One of the most special ways to commemorate your pregnancy is to get maternity photos taken. These beautiful images highlighting your belly and your happy pregnancy "glow" (or not-so-glow) can be shared for years to come, and will always remind you of the time you spent waiting for your babe. But
taking your own maternity photos might be a skill to learn if hiring a professional photographer isn't an option or if your planned shoot is cancelled for some reason.
You may not be able to shoot and edit the way a professional photographer can, but that doesn't mean you can't take your own gorgeous photos — and you don't need a pricey camera to do it. New York-based professional photographer
Lauren O'Brien (who also took her own maternity photos) tells Romper, "Thankfully, entry-level DSLR cameras have become less expensive over the years and have allowed hobbyist or novice photographers better access to high quality images. In this new age of technology, even smaller, compact cameras tend to be inexpensive and yield high quality, high resolution photos." And hello, don't forget that great camera on your new iPhone.
Plus, as the years go by, the only important thing about these photos is the memories they conjure up, not how perfect they look — so, basically, it's not a big deal if they'll never hang in an art gallery. Maternity photos should make you feel good and highlight the positive sides of pregnancy.
So relax your expectations a bit and get ready to have fun with your photos instead of putting so much pressure on yourself. Here are a few tips on how to take your own maternity photos when you can't get them done professionally:
This is really the most important tip: take advantage of a self-timer, especially if you have no one helping you. "Get to know the self-timer setting on your camera or phone. Most digital cameras have a self-timer setting with a two-second window or a 10-second window," says O'Brien. "You can even apply those settings on your iPhone. With the iPhone 11, for example, you can use the front facing camera, press the arrow button at the top, select the stopwatch icon, and choose a three-second timer or 10-second timer. Then after pressing the shutter button, you can get into place and see the image you’re about to capture."
Set Your Camera Up On A Tripod
You can try propping your phone or camera up somewhere to take a self-timer photo, but you're much better off with a tripod. O'Brien explains the ins and outs of using this: "With DSLR cameras, you’ll need to set up your focus on an object where you will be. This is a little trickier than using your phone, but if you’re an entry level photographer looking to try something on yourself, this is for you. You’ll want to have a tripod that you can set your camera up on to give you some more flexible options for framing."
She also recommends using a remote shutter release, as the self-timer can be frustrating when trying to adjust your focus. "I documented my pregnancy journey with self portraits in 2018/2019 and bought a compact wireless shutter remote that I kept in my hand and hid after I pressed the button. It allows you to stand or sit where you want to in the frame, the camera will self focus when the button is pressed, and then the shutter will release when focus is achieved. It takes a few tries to get it exactly right, but it’s much easier than running back and forth to the camera to press the shutter release button and getting back into place before the timer runs out. It’s also easier to get your partner to participate if you want them in some of the images with you."
Not sure where to begin when it comes to posing and photo ideas? Photographers are generally helpful with this, but a little research and some time spent online will help you pull together some amazing photos.
Go on Instagram and search hashtags like #maternityphotos or #maternityshoot. Go on Pinterest and look at maternity photoshoot pictures, and search for them on Google as well. Make a folder of the pictures you love the most and try to recreate them on your own.
One note on this: don't try to recreate the photo exactly, or it will likely end up looking too staged. Instead, use it as inspiration and put your own take on it for the most natural look.
Opt For Natural Lighting
The right lighting can make a boring photo look better instantly. "I usually recommend using natural light for maternity images, either from a light-facing window or just going outside," says O'Brien. And, in this odd time of social distancing, you don't even need to go outside to get that. "You can even try doing photos of your silhouette in front of a large window in your home."
When you're in the middle of taking pictures and thinking about how you look and which poses are working, it's easy to forget about shots that you really wanted. Making a shot list that you check off as you go ensures you cover all of your bases. After getting online inspiration, write down the photos you definitely want to take, then consult that list as you go along.
Your maternity photoshoot might be all about you, but it's still nice to involve other members of your family in at least a few shots. "Play around and have fun" says O'Brien. "Ask your partner to get involved, or if you have other children, see if they want to take some of and
with you, too! This is something fun and sweet that you can all do to become closer to one another. Those are the memories that will last a lifetime."
Practice In Front Of The Mirror
The beauty of a digital camera is that you can take as many photos as you want and then go through them and pick the ones you like. But still — why not practice some poses and looks in front of the mirror before you start shooting?
You can even whip out your phone and take a few mirror photos to look at before you get all dressed up and start the photoshoot. It gives you a better idea of how to pose and achieve the look you're going for.
Let's be real: your pregnant stomach is the star of the show here. "You always want to highlight and frame your belly," says O'Brien. "Turning slightly to the side instead of photographing straight on will achieve that effect, and placing your hands on top of and underneath your bump will also create more prominence while showing closeness and affection."
Props are great because they add a little something extra, especially in a maternity shoot. Instead of just posing with your hands on your belly over and over again, add some props to catch the eye. This can be anything from sonogram photos, to a pair of cute baby shoes you have waiting, to the outfit baby will wear home from the hospital.
Take More Photos Than You Think You Need
Again, the beauty of digital photography is that you don't have to limit yourself to taking just a few photos. Take advantage of this and take more photos than you think you'll ever need. It just gives you so many more options when looking through them later.
At the same time, try poses you feel like you can't pull off. Just go for it! You may look at the photos later on and end up loving something you thought you wouldn't.
Even if you're not a professional, there are tons of apps and websites out there that make editing your photos very easy. O'Brien says, "My favorite by far is Adobe Lightroom Mobile, but there are a few more with readily available filters and effects that can be applied to your photos from your phone: VSCO, Enlight PhotoFox, Snapseed, PicsArt, and Bazaart."
You can edit to adjust the lighting and even remove distracting objects in the background. Editing could be an excellent way to take a mediocre photo to the next level.