The objective of any pregnancy or ‘maternity’ photo shoot should be to make your client look amazing and feel great at a point when she may not feel at her best – in her later stages of pregnancy.
As a photographer it’s your job to use flattering lighting and suitable props to bring attention to a woman’s bump without making the woman feel self-conscious or exposed. Whether you’re a seasoned photographer or are worried about shooting your first maternity session, here are some tips designed to help enhance your shots:
The best time to take a pregnancy photo shoot is at some point during months 8-9 when the woman’s belly is nice and big. Of course, this is just a guide – 9 months might be a little late for some clients so it’s worth consulting with each person in advance.
If the photo shoot is being carried out at your studio, ensure that your client feels comfortable and looked after. As it’s a maternity shoot, you’ll need to ask her to take some degree of clothing off to show off her bump, so it’s vital she feels secure. Provide her with a private changing area, or at the very least, a screen. Also, it always helps if she brings a familiar face with her, whether it’s her partner, mum or friend.
During the shoot, first take some shots with full clothing on. Once you’re happy with the assortment of those shots, ask your client to put on some under bump jeans and a vest top (you’ll have to remind her to bring these beforehand).
In terms of background fabrics and cloths to drape around your client, buy lots of lengths of chiffon and floaty material - some in blue and some in pink work nicely if your clients know if they are having a boy or a girl. I also recommend keeping a selection of neutrals and black and white for them to choose from.
Lighting is one of the most important aspects of pregnancy photography. Studio lighting should be used to make shots subtle and beautiful. Start off by placing flash lights behind the woman to create stunning silhouettes of the bump. As they show off just the rim of the bump, the client doesn’t need to worry as much about stretch marks or pregnancy rashes.
I also recommend trying natural lighting with window light behind the woman. This will give your photos a beautiful, ethereal feel. Using white chiffon to drape the mum in further adds to this natural, subtle look.
I personally like very natural images, but it can be fun to incorporate baby building blocks that spell out 'baby' or the baby's name or nickname (parents often have a pet name for their bump). Baby scan images and measuring tapes are also popular props to use to bring a more personal meaning to the finished image.
In terms of poses, it’s very much a case of trying out different ones to see which ones the delicate mum-to-be is comfortable trying out. Below, however, are some of the most popular poses with both clients and photographers:
- Client standing with her side facing the camera, silhouetted with a light behind the bump
- Same pose as above, but with a small amount of soft lighting in front, lighting the bump and face a little more
- Client looking down at her bump, with one hand on top of it and one at the bottom
- Mum sitting down and holding her bump, with legs to one side, looking upwards towards the camera
- Lying on her back with legs in air and ankles crossed. Do give her some support so she can rest her legs as a pregnant woman can’t hold her legs in that position unaided
- For standing poses – as you would with a model, emphasise the curves of her body, so get her to bend her knees and arms. This creates space between limbs and ensures even more flattering, beautiful photos
- Above all, remember she may be 7-9 months pregnant so try not to make it too much like an aerobics workout!
Do you have any other worth mentioning tip to share? I look forward to see your views in the comments below ;)