How to: have a gorgeous maternity photoshoot

Pregnancy is a special time that many women want to commemorate. If you’re thinking of investing in a professional pregnancy photoshoot, consider this. 

Choosing a photographer

It’s important to select a maternity photographer whose style you love. Ask friends for recommendations, look at photographers’ portfolios online, and get in touch with photographers you like to ask for references from clients who can give you more info about their own experiences at their shoots, what they were happy with, and what advice they could give you if you choose the same photographer. Look for someone who has strong technical skills, professional equipment, and the ability to edit photographs appropriately and with professional-grade software. A photographer who specialises in pregnancy photography will know how to properly pose and photograph you in flattering angles and appropriate lighting that will capture you at your most gorgeous.

Go for quality

It’s tempting to choose the cheapest photographer who offers you a memory stick of 100 unedited images for you to do with what you will. But trust us, you’ll appreciate choosing a photographer who takes their time shooting you, edits down the number of images for you to choose from (so you’re not stuck with 20 shots of you with your eyes closed, wisps of hair in your face, awkward hand positions, etc), and then appropriately – and professionally– edits the photos you choose so that they are perfect, natural, and gorgeous. Hiring an amateur photographer might be inexpensive, but you won’t get images which are as good as those from a professional – an amateur can and will get “accidental” good shots, but a professional takes consistently good photos, and this will show in their portfolio.

Choosing a style of photograph

When choosing your photographer, you’ll need to identify what style of photos you are interested in. If your photographer specialises in edgy, urban shots and you prefer a soft, airy feel to your photos, chances are you won’t get the look you’re going for. Find examples of the kinds of maternity photos you love and share them with your photographer when you’re asking about their experience. Are you keen on “lifestyle maternity” photos in your home? A breezy beach shoot with a windblown gown and sandy toes? Sultry “belly boudoir” snaps? Consider your body shape and what would suit you best, and see if your photographer has experience in shooting different body types and how the photos look. Figure out what kind of look you’re going for and choose your photographer to match.

Be realistic about the price

Quality photography is not cheap – you do get what you pay for. It’s not easy to create good-quality images, as it’s about so much more than just taking the photo. If you spend time and money on a maternity photoshoot, you should love your images – and if you don’t like them, or you feel just so-so about them, then that’s money wasted. Getting it right the first time is worth every penny. 

When to do the shoot

If you’re pregnant with one baby, the best time to do your photoshoot is between 28 and 34 weeks – sometimes up to 36 weeks if you have a small bump. Toward the end of the third trimester, many pregnant women retain water and gain weight faster, and feel too uncomfortable to pose and “glow” when all they really want to do is put their feet up! If you’re expecting multiples, it’s a good idea to have your photoshoot between 26 to 32 weeks, as twins and multiples tend to be born earlier.

What to wear

It’s best to wear something you’re comfortable in, and which makes you feel pretty – if you feel uncomfortable or like what you’re wearing doesn’t suit you, you won’t feel comfortable having your photo taken, and it will show. If you’re doing belly boudoir shots, choose a bra and panty set that matches the background – if it’s a black background, wear black lingerie; if it’s a white background, wear white lingerie. Long, flowy dresses are gorgeous at beach and outdoor shoots. Talk to your photographer about what they recommend and if they have any stockists they encourage you to buy from if you’re purchasing special clothing like maternity photoshoot dresses (those flowy wraparound scarf-type or gowns that look so gorgeous in outdoor shoots).

Some other items to consider including:

• Favourite jewellery or accessories • Baby ultrasound image • Baby shoes • Wedding rings • Any special baby clothing or accessories

Hair and makeup

If you can afford it, we highly recommend that you get your hair and makeup professionally done. Not only will you feel gorgeous and like your skin and hair look their absolute best, it will also make your photographer’s job easier. And if you can handle it, fake eyelashes really make your eyes pop in photos, so consider wearing them for the photos – they do look better than tonnes of mascara.

How to pose

Your photographer should have the best ideas of how to pose you in the most flattering and comfortable positions which suit your body and bump shape. A great photographer will spend time helping you to feel confident and beautiful, getting you relaxed and into the session, and will keep talking to you and directing you to do and pose in ways that feel natural and look beautiful on camera. Trust your photographer to pose you in the ways they think looks best – what looks good on camera isn’t always what you would expect, so keep an open mind and just try what they are suggesting!

Choosing a location

There are so many options for where to do your photoshoot, and where you choose will depend on a number of factors – the weather, where you live, what’s easy to travel to, where your photographer can set up all the equipment they need, what’s safest for you, and what style of photo you prefer. Here are some ideas, and their pros and cons:


Pros: Convenient, private, lighting can easily be controlled, simplicity, photographer is comfortable in their own environment, not weather-dependent

Cons: limited backgrounds/looks

Indoors on location

Pros: Opportunity to go to special spots with meaning to you, interesting location, not weather-dependent, great for unique and dramatic shots

Cons: Fees to hire a room at a fancy hotel or the ability to shoot in a historic home, facilities might not be great for chaning outfits (think tiny looks), limited hours to shoot

Your house

Pros: Comfort, familiar surroundings, easy to get changed, not weather-dependent unless you want outdoor photos

Cons: Lighting might not be good, you have to clean up beforehand, potential interruptions from other children, phone calls, nosy neighbours

Outdoors on location

Pros: Beautiful locations, atmospheric and ethereal looks, connecting with nature, opportunity to go to special spots with meaning to you

Cons: Weather dependent, limited hours to shoot because of lighting, nosy onlookers, need to change outfits in the car/outside, might need to walk far from your vehicle to location.

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BUMP & baby is New Zealand’s only magazine for pregnancy and early babyhood. Our team of mums and mums-to-be understand what it’s like to be pregnant in this connected age, and that’s why BUMP & Baby online is geared toward what pregnant women and new mums really want to know.

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