Maternity photography has surged in popularity over the past twenty years. Since 1991 when Demi Moore first bared her burgeoning belly on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine, maternity photography has become one of the fastest growing trends for pregnant mommies-to-be. There are few other times in your life when your body will go through such amazing changes so quickly. By investing in maternity portraits, you can have these memories of your pregnancy documented beautifully, for both you and your child.
Why choose a professional?
Of course, you will take pictures of yourself along the way or will you? By choosing a professional maternity photographer, you ensure that you will have captured this extraordinary time in your life. This way you and your significant other can be involved and included in the images (instead of behind the camera). Photographers who offer maternity sessions are also trained to use lighting and posing techniques that flatter your body type. By using feathered light in combination with soft shadows, a professional can make the pregnant body look amazing (which we all know it already is!).
Professional photographers can also help you make your vision come to life in the form of portraits. What better way to show your child that they are important to you than to celebrate their growth (even before they were born!). As your baby grows, they’ll be so excited to see a picture of “me in mom’s belly”. And, although you may not feel it now, you’ll also look back in wonderment as to how your body ever did that!
How to select a photographer
Just like every decision about your pregnancy, this is a personal one. Maternity photography can become a very intimate and emotional experience. You will want to be sure that you are comfortable with the photographer you choose. By asking the right questions, you can be sure to find the right match for you.
Does the photographer have a portfolio you can view before the session? These images may be available online or in person. You will want to select someone whose work reflects your style, whether it is traditional and posed or casual and candid (or a combination of styles). Have they done maternity work before? There are many unique posing “tricks” that can make a big difference in how your final images look.
Where will the session be held?
Do you want to include your home or nursery in your portraits? Or would you rather be outside? Maybe you like the idea of a studio portrait with a solid background to show off your bump. Some maternity photographers have a studio while others offer to come to your home or another location of your choice. They might also bring a “studio” to your home. Consider the weather if choosing to do outside portraits. For home, you may think of other areas besides the nursery that are special to you, master bedroom, the couch you cuddle on your front porch.
Who will be in the pictures with you?
Most photographers welcome significant others and sibling to be involved. You might also ask about pets if they are your “first baby”. This is an excellent time for your family to get to know your photographer, especially if you are also doing a newborn session.
How will you view your proofs and place your order?
This varies from immediate viewing to online purchasing. Some professionals offer in-person assistance either in your home or at their studio. This gives you a chance to see your proofs, discuss cropping and retouching as well as to view all of their samples.
What are the photographer’s fees?
What products do they recommend in addition to traditional prints? Albums, announcements, collages, and slideshows are popular artwork options for maternity portraits.
Does the photographer also offer newborn sessions?
You’ll want to plan this at the same time as your maternity photography session as most professionals prefer to see the baby within the first two weeks after birth. This window of time offers the best chance to catch your little one sleeping soundly and allows for more natural posing. Your photographer should give you advice on how to best prepare for the session. Many photographers also have prop collections of tiny hats, headbands, blankets, and baskets to use during your session. See our article on Newborn Photography for more details and ideas on planning your newborn session.
Preparing for your maternity session
You should plan your photo session for the time when your tummy is round and full, but you are still able to move freely and without discomfort. For most women, this is between 30 and 36 weeks or at least sometime in the last trimester. If it is summertime, you may want to consider doing your maternity photography session a little earlier as sometimes mamas are a bit more swollen when it’s hot out. A suggestion that many professional photographers go by is to make sure that your belly sticks out more than your chest when you are standing upright.
Next, you’ll want to decide what you will wear. Color, texture and fit all play a role in how your final pictures will look. Popular choices are a button down shirt, pajamas or a robe, open to reveal the tummy. Another fun option is a hip pregnancy top with texture or dramatic pattern. Don’t forget to look at your pre-pregnancy clothes. Shrugs, sweaters, tank tops and even unbuttoned jeans all make for fabulous portraits. A little belt around the top of the belly can make it pop!
There are many gowns today that are made just for maternity photography. These can range from tight fitted to show off your belly to flowing and full for that princess feeling. Some maternity gowns open to let you show a little of your belly without revealing too much if you are more modest. Be sure to choose a color that looks good on you and a style that you generally like even when you aren’t pregnant. If you aren’t someone who typically wears strapless dresses, you may want to look at a dress with a halter-top or sleeves. Another option for covering your arms is a wrap or lace shawl. Sew Trendy, Fillyboo Maternity and Baby Belly Online all specialize in maternity gowns and photo outfits. If you are planning on ordering something for your session, make sure to check on the delivery time as many of these dresses are handmade upon ordering. Your photographer may also have a dress collection from which you can borrow.
If dad or male significant other will be in the images, look for a coordinating top for him. Guys generally are not big on change so try to stick to one top (or one change). Check his nails/hands, too, as they will likely be in pictures. For siblings, you can coordinate with your dress through colors, patterns or layers of a similar look. If kids are little and you’ll be picking them up, be sure their shoes are clean and go with their outfit (or opt for bare feet for them).
A few days before your session, consider treating yourself to a manicure as many shots of your belly will also include your hands. On the day of the session, you may want to add extra makeup (or bring it with you). If you can get your hair and make-up done, that’s even better! Just as professional photographers know how to make you look your best in pictures, professional hair and makeup artists know how to do your hair and make up specifically for a photo shoot. Some moms make it a day of pampering or plan a special dinner with dad after to make the most of their photo shoot makeover.
If you are planning to bare your tummy during your maternity photography session, be sure not to wear anything restricting for about two hours before your session to avoid indentations in your skin. Be careful with self-tanner. It’s usually best to forgo it unless it’s something you always use and are very good at applying. Any orange tint will show up in the photos (especially on your belly).
A word about Pinterest. Photographers love pinning just as much as the next creative soul. But, your pictures are about you! Your body, your baby, your relationship. Let your photographer guide you into YOUR best look. Trust that your photographer has seen every picture you are going to show them (yes, we’re looking at you, bun on the top of your head, kneeling on the bed, window light behind girl pin). Let your photographer work with you for your unique vision instead of copying someone else’s.
Things to have ready for your maternity photography session
Shoes and jewelry to coordinate (especially for outdoor portraits)
Nude strapless bra and undies
Powder and gloss for touch-ups
Brush or comb for hair fluffing
Bottle of water if you’ll be outside to make sure you stay hydrated
To include in pictures:
Tiny shoes (little ballet shoes, Converse shoes, or booties are cute)
Baby hat with thier name (then use it for the newborn session as a before/after)
For pet – bandana with “big brother/sister” on it (check Etsy)
Posing tips for your maternity photography session
For all session, posing can make a difference in the finished portrait. This is especially true for a maternity session. Moms tend to slouch (hello, belly!) and are getting reacquainted every day with their ever-changing silhouette. Here are a few ideas for looking your best in pictures.
Put your weight on your back foot. This makes you automatically straighten up and thins most people for the camera.
Pop your front leg and pull your shoulders back. The same idea as keeping your weight back except with a pregnancy belly, it helps accentuate the lines and give you definition between your legs and tummy.
If you are putting your hand on your belly, leave a little “triangle of light” in the inner elbow. If you arch a little, that can give you shape in your back and side areas.
Try having hands moving, curling around hair or brushing neckline (but not covering jawline). They can also be placed all around the belly for different looks.
Keep your chin out, even when looking down (dad, too!). For “looking down” pictures, don’t actually look at your belly but at a point on the ground a few feet out or down your arm for a different look.
During your session, relax and enjoy being the star. It won’t be long now until your new little diva or dude becomes the center of your attention! Take this special time to bond even deeper with your baby as you create a memory that will last a lifetime.
In a Clients Words
“When I first thought about booking my maternity portraits, I really wasn’t sure that I wanted to do them. The thought of getting all ready and trying to be cute when I just felt so tired made me feel even more tired! But, then I was talking to a friend, and she had done pictures with both of her babies (they are a few years older than mine will be). She convinced me so I called around to see what I could find out. I started out just thinking I’d do a few to have for my son’s baby book but once I got there, I wanted more. Getting my hair and makeup done was actually relaxing since all I’d been doing was throwing my hair up in a ponytail and swiping on mascara for the last 6 months. Once we got there, my photographer made me feel so comfortable, chatting about our baby and how my husband and I met, etc. At first, I felt awkward trying to make sure I looked good, but she worked with us (my husband is even MORE awkward) to create a space in which we could just be ourselves in. We actually had fun during our maternity photography session because that was the first time in a while we’d had a chance just to cuddle and hold each other, focusing on our son’s soon to be birth. I think everyone should get maternity pictures! I can’t wait to do them again with my next baby.”