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It doesn’t matter if you photograph your maternity clients indoors or outdoors, there are some foolproof poses that can help you to add variety to the session, focus on the bump, and make long lasting memories for your clients.

Posing can also mean the difference between an okay photo and a great photo. Here are 10 tips to help you achieve better maternity photos at your next maternity session.

A couple pose together in calm cornfield landscape - maternity photography poses

1. Mom Alone

If you are photographing a couple, don’t forget to take photos of just the mom. Getting a good solid portrait of her embracing her bump is going to make for tender and meaningful photographs.

Posing her in flattering ways can also create more depth and warmth to the photograph. Try putting her at a 45-degree angle from you. This way, we are putting more focus on the bump’s silhouette. This is especially helpful when the baby bump is small.

Triptych photo of a pregnant woman in red in different maternity photography poses

Tell her to rub her belly and talk to her baby.  If she feels awkward doing this, just have her smile while looking down at her bump. Have her think of meeting the baby. This will get more authentic expressions in the portraits.

Take full length, mid-length, and up-close photos of her. Once you feel like you have taken enough solid portraits, experiment with different crops.

Asking for her to bend one leg can not only help to relax and shift the weight, but it also adds more interesting lines leading to the belly, which is the focal point of the whole session.

Black and white portrait of a pregnant woman holding her stomach - maternity photography poses

During her portrait session try and keep her hands moving as well as where she is looking.  Have her look at you, at her partner, down her shoulder, at her belly. 

Huge tip: When she looks at her belly, have her poke her neck out towards the camera and actually look at her feet. This will avoid getting any squished chins.

2. Dad With Belly

Just because the belly is the focal point doesn’t mean dad can’t have his time in front of the camera. Have dad kneel and get close to the belly with both hands on each side. Have him talk to the belly and enjoy the closeness.

Sweet maternity photo shoot of the father holding his wifes belly, couple pregnancy photography posing on a beach

Another great maternity pose idea is to have dad stand half behind the mom and place his hands on her belly. Get in close so that you just get the hands. Take a photo mid-length and focus on the dad’s eyes rather than on the mom. Have him look at the camera and then down at the belly.

If dad has a special request for a pose, do it. Letting them feel like a part of the maternity photography session is going to produce more intimate photos for your clients.

Dreamy maternity photo shoot of the father holding his wifes belly, couple pregnancy photography pose in cornfields

3. Props and Accessories

Maternity photography sessions are such a beautiful way to capture the parent’s excitement over meeting their baby soon. Many who know the gender of their baby, or have chosen names, will want to include that into the maternity session.

Diptych maternity photography of a pregnant woman in black, holding a mickey mouse teddy

Whatever they decide to bring to add to the session, make sure that you pose them so that you can focus on both them and the prop/accessory. 

For example, if they bring tiny shoes, photograph different poses with the shoes. Take one where the shoes are on the floor next to their feet and take an up-close shot. 

Another maternity pose idea could be to hold the baby shoes at belly level and photograph up-close and mid-length.

Sweet maternity photo shoot of the father holding his wifes belly, with a yellow bow tied around it

If the couple wants to photograph their bump with letters or names, try and get creative on where to place the letters.

A word of caution here: Do not lay the mom down and place the letters on her belly. This will only make the belly look flat and a bit awkward.

Instead, try to have them bring a sign with the name rather than individual letters or place the letters to the side and photograph them next to the belly or the couple.

Diptych photo of a pregnant woman holding baby clothes to her belly, and embracing her partner during a maternity photo shoot

4. Wardrobe

It’s especially important to talk with your clients before the maternity session about wardrobe. Wardrobe can offer the chance to be more into the maternity poses and add to the overall experience of the session.

Diptych photo of a pregnant woman in blue evening dress in different maternity poses

Tight to the body dresses or shirts work well because they can highlight the bump more during the maternity session. Using belts above the belly also helps to accentuate the bump.

This can help give your client more shape and offer more posing solutions rather than always having their hands at the bump because the dress or shirt doesn’t allow for the bump to really stand out.

Diptych photo of a pregnant woman in red in different maternity photography poses with her partner

Heels are not recommended but if the mom wants to wear them, have them bring extra shoes to rest in between takes. Feet swell pretty quickly when you are pregnant so be mindful of this fact.

If the mom is willing to show her bare belly, this can be a great time to pose her at a 45-degree angle from the camera toward the light. This will light her belly to accentuate it but she can turn toward you and create more shadows on her face to add depth.

Diptych photo of a pregnant woman in different maternity poses indoors

5.  Legs and Hands

Maternity photography is all about the belly and to make sure our focus stays on the belly and couple, hands and legs are great tools.

Place both hands below the belly, one above the belly and one below, one above and slightly to the side and the other opposite. Or just have your client rub her belly as she normally would if she were just standing alone.

Diptych portrait of a pregnant woman outdoors in different maternity photography poses

Always try and place hands so that fingers are close together and hands are overlapping but not overwhelming the belly.

For legs, have mom cross her legs if she is facing you so that you can add more lines toward the belly. This will add focus to the bump much more than if she were straight legged.

In other pose ideas, try to have her bend one leg at the knee so that it gives the same effect as well as give her more shape.

6. Include Older Children

Maternity sessions don’t only focus on the belly, sometimes there are siblings at the session that also want to join in. This is such an amazing moment to have siblings interact with both mom and dad as well as the belly.

Try and take some photos of the family walking or playing and interacting. Add this element to the session will make it feel more natural and can help the sibling participate more willingly.

Maternity photography portrait of a woman embracing her daughter

Some pose ideas to try is to have the sibling(s) place their hands on the belly. Then have them talk to the belly or kiss the belly or talk to mom and dad. Interaction poses are always more intimate and meaningful.

Diptych portrait of a woman in different maternity photography poses indoors with her daughter

7. Remember All Bodies Are Different

Pregnant bodies are all different and not all poses will work for each mom. Also, not all poses will be comfortable to get into either.

Remember to always ask before putting your client in a difficult or uncomfortable pose. Great photos are made because people are comfortable in the pose, in the location, and in front of the camera.

You can tell right away if someone is uncomfortable so try your best to watch out for this and repose your client.

Triptych portrait of a woman in different maternity photography poses outdoors in a natural landscape

Remember that some maternity sessions you’ll need to accentuate the belly more by the use of hands or perhaps a belt, or turning your client at an angle.

Try and let poses evolve organically and allow for interaction to flow. It’s the in-between moments where the couple is laughing or enjoying the moment where the best photos are made.

8. Building Poses

The great thing about posing maternity clients is that you can easily build and get various poses all without having to move your clients very much. Keeping your clients in one spot also allows your client to relax. It can be tiring to walk around a lot while being 8 months pregnant.

For example, start with the couple facing each other and with the outside hand embracing the belly. From there, you can ask your clients to look down, then look at each other, have the dad look at the belly and the mom at the camera, hug a little tighter, kiss, or hold hands.

4 photo grid of a woman in different maternity poses outdoors in a natural landscape

Another example is having the dad behind the mom and with the hands close to the camera holding the bottom of the belly.

From there, you can have the dad kissing the mom on the temple while the mom is looking down, they can hold hands, or like the example, hold the props that they brought to the session. Get close up shots and far away shots for variety.

For each variation, take about four to five so that you can ensure you got at least one great photo from each pose.

9. Don’t Forget to Play and Have Fun

Maternity sessions don’t have to be all tender and intimate moments, you can also ask your clients to have a little fun with it. If they’re up for it, have them walk around, dance, and enjoy the moment.

Triptych portrait of a couple on posing outdoors by a road tunnel for a maternity photography session

Ask them to talk with each other and have the mom say something nice to the dad and then vice versa. This usually causes many of those natural in-between expressions that make for great photos showcasing exactly who your clients are during this moment in their lives.

10. Keep Arms and Face Away From the Body

Maternity sessions usually take between the 7th and 9th month of pregnancy, where the mom’s belly is usually much rounder in shape. 

However, this also means that arms, legs, and face tend to swell as well, even just by walking a lot because of the excess water they are carrying around to help the baby grow and develop.

Diptych portrait of a couple on a beach posing for a maternity photography session

Keeping the face away from the neck by asking your client to push their chin toward the camera can help avoid squished necks.

Keeping the arms away from the body and bent can add shape and lines to the contour of the body as well as not make the arm seem fuller than it really is in real life.

A woman in blue evening dress outdoors posing for a maternity photography session

Try and always find the most flattering angle and light so that they can embrace this beautiful phase of pregnancy.

Conclusion

Black and white portrait of a pregnant woman holding her belly

Maternity sessions are intimate and a great way to begin a lasting relationship with clients so that they come back for the newborn session as well as all future ones.

Having these tips in mind during a maternity session will help you to stay focused on the belly and couple all while allowing for variety and experimentation. Build the poses to have a bigger mixture of photographs to showcase to your clients.

Remember body shapes, and always give your clients a great experience!

Now you have the lowdown on beautiful maternity photography poses, why not check out our complete guide to new born photography or our great tips on posing newborn babies.

A note from Josh, ExpertPhotography's Photographer-In-Chief:

Thank you for reading...

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Jackie Lamas

Jackie Lamas is a destination wedding and portrait photographer based on the beautiful beaches of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. She earned her degree in photography from California State University, Fullerton. Jackie has over 10 years of experience as a professional photographer and teacher. When she's not on the beach, you can find her writing on her blog and spending time with her baby and husband. See more of her work on Instagram, at http://instagram.com/jackielamas.

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