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How to Take Maternity Photos

Medically Reviewed by Jennifer Schlette, MSN, RN
Updated
Everything you need to know to level up your maternity photo shoot.

Are you trying to think of a way to capture your life before your baby arrives? Are you desperately holding on to every last moment with your pregnant belly?

Not only does a maternity photo shoot provide you with precious memories, but one day your baby will love getting the chance to catch a glimpse of their life on the other side.

We’ve studied hundreds of pregnancy photo shoots and have spoken to many photographer contacts about what works best for belly photos and what doesn’t. As a result, we’ve created this guide to offer you our top maternity photo shoot tips and tricks to ensure you capture pure gold when recording those pre-baby moments.


When Should You Book Your Maternity Shoot?

It’s all about the timing with your baby bump, and you want to make sure it’s on full display. Most expectant moms will book their photo shoot to take place at the beginning of the third trimester so there will be no doubt they’ll be showing.

Some moms choose to wait a little longer to give their belly more time to grow, but don’t wait too long! You never know if your little one is going to decide to make an early arrival.

It can be challenging to move around in the last few weeks of your pregnancy, and you may be super uncomfortable. It’s best if you have your shoot completed while you still have some level of comfort — before it becomes difficult for you to get up and down.

What Should You Wear for a Maternity Photo Shoot?

The purpose of a maternity shoot is to show off your baby bump. It wouldn’t make sense to wear maternity clothes that mask it and make it difficult to see.

The most popular clothing item is a form-fitting maternity dress. You may feel uncomfortable putting your belly on full display like this, but your photos will be gorgeous. You can still opt for a loose-fitting dress — just know your photographer will most likely have you gather it and hold it close to your belly.

If a dress isn’t quite your style, wear a tight-fitting shirt. If you have any doubts, your photographer should be able to give you a list of the best items to wear.

Some mothers choose to do a maternity shoot in the nude. If you are considering this, remember to avoid spray tans, and shave the day before your shoot to avoid razor burn.

Another great tip is to avoid any clothing that can leave marks on your skin in the hours before your photo shoot. You want your body to look as natural as possible.

Pro Tip

Some maternity photographers have their own personal stash of maternity dresses for their clients to use. You should check with your photographer before spending a fortune on a new dress for the shoot.

Should You Incorporate Props?

Some photographers do not like props in their photo shoots because they believe they take away from the picture. As long as the item is simple, like a pair of shoes or an ultrasound picture, your photographer should be perfectly fine with it.

Remember, your photographer has your best interest in mind, so if they say something doesn’t look right, you might want to ditch it.

Where To Have Your Maternity Photos Done

Many maternity photos are taken outside or in a studio — however, the options are endless. Some photographers have their predetermined set of locations, but you should be allowed to recommend your own. If you want your photos taken in your home, some photographers will even do that.

Outdoor pictures can turn out great, but sometimes simple is better. Make sure you keep an open mind. Your photographer probably knows what locations will look best on camera (1).

If location means a lot to you, make sure you choose a photographer who can meet your location goals.

How To Choose a Maternity Photographer

Pregnancy is a vulnerable time, so you want to make sure your photographer is someone you are comfortable with.

Aside from comfort, there are some other important aspects you should consider.

  • Experience: It’s possible a photographer with very few photo shoots under their belt can give you results that are just as good as those of one who has been doing it for years. But there is sometimes comfort in knowing a photographer with experience has had time to perfect their craft.
  • Price: Price can be a big deciding factor when you are trying to choose a photographer. In most cases, a higher price means higher quality. Don’t pay very little and expect Pinterest-quality pictures. Find a photographer within your budget who has samples of their work that match your vision.
  • Style: There are many photographers with many different styles. You need to find one whose style matches yours. Chances are you will love your pictures much more if they are taken by someone with similar style interests.
  • Quality: You want to end your photo shoot with good images. Look through the portfolio of the photographer you are considering and make sure they have consistent results with various clients. If a photographer can produce many great pictures for varying clients with different body shapes, you will be in good hands.

How To Pose for a Maternity Shoot

There is something special about candid photos, but for a maternity shoot, you want to make sure you position yourself so your bump is on full display.

Here are five poses to help you get the best pictures.

1. Hands on Your Belly

Your belly should always be the center of attention in a maternity shoot. You want to draw attention to your bump, and placing your hands on it can make that happen.

It is always difficult to find a natural place to put your hands when being photographed, but luckily, a maternity shoot makes that a simple decision.

2. Take It to New Heights

A higher perspective is flattering for the subject of an image. It is a great angle to capture the best “sides” of an individual. During a maternity shoot, a little bit of height can also accentuate your pregnant belly.

Have your photographer use a stool to reach above you, or you can lay on a blanket on the ground.

3. Keep It Real

Almost every maternity shoot has the traditional mom looking at her growing belly picture. This is a great asset to your shoot, but you shouldn’t actually look at your belly. Looking down can cause a weird angle that may even create a double chin.

Instead, fixate on an object within the sightline. That ensures the photo is natural but doesn’t add chins.

4. Standing

A photo of a pregnant woman standing will be more flattering than one taken while sitting. Make sure you aren’t looking too stiff in the photo. Relax, and maybe even pop out a hip and bend one of your knees. But choose a standing pose that you are steady on your feet with. You want to make sure you will not fall over and hit your baby bump.

5. Sideways

A side-angle photo is the best way to capture your entire growing belly. The point of a maternity shoot is to show off your baby bump, so make sure your photographer takes a couple of photos from the side (2).

Family Matters

Maternity photos are a great time to incorporate other family members. If you have a partner, they should be present in some, and you can include siblings or pets as well.

Pregnancy is a time of connection and love. Showing the bond between an expectant mother and her lover should be an important part of a photo shoot. Photographers will usually take several photos of both parents, and they will encourage you to get as close as possible.

A photo shoot can be difficult if the siblings are rather young, but your photographer will try their best to capture an amazing photo. A photo shoot is also a great way for the siblings to feel included in the pregnancy.

Don’t forget your furry friends. Many families choose to incorporate their animals into their maternity shoots. After all, they may have been your first babies.


The Bottom Line

A maternity photo shoot is a great way for you to feel beautiful and own that baby bump. You will also be capturing precious memories that will last a lifetime.

Make sure you choose a photographer that makes you comfortable and has captured images you love in the past. If you aren’t blown away by a photographer’s portfolio, choose a different one.

This is your chance to show off all the hard work the last nine months have put you through, so don’t be afraid to own it.

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Headshot of Jennifer Schlette, MSN, RN

Medically Reviewed by

Jennifer Schlette, MSN, RN

Jennifer Schlette MSN, RN, is a pediatric intensive care nurse at Children's Hospital of New York for the past 14 years. Jennifer also has extensive experience teaching Maternity and Obstetric Nursing, as well as Pediatrics Nursing.