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The pregnancy body is a beautiful and exceptional thing, and a fantastic way to celebrate and commemorate it is to take some pictures you’ll hold dear for a lifetime. Heck, you might even forget about all the puking and uncomfortableness when you look at them 10 years from now (maybe).
Pregnancy photoshoots are more popular than ever before, so you might find yourself looking for maternity shoot tips to make your session spectacular.
We can help!
While any professional photo session can feel awkward and uncomfortable, there are ways to simplify the process for a stress-free experience.
As someone who moonlights as a photographer, I treat every shoot as a learning experience. I’ve discovered several things that can ensure you receive the breathtaking photos you’re looking for while guaranteeing you have the best time possible.
If booking a maternity photography session is something you want to do, check out the suggestions below!
What is a Maternity Photo Shoot?
I always look at maternity photographs as a celebration.
A celebration of your incredible body, the upcoming birth of your child, and the beautiful moments and memories created throughout the nine months of pregnancy.
Maternity photo shoots can be various things, but many expectant mamas book them towards the end of their pregnancies when baby bumps are in full bloom. This way, you have the chance to capture your baby’s first home in all of its glory.
Some other popular pregnancy photos include announcement pictures and gender reveal photographs.
Do You Need to Take Pregnancy Pictures?
Listen, there are many steps and protocols you’ll have to follow during pregnancy.
Taking maternity photos is not one of them.
Despite their popularity, pregnancy photo shoots are not a mandatory item on any “What to Expect” to-do list. If you don’t want to book a professional maternity session, you don’t have to! Let’s face it; in the age of iPhone, you’re likely to get some great bump pics no matter what.
When potential clients come to me for information about pregnancy photo shoots, the one thing I always say is to think about whether or not you’d regret it if you didn’t do it.
Once your baby arrives, there’s no going back.
Each pregnancy is a one-time event that you can’t recreate. If you don’t take the photos, will you regret it down the road?
When Should Expectant Mamas Book Their Maternity Sessions?
As a general rule of thumb, I usually suggest clients book their maternity portraits between 34 and 36 weeks.
By following this guideline, you’ll not only ensure you have a gorgeous baby bump to capture, but it also lowers your risk of going into early labor before you get your pictures taken. According to the CDC, only 10.1% of expectant moms deliver before 37 weeks.
While some people want to wait longer to do their photos, so their bump will be at its biggest, many photographers warn against this.
Anyone who has had babies before knows how miserable those last couple of weeks can be. You’re swollen, sore, and generally OVER being pregnant. You’ll feel much better while taking pictures if you schedule your photo shoot a bit earlier.
Note: If you’re hoping to use a popular maternity photographer in your area, keep in mind that they’ll probably book up quickly. Make sure to plan ahead when scheduling your pregnancy session.
Are Pregnancy Photo Sessions Just for Moms?
Absolutely not! You can include whoever you want in your pregnancy session!
Inviting spouses, siblings, and even pets to join in the fun is actually one of my top maternity shoot tips for clients.
What is the Average Cost of a Maternity Photo Session?
If maternity photos are on your list of wants, you’ll probably want to include them in your numbers when you’re budgeting for baby.
How much should you plan on spending? It’s hard to get a black-and-white answer.
Per the website Fash, the average cost of a 1-hour maternity session is around $575. That said, prices change drastically depending on your location.
For example, if you live in a major metropolitan area, you could be looking to pay more than $1,000 for photos. Alternatively, you might find a photographer in smaller cities who will do your session for around $200.
We suggest gathering a few quotes from photographers in your area to help you estimate how much you can expect to spend. You can also ask if they offer package pricing if you book maternity and newborn sessions together.
20 Maternity Shoot Tips to Guarantee You Receive Beautiful Photos
From camera angles to raw emotion, there are many elements that go into an outstanding pregnancy photo shoot. To make the most of your experience, keep the following helpful maternity shoot tips in mind before and during your session:
1. Pick a Maternity Photographer You Trust
While you can’t control things like camera settings and focal lengths during your shoot, one significant task you are in charge of is picking the right maternity photographer for your session.
If your area is anything like mine, you’ll likely have an abundance of photographers to choose from.
You’ll want to decide what “look” you want for your photos, how much you’re willing to spend, whether you want outdoors or in a studio, and what you expect to get back after the session. You can narrow down the options using these requirements and find a photographer who’ll work best for you.
The best way to do this is to ask other families in your area for recommendations and then check out photographers’ Instagram accounts. Many artists use Instagram as promotion these days; it can’t hurt to make sure you like what you see!
2. Think About Props
Props aren’t mandatory for maternity sessions, but they can be a cute addition. Some popular options include:
3. Find the Right Pregnancy Shoot Location
I once had a client tell me that she thought she needed to do maternity photos at the beach, even though she hated it, because that’s what “everyone” does.
Just because something is a popular option doesn’t mean it’s the only one.
One of my frequent maternity photography tips is to select a location you love. If you’re more of a rustic barn type of person, don’t feel pressured to take a sudden dip in the ocean at the beach.
4. Take Your Maternity Pictures During Golden Hour
While you might think taking your pregnancy photos during the middle of the day when the sun is bright and shiny is a good idea, it’s not!
You’ll probably deal with harsh lighting that’s uncomfortable for you and unflattering in photographs.
Instead, ask your photographer about natural light, golden hour sessions during the first hour after sunrise, or the last hour before sunset. More than likely, this is their preferred shooting time anyways, but it’s worth mentioning just in case.
5. Choose Wisely When Shopping for Pregnancy Photo Outfits
There are many options for stylish maternity essentials – too many, some might even say!
When picking out your outfit for your pregnancy photography session, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the options. The best thing you can do is look at some inspiration photos online and decide what type of look you want.
Above and beyond anything else, find something you feel good in.
Just because a dress shows off your belly nicely doesn’t make it the perfect choice. Keep in mind you’ll be moving around a lot and getting into some strange positions during your session.
Some of my favorite spots for maternity shoot outfits include:
6. Decide Whether You Want to Get Your Hair and Makeup Done
I won’t deny that I’m entirely worthless when doing my own hair and makeup. So, when I was scheduling my maternity sessions, I knew hiring professionals would be the way to go.
If this is an option you’d like to pursue, make sure you put it on your to-do list and budget accordingly. Hair and makeup stylists book up quickly, so you’ll want to get on their schedules ASAP.
7. Pack Snacks and Water
This maternity shoot tip is especially important if you include other family members, specifically children, in your session. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve bribed my kids with snacks during family pictures.
Kids aside, though, having water and snacks for yourself is also essential – even more so if you’re taking photos during the hottest parts of summer!
8. Ask for Candid Shots
Everyone always wants that perfectly posed portrait during a session. While these are undoubtedly important and beautiful, don’t forget how fantastic candid photos can be.
The majority of the time that I take pictures for a family, their favorite ones end up being the un-posed ones.
9. Rest the Day of the Shoot
You might think a pregnancy session is just sitting around smiling for the camera. While that can be true, they’re often pretty exhausting.
On the day of your maternity shoot, try not to overdo it. Take a nap, lounge around, and watch a movie. Save your energy for the photos, so you’ll feel and look your best.
10. Research Inspiration Pregnancy Photos
If you haven’t discovered Pinterest yet, what are you waiting for? This website is a fantastic resource for almost everything, including maternity photo inspiration. And as we mentioned earlier, many photographers use Instagram as a kind of look-book for future clients.
Most photographers will bring lots of great ideas to the table, but it never hurts to come prepared with a few of your own. That way, the person you’re working with has an idea of what you’re looking for.
11. Practice Maternity Poses Ahead of Time
You might think I’m joking when I tell you to practice maternity poses ahead of time, but I assure you, I’m not!
During one of my shoots, the mom-to-be was killing each of her poses. I finally said, “Wow, you are nailing all of these things!” Her husband rats her out and tells me she’s been practicing them in the mirror at home.
It might feel a little silly, but getting comfortable with different poses and positions ahead of time will give you more confidence during your session and help you find the most flattering angle for your body.
12. Schedule a Date Night for After the Session
Let me tell you a little secret: most people don’t like photo shoots, especially guys. Heck, I’m a photographer, and I don’t like having my picture taken. That’s why planning something to do after you finish is helpful. It will give you and your partner something to look forward to.
Bonus points if you use this with kids – reminding them of a trip to the ice cream parlor during your maternity session is a great way to induce some smiles and obedience.
13. Take Off Tight Clothes Before Bare Tummy Pregnancy Photos
Do you want some shots of your bare belly? Think about what you’re wearing before you strip down!
If you’re rocking tight jeans or Spanx, you’ll likely have indentations across your baby bump, and trust me when I say that these aren’t super easy to edit out.
14. Consider a Milk Bath Maternity Photoshoot
Would you like to do something a little different during your pregnancy session? Why not try a milk bath maternity photo shoot?
This will likely need to be done at home or somewhere else with a tub, but the results are gorgeous. Fill the tub with water, add enough milk to make it, well, “milky looking,” and then throw in some pretty flowers.
These sessions are very unique and always end up looking breathtaking.
15. Don’t Stress Over Cloudy Weather
So, it’s the day of the shoot; you’ve gotten your hair done, steamed your dress, and are ready to rock and roll. Suddenly, you notice a cluster of clouds moving in.
While it might seem like a catastrophe, it can actually be a blessing. Not only will the weather be cooler, but cloudy weather usually produces more even lighting and gorgeous composition.
16. Arrive on Time
Nothing will send you into panic mode before your shoot like running late and possibly missing your appointment. Not only will you risk getting your maternity photos canceled, but you’ll probably be frustrated, stressed, and upset.
Your emotions will end up showing you through your body language, and you’ll decrease the chances of getting images you’re happy with.
Make sure to plan accordingly. That means knowing where you are going, accounting for traffic, and leaving your home in plenty of time.
17. Think About Home and Nursery Decor
This pregnancy shoot suggestion is a must, but it is not something many people like to keep in mind. If you’re interested in using your maternity photos as a part of your home or nursery decor, why not plan your outfits to match the overall aesthetic?
For example, you don’t want to be wearing a brightly colored dress in the middle of a muted-colored nursery.
18. Moisturize Your Skin in Advance
As a part of our everyday routines, most of us like to lather up with a moisturizer. While there’s nothing wrong with doing this before your session, try to do it a couple of hours before you go. This will make your skin appear less shiny in photos.
19. Consider a Silhouette Baby Bump Shot
This is one of my personal favorite maternity shoot tips! When I’m doing a shoot around sunset, I love capturing a silhouette shot of the mother-to-be.
I’ll have her stand in front of the sunset, put her hands on her hips or belly, and turn to the side. This is a gorgeous way to capture the lovely lines of our pregnant bodies.
If your pregnancy photographer doesn’t suggest this, don’t be afraid to mention it if you’re interested! A good photographer will take their cues from you and listen to your suggestions.
20. Most Importantly – Have Fun!
So you’ve planned your wardrobe, practiced poses to avoid a double chin, and chosen the most beautiful spot for your photos – what’s left to do for your maternity portraits?
Easy – have fun!
I understand that planning a session like this can be stressful, especially with all of the other changes happening in your life and body. Try to release some of that stress and let yourself enjoy the experience.
Remember what you’re there to do; capture an incredible moment in your life and show appreciation for the new chapter that’s about to begin. Sounds like something to celebrate if you ask me!
What Should You Do With Your Maternity Photos After You Receive Them?
After your photographer returns your photos, don’t just let them sit there and forget about them – put them to work!
You can do so many things with digital photos today other than just getting them printed. Create a photo book, buy a photo blanket, or make your partner a coffee mug. You can also have them printed on canvas or wood frame art to use as beautiful home decor.
Some of our favorite websites for these types of products include:
At the end of the day, make the most of your photo shoot and respect the opportunity to capture the beauty of your pregnant body – no matter what you do with the photos.
Do you have any other maternity shoot tips you would add to this list?
Kristen Bergeron is a freelance writer from Florida. In addition to writing, she is a wife, mother of two beautiful girls, Hadley and Scarlett, and a part-time photographer. After overcoming infertility and having two successful IVF cycles, she’s made it a personal goal to help educate men and women on the realities of fertility struggles. She is passionate about supporting fellow women who are trying to navigate the complicated world of conception, pregnancy, and learning to be the best mothers we can be.