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Maternity Session Photo Shoot Ideas

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Maternity photos are a great way to capture a fleeting yet important moment in a new mother’s life.

During maternity portrait sessions, you can also be more creative and try new concepts, locations, tips, and themes.

Here are 10 maternity photography tips and ideas to use in your next photo shoot.
pregnancy photos outdoors, woman and husband in dreadlocks, rocky background behind them

1. Go High Key or Low Key

Photographing subjects in high key lighting can give your photographs an ethereal feeling. There’s a flood of light in your photo. This type of lighting is perfect in a studio or on location.

In a studio, you can use a big soft light to flood your image and another light in front to light your client evenly. The idea is to have a lot of light to give that dreamy effect.

romantic photo of pregnant couple outdoors, the bright sun behind them

On location, photograph your client with the sun behind her either as the sun rises or as the sun sets.

Giving you the flood of light that you need to blow out the background. That is, to create the white background due to the amount of light that is entering your camera.

man cradling pregnant wife's belly in his hands, a bright yellow and gold ribbon on her belly

Use a type of fill, like a reflector or flash, to fill in your client from the front.

You can also slow your shutter so that you can use the existing backlight to fill in all around. You’ll still capture details of your client from the front side.

Beautiful maternity photography shot of a pregnant woman wearing a shirt with Happy written on it, cradling her baby standing in a garden with the golden sun glow behind her

Giving the session a more dreamy effect can help to translate the anticipation of the baby. You can do this either in studio or on location. Use light-coloured robes for high key lighting to add to the flood of light all around.

Low key lighting is great to highlight the baby bump. Use a dark background and one light, which can be a strobe or external flash.

You can even use your on-camera flash to create low key images.  

pregnant woman wearing white, a flower in her hair, cradling her belly

Position your client 45 degrees to the camera so that you really highlight the baby bump.

Use wardrobe that is lighter than the background. This can help to create a good contrast between the background and your client.

If your client opts to show her bare belly, this can be a great contrast in itself.

2. Include Spouse and Siblings

Maternity sessions seem like they can only be about the mother-to-be. That’s not true.

It’s a great idea to include the spouse and siblings as well. 

Try to keep the wardrobe simple. That way they don’t draw attention away from the the star of the session: the baby bump.

husband in wife in black shirts, romantic photos outdoors by the falls

Spouses and siblings can work great in both a studio setting and on location. If you decide to do a studio setting, have the children bring toys or activities. This will entertain them while you photograph other poses during the session.

If you decide to photograph the session on-location, choose a location that is enclosed and safe. The children will run around and have fun.

While you are photographing only the mother, the siblings can play and stay clear of the photographing area.

Beautiful maternity photography shot of a two children, boy and girl, looking and touching pregnant mom's belly

Get detail photos of the spouse or siblings kissing or holding the baby bump. Try having the mother interact with them in a way that is natural.

For example, kissing or hugging the younger siblings. Holding hands with the spouse, or carrying a smaller sibling on top of the baby bump.

maternity photoshoot, pregnant woman in a pink dress, her daughter hugging her round her belly

3. What Different Styles Can You Try

Maternity sessions have the ability to range in style all within the same session. Talk with your client before the session.

Offer different styles like the following:

  • Ethereal, in the field during golden hour
  • In studio with high and low key lighting
  • Gowns and formal wear
  • High fashion style with heels / fashion style clothing
  • Wraps to show the belly
  • Casual, every day style during soft lighting
  • Beach
  • Boudoir
  • At home, relaxed, maybe in the nursery
  • Milk bath

Use two of these options for the maternity session to get more variety. Also experiment with styles that you have been wanting to try for some time.  

pregnant woman, photoshoot, two photos. Woman in white blouse outdoors, black and white photo with woman in white dress

4. Use Baby Props

Your clients have most likely purchased items that they plan on using for the baby. Or gifiting to the baby once the baby arrives.

Ask your clients to bring a few props to the session, like baby shoes, onesies, or a stuffed toy.

close up pregnant woman holding her belly, holding a mickey mouse stuffed toy next to her

Photograph your client with the items that they bring and the items on their own.

They may want to use these detail photographs to decorate the nursery or make a memory album in the future.

close up couple hugging pregnant belly, holding pink and blue baby shoes
two photos, on the left, holding baby onesie against her pregnant belly, on the right, close up of mom and dad's feet, little baby shoes between them

5.  Make the Shoot About the Parents

The baby bump is the main focus of maternity sessions. But it’s also about the parents-to-be. Ask your clients to bring props or wardrobe. These should represent their personalities.

For example, a couple who love Disney, or a couple or mama who loves to ride motorcycles.

couple romantic maternity photoshoot outdoors, with motorbike

You’re giving the parents-to-be a chance to represent their personalities as well. This will make the session even more meaningful. 

maternity photoshoot, black background, couple hugging her belly from behind

6. Photograph the Nursery

This applies if you have the opportunity to photograph your client in their home. Take a few moments to capture the baby’s nursery. 

Adding these detail photos to your client’s gallery is a good idea. It can be very emotional and personal for the parents-to-be.  

three photos showing nursery, nursery decor, baby onesie

Photograph your client inside the nursery without posing. Ask about the items they’ve chosen to decorate with.

This will get them talking on a more personal level. You’ll be able to capture more natural emotions and expressions.

dad, two kids, pregnant mom, family photo on the couch

7. How to Use Wraps

There are wraps that are specifically made for maternity sessions. But you don’t have to purchase any if you’re just starting out.

Using a few DIY options can make this maternity photo shoot style both easy and cheap. 

maternity photoshoot outdoors, pregnant woman in royal blue wrap dress

At any fabric store, purchase at least two meters of fabric. Let your client choose the colours. 

Use one meter for the top and the other for the bottom.

close up man in a white suit, pregnant woman in white satin wrap dress, husband kissing her belly

For the top, twist the fabric in the middle to give it a little more shape. Clip or tie the excess at the back.

For the bottom, wrap your client below the belly. Clip or tie at the back allowing the extra material to cascade at the back.

outdoor maternity photoshoot in a grass field, three photos, woman in red satin wrap dress

It’s easy to do this in a studio setting and on-location.

8. Use Gender Specific Colours for Wardrobe

The most exciting part of being pregnant is finding out the gender of the baby.

Have your clients wear an outfit that is gender specific. Blue or yellow to represent a baby boy, or red and pink to represent a baby girl. This gives a more personal touch to the photos.

themed maternity photoshoot, two photos. on the left, woman in blue boots lying on a couch beneath a large painted wall poster. On the right, woman in an open bright blue blouse, looking at her belly

This can also serve as a gender reveal for family and friends when they view your client’s photos !

9. Use Similar Wardrobes for Newborn Photos

Choose one outfit that is simple in both fit and colour. 

This will come in handy when photographing the newborn session for your client. You can recreate or match the style of the maternity photos.

before and after pregnancy photos. On the left, husband and pregnant wife, on the right, couple holding laughing baby between them

Something like a black top and black bottoms or jeans for both sessions.

Or having a bare belly and top, then using the same top and having the baby naked during the newborn session.

pregnant woman in jeans and a black shirt, sitting in a field

This can look really beautiful as an album. It can feature both maternity and newborn photographs.

Or a wall gallery set that includes photos from both sessions.

10. Offer a Baby Plan

During the maternity session, or at the gallery viewing, offer your clients a baby plan.

This includes sessions for newborn, three, six, and nine months. End the plan when the baby turns 1.

romantic maternity photoshoot, couple standing in the sea

Newborn photography plans will keep your clients coming back. Try offering a big ticket item. For example, an album that combines photos from all the sessions.

You could also include one framed print from each session. When the baby plan is complete, your clients will have a wall gallery of the entire baby plan.

Beautiful maternity photos diptych of a pregnant woman in a sleek black dress, holding blue baby booties

You could offer a discount on the maternity session. Or add an item if your clients decide to purchase the baby plan.

The idea is to keep them coming back and purchasing more photos. But also giving them irreplaceable photographs throughout the first year.

Conclusion

close up, couple wearing black, man planting kiss on woman's pregnant belly

Maternity photo sessions are an exciting and emotional time for parents-to-be.

These tips for great maternity photos offer your clients more options in terms of their maternity session.

They also help you to capture differently styled maternity photos to expand your own portrait portfolio.

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