Having professional maternity photos taken is one of the absolute best ways to document your journey, but getting amazing pictures does take some planning and preparation. To get inspired, you can use this pregnancy photoshoot guide to help style your shoot, find a great photographer, and hit all the right poses. (Spoiler alert: You don’t have to pose like an au natural Demi Moore on the cover of Vogue to get a great shot.)
One of my biggest regrets as a mom is not having professional photographs taken during either of my pregnancies. It sounds abhorrent by today’s standards, but nearly a decade ago, the now-standard maternity shots featuring flowy gowns and flower crowns were just starting to become the norm. Don’t be like me. These tips will help you document your pregnancy glow and create a special memory to cherish for years to come.
Best Time To Schedule Your Pregnancy Photoshoot
There are essentially three types of pregnancy photoshoots: Announcement, gender reveal, and third trimester. Pregnancy announcement photoshoots will obviously happen earlier in your pregnancy (likely during the first trimester) than maternity sessions meant to reveal your baby’s gender or capture your baby bump in all its glory.
“For a first-time mother expecting one child, the best time for those perfect round belly shots will be a little later than a second-time mom, or a mom expecting multiples,” Sarah Smith, owner of Adventures in Photography in Houston, Texas tells Romper. Smith usually advises moms to schedule between 32 and 36 weeks to give her time to edit the photos prior to their due date. Other photographers suggest starting even a little earlier, around 28 weeks, so you feel your best.
When it comes to scheduling your session, Smith says that the time of day you plan your shoot depends on where you want to have it. “For natural light outdoor sessions, ‘golden hour’ about an hour or so before sunset, or within the first hour after sunrise, will be the best time for your session,” she says. “For an in-studio or in-home natural light session or maternity milk bath session, the best time to schedule will be when the sunlight is brightest in the studio — and that depends on which direction the windows face.”
How To Find A Maternity Photographer
“I find the best way to choose a photographer that best fits what you're looking for is to see who presents a style on their Instagram that really speaks to you,” Smith says. “Some people love a light and airy photographer, and some love a rich and moody dark edit photog. A lot of the time, you really don't know what style you're looking for until you do a little research to see what jumps out to you.”
Smith also adds that asking around in mom groups on social media can also be extremely helpful. “Usually, the best recommendations will come flooding in and you can quickly click on a photographer's page to see how many reviews or likes they might have, or how long they have been in business to give you a better idea of their credibility.”
You can also ask friends and family for suggestions or even do a Google search for local photographers. Once you narrow down your choices, schedule a call or meet-up prior to your shoot to discuss all of the details.
Current Maternity Shoot Trends
Scrolling through your social feed, you’ve probably seen a plethora of pregnancy photos featuring a variety of creative setups. Here are some popular ideas to try:
- Milk bath: Great for moms who have been advised to limit their movement, milk bath shoots are an extremely popular — not to mention gorgeous — choice.
- Silhouette: High-impact shadow or silhouette shots can capture the shape of your pregnant body in a beautiful way.
- Floral: A flower crown, a fresh bouquet, or even rose petals scattered around you can create a truly ethereal photoshoot.
- Boudoir: Don your best lacy lingerie and let your photographer capture your glow and bump with a boudoir shoot.
- Outdoor: Wear a flowy dress and head to a field, lake, or the woods to create an earthy, natural vibe.
- Underwater: As long as both you and your photographer are comfortable with it, underwater photos make for unique and trendy snaps.
- Nursery: Consider having your photos taken in your baby’s nursery. Pose while folding baby clothes, sitting in your rocker, or adding blankets to the crib.
- Family session: Have your partner, older children, or pets tag along and pose for a few photos during your pregnancy shoot.
Clothing Styles To Consider
What you wear for a pregnancy photoshoot really depends on the style of shoot that you’re doing. Flowy dresses that are fitted at the top are a maternity shoot staple — they are literally an entire separate section on a lot of maternity clothing websites — but you can also play around with lacy bodysuits, floppy hats or flower crowns, or even (gasp!) lingerie.
“Some moms opt for the classic clean style dress in an all-white studio background. Some moms want a full train blowing in the wind. Some moms want to wear fun jean overalls and frolic with their partner in the city with the skyline behind them, and just be super cute rather than glam,” Smith tells Romper. “It depends on what best fits your personality.”
Peek-a-boo looks are also a popular choice. Button-down tops can be opened a bit to reveal your bump, or you could purchase a maternity shoot dress with an opening specifically made to show off your burgeoning belly. But when it comes to choosing what to wear, Smith tells Romper that her best advice for moms is, “Don't be afraid to really lean into your style and have a good time with it!”
Your photographer can also help you with ideas if you’ll have family members joining you in your shoot. “If you're doing a family or couples maternity session, and you're at a loss for color coordination, take a look at a color wheel and see which colors complement each other,” Smith says. “For instance, green and red or deep yellow and blue compliment each other very well.”
You can work with what you have at home already, buy special outfits to wear, or borrow wardrobe items from a friend. You can also rent maternity dresses online from websites like Mama Bump Rentals which offers a variety of affordable styles to choose from including boho dresses, lace gowns, and even formalwear.
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Potential Props To Use
Whether you’re posing for pregnancy announcement photos, gender reveal, or capturing your last trimester look for posterity, you’ll want to have a variety of props available during your shoot to pose with.
Here are a few popular options that might spark your own ideas:
- Baby shoes, a onesie, or other baby clothing
- Ultrasound printouts
- Heirlooms from your own childhood
- Baby blocks or toys
- Bottles and diapers
- Seasonal objects like pumpkins, a beach ball, or holiday stockings
- Sports memorabilia
- Foods you craved during pregnancy
Tips For Posing In Pregnancy Photoshoots
You’re probably not a professional model, so the idea of a photoshoot while pregnant may have you wondering things like What do I do with my hands? and Do I look too stiff? The standard “hold your belly” pose is great and all, but when you really want to capture all of your best pregnancy looks, trust your photographer’s eye.
Your photographer will likely have maternity photo examples on their website showcasing their best work, but you can also scroll through Pinterest or Instagram for out-of-the box ideas to try. For instance, use #pregnancyphotos or #maternityshoot to search for different ideas.
If you choose to have your partner or other children in the shoot with you, make sure you’re open to letting your photographer pose you all in ways that work best. The most important thing though is to just have fun and enjoy the moment making memories that will last a lifetime.