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Over the past couple of years, maternity photography has become truly popular and sought after.
The popularity of capturing this important time for a family is understandable and many people are looking to improve their ability in this specific genre of portraiture.
Nowadays, professional maternity photography is becoming an industry. There are more and more studios and photographers who are offering maternity and newborn photo packages. Photographing a mother-to-be can be quite challenging, but if you follow certain guidelines and spice them up with your own creative ideas and instincts, you can certainly create magnificent and emotional portraits that capture this amazing time!
9 Tips And Tricks To Consider For Maternity Photography
1. Come Up With Creative Camera Angles
As you already know, angles matter a lot when it comes to portraiture. And general portrait composition techniques apply here. Your responsibility is to find as many meaningful angles as possible and this can be quite tricky when it comes to maternity photography. Of course, it goes without saying but don’t forget the belly because it should be the main star of your maternity photo session. Try photographing from above – while you’re standing above your subject, you can easily focus directly on the belly! Even if you’re aiming for a full body shot, this angle will be a great choice too!
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2. Give Precise Directions
Lack of communication and clear directions can easily ruin maternity photography sessions. Be patient and take your time to explain in a concise way what you want your subject to do. For example, ask her to turn just a little bit to the left or to the right. You can also ask her to move her arms or legs closer or further away from the camera and so on. Note that shooting the stomach from the side is almost always more flattering than shooting it from the front because your photo will have more balance – the curve of the back can balance out the curve of the belly.
3. Go Abstract – Don’t Stick To Predictable Shots
Think like an artist – you don’t have to create only figurative photographs with maternity photography. Be brave and embrace the abstraction too! The best abstract portraits look artistic while simultaneously telling a story, so aim for that. Things like shallow depth of field and unusual composition will help you create some outstanding abstract shots. You can also capture some interesting close-up shots of the belly and experiment with lighting and background colors if you’re using a backdrop.
4. Make Sure Partners And Other Children Are In The Frame
Adding her partner or brothers or sisters will definitely make your maternity photography session more emotional and even more meaningful. The happiness and joy of the parents-to-be can make maternity photos truly exceptional. Also, the mom will be more relaxed if the whole family is present, which is quite important when it comes to posing. Another great thing that happens when the entire family is present is the fact that there are more options when it comes to posing. You can show the interaction between your clients and some sweet gestures such as hugs and kisses.
5. Nudity – Comfort Levels Are Different For Everyone
A little bit of nudity might look very natural and spontaneous in maternity sessions, but always ask how much nudity your mother-to-be is comfortable with. Despite your personal preferences, never push people to show more skin than they are comfortable with. In order to make certain posing ideas more comfortable for the mother-to-be, show her some sketches of the poses you are going to shoot so that she can see your ideas and decide if some of these poses can include a bit of nudity.
6. What To Wear
You can always start with simple wardrobe choices since they are usually very flattering. Monotone clothing, clean cuts, and soft textures work well in maternity photography! Also, start with lighter colors, such as a white or beige tank or tunic, to create a classic ethereal aesthetic. While every expectant mother has her own style, it’s good to warm up with a few classic shots before you get more experimental.
7. Make The Session As Comfortable As Possible
The comfort of the mother-to-be should be your number one priority. Because of this, start with the easiest poses and gradually move towards more challenging ones. For instance, you can begin your session by asking the mom to sit on a comfortable blanket on the floor and then after a few shots ask her to move to a standing pose. Also, make sure that she’s never too warm or too cold! If she’s posing in her underwear, you should always cover her with a robe or blanket when you’re not shooting to ensure her privacy and comfort.
8. When Is The Right Time?
Knowing the right time for maternity photography sessions is important because you want to capture their pregnancy meaningfully. The general consensus is that the best maternity photographs are done between the 32-38 weeks of pregnancy. You should avoid shooting too early because the bump is too small then, but shooting too late is also not a good idea since it can be physically demanding. During the 32-38 weeks of pregnancy, the belly looks round and beautiful, perfect for those lovely maternity photos!
9. Take Maternity Photography Seriously
Whether you are taking photos of friends or working as a professional, remember that maternity sessions are as important as wedding photography! You’re responsible for shooting one of the crucial events in your client’s life, which means you have to take your role seriously. This involves a lot of planning and making sure that your equipment is fully functional for the upcoming session and that the lighting is impeccable. Also, you shouldn’t shoot maternity sessions in a half-hearted way, because your client will notice that. Be courteous and show some enthusiasm for your work!
3 Things You Should Avoid…
1. Expecting the mother-to-be to do 100s of different poses
Even if you’re feeling really creative and you have a bunch of interesting ideas, don’t forget that you’re shooting a pregnant woman! You should do most of the moving, rotating around your subject to capture a variety of angles for every pose she does.
2. Relying on flash or reflector too much
Try to rely on natural light as much as possible in maternity photography. Maternity portraits look splendid if taken outside during daytime. Because of this, try to minimize your lighting equipment (except if you plan to shoot the entire session in a studio). However, capturing the natural glow of the expectant mother might be trickier in a studio than on location. The best solution would be to combine photos taken indoors and outdoors – this will introduce some variety.
3. Emphasizing Bloating
Let's face it, pregnancy can take its toll on the body. Particularly at the later stage of pregnancy (third trimester), many women suffer from water retention, which makes their faces, arms, and legs bloated. The most flattering angles for the face are looking down or looking straight at you, while arms and legs shouldn’t be crossed because that could make them look even more bloated!
7 Posing Ideas To Get You Started
Now we’re going to cover a couple of great poses that will make your session much easier both for you and the mother-to-be. Before the actual photo shoot, it is good to have some basic poses in mind while others (more elaborate ones) you can invent and tweak along the way!
1. Belly from side
Belly shots can be very beautiful and artistic when done from the right angle! It’s very natural for the expecting mother to touch her baby bump, so try to capture this lovely pose by shooting it from the side. This pose is perfect for drawing attention to the mother’s belly and giving her a place to put her hands!
2. Belly from below
Shooting a belly from below will emphasize the size of the bump! Which is really what you are after with maternity photography. Just make sure to keep it natural and spontaneous — shoot a belly from this angle when the mother looks down. If you want her face to appear in the shot as well, have her look at a point slightly away from her bump. This is a classic cheerful shot that everyone likes and if you include some sweet gesture or expression such as a smile or laughter, it will look even more emotional.
3. Belly from above
Shooting from a height can be very flattering. You should get up high and stand on something or bring a stool. Shots from above can be rather creative and playful. Have the mother-to-be lie on a blanket, a sofa or bed so that you can climb a stool and shoot from above. Don’t forget that the color of the blanket and her outfit should match!
4. Mother and partner kissing
If you have both parents present at a maternity session, you can take more images and make your photo session truly elaborate. Talk with the expecting couple beforehand, especially if they feel uncomfortable in front of a camera. Ask them to focus on their emotions rather than the camera itself – their excitement and joy will show in their faces and body language. Try to capture some precious and intimate moments.
5. Partner reaching around mother’s belly
In addition to typical shots of kisses, a fun way to get couples close is to tell them to touch each other as much as possible. Try to get the full body, half body, and close-ups of both of them together, as an example of this is with the father holding his hands around the mother’s belly. This can be a wonderful candid shot if they don’t look at the camera.
6. Sitting or standing next to a window
Shots taken by the window are always endearing in a subtle way because they create a reflective atmosphere for the mother or parents to be. Also, the backlighting from a window can add some drama to your shots. In addition to this, natural light softens the image and adds the color from the outdoors, which will make the portrait more complex from the artistic point of view.
7. Using a sheet or some custom prop
A sheet can be a great prop in maternity photography sessions because it can frame the baby bump or stretch across it. Sheets come in various colors and various degrees of translucency, which is a great option for photographers who like to experiment with lighting and colors. At the same time, using a sheet can offer your client a bit more coverage, especially if she’s planning to do some nudes or semi-nudes.
We hope that this guide to maternity photography helped you understand better all the factors you need to consider when shooting maternity sessions. Also, bear in mind that many new parents don’t want to be overwhelmed with choices when it comes to maternity photography, so have lots of fun and make sure everyone is relaxed.
The impending arrival of a new baby is an amazing and exciting time for a family and the more considerate you are the better chances that your maternity photography will be truly memorable.