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Shoot: Maternity Poses

Lesson 31 from: Posing 101

Lindsay Adler

Shoot: Maternity Poses

Lesson 31 from: Posing 101

Lindsay Adler

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Lesson Info

31. Shoot: Maternity Poses

When doing maternity poses, you want your subject to look good and be comfortable. Lindsay gives you very specific advice on how to accentuate a pregnant woman's best features.

Lesson Info

Shoot: Maternity Poses

This is a segment where I talk about maternity, and I'm gonna give you my top tips but I will let you know that for maternity poses there really are just a few essentials. It is really pretty basic, and I think a lot of what makes different maternity shots would be lighting and styling for a couple of reasons. Really, there are certain poses that are definitely more flattering to the female form, but then also there aren't many poses that are comfortable and you want the individual to be comfortable. So you would be making more poses out of maybe your lens choice and your lighting and your styling and things like that. So really, there are just a few poses to have narrowed down here, so not too complicated. So let me give you the absolute essentials, and I will actually just borrow you while I say these, and then I'm not photographing yet. Okay, this is our lovely mother. (teacher and audience clapping) Thank you for modeling for me today. All right, so the first thing is is it okay, a...

nd I'll have you mirror me. It is okay to photograph your subject straight on but you won't notice the stomach as much. So what you have to do in that case is actually use the hands to define. So I'm going to have you cup your left hand underneath and your right hand over. Okay, you would actually need to do that because straight on you can't quite tell. The form isn't defined. But something else to keep in mind is if her hands are straight next to her side, we still wanna keep in mind all of those fundamentals of posing for women which is you want negative space. So I would have her pop her elbows out just a little bit, not uncomfortably so, but so that you can see the sides of her body and her form. Okay, but in general even though that's acceptable, the 3/4 view would emphasize and be more typical. So I will just have you turn 3/4 and do the same thing. So either way is completely fine, just know that straight on you definitely need help defining. My second tip, really important, and I'm gonna photograph these all so you can see, is when she's standing here flat-footed, remember flatfoot. Okay, flat-footed is not the most flattering, and usually you think, okay, for women you don't wanna stand flat-footed because you are reducing hips and form. Well, okay, you're not, I mean that's not the point here. (laughs) The reason for not wanting to shoot flat-footed is because you can add a little curve. So what I'm gonna have you do is put your left foot forward and then put up on its toe. Okay, and so if you do that and I would actually, I'm gonna do this more dramatically so you can see with an apple box, what it does is it will give you a line to follow, another line. You wouldn't want the back leg because then you're opening up towards the camera, but instead the front leg so you're looking at a curve here and a curve here. So then the pose becomes all about curve which is what we're trying to do. And again, it's feminine and it's soft and it's beautiful, so we're going to photograph her like that as well. So tip number three, I already said this, is maintaining negative space. But that's with everything. So a big one that I'll see often, a woman's holding underneath her stomach here and she has her arm back, and I'm, if you don't mind, I'll grab just right here, and put your hand under your stomach again right here. Okay, so from this angle her arm hides the small of her back. It is just like if I were facing straight onto the camera with my hands straight to my side. I add that much width to myself. So if you are going to photograph somebody from the side like that, you want the hand either further forward so you can see the small of her back, okay, which is perfect or much farther back, keep going, keep going, so that you actually have negative space. So watch for those things. Maternity poses are all about the curves and the beautiful line, so you can't hide them. All right, and that's in any of the poses that we have here. Number four is hands communicate the mood. So I have definitely seen some kind of sexier maternity shots where it's both hands up, and I've seen hand on the small of the back. It's softer, more maternal cupping underneath. It's giving me more curve and shape here. So just know that hands become an important part because it's all communicating something different about what you're trying to achieve in the pose. Like I said, there's not really too much that you do, so it's kind of in the hands what you're trying to say with that photograph. And of course then it's the lighting and you know, all that other stuff. And then number five is to vary the eye contact and the head angle. So I would do looking down, head to shoulder, at camera. It gives you different poses, but sometimes it's, I don't know, I almost think if it's meant to be a quiet, kind of intimate moment where she's appreciating her state, (laughs) okay, looking at the camera, I still get that photograph. But honestly since it is about curve and about something beautiful I think that often not looking at the camera probably achieves more of what your goals are as a photographer. So these would be my top five things. Remember the differences between the angles, don't stand flat-footed, definitely maintain negative space, watch the hands, and vary the eye contact. So I'm gonna show you a few variations of the pose. There really aren't too many. You can go ahead and get a little bit more creative, and I'm going to do one little more creative shot just so that you have one, but don't start there. Start nice and easy and simple. Okay, Iris, I would love the light, and I'm going to show you, and we're gonna watch all different poses. I'm gonna have you face straight towards the camera, flat-footed, hands on your side. Okay, perfect. Thank you. (camera beeping) Great, and just a little taller. Little bit more. Right there, perfect, thank you. Okay, all right. And I check my tether, (camera beeping) and hands flat to your side. (camera beeping) (camera shutter clicking) Okay, perfect. Okay, so what you will notice is that you can't really tell too much that she's pregnant because the clothes aren't super form-fitting. Okay, now she is not heavy, but if some were a little heavier and were leaning back it would actually kind of stretch the shirt similarly. So we need to define. So what I'm gonna have you do is put one hand above, one hand below, and arms tight to your side. Okay, so now we've defined. (camera beeping) (camera shutter clicking) But there is no negative space, and we still want a little bit of curve here. So that's what we're going to add next. All right, so I'm gonna have you pop out your elbows just a little bit. There you go, just like that, it's perfect. (camera beeping) (camera shutter clicking) Okay, so now you're gonna see a little bit more feminine shape, but there is something that I taught everybody in photographing women that's missing. And I actually just said it a second ago. What's one of those things that you don't want? Flatfoot. Flatfoot, she's flat-footed. So it's still like (feet stomping), you know? So what I'm gonna have you do is would you tuck one of your knees over a little bit? Good, and even just a tiny bit more? So what I can do now is since this pose is all about curve, if I crop right here, now it's a nice leading-out point at the end of that photograph, so perfect. Lindsay, can you actually clarify for Christina what you do mean by flat-footed. To her it would mean bottoms of the feet touching the ground. Is that just what you mean by flat-footed? So okay, so that's true. Yes, flat-footed bottoms of feet on the ground, but also even weight distribution, like you're (feet stomping) just flatfoot, even weight. So what I'm doing is I'm taking one foot. When she actually kicks her foot over, the camera can't see it. Her feet do come off the ground. She's actually up on one toe, but it's not super-balanced. But she has to go up on one toe to kind of kick that over. So it makes shape in that pose. So if you look there it was, I don't know if they can do kind of some before/after shots, but it just tapered out the bottom even more. And depending on the person's balance, if you want it to be even more extreme I do have people just cross their legs but just wouldn't have them do it for too long. So you'll be able to see the very first one is going to be least flattering and then over to the last one, okay? All right, so you notice her shape less straight on, so let's change that. Could you just turn sideways for me? And hands flat at your side. All right, so let's take a look at this. Perfect. (camera beeping and camera shutter clicking) All right, and so okay. There's not much really going on but what do you do with her hands? So the go-to, the one that you always see, is one hand cupped beneath and one hand over or both hands beneath. I personally think, this is my taste, I like one hand over and one hand below. I don't know, I think it just have a little more curve to it because now I'm exploring the curves versus this. This is kind of holding a weight to me, but there's nothing wrong with this. I see it all the time, and it's not something I look at and go, "That is a bad pose!" (audience laughing) It's nothing like that. Okay, so just like that. And what I think (camera shutter clicking) is it kind of, even though straight off to the side is when I would see the shape of her stomach most, the hand kind of disappears. So I might not go completely profile. Come back to me just a little bit, perfect. All right, so watch this difference just a little bit here. (camera beeping) (camera shutter clicking) Okay, all right, so then the "problem" that we run into is... The curve. The curve, you lost the curve, because right now her arm is extending beyond that small of her back, and so it's going to make her look wider, but not even wider. It's just curves are feminine and we're losing them. So I wanna have you put your, just kind of put your arm forward just a little bit more and bring it back, I'll tell you when. Bring it back, bring it back, bring it back, all right, good. And bring your elbow in, good. Okay, the reason I had her elbow in is she was doing this. Whatever's closest to the camera will look largest. She's gonna make her arm look large if she does that. So what I was doing is I had her pull her arm forward and then I had her pull it back just until I could still see the curve of her back but her arm wasn't out. So that looks good, perfect. (camera beeping) (camera shutter clicking) So I can see the curve of her back. I can see all of the curves, looks good. Just so you know, another direction that you could take it is can you bring your arm all the way back? Keep going, keep going, keep going, right there, perfect. And so you could actually go so that there's negative space (camera shutter clicking) like this. So this is another way that would be totally acceptable for seeing curve and space. And you could go more extreme if you're going for a little bit like, okay, I mean if you look at the... I looked at some maternity shots that were in Vogue, and they're like ah (laughs), okay? (students laugh) So you can do hands on the hips like that. It was actually Giselle, I think. It was very dramatic. It was beautiful, flowing fabric. Maybe that was Vanity Fair. It was really pretty, so you could do that, but this would be more traditional. But the problem that we're running into is she's still flatfoot, still flatfoot. So I'm gonna have you stay flatfoot for one sec. I'm gonna take a further back shot so you can actually see the difference. For a close shot like that it's not a big deal. And I'll have you grab a small apple box if there's, oh yeah, there's a small one over there, perfect. So flatfoot just like you are is great, good. (camera beeping) (camera shutter clicking) Perfect, but what you're going to see is you're gonna see that it definitely now, you had all that curve and then it's a line. It doesn't fit with the curve of that photo. So would you take your left foot forward? Perfect, just like that, great. And arch your back a tiny bit. Okay, so the arch the back will give more curve. Perfect, just like that. (camera beeping) (camera shutter clicking) Great, and one more. (camera shutter clicking) So I've got a little bit more curve and a little more shape. And you could go even more dramatic if you wanted. And will you put that apple box out there for her to put her foot on especially since it's more comfortable? Great, perfect, okay, so now watch, great. (camera beeping) (camera shutter clicking) And I'm gonna crop right here, perfect. Good, and one more shot. Will you put your hand in front? So if I really wanna watch this curve then I probably don't want, if I'm looking for the back curve, I probably don't want her hand out. Probably want in because that's what I'll be looking at. Perfect. (camera beeping) (camera shutter clicking) Okay, all right, so just a couple more things that I would do is I would vary eye contact. I mean, I don't know, it's not bad to look at the camera. I mean a lot of times people want a shot of them looking at the camera. But will you just look down? And when you do that make sure it's not literally looking down at their stomach. (students laughing) No, people will say okay, now look down at your stomach and they're like this. They will not be happy with you (laughs). So will you stick your chin out and down? Okay, and so it's gonna stretch out underneath the chin and then just her eyes down. You get the point. Great, and do you mind if I just pull your hair back just a little bit? Let me see just a tiny bit. Oh, my hands are cold, sorry. That's okay (laughs). Okay, cool, and when you do that just make sure the hair doesn't fall in front of the face, obviously. Okay. (camera beeping) (camera shutter clicking) And can you lean your chest forward just a little bit? Good, just right there. All right, so what I'm doing there (camera shutter clicking) just wanted to elongate a little bit. It was like minute, but sometimes people will lean back just a little bit because they're trying to balance weight, and then again it's kind of weight back. So sometimes just weight forward just a little bit actually pulls everything up and out. That was a really minute difference because she was fine. All right, so those are super essentials. And then of course, can you put your hand underneath again and turn towards me just a little bit. Okay, and then pull your left hand back a little. Yeah, right there, perfect. (camera beeping) (camera shutter clicking) Okay, one thing that I did wanna do, and if you look at my angle and pop out, I still had some negative space on the side of her body and then it tapers at the bottom of the frame. Okay, one thing I did wanna show is can you put your right leg up? Okay, just to show the difference. (camera beeping) (camera shutter clicking) It's not going with the curve because it's curve and then line versus an extension of a curve. It's not that same smooth shape. So that would be something to watch out for. Okay, so I'm going to actually sit you on the ground sideways, okay? And then, yeah, would somebody, would you guys, I was asking Heather and Cassie, could I have just the top of that bed in a second? Like in a second. So, I mean, you can go for it, but... Okay, good, perfect. All right, so same rules apply as before. Having her sitting here I wanna tuck your hand underneath. Okay, good, making sure I have negative space. But what is the gigantic problem? The arm? The arm. Okay, so if you look at her arm, there's a lot of tension. Not only is it locked out but her fingers are freaked out there. Okay, so can you go a little softer on your hand? Perfect, great, oh, and I wanna lower my light real quick. Okay? Perfect, and instead just real, like kind of just wiggle your fingers soft down there, good. (camera beeping) (camera shutter clicking) Good, and I'm gonna do one more. (camera beeping) (camera shutter clicking) Great, okay, so that would be another pose, kind of sitting like that. This entire time as we have done with everything we photographed, I would try different angles and different lenses. So it takes one pose and changes it. So of course I could photograph from here down. If I did that I probably wouldn't photograph at F8 or F11. Everything would be too much in focus. But if I photograph here, her eyes will be in focus, and then you can see her form but it's not distracting. Okay, so, okay guys, you can bring that over whenever you want or no. So what I'm gonna do is those were my essentials. I can help you up if you'd like. Thanks. Here you go. So those were my essentials. So my kind of recap there was straight on you have to make sure you can see the shape, make sure you have negative space, not arms tight to the side, when you turn to the side make sure you can actually see curve, hands can go above or below, and use leg, the front one, the ones closest to the camera, to give you extra shape. So you can step this way. All right, my last one is going to be a laying one but I have not yet had this experience, but I had a feeling just laying on a hard floor wouldn't be a good idea. (students laughing) So I had them grab that for me. Lindsay, a quick question just about one of the standing poses. Do you always prefer the closest arm to the camera to be below the stomach in a profile shot or can it be above the stomach for some side shots? Oh no, it can definitely be above, absolutely. I actually find that it depends on how far along they are because if they're really far along sometimes this becomes an uncomfortable angle which is the only reason I was doing that. If they're really far along they're like this to put their hand. So sometimes it's a smoother curve here. But if they're not, I mean you can definitely. Just watch to make sure it's not uncomfortable and the arm's not tight to the side or it's not kind of, just feels uncomfortable, is soft curves. Both are totally fine. Okay, so here's our unusual shot. Would you lay on the bed for me with your head this direction and your feet that direction? So like head here, feet there, okay? Okay, so this, I once had a, and you can just stay there for a second. I once had a woman that I did a maternity session for, and she said to me, "Okay, I want something, "I want something like a little more unique." She said I mean you want something a little sexier? She's like, "I feel beautiful. "I don't want to just feel motherly." She said, "I want something that shows me as a woman "because I have all my curves." Okay (laughing) and she wanted to take advantage of that time, okay? So a couple things to keep in mind with that is I could, for example, photograph from here with the focus on her eyes and then everything else out of focus. What I'm actually gonna do is I'm gonna show her the pose just to save her grief, that it's a mix between what we covered in boudoir and maternity. Okay, so if you feel comfortable, if you can lay on your back that way, and you're going to put your right arm up above your head. Perfect, and your other hand soft on your stomach. Perfect, just like that. And I'm gonna have you kick your knees that way. Okay, is that okay? Yep. Comfortable all right? Great, and I'm gonna... (sighs loudly) My light's not gonna be awesome, we've discussed this. I could move it but it'd be a little complicated. And so what I'm gonna do is focus this here on her eyes. Things I wanna watch out for is if she's looking back at me, no wrinkles in the forehead, and no strain. But it is going to be curve. So let me just take a shot and see if this is doable here. Great. (camera beeping) (camera shutter clicking) And can you bring that elbow out just a little bit? And you can put it under your head if it's more comfortable that way. Is there anything that's more comfortable? Doesn't really matter (laughs). Okay, so just pull your elbow out that way. Keep going, keep going, and the reason I'm doing that is it was a little too tight to her head. Let's keep going, just a little bit, right there, perfect. (camera beeping) And I'm gonna do one, (camera shutter clicking) oh, try this again. (camera beeping) Relax your forehead for me. Okay, I don't know if you'll be able to, can you see it? [Woman In Audience] Mm-hmm (affirmative) Okay, and not that one. (woman laughing) And yeah, so she has a little, good. (camera beeping) (camera shutter clicking) And one more. (camera shutter clicking) And now will you turn your legs the other way? Okay, good. (camera beeping) Can you put them straight out, like flat out? So I'm looking for like, yeah. Okay, so I was looking right then and I was just kind of in the way. Perfect. (camera beeping) (camera shutter clicking) Okay, so you could do a combination of some of these. Again, I wouldn't be photographing at F8, so by the time you were getting to her feet it wouldn't be in focus. It would just be form. Okay, so it's like a combination between those. I can help you up now. And oh, by the way, leave your hand back one more time. Sorry, I would also shoot right above, down, and I did that for that woman that was telling me how she felt. Turn your head that way. Keep going, keep going, look towards the light. (camera beeping) And I stood on a stepladder. (camera shutter clicking) But I had an assistant there to make sure I didn't fall on her because that wouldn't be good, I'm being serious. So the stepladder, I needed it for the angle, but yeah, you don't really wanna fall. (man laughing) That'd probably be a bad idea. Okay, now I can help you up. Want a hand? Thank you so much. Oh, oh, okay, you okay? Yep. Okay, so I'm gonna bring you back on in a second. If you guys wanna remove the bed, And actually, Lindsey-- I'll take some more questions. We did have one quick request before we lose our wonderful model here. Hoops Photography was wondering if you can show a standing pose that doesn't have the arms at the belly, like arms up somewhere else. Definitely. Gonna raise this up. Okay, so let's do a fashion one and a soft one. Okay, so stand facing 3/4 about there. So there's a couple things you could do. One, put your left foot out again. Great, can you put your hand on this, kind of the top of your butt? Okay, good, and now take your right hand and put it soft to your neck on the other side, though. Okay, so I could do something like that. And let's take a shot. Can I have the apple box, please? (camera beeping) I have a quick question about apple box. Yes. Where do you get them? I got mine, well I live in New York City. (students laughing) So where do you get them here? Glazer. Glazer, oh yeah, you guys have one right here. Yeah, Glazer's right here. I mean camera stores, I know that Kelima and B&H and Adorama, they all have them for sure. But theater supply as well, that would be the other one. If you don't have a big camera store in your area, any theater production company would have them as well. Those are the two that I know of, you're welcome. Okay, perfect, great. (camera beeping) (camera shutter clicking) Good, and now turn your head (camera shutter clicking) and look down at your shoulder, good. (camera beeping) (camera shutter clicking) So that would be one, and then if you go super fashion... Could you bring that arm up here and then the other one kind of to your neck and turn this way, so kind of lean? Okay, so this is more what I was seeing for like the Giselle, but then what they had here was they had fabric that was draped across and then froufing out this way. Okay, so that would probably actually be more like how I might photograph it if I were getting a little funky here. Okay, I'll get one more just like that, perfect. (camera shutter clicking) Great. (camera shutter clicking) Okay, perfect.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Keynote 1
Keynote 2
Keynote 3
Bridal Couples
Bridal Parties
Couples - Different Height.
Female Seniors
Folding - HowTo
Male Seniors
Mature Couples
Mature Men
Mature Women
Parents Children
Plus Size
Same Sex-Female
Same Sex-Male
Women Posing

Ratings and Reviews


I would highly recommend this class! I have been shooting for some time now and I've been pretty satisfied with my pictures from each session. A few weeks ago, I happened upon this class and thought it would be nice to get some new ideas. I then took the ideas from this class and applied them to a maternity shoot. I must say it took my pictures from good to amazing!!!! My clients bought them all😊 Thank you Creative Live for offering such amazing classes to help any level of photographer learn and grow!

Ruth Ganev

Lindsay is such a great teacher. She doesn't overcomplicate things - so that you can really learn. She also reviews things again and again - only in different contexts - that make total sense. I have learned so much from watching this course of lessons. I went to a natural lighting portrait workshop a couple of weekends ago - and was able to put into action what I have learned. The models loved my photos, too. She keeps things moving, is clear and to the point. I highly recommend this class to anyone wanting to become better at posing. It is so rewarding to look back at my previous photos and understand what doesn't work and why, and also to see things improving. She is a natural teacher - the course is not boring - you will learn tons!

Maya Tleubergen

I really love it! Thank you, thank you, Lindsay! Beautiful girl with a huge talent to teach! I absolutely love it! Worth every penny!

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