12 Tips for a Maternity Photoshoot From a Professional Photographer

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12 Tips for a Maternity Photoshoot From a Professional Photographer

pregnancyUpdated September 21, 2020

by Leigh Ripps

Professional Photographer


You peed on a stick and got two little pink lines. Hooray! You are having a baby! Now begins the 9-month whirlwind where baby names, stroller reviews, and tiny little shoes will consume your thoughts as you plan for this next season in your life. If you are like most moms, at some point in that journey, maternity photos will cross your mind. And also, like most moms, you might be worried that you won’t look your best. I’ve been there! I had a maternity photoshoot with each of my three pregnancies. I also have photographed hundreds of others. I’m sharing my best advice to help make sure you LOVE your maternity photos.

Tips for Maternity Photos You Will Love

1. Find a Professional

Hiring an experienced, professional photographer is crucial to love the outcome of your maternity photoshoot. A seasoned maternity photographer knows how to pose you, utilize lighting, and capture the most flattering images to document your pregnancy.

Pay attention to their style. Just like you wouldn’t go to a cardiologist when you have a knee problem, different photographers specialize in different styles of photography. Do you love dark, moody images, or do you prefer light and airy ones? Do you want formal studio portraits or a fun, lifestyle session in your home? Choosing a photographer in the style you like ensures you both have the same vision for your images so that you will be thrilled with the result.

2. Time It Right

Scheduling your maternity photoshoot during your 28-34th week is ideal. Every woman’s body shows at a different time. However, generally, first-time moms should probably wait towards the end of that window. You want to have a full, round belly, but be comfortable enough to move around. If you are expecting multiples, a month earlier is probably best.

3. Dress The Part

After you have picked out your photographer and secured a date, the next question is naturally, “What do I wear?!” Choose an outfit that shows off your bump with an empire waist or something that is fitted. Think about the setting for your portraits before making your choices. An urban location could call for bold and modern clothes, but a grassy field might look better with neutral, bohemian styles. Your photographer might also have specific recommendations that work best with their style of photography.

Many photographers who specialize in maternity photography also have an entire wardrobe full of tried and true outfits that photograph beautifully and their clients can borrow. It’s also an excellent way to save money on buying new clothes and avoid a lot of shopping frustration!

4. Prep Your Hands

In the days leading up to your photoshoot date, be sure to get a manicure and shine up your wedding rings. Your hands will be photographed in detail while cradling your belly, so you’ll want them to look neat and fresh. Neutral nail polish is typically the right choice so that your bump, not your nails, takes center stage.

5. Bring in a Professional Hair and Make-Up Artist

Professional hair and make-up can do wonders to help bring out that maternal glow and let you walk into your photoshoot looking and feeling your best. The camera tends to wash you out, so having an expert add additional contouring and lashes will help your face look flawless. Even if you don’t usually wear a lot of make-up, a light professional application can still give you a naturally enhanced look. For hair, as women, we all know that our hair never looks better than when we are fresh from the salon. Plus, if your session will be outside, a pro will ensure your hair can hold up to whatever the weather throws at you.

6. Choose a Meaningful Location

Do you enjoy spending time at the beach? In love with your baby’s new nursery? Maybe you have a special spot that you and your partner always love to v. Using a meaningful place as the backdrop to your maternity portraits will add an extra dimension to your photos that will bring back even more happy memories.

7. Include Your Partner and Other Children

Your maternity photoshoot isn’t just about a new chapter beginning, but also celebrating the chapter that is closing. Use this opportunity to document life as just the 2 of you (or 3 or 4) before this new baby joins your family. If your first child is a furbaby, talk to your photographer about including them too. Just be sure to bring along an extra set of hands to take care of your dog when he’s not being photographed.

8. Bring a Sentimental Item

Personalize your maternity photoshoot by incorporating an item that is significant to you. Keeping props limited to sentimental items will help your images stay sweet instead of cheesy. Some things you could consider are:

  • a parent’s baby item like shoes or a well-loved teddy
  • items from your wedding, like your veil or robe
  • an ultrasound photo
  • something from their nursery, like a baby blanket

9. Consider a Baring Your Bump

Pregnant bodies are amazing, and many expectant moms like to showcase their new form with a more revealing or intimate maternity photoshoot. These types of sessions can range from fully clothed, but form-fitting, all the way to fully nude, based on your comfort level. Your new curves will be the star, and this style allows a true fine art feel to your portraits.

10. Take It Easy

Growing a tiny human is hard work, and so is being a model, and during your maternity photoshoot, you’ll be doing both. Communicate openly about your needs and ask to take a break, get some water, or move if a pose is uncomfortable. Outdoor sessions in the summer at eight months pregnant can be especially brutal, so don’t try to push yourself if you start feeling overheated and need to cool off.

11. Make It a Date

After your session is over, you’ve already done all the hard work to look amazing, and trust me; you will be starving! Tell your partner in advance to plan a date night so that he can whisk you off to a fancy meal right after. It might be the last night out you have in a long time!

12. When in Doubt, Do the Photos

If you are on the fence about whether or not to do maternity pictures, you are not alone. Most moms-to-be that I talk to feel the same. My best advice is that if even a tiny piece of you thinks you might want these photos, do them. Once that baby arrives, there is no going back in time. Even though I didn’t feel my best at any of my maternity photoshoots, I would have so much regret now if I hadn’t done them. Remember, these photos aren’t just for you. These photos will be a gift to your new baby, and they will mean so much to both of you down the road.

Credit to Butterfly Chaser Photography and Ivy Nault Photography