How to Take Professional Pregnancy Photos

Michele Wanke
pregnancy
Add maternity shots to your family album.

Learning how to take professional pregnancy photos can make you more marketable in the highly competitive world of portrait photography.

About Maternity Photography

Pregnancy is a very special time in a woman's life. In fact, many people agree that there is nothing more beautiful than a pregnant woman. This is reflected in the explosion of professional maternity photographers.

In the last two decades, the number of expectant mothers looking to have their burgeoning bellies documented has grown exponentially. Millions of women are choosing to invest in professional photos to capture the miracle of life. As a professional photographer, you can provide parents with timeless images representing this magical stage of their unborn child's life.

How to Take Professional Pregnancy Photos

Before you offer to take professional photos of pregnant women, there are a few tips you should consider:

Timing is Everything

It's hard for women to contain their excitement when learning that they are about to bring a new life into the world. However, taking photos of an expectant mother in her first trimester is not advised. While you don't want to discourage a potential client, you should advise her that it's best to wait until at least her sixth month of pregnancy to take professional photos. The larger the woman's belly, the more evocative the photo.

Preparation is Key

Prior to booking a pregnancy photo shoot it's a good idea to prepare clients for what's ahead. Expectant mothers should be warned not to wear tight fitting clothing or pants with elastic waists, which can leave impressions on their skin. This is especially important if the mom-to-be is requesting semi-nude photos or pictures of her bare belly.

Other tips to pass along to pregnant clients include:

  • Manicures--Since most pregnancy photos include shots of hands, it's a good idea for expectant moms to show up to the shoot with well-manicured nails.
  • Make-up--Pregnant women have a natural glow, which can be enhanced with the right cosmetics. Expectant mothers should be advised to not wear make-up that shimmers. Hot studio lights can cause perspiration, so have light powder on hand for touch-ups.
  • Colors--Subdued colors add drama to the pregnancy. Suggest that your photo subject stay away from wearing bright colors. Stick with black, white or neutral shades.

Finding the Right Setting

Consult with your client before choosing a photo setting. While there are advantages to shooting in a professional studio, including proper lighting, controlled temperatures, and access to props and other equipment, some pregnant women prefer a more natural setting.It is possible to shoot maternity photos with nature as the background; however, you don't want the background to take the focus away from the woman's pregnant belly.

Experiment with Poses and Props

Belly baring shots are a snap!

Successful maternity photos tell a story when shot creatively. Don't be afraid to experiment with different poses. In addition, you can suggest that your pregnant model pose with her partner or other family members. Some excellent poses include:

  • Child kissing mother's pregnant belly
  • Baby's father cradling partner's pregnant belly
  • Pregnant woman and partner embracing
  • Child with hand on mother's belly
  • Father and other children surrounding mother's pregnant belly

If the expectant mom doesn't feel comfortable having others in the photo, then include pregnancy-related props in the shot that help tell a story. For example:

  • Baby booties
  • Teddy bear
  • Foods the woman is craving
  • Baby blanket
  • Silver baby spoon

Don't Rush

Take your time when taking maternity photos. Shoots typically last at least a couple of hours, depending on the number of poses and wardrobe changes featured in the sitting. You should strive to make the shoot as relaxing as possible, so don't rush the shots. Doing so will only reduce the chances of snapping high quality maternity photos.

Technical Tips

Once you discuss details of the shoot with your pregnant client, you can work on solidifying the technical side of the shoot.

  • Flash--Avoid camera flashes. Instead, supplement with natural light or studio lights. One way to include natural light during a studio shoot is to have your subject sit or stand near a south-facing window.
  • Film--If you are not shooting with a digital camera, use a higher speed film such as 400 ASA or higher.
  • Background--Avoid shooting with pieces of furniture or doors in the background. When shooting in a studio, the background color should be as similar as possible to the color of the pregnant model's clothes. When her clothes blend in with the background, her bared pregnant belly will stand out more.

Take Your Best Shot

When learning how to take professional pregnancy photos, it's a good idea to consider your subject's state of mind. Exercise sensitivity when taking maternity photos. Pregnant women don't always feel glamorous as they gain weight. It's your job to make expectant moms feel relaxed and beautiful in order to capture the best shots.

Additional LoveToKnow Resources

For answers to all your questions about having a baby, check out the helpful articles at LoveToKnow Pregnancy.

How to Take Professional Pregnancy Photos