4 Things Every Maternity Photographer Needs to Know

Professional photographer takes close up of baby bump in maternity photography session

Your client has a lot of options when it comes to finding a maternity photographer, so why is she coming to you? Because in that one-hour maternity session photo shoot, you’re taking pictures that will stand the test of time and be passed on to her little ones. Pregnancy photography sessions are the start of a new visual history, and your client will cherish the photos and share them for generations to come. They become part of her family’s legacy, and your job is to capture this precious window of time to the best of your ability. In other words, you have to bring it!

Anyone can point and shoot a camera, but maternity photography is a unique job and differs from family photography. Your client’s body is growing and changing and she’s probably extremely uncomfortable, yet you’re expected to deliver glorious photos that make her look back on this precious time with happiness and joy. It’s a huge responsibility, so before you start snapping pictures, familiarize yourself with the foundations of being a maternity photographer and completing a successful maternity photography session!

To learn more, check out my CreativeLive workshop, The Art of Pregnancy & Newborn Photography.

Know the basic body types for an optimal portrait session.

Not every woman is going to arrive at your studio and want to take her clothes off. Pictures of bare bumps are beautiful, but remember that every woman is shaped differently, and some mothers-to-be are more comfortable with nudity than others. If you can familiarize yourself with the basic female shapes, you’ll better understand how to photograph your client in a flattering position that best shows off the life they’re forming in their belly.

Know posing techniques.

Invest time in learning how to pose a pregnant woman’s body. Your clients aren’t professional models, and they won’t naturally know how to contour their bodies to highlight their best features — not to mention their baby bumps! Hold practice photo sessions with your pregnant friends or professional models, and you’ll end up with a handful of go-to poses on the docket that you can use on your clients. I also get posing inspiration from catalogs and magazines that feature non-pregnant women. Just imagine they’re rocking a baby bump and recreate the look in your studio!

Photo courtesy Ana Brandt.
Photo courtesy Ana Brandt.

Know how to dress your client for beautiful maternity shots.

Some women want to pose with an exposed bare belly, some women want to pose in a maternity gown, and some women want to wear a giant cable knit sweater. Everyone’s different, but a great sartorial starting point is what’s already in your client’s closet. I usually ask my clients to bring in some of their own clothing (in neutral colors), and I bring some of mine. This way, they’re wearing at least one piece they’re already comfortable in, but can still experiment with fabrics and silhouettes that I know flatter the pregnant body.

Know how give direction to capture special moments.

Don’t fall into the trap of being shy or passive during the maternity shoot. You have a job to do, and the best way to get that job done efficiently is with great direction! I use the first fifteen minutes of my session to get to know my client, connect with them, and make them comfortable in the studio. This will help get the maternity photo shoot off on the right foot. Once we get the ball rolling, I walk them through each pose (often posing alongside them), chit-chat about their pregnancy, and compliment them as much as possible to put them at ease. Most women don’t feel their best at nine months’ pregnant, and if you can build up your client’s confidence she’ll deliver better poses and you’ll deliver better pictures!

Tune in now for Pregnancy and Newborn Photography with Ana Brandt and learn how to create unforgettable newborn and maternity images.

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Ana Brandt is an award-winning pregnancy and newborn photographer whose work has been featured in Parenting Magazine, Rangefinder, and Chic Critique.