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Maternity photo sessions are a wonderful way for expecting parents to document such a precious memorable time in a beautiful way. Here are some top tips for making the most of your next maternity session.
So, a client has contacted you about a maternity shoot, but you are unsure at what point in their pregnancy to do the session?
You want to make sure that their tummy is large enough to get shots that make it very clear they are pregnant. This means you don’t want to schedule it too early, otherwise you won’t be able to really tell, which defeats the whole purpose.
At the same time, you don’t want to schedule it too late and run into the risk of pre-term labor and miss the opportunity altogether!
The best time to schedule a maternity shoot is the beginning of the third trimester, preferably before 35 weeks. Talk with your client and see if there are any other factors that could play a part in early labor, such as health conditions, scheduled C-section, or twins/triplets. If they are at high risk for pre-term labor, you may want to schedule the session during their second trimester.
The possibilities are endless when it comes to location. You can shoot outdoors in an empty field, downtown in the city, or even go to the client's home for a more intimate setting.
Just keep in mind that expecting mothers don’t have quite the energy they would have if not pregnant. So, avoid locations that require a lot of walking, climbing stairs, etc.
Time of Day?
Depending on the season, keep the time of day in mind as well. Avoiding extreme temperatures (too hot or too cold) will help to ensure that mom-to-be is as comfortable as possible. Being pregnant, especially during the third trimester, is uncomfortable enough as is.
Also ask Mom if there are any times of day she wants/need to avoid due to any issues she may have, such as morning sickness. You don’t want her spending the session feeling nauseous and sick.
What About Props?
Using props at your sessions is a matter of preference. I believe that in order to capture great photos, no props are needed. However, there are a few fun things that you can include in a maternity session to give some of the photos a personal sentimental touch. Just don’t go overboard. They shouldn’t be used in every image. And they shouldn’t take away from mom's baby bump.
You can include things like baby shoes, the “coming home” outfit, or maybe a small sign or chalkboard with baby’s name or expected delivery date.
The expecting mom should wear something that doesn’t hide her belly. The more snug her wardrobe is around her tummy, the better. A loose-fitting flowing dress will hide the size of her belly. When it comes to maternity sessions, the bigger the belly, the better.
You want to put emphasis on the tummy, but in a flattering way. All expecting moms are built different. Some are all belly, while others may have put on some extra pounds in other areas. Just as with any session, try to pose your clients in ways that won’t have them cringing when they see their images.
Standing up makes for the best images during maternity sessions. Turning mom sideways or at a slight angle can really show off the shape and size of her beautiful belly. While sitting down shots are possible, they may not be the most comfortable poses for mom, so limit those when possible. If shooting at the client’s home, this would be less of an issue. A bed is much more comfortable than the ground.
Have mom hold her tummy to draw attention to the tummy. This also shows the connection and bond between her and her unborn child. Have her look down, at the camera, off in the distance, etc. You can get a variety of poses with the “hands on belly” approach.
Who To Include:
Including her spouse/significant other in some of the shots is a great way to show the bond and excitement between both expecting parents through photos. Have both of them touching the tummy at the same time, let dad get down on tummy-level and kiss the bump, or have dad stand behind and lovingly place his hand(s) on her tummy while looking down at it. You want to capture the bond between both the couple and the baby, so they will need to get close and personal to get the best shots.
You should also include siblings and pets when possible. Siblings need to get in on touching the tummy also.
While maternity sessions should have a primary focus on mom and her belly, including others from the immediate family for at least a few shots when possible is a good idea.
Maternity sessions are not only a great way to capture a very special time in expecting mothers' lives, but they are also a great way for you to get to know mom should you be planning on doing their newborn photos also.
With a variety of location options, keeping things such as mom's health and safety in mind is very important.
Scheduling the session when mom-to-be's tummy is really showing will help you to really capture beautiful images, that with the right posing, can really show the early bond between the expecting parent(s) and/or siblings.