There once was a time when women were shy of their bodies during pregnancy. But this is no longer the case, and this attitude has been shattered in recent years as society has embraced the glow and wonder of new life. More and more, women are looking to capture this special moment in their lives.
Maternity photography has become wildly popular. Usually, it’s done in the latter stages of the pregnancy for maximum visual effect. Maternity sessions often include the spouse and other children, making them part of a family portrait session that captures a unique time in the life of a growing family.
Thoughts on Maternity Sessions
There are a variety of ways to tackle a maternity shoot. One school of thought is that the photo session for mom-to-be is really no different than any other family portrait session. The same poses apply, whether sitting, standing, or reclining. You will want to incorporate the same family dynamics and include siblings and spouses when possible.
Black and white photos are very popular for maternity images. Remember, producing reliably beautiful black and white images take some practice. Basic exposure, contrast, and tonal balance are vitally important. Black and whites make portraits look classy and timeless, which makes them a popular choice.
Like other portrait sessions, photographers will get to choose between indoor or outdoor photos. This choice also includes the option of studio shoots. Outdoor maternity pictures are popular among moms-to-be.
Wardrobe, Hair, and Makeup
Wardrobe and styling choices are generally made by the client. Tell your clients to bring three or four maternity dresses for photography, but make sure you discuss the important points with them. What sorts of photos are they looking for? Do they want to show off their belly? Are they looking for nude or implied-nude photos? Are they looking for formal photos?
You can shoot maternity pictures in pretty much any outfit and make it work. Garments should be neutral colored and not have any distracting patterns, of course. If Mom wants to show off her belly, a button-up shirt that can be opened in the front offers options. Another popular look is combining a bandeau top with a matching dress, leaving a bare midriff. Finally, if they are looking for a formal look, there are many beautiful maternity gowns for photography that are perfect.
Safety and Comfort
Maternity sessions can be longer than expected, especially if you include multiple wardrobe changes. If outdoor maternity pictures are on the schedule, you have to include traveling to and from locations and getting light setups just right.
Throughout, keep in mind that your subject is probably getting tired. You’ll need to plan for that and keep a comfortable chair
or have a place for her to relax and recuperate.
Generally speaking, shooting maternity photography doesn’t require any specialized poses. It is a specialized form of portraits, yes, but the only added skill you need as the photographer is to keep the purpose of the shoot in mind. The purpose is to capture this moment in the life of this woman or the lives of this woman and her family.
Even if you are shooting a couple or entire family portraits, make time to take lots of pictures of Mom alone. Take a selection of full-length portraits, closeups, and cropped images. Use the standard posing setups, like modifications of standing, sitting, and reclining. Avoid straight-on, square-shoulder shots that can make her belly look flat.
Three-quarter poses accentuate curves. Remember the golden rule of working with models, and have them bend everything that bends. Bend one leg, keep elbows, and fingers bent. As the photographer, watch out for awkward wrinkles and rolls and have her keep her neck extended and her arms away from her body.
One word of caution if you are working with reclined poses. If your client is laying down, their belly may appear flatter than it is, which can look awkward. Try instead for bent hips and use her arms and hands to accentuate their belly. For the photographer, maternity shoots give you the chance to try some positions and setups that you might not normally use. When else are you looking to emphasize someone's belly?
When working with partners and families on maternity shoots, the number one goal is to capture the emotional connection between the people in the image. Create intimacy in these portraits by having the couple hold hands, hug, or kiss. Another great way to empower your photos with that emotional connection is to have the subjects look at one another. This connects the people in the frame far more than a regular look-in-the-lens photograph.
Another idea for couples photos is to have dad hold or touch her belly. This can be combined with standard full-length pictures or with closeups.
The Whole Family
If there are already one or more small ones in the family, the maternity shoot is a great time to include them. Have the siblings-to-be gather around mom, and get creative. As before, have them look at one another. They can touch mom’s belly, or they can hug mom with their faces on her belly.
Tips for Maternity Sessions
Natural Light and Outdoors
The best setup for maternity pictures is with natural light and outdoors. You want an organic, natural feeling in these images and this setup best captures that. That’s not to say that a studio-based portrait session is inappropriate, but it’s generally not going to get the same candid, glowing shots that outdoor pictures will produce.
If you do opt for outdoor photos, have a list of locations you like to use and be familiar with the light there in advance. When is the best time of day? Will you still need to fill lights or reflectors? Do you need permission or permits to shoot there?
You may have noticed from the notes above, nearly all of these shots are candid. Very few of the best maternity shots are tradition portraits with the subject looking into the eye of the camera. Instead, your client looks away from the camera while doing something else.
If they’re alone, this captures a personal moment, which is exactly what the goal is during maternity sessions. With a family, having them look at one another helps capture their relationship.
Anytime you work with clients who are not professional models you must work to create the right environment to get the shots you need. In short, you need excellent people skills. You need to take the time to consult with your clients to find what they want from the shoot, and what sort of pictures they’d like to have taken. Artboards and websites like Pinterest can be helpful, as can browsing your portfolio with your clients.
The problem is that few people can articulate what they really want. Maybe they’ve seen a picture they liked, or a friend’s maternity album that inspired them. During a sit-down consultation, gauge your client’s reaction to examples of poses, lighting, setups, and wardrobes. Ask probing questions and find out what they’re looking for. It will be time well spent. Not only will you have a clearer idea of how to proceed, but you’ll have built a relationship with the client. You need the client and her family to be comfortable in front of your camera and to understand direction and communication when it comes time to set up shots.
Client Comfort Level
Just like everyone else, pregnant women come in all shapes and sizes. Some are very comfortable with their bodies, while others are not. If your client carries the weight well and confident in front of the camera, take straight on and direct photos. These clients are more likely to seek out images with more skin, so the consultation is important. You’ll want to know what she’s looking for in advance and plan the shoot accordingly.
If your client is uncomfortable and self-conscious, you’ll have to have another plan. Try shooting from above, while looking down on her from one to two feet above. Candid shots usually work best in these situations since it is less about the pose and more about the interaction. Generally, these clients probably came to you looking for images in formal attire that covers everything.
Your client’s comfort level also comes into play with wardrobe choices. Never forget the most important rule of working with families: communicate clearly while keeping it light-hearted and fun.
Importance of Wardrobe
Clothing choices are of the utmost importance with nearly every maternity shoot. Elegant maternity gowns for photography are the perfect prop to base your compositions around. In general, they must not be shapeless. Tight and form-fitting is better, but they should not be uncomfortable.
You’ll want to have a selection of gowns in various colors for various backgrounds and situations. Solid colors work best, and you can never go wrong with white. Gowns and flowing maternity dresses for photography add an element of sophistication to your images. They’re especially powerful when combined with contrary elements, like a natural setting or when printed in black and white.
If you’re looking for something more original, you can go all-in on the wardrobe. To really tell a different sort of story, how about a mermaid tail? It may sound silly, and it’s certainly not for everyone, but fantasy costumes can lead to some wondrous photos!
If your client is providing their own wardrobe, suggest shirts that can be opened at the front. Flowing cloths provide dramatic elements and can be arranged in many ways. Some clients want to imply nude photos, so wardrobe changes can be planned to progress to these at the end of the session when the client is as comfortable as possible. Always avoid elastic waistbands that can leave marks on her belly.
Creative photography props can make or break any portrait session. When in doubt, just say no. In some cases, flowers or flower crowns add an element of interest to the photos. Generally, the wardrobe itself is the prop in maternity shoots. As with any other portrait, props can be perfect, or they can go wrong. Props can lead to tacky or cheesy photos, which might be exactly what your client wants. Your choice to use props or not leads back to your initial consultation with the client. Did they like shots with props? Plan in advance, because some people might love it while others might hate it.
Be Mindful of Awkward Problems
Maternity sessions are all about capturing a beautiful moment, so don’t let an awkward pose or a wardrobe malfunction ruin it. Avoid wrinkles and rolls by making sure mom keeps her chin and arms away from her body. Be as careful as you can to avoid uncomfortable poses and your client’s fatigue, which will show in the pictures.
Your camera and equipment choices are not unlike they are for other portrait sessions. Whether shooting in a studio or outdoors, your primary tool for capturing the best photographs lies with your lens choice. So make sure you have a camera that can properly use the lens you choose, usually a DSLR or mirrorless unit.
Prime lenses are excellent tools for outdoor maternity pictures. The perfect focal length for your lens lies in the 35 to 50 mm range. You want to avoid super wide-angle lenses that can distort arms and legs at the edge of the frame. You also won’t get much use out of a telephoto lens.
Prime lenses do not zoom, which many photographers find to be an advantage when working with portraits. It forces them to move the camera and try different angles. Prime lenses are also faster than their zoom counterparts, and they feature shallower depths of field. All of these factors equal amazing outdoor images with beautiful bokeh.
Keeping yourself mobile with a fast lens has its ups and downs. You won’t be encumbered by a tripod, so you will have to pay extra attention to your shutter speed and how it balances with your depth of field. Use caution that you don’t get your depth of field too shallow and be very careful of your focus point.
For these reasons, you’ll need to take your time and set up your shots. Even though you are after candid shots too, set up posed shots first and get your camera settings just right for the scene. Depending on the light and the look you desire, you may want to use exposure compensation to over or underexpose the images slightly for dramatic effect.
Pricing Maternity Sessions
For most photography businesses, pricing maternity sessions will be in-line with other shoots that last a few hours. Like engagement photos, family photos, or senior photos, these sessions usually last between one and three hours and involve only one or a few people. If you do your job right while you take the pictures, your post-production process should be pain-free.
However, if you are looking to carve out a niche in your local photography market and you want to specialize in maternity sessions, your prices may reflect that. The decision of how to price one session versus another comes down to two factors. First, you need to know how the product fits into your business. Is it your bread and butter, or is it something on the side? Secondly, you need to refer to your business plan and market analysis. What pricing can the local market bear? How do you stack up against the competition? If you charge more than others, is the customer getting value for that money? In other words, do you specialize in this and deliver precisely what the client wants, or is it for you just another source of income?
Capturing the perfect maternity pictures is all about your client. To do the job correctly, you need to maximize your time listening and work with her to make a plan for a successful shoot. The style of photographs, and even the definition of what makes a maternity image varies so widely that you cannot risk making any assumptions. Find out exactly what your client wants, and then deliver it. In some cases, it may be formal family portraits in a studio. In other cases, it might be intimate and artistic candid shots. Either way, the goal is the same. Always work to capture this special moment in the mom-to-be’s life. Showcase these special images in your photography portfolio website.
Your online portfolio is the key to gaining new clients and growing your business. Check out our comprehensive guide if you are wondering how to create a portfolio website. The guide is a step-by-step reference for creating a photography website that would be able to attract and impress potential employers, clients or collaborators. You also need to think out of the box, uncover your creative genius, find your expression and figure out how to present your work in the best way possible. Photography websites need to go beyond just showcasing your talent and images. It needs to present your vision for the future, with respect to the work you want to do, reflect your personality and your style and approach to work.
Choose the right platform to create your photography website. Pixpa offers everything you need to create a photography website.
Make sure that the photography website builder you choose offers the flexibility, features, and ease-of-use you need to put together professional photography websites without requiring any coding knowledge. That's where a bit of inspiration comes in handy.
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A little inspiration always comes in handy. So we have put together a few inspiring portfolios of Maternity and Family Photographers. These photographers have made excellent use of Pixpa, an easy to use the website builder to showcase their photos. You can draw inspiration from these creative professionals and study their portfolios, to get a clearer idea of how you want to showcase your repertoire of work.
Maternity and Family Photography Portfolio Websites That You Must See
Sadie appreciates the fleeting moments in life. She appreciates the value of good relationships and occasions. She, therefore, likes to capture these moments so that people can cherish them as long as they live. Sadie focuses on photographing families and couples, including maternity photographs. She likes to take intimate portraits of people in their natural self by making them interact with each other.
Jillian is a Minnesota based photographer. She specializes in family, newborn shoots, and maternity photography. She likes to take natural light photography, especially outdoor ones. Her photographs give a sense of warmth and love. The maternity photographs which she takes gives a larger than life impression.
Jammie is a professional photographer who likes to take family, children, engagement, and maternity photography. She has been in the photography field for 15 years. She likes to print photos and keep them in albums and frames. Jammie places importance in the artistic ability of a photographer and likes to capture precious memories.
Lela is a Milan based photographer who specializes in taking portraits of pregnancy, newborns, and corporate. She also works with fashion agencies to create their logbooks and compositions. She believes in bringing out the best in every person she photographs. Lela has been doing professional photography from over seven years and aspires to delights clients with breathtaking photos.
Marie is an Ontario based photographer who loves capturing photographs. She is also a Nurse at a retirement home and manages professional photography along with it. Marie provides newborn, family, and maternity photography services from her home studio. She also loves photographing outdoors and travels to locations to her client’s favorite locations.
Frequently Asked Questions
1) How much is a maternity shoot?
When deciding pricing schemes for maternity shoots you will need to keep in mind local rates, the length of the shoot, time spent traveling and editing the photos, equipment costs, labour costs and any other additional costs incurred during the shoot. Every maternity shoot will be different so it makes more sense to price each shoot accordingly. However, once you have some experience you could come up with package deals with some preset parameters.
2)What week should I take maternity Photos?
The third trimester, between 28-32 weeks is the best timing for a maternity shoot. The baby bump is more visible and morning sickness is generally not an issue anymore which makes for an ideal shoot. However keep in mind that each pregnancy is different and you should consult with your clients to select a time that is best for them.
3) How many months should you take to take maternity pictures?
Between 6-8 months is the most popular timing for maternity photoshoots but each pregnancy is different and you should always consult with your clients to zero in on the most appropriate dates.