An Illustrated Guide to Better Maternity Photography


Photo by Marina Strachan

There’s plenty that needs to go right in order to create a portrait like the one above.

This post is all about preparing you to do so with crucial tips that will help you get the composition, lighting, posing, and wardrobe just right.

Are there other factors at play in the quality of your maternity photos? Absolutely. But if you can master these four areas, you’ll be well on your way to creating show-stopping maternity portraits!

Mind Your Composition

Photo by Loveprint Photography

When creating any portrait, there’s a delicate balance between having too much in the frame and not enough.

By that I mean that you want to give the viewer a close enough view of the expecting mom, but not be so zoomed in that you feel like you’re right in her face.

Likewise, you want to have a wide enough view of the scene such that you can see mom’s face and belly, but not be so far away that too many details from the surroundings confuse the eye.

In the example above, the perfect balance is achieved as we’re able to gaze upon mom, her belly, and her significant other.

But, because there are elements in the shot to frame the couple – the posts to their left and right – the details of the foreground landscape don’t distract the eye.

What’s more, notice how the shallow depth of field keeps our focus not on the mass of details in the background, but on the couple instead.

Photo by Karen Marie/Belly Beautiful

In another example of a well-composed shot, notice again how the photographer has used framing elements to keep our attention on the expecting mom.

In that regard, the lamp post to our left and the wall to our right serve as a frame within a frame to restrict our field of view.

The bright, deep red of the maternity gown the model is wearing certainly helps draw our attention to her as well!

Learn More:

  • How-To Maternity Photography: Simplify the Composition
  • How-To Maternity Photography: Photographing Mom Outdoors

Work the Lighting

Photo by Amber Fite Photography

When photographing mom outdoors, bear in mind the kind of lighting you have available to you.

Typically, you want to avoid harsh, mid-day lighting as that will cause some pretty serious shadows that can make your model look like she has dark circles under her eyes. That’s not to mention that harsh sunlight can wash her out, too.

But that’s not always the case, as seen in the image above.

Note how the sun is shining brightly and that the subjects are in the midst of a wintery scene.

That makes for a very bright backdrop, but it works beautifully with the couple as they’re wearing dark, deeply saturated clothing.

The trick when shooting in lighting conditions like this is to have your model face you, not the sun. That way there’s no squinting, and as was the case in the image above, you might get some nice rim lighting that highlights mom’s hair.

Photo by DP Photography

Another way to use lighting to your advantage is to use it as a tool to draw more attention to mom.

In the image above, the beautiful, light, and airy gown picks up the sun’s rays and almost gives the model a glow about her.

Looking back over her shoulder towards the light source helps eliminate shadows on her face, and since the sun is low enough in the sky and has lost some of its intensity, she doesn’t have to squint, either.

These are two great examples of how to use lighting that’s perhaps not ideal, yet still gets you a breathtaking maternity portrait.

Learn More:

  • Essential Tips for Preparing Your Pregnant Client For Her Photo Shoot
  • Things to Do (and Not to Do) For Gorgeous Maternity Photography

Strike a Pose

Photo by Tracie Jean Maglosky

One thing I learned when my wife was pregnant is that she didn’t feel all that beautiful. Posing can change that.

Just look at the image above – this mom-to-be certainly doesn’t always feel as gorgeous and glamorous as she looks in this shot, yet there she is, absolutely rocking it!

In this case, having the expecting mom lean back against the glass wall makes her look powerful, strong, and confident. Her reflection in the glass helps in that endeavor, too!

The point is that just because she’s pregnant doesn’t mean your model has to be sitting down or laying down. If she’s up for it, have her strike a pose like the one above!

Photo by Sunny S-H Photography

Of course, more traditional poses are certainly worthy of a shot.

Take the image above as a great example of a pose that’s well executed.

Notice how mom is cradling her belly bump with her hands. This not only gives her something to do with her hands to avoid awkward arms, but it also helps draw our attention to her baby bump, which is a little less noticeable in a front-facing view.

Also note the slight lean to our right, giving her body a very gentle curvature that’s more visually interesting than if she was simply standing flat footed with equal weight on both feet.

With shoulders back and her back straight, she looks beautiful and confident!

Learn More:

  • How-To Maternity Photography Posing Guide Part 1
  • How-To Maternity Photography Posing Guide Part 2

The Wardrobe Matters

Photo by Silver Lining Photography

Perhaps above all else, when you’re talking about something that can help your tired, stressed out mom-to-be feel like a gorgeous woman, it’s the wardrobe.

With a gown like the one in the image above, how can this mom not feel beautiful?!

If you have a model that’s comfortable showing a little more skin, you can opt for a sheer gown that offers a view of her bare belly. You can even opt for something like maternity separates or perhaps something with lace to add a delicateness and femininity to the photo shoot.

Photo by Vic and Marie Photography

When selecting a dress, don’t let your model shy away from something that’s form-fitting, either.

As you can see in the image above, the form-fitting gown hugs the mom-to-be’s curves and shows off her great form as well as her baby bump.

The off-the-shoulder gown just adds another level of beauty and helps mom feel like she’s dressed like a million bucks (she sure looks like it!).

In the end, a successful maternity shoot is predicated on a number of factors, but if you ask me, giving mom something outstanding to wear will help more than just about anything.

With a great gown comes greater confidence, and that’s something that certainly shows in maternity photos!

About Sew Trendy

This is a company that photographers absolutely need to be in touch with. Their gowns, crowns, and other high-quality accessories are just what you need for maternity photos, photos of newborns, mommy and me sessions, and portraits. These accessories not only make your clients look and feel great, but they also add a depth of detail and interest to your photos that elevate the images to an entirely other level. What started out with just a few people manufacturing these eye-catching items is a growing business that provides accessories to photographers worldwide. Help your clients look and feel their best by partnering with Sew Trendy Accessories.





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