One of the main objectives of photography is to capture the most beautiful moments in life. Expectant parents are in a life-changing stage of their lives. It’s important to capture moments in time, especially when it comes to maternity photos.
To break into maternity photography, you need to understand the particular time an expectant mother is experiencing. Sure, her ankles may feel swollen half the time. And she may be at the point where she can’t bend down to tie her shoes. But she’s glowing and happy and excited for what comes next.
Pregnant women can be the most beautiful subjects to photograph, but you must know how to capture these moments. And there is a unique way to approach this type of subject. It’s a vulnerable time, in more ways than one.
You need to know how to work with expectant mothers to look their best for these keepsake photos. Today, we will tell you about the best ways of capturing a woman’s pregnancy and what makes your pictures stand out from others in this field.
Talk to the Mother-to-Be About Her Preferences for Maternity Photos
Schedule a time over coffee or zoom to get to know your maternity shoot client. Every mother-to-be is different. She will have a timeline, a style preference and might be under pressure due to medical complications. She might’ve experienced a set-back when conceiving. Or she may be forced to be on bed rest.
Whatever the case is, the timeslot and the amount of time it takes to have her maternity photos taken may be limited. So, make sure you provide flexibility in your schedule to fit her in when and where possible. Even if the standard maternity shoot is done around 33 to 36 weeks, her needs may differ.
Also, see what her comfort level is. She may not want to get all dolled up or go outside. A studio maternity shoot may be more her style. Ask her where she would prefer to have her maternity photography session.
The objective here is to help her feel the most beautiful or comfortable. Some women enjoy being pregnant and feel beautiful, while others may feel tired or achy and don’t feel comfortable while pregnant. You already know she’s gorgeous. But for the maternity session, she must feel like the most beautiful mom-to-be in the world.
Probe her for questions about what type of theme she wants to have. Is it a boudoir-type shoot, or is it a glam look? Is it a casual look? Does she want to be outside or indoors? What clothing does she have in mind? These questions will gauge how you can plan the maternity photo shoot ahead of time.
Know Your Gear
The key to preparedness for any photoshoot is to know you have the right gear ready to go. For a maternity shoot, you won’t want to take too long in between setup or scenes. Just make sure you’re at the right pace for the expectant mommy. Here’s what you need to do to ensure you know your photography gear:
1. Camera body
3. Tripod or monopod
4. Remote shutter release for camera, if available
5. Laptop with photo editing software (optional)
6. Reflector or fill light
Use a tripod to stabilize your camera
For the most detailed photos, especially couple photos in a maternity session, a tripod is your best friend. Whether shooting indoors or out, you may need to get the lighting right and have your hands free while shooting. The right tripod will cover everything you need to stabilize when setting up the perfect maternity shot. It’s also important to consider the best tripod for your line of work. Take careful time considering which type of tripod would be best for maternity photography in the studio or location.
How to choose the best lenses for maternity photography
You may be wondering, “What is the best lens for maternity photography?” A good lens for maternity photography is a 35mm lens, which will provide you the proper focal length without being too long or wide. Any distortions of the mom’s body will be very minimal.
Next, a 50mm lens creates a shallow depth of field so you can blur out backgrounds for the bokeh effect. If you want a sharp focus on the mom-to-be, this is the lens you should use.
85mm lenses are decent for close-up portraits and the details. If you want the maternity photo to be more artistic, this lens will come in handy. And if you’re shooting outdoors in a low-light setting, a 24-70mm or 70-200mm lens will be perfect. If you plan on having a variety of shooting environments and styles for your maternity shoot, you can invest in multiple lenses, too.
Here are some lenses we recommend:
How to learn the best maternity photography camera settings
As you book more and more maternity shoot clients, you will figure out the best go-to camera settings. But before you book your first maternity session, it’s essential to learn different kinds of camera settings.
Bokeh so you can focus on mom’s belly
Bokeh will focus on the pregnant mother’s belly and beauty while blurring out the background. You can try with or without the bokeh effect.
Try out these settings when testing your camera out for maternity photoshoots:
Set the aperture to around f/5.6 to f/8 for group photos. When it’s just momma, use f/2 to f/4 to better focus with the camera on her.
Set the shutter speed to 1/1000 for faster movements and 1/50 to 1/60 for stationary poses. It will also depend on the shoot’s location, the effect you want, and lighting factors. So definitely try out different shutter speeds on test subjects.
Set the ISO at low ranges of 100-400. If you need a faster shutter speed, you can always go higher.
Maternity Photography Tips
Getting your camera and gear ready for your shoot is one-half of the battle. When you’re taking maternity photos, you need to consider all aspects of your photoshoot. From communicating with your client to finding the perfect location. Take each maternity photography tip step by step:
Find the perfect location for your shoot
Choose to be close to the expectant mom’s home but has some privacy and natural light. If the pregnant mother lives close enough, invite her into the studio if she prefers. Above all else, ask her what she desires and then find an aesthetically pleasing and private location.
Schedule the maternity shoot
We must mention that you should always work with the mom-to-be to come up with a date and time that works for her. Always be flexible with expectant mothers. If necessary, you may have to use artificial lighting. Work around the challenges to take the best maternity pictures for your client no matter what time of day she chooses.
Identify Potential Obstacles
Scout out the place you’re holding the maternity shoot. Be prepared for potential obstacles in the background like tall trees and power lines, and have a plan to stage the photoshoot away from the mess or edit the blocks out later. The latter option would mean, of course, that you’re a professional at Photoshop. Get past any learning curves before the photoshoot for the best results. If that doesn’t work for you, then pose your client so that the obstruction won’t be noticeable.
Choose an outdoor location or indoor space with lots of white walls
It’s easier to edit with light or white walls than dark walls. You can manipulate the brightness and contrast of the maternity photos in Lightroom later. But if there are very dark walls, you will have a lighting issue, and you may not get the same effect as you would with a light or white background.
Plus, maternity photos are meant to be light and angelic-looking, so the brighter, the better (to an extent, of course).
Gather props and wardrobe items that are both stylish and comfortable
Many couples love to show off their ultrasound photo, the baby’s monogram, a unique stuffed animal, flowers, or any other baby keepsake. Get creative with the props to make the maternity shoot fun and something the parents-to-be will look upon fondly in years to come.
The pregnant mother’s outfit choices and soon-to-be father should be planned ahead of time as a collaboration between you and your clients. Mom-to-be could wear a dress or a comfortable shirt that’s easy to move around in, especially if a long maternity photoshoot is planned. The mother should wear dark colors on their bottom half, if a skirt, so nothing shows through, with light colors or white on top to show off the belly.
The colors chosen should complement her skin tone and be flattering to her growing belly. Dresses are preferable since they’re easier to adjust than pants and are more comfortable. Have the pregnant mother arrange complimentary outfits if the father-to-be is going to be in the shoot. Have her do the same if other members of the family or children are joining.
Maternity Photography Tips for Mom
Lighting matters in maternity photos
Make sure there is plenty of light so that you can capture details in every photo. If not, set up the lighting beforehand or have artificial light ready to go if shooting on location. Natural light will be best, if possible, during the maternity photography session. But it’s always wide to have backup lighting on hand just in case. Always use lamps instead of overhead lamps to not cast a shadow or whitewash your clients. You can shoot in black and white if the mom-to-be and you desire to do so.
How to pose for maternity photos
Likely, your clients do not know how to pose with a growing belly. Consider posing ideas, including how to shoot from above or below the stomach. Of course, always ask ahead if she wants to avoid any poses altogether since this is a vulnerable time. These maternity photography ideas for posing will ensure a faster and more professional-looking photoshoot.
Maternity poses with the husband
The expectant mother will likely have the daddy-to-be involved in the photoshoot. To bring out emotions:
Have the father rest his hand with the mommy-to-be’s hands on top of the bump.
Have one hand at the top of the belly and one at the bottom.
Have them imagine the day their baby will soon arrive, and you will see the biggest grins.
Her partner can embrace her from a flattering angle on the side as well. You could also have the couple go in for a kiss while sitting on a sofa, a bench, or grass outside.
If using a sonogram, have them stand close together, and each holds one side of the picture with one hand. They might want to be silly in some photos, so encourage them to laugh. Tell some funny stories or dad jokes to get them in the mood.
Maternity Poses with the family
The expectant mom will often want to have grandma and grandpa or her other children in on the photoshoot fun. So you have to know how to work with varying ages of people. Have toys on hand for small children to be occupied. Bring juice or snacks as long as the parents give the okay.
Always have the kids coordinate their outfits with mom and dad. Remember, they want to have fun. Joke around, and have them smile next to their parents. Show the love the family is about to share.
One excellent idea is to have the kids line up to dad in order of tallest to shortest or oldest to youngest. If just one or two kids, have them feel mommy’s belly and capture the emotion, the smile when mama’s belly kicks.
If the grandparents are joining in, have them stand around mom while she sits on a chair, sofa, or bench, their hands resting on mom’s shoulders.
How to pose mom for maternity photos
If she’s wearing a dramatic gown, you can have the expectant mother go for a bold and dramatic look. Have her look down at her belly and always have her cradling her tummy. If shooting outside or next to a window, have her look out into the distance, too.
Even if she’s wearing a casual sundress, have her cradle her belly and look down or off as if thinking about the memories she’s about to share with her son or daughter, smiling. This works with outdoor maternity photography as well as indoor.
Have one hand at the top of the belly and one at the bottom, so the pose looks natural. While straight shots are good, incorporate some silhouette shots, too.
You want her to be looking and feeling her best before, during, and after her maternity photography session. Remember to keep her photos timeless so she can recount her most precious moments later on when the baby is growing up.
Maternity Photo Compositions
Here are some compositions so you can take the most flattering photos of the mom-to-be:
High up: Using the grass, a blanket, or a faux rug, have the pregnant subject lay down. Get on a step ladder and highlight the belly in the most flattering way possible.
From the side: If she’s not showing much, have her twist to the side to show off her belly. You can do a lovely silhouette this way, too, of just her profile and her angled away from the camera.
Straight on: If momma has a large belly, you can get the perfect shot from straight on.
Frequently Asked Questions: How to Shoot Maternity Photography
How much is a maternity photoshoot?
The average cost of a maternity shoot can range from $200 to $1,500. Mini sessions, which are short 30 to 60-minute sessions, typically only feature the mom-to-be and cost around $200-$300. Longer sessions and sessions with more people in them should be priced higher. Sessions at specific locations and studios can cost more.
How many weeks pregnant do you take maternity pictures?
33 to 36 weeks is when you should ideally take maternity photos. But since timelines differ on the person, it’s best to go with the most flexible date and when you feel comfortable.
How do you do a maternity shoot?
Maternity photos are relatively straightforward, especially when taken outside. All you have to do is have the perfect lighting, a 35mm lens, and your subject. Have her pose in ways that are flattering to her growing belly and in comfortable clothes.
Conclusion: How to Shoot Maternity Photography
By now, you know how to shoot maternity photography using our ideas. Always make sure you have proper communication with the mom-to-be before the photo shoot to make sure everything runs smoothly. And don’t forget to have a timeline, so everything goes according to schedule.
A couple of last tips: the pregnant mom-to-be will get exhausted fast, so make sure you give your pregnant subject plenty of bathroom breaks in between and have a bathroom nearby. She can feel even more comfortable. To up the ante, ask her what her favorite snacks are so she doesn’t become famished during a long shoot. And have a comfy chair ready for her so she can rest between getting camera setups prepared to go.