ images.  I am old school and was taught that a portrait should be first and foremost about the person in the image rather than the background they are photographed against or the prop the photographer has included in the set. 

Having said this, some smaller unobtrusive props can make a maternity photo even more special.  For example, a small cuddly toy, a pair of baby booties, or a scan picture.


 

Location, location, location

I’m mainly a studio photographer, although I have been known to venture outdoors for the occasional session, one of my favourites being, as it happens, a maternity shoot which took place on a rather rainy day in a local country park.

You will have in mind an idea of what you want.  Some mums and dads will prefer the privacy of a studio session, whilst others will want to be outdoors or, indeed, in their own home.  When choosing your photographer make sure to discuss your ideas with them to check they can provide what you want. Remember that some of your ideas may not work photographically – check with your photographer beforehand and they should be able to explain what will work and what might not.


 

Strike a Pose!

So, you’ve chosen your photographer, sorted out your clothes and are about to start your photoshoot.  Your photographer should, of course, be able to direct you into poses, but I thought I’d share a few tips from my own sessions.

I am not a huge fan of formal posing.  A maternity session, however, is one situation when I do pose my clients more, as I want to be sure I can capture mum in all her beautiful pregnant glory.

Showing Off the bump

As I’ve said several times now, the focus of your maternity session will be your glorious bump.  During a maternity shoot I will want to draw attention to baby and a simple way to do this is by hand placement.  Using mum (and dad’s/child’s) hands can draw the viewer’s eye directly to the bump, right where we want them to be.  If mum is standing side or three quarter on, one of my favourite things is for her to ‘cradle’ her bump.  When standing face on, I like her hands on either side of the bump, fingers spread to emphasis baby.


 

A side pose or three-quarter pose will, of course, show off your bump to its greatest effect.  I love lighting a side on image as a silhouette, especially if mum is perhaps a little self-conscious.

A photograph taken from a slightly higher perspective will also accentuate mum’s belly and can be great for shots where mum and dad are both involved.

If you are feeling courageous, don’t be afraid to suggest something more fun to your photographer! 

This photo was taken a good few years ago now, but it sticks in my mind as one of the most enjoyable maternity shoots I've done thanks to mum's great sense of adventure.

I love this image!

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Looking at baby

Another way to draw attention to mum’s bump is to have her looking down at it in a photograph.

However, (and this is the trick) don’t actually tuck your chin in and down to look at your bump, as this can cause the dreaded double chin effect on even the slimmest of ladies.

Try this instead - gently incline your head while keeping a strong jaw (by subtly pushing your chin forward) and direct your eyes down the line of your bust or gaze at a spot on the floor just in front of you.


 

Bring your partner/children/pets in!

Pregnancy is of course a wonderful time for the whole family, so do get everyone involved! I love creating images of mum and dad together, but also having an older sibling, excited to meet their new baby and even the family dog can result in magical images.

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I hope this guidance has been helpful to you as you consider whether or not to invest in a maternity photography session.

Please share with anyone you feel may benefit.

Thanks for reading and if you are expecting a baby then once again, many congratulations!

Lorraine Jardim LBIPP QGPP

Ellie J Photography


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