Pregnancy Photography: How to plan for a successful maternity photo shoot

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Ever since I missed the boat (twice) on getting a pregnancy photo session done of my own, I’ve spent the last few years tweaking the magic behind pregnancy portraits. Above all, I want to make my mama clients feel primed, empowered, and beautiful. It’s so important, because I remember how vulnerable and intimate a woman feels during this time- I felt swollen, uncomfortable, and hellooo hormones! Capturing the unique beauty of an expectant mother AND making it an enjoyable memory for both you and your spouse is what I call a WIN-WIN!

In order to make the most out of your maternity session, there are a few things you should know.

When is the best time to come in for a maternity session?

It’s probably the number one question I get asked, but every expectant mother has a unique pregnancy journey. It truly is dependent on how prominent you’d like your baby bump to be in your photos, but it’s usually anywhere between 29-36 weeks. Just make sure you don’t wait too long, because sometimes babies like to make a surprise (early) debut!

Wardrobe planning: what to wear?

Maternity dresses and gowns can get pricey, and it’s certainly hard to justify spending a few hundred dollars on an item when you’ll only wear it ONCE. Be sure to check out Amazon for similar gowns sold for a fraction of the price! Just keep in mind that you get what you pay for, and the quality won’t necessarily be great. But for something you’ll wear maybe once or twice, it’s a better bargain! Keep an open mind and consider clothing options not necessarily specific to maternity. You can always opt for an empire waist, and just size up from your normal size. Other great clothing shopping sites I recommend are Lulus, ASOS, Pink Blush Maternity, Chicaboo, Sew Trendy, Fillyboo, and Forever21. Be sure to plan ahead for online shipping timelines and backup options in case the style fit isn’t what you were looking for!

Show it off

When we feel vulnerable, we sometimes pick loose, over-sized clothing to cover up, but it doesn’t always look great for pictures. For a maternity photo shoot, we want to HIGHLIGHT the baby belly, so be sure to select clothing that shapes your favorite part of your new silhouette. For instance, not loving the entire lower half of your body, but loving the new volume up top? Then pick a deep V neckline or off the shoulder style that really highlights your collarbone and shoulders. Or are your legs your favorite asset? Then pick a shorter fitted bodycon dress type. You do you!

Practice makes perfect

You’ll want to feature your prominent baby bump in the most flattering angles possible. When we check ourselves out in our vertical closet mirrors, we tend to stand dead-on and it makes us look the widest and bulkiest at that angle. Also, if your shoulders aren’t relaxed during these ‘poses’, then you’ll convey a stiff, rigid, uncomfortable portrait. Try resting one of your hands on your belly and tucking the fabric of your clothing with your fingers relaxed. Play around and see how subtle arm/elbow/hand positions change the way your belly is highlighted and practice a few times so it feels natural. A natural gravitation through these motions will instead convey effortless confidence!

The night before

Don’t forget to HYDRATE a ton and try to get plenty of sleep the night before your session. A fantastic photographer can do a fair amount of manipulation to a photograph with processing techniques, but dehydration and fatigue is hard to conceal. Plus, you’ll need your energy to keep the fun momentum going during the shoot!

Candid + Relaxed

I’ve spent many hours in front of my own camera during my personal self-portrait project, and I still get stage fright at the beginning of every photo shoot. The best keepers are always the ones from genuine, unexpected moments after I’ve become more comfortable and relaxed. So TRUST your photographer- they will guide you into creating magical moments unfold in the most flattering way possible!