A maternity photo session is an investment of time, money and energy. Having maternity photographs taken is a right of passage. Some women opt for a styled shoot complete with custom gowns creating a high end art piece to hang proudly in the home reminding them of how beautiful and strong they felt. Others opt for lifestyle shoots in their newly decorated nursery or at an outdoor location captivating the overwhelming feelings of love, excitement and nervousness . Some will choose a session that includes their significant others and or their current children too. Whether you’ve already booked a session with a photographer or have only given it a little thought, preparing for your maternity photo session is important when you are making such an investment. I’ve jotted down a few tips to help you prepare for your session!
DECIDE WHAT YOUR PURPOSE IS
Why do you want these images? At first you are going to say, “To remember this moment”. But you have to dig further than that! Do you want to remember the kicks, the nervousness and excitement, the love that fills your heart for the unknown. Then you might want a lifestyle shoot. Do you want to be able to show your future little one, "this is what you looked like inside my tummy - we loved you before we even knew you!" Then maybe you’ll want to choose an outfit less revealing. Or is this for your own personal recollection and you’ll want to bare it all! Knowing your purpose will help you decide what it is you want and will help you narrow down your preferred style. By focusing on the reasons why you want your pregnancy photos, you can ease your nerves, even if you're the most camera shy person.
DECIDE WHAT YOU WANT
Identifying your needs before you start shopping around for a photographer is a crucial step most people forget. Figure out what style speaks to your heart. Do you want a portrait at the beach, in an open field, at a park, or in a studio? Do you want it to be lifestyle or posed or a mix? Do you want to include your partner or any other family members? Do you want to rock a flowy dress or bare it all? If you’ve already chosen your photographer, no worries, it is still a good idea to think about this before your session and communicate this with your photographer. If you haven’t - answering these questions before you start looking will help guide your search. Every photographer has their own style and it doesn’t mean one photographer is better than the other, it just means that they have a style that might be better suited for you at this time in your life.
DECIDE WHAT YOU WILL DO WITH YOUR IMAGES
This is the most forgot about step! What will you do with them? Whenever someone books a photographer often times they forget to think about the end result before shopping around, so when a photographer asks a client what they want, they respond with “I just want the digitals”. But WHY do you want the digitals? Ask yourself, what will I really do with those digital files once they are in my hand? Can I maintain those files if my computer gets stolen or my hard drive crashes? Will I actually print them? Do you really want to display your portraits on a computer screen only?
Portraits can be a time consuming endeavor between planning your outfits and deciding on location to getting your hair and make up done, driving to the location, and pouring your emotions out on screen. You want to display them for family and friends to see and it should be for more than a fleeting moment on your social media timeline.
If you plan on printing your portraits out consider if you want a full service photographer who has a relationship with a reputable print lab who uses archival quality acid-free materials that won’t fade or crumble over time or if you want to DIY. A full service photographer will offer you prints that are color calibrated and archival in quality, something that can't be guaranteed if you print at a consumer lab like Walmart, Costco, CVS, even shutterfly. You need to decide if you're okay with that as not all photographers offer products in addition to digital masters.
Perhaps you don’t want to display these images in a frame or on a wall and instead you want an album. Do you want a photographer who can design the beautiful album to share with your child/children/grandchildren for years to come? Consider the amount of time you would put into creating your own shutterfly album and decide if it might be worth looking into finding a photographer who offers this service with higher quality products so you can spend your time getting ready for your baby's arrival.
Identifying how you want to display your images will help steer you in the right direction when choosing a photographer.
SHOP AROUND FOR YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER
Don’t just settle at the first name that comes up on google or the first photographer your friend suggests or even the cheapest. Choose a reputable photographer whose style you love. There are many different styles out there, so shop around before settling down. Look at their Facebook page, blog or website and look at their portfolio. Before paying any retainer fees ask lots of questions; what products do they offer and decide if these are products you’re interested in, ask how long is the session, do they offer styling, hair and make up options, what is their turn around time and do they have any guarantees, etc? Finding the right photographer goes beyond just the price.
SCHEDULE YOUR SHOOT FOR BETWEEN 31 - 36 WEEKS
I recommend scheduling your shoot to take place between weeks 31 and 36 of your pregnancy. Your belly will have a lovely full shape, but you won’t be too bloated and uncomfortable, as is often the case in the last few weeks. This time frame will also give you plenty of time to order maternity portraits — and extras, should you need them.
PLAN YOUR LOOK!
Some photographers may offer a selection of dresses from you to choose from so ask around! Designs by JMB is currently offers a “Maternity Dress Program”. Contact me for more details. Another option is to visit etsy for handmade made gowns that you could easily resell to other expecting moms. Depending on the style you choose these dresses can double as your baby shower dress! There are also a few online options that offer maternity dress rentals. Pink Blush Maternity is also a great place to find beautiful maternity clothes. Or for a more fashion forward look I recommend SewTrendy or Shop Taopan. And if those don't tickle your fancy, just google and ye shall find!
Comfort is important. Wearing clothes you don’t feel good in will read in your pictures. While you do want to be comfortable, it’s also a good move to wear something that shows off your baby bump. Stretchy fabrics that conform to your belly are a great option, as are dresses belted just under your bust. Consider your sleeve length as well. If you are uncomfortable with your arms, opt for a dress with sleeves versus a short sleeve or strapless option.
Consider choosing a color pallet that will compliment the decor in the room you will be displaying the image. If others will be in your portraits consider using a neutral color pallet. Avoid patterns and logos for anyone who will be in the portraits with you. Pinterest offers some great ideas on how to coordinate outfits and always look to your photographer for help when coordinating outfits.
Undergarments may show up on film, especially those pesky panty lines, so choose the appropriate underwear when putting your maternity photo outfits together. Seamless panties available and some shape-wear will also help smooth out lines. Make sure you wear a properly fitting bra that completely covers your bust and doesn’t allow for “spillage” and offers the support you need.
Consider leaving your hair and make up to the professionals! Beautiful hair and makeup can really add to the final image and is a great way to pamper yourself before your session to calm those nerves. Also, do not neglect the nails! Your hands will be in the photos! Consider bangles to help draw the eye into the belly.
BE CONFIDENT AND KNOW YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL
Pregnant women often find themselves uncomfortable in their changing bodies. You may attribute your maternal glow to sweat, but your radiance cannot be denied. That feeling of having your best friend developing inside you shows up on the camera. In years to come, you will be so glad you had those photos done. And so will your baby.
If you follow these simple steps you will have the most incredible maternity photo shoot and images that you will cherish your entire life. For more ideas and some examples of my maternity work visit the Maternity Photo Gallery.
If you have any other questions or would like to discuss any part of your maternity photo shoot just drop me a note at email@example.com! We can't wait to hear from you!