I am so pleased when wedding clients come to me for maternity shoots or family portraits. It’s as if the circle is complete, and the grand finale of the couple’s walk down the aisle is revealed. I have one such shoot coming up for a lovely couple whose wedding I shot not that long ago in Queens. They are expecting their first baby, and in celebration of the shoot, I wanted to write a post on maternity shoot ideas.
Before the Shoot: How to Prepare
Being comfortable is key
Confidence is key with maternity shoots, and your photographer should be working hand-in-hand with you to make sure that the mother-to-be feels beautiful since she will be the focus of the photos. To get started, you should discuss your goal for the overall mood of the shoot with your photographer. To this end, visual clues can be immensely helpful in keeping both client and photographer on the same page. For my clients, I create a Pinterest board where we can ‘pin’ the photos we both like. I use this board to create a final shot list.
A little bit of belly goes a long way
Let’s discuss those maternity photos we have all seen that are truly cringe-worthy. I can’t think of a way to put this delicately, but here goes: The love that produced a new family member is a glorious moment that should be celebrated, but not overtly. Any blatant sexual imagery or the use of too much nudity is simply out of line for a maternity shoot. You may think this looks great, but trust me, when in doubt, subtlety is the name of the game in maternity photos. A little bit of belly goes a long way, and the emphasis should be on the arrival of the new family member. To make sure you and your photographer are on the same page, you need to discuss with your photographer beforehand how much nudity you are comfortable with, and how much you expect for the shoot.
Engage the entire family
The best way to approach a maternity shoot is that of a family portrait. If this is your first little one – kudos! If the new baby will come home to a big sister or brother, make sure to include each child and spread the shots evenly so that everyone gets their time in front of the lens. And if your other baby is a ‘fur baby’ (a.k.a., pet), bring your pet to the shoot as well. Why exclude a family member based on species?
The best time to schedule a maternity shoot is in the seventh month of pregnancy. This allows the mom-to-be to have the best shape to show off without being physically uncomfortable, which can happen at the very end of a pregnancy.
Clothes matter too
Maternity shoots will of course include several portraits focusing on mom’s tummy. As such, I recommend stretchy clothing that shows off her shape to its fullest. Solid colors are fantastic, but avoid any prints or textures that might detract from the baby bump. Simple clothes that don’t distract from the visual emphasis on the baby bump will work to your advantage, such as jeans and a t-shirt, or a stretchy shirt or dress. You might consider going in the opposite direction with a flowy maxi dress or shirt that can be cupped to show off mom’s shape. Scheduling a shoot for the summer? Why not go all out with a fun, retro bikini? The bottom line is that mom should feel comfortable – and most importantly, body confident – in whatever she wears.
To top off your outfit, try adding a single, statement accessory that expresses your style. And dad’s attire should be similarly simple, and flatter – in terms of color and style – the clothes of mom.
During the Shoot: Shoot Ideas
If this is a family shoot, with several little ones involved, then schedule activities for your photo shoot that everyone can enjoy:
- A walk in the park or on a nearby beach
- Playground fun
- A picnic, eating cupcakes, or even roasting marshmallows
- Board games or video games
If you are looking for natural photos, this is most easily achieved by engaging in whatever activities you normally do together as a family. The location is insignificant; rather, the emphasis should be on having fun together.
How to show your excitement
Here are some ideas for showing how excited you are about the baby’s arrival:
- A portrait of mom and dad with the baby’s sonogram
- Details of the baby’s room (little shoes, clothes, or toys)
- Blocks or other items that spell out the baby’s name
- Mom and dad reading a children’s book
- Baby’s first chair in between mom and dad
- Little shoes compared to mom and dad’s feet
- Words say it all: perhaps a message on mom’s bump, or a chalkboard with a message to the new baby
Showing off the mother-to-be
- Belly cup to your heart’s content to put the emphasis on your bun in the oven
- Use shadows to your full advantage
- Have the mother-to-be in profile to put the emphasis on her shape
- Yoga poses are great for showing off shape
Attached are some photos from another wedding client turned mother-to-be, Jessica. She and her husband Dan (as well as sibling Lydia) just welcomed baby Johnny to the family. Enjoy the pics!