Anne Darling Photography

Maternity Portrait Photography

Maternity portrait photography isn't always best done in the studio - take a look at the shot below of a beautiful pregnant woman - don't you love the way her skin seems to glow? Absolutely wonderful!

And it is so unexpected, a pregnant and half-naked woman standing out in the snow wearing just hat, scarf and gloves and a radiant smile that says it all. It is nice too that she is going to give birth in winter, a time when the great cycle of the seasons is starting to turn and the promise of new life is still buried deep in the land.

maternity portrait photography
Pregnant: 7 Months - Photo by Heather Katsoulis

The main problem with shooting maternity portrait photography out of doors is that it may be very difficult to find privacy but the reward is that you will be able to place your model in a natural setting and this always enhances the final image. Natural lighting is important in this shot as it enhances beautifully her glowing skin, something that would be difficult to do with studio lighting.

maternity portrait photography
Right: Pregnant Woman in the Shadows - Photo by Tom and Katrien

Some of your models may prefer to have the photo shoot in their own home where they will be comfortable but out of doors you get natural lighting and great backdrops so don't be afraid to suggest a good location. Other models prefer the studio setting; it is formal and professional in feel so they may be more comfortable with that. Just ask!

When is the best time?

Because the 'bump' of a pregnant woman is such an obvious shape, it is a great idea to make at least one of your shots a silhouette which simplifies all the details while emphasising the curved shape of the mother-to-be's abdomen. The best time to get the shape right is in the seventh or eight month. Also, any later and your model may be just too tired. Try to retain some details in the shadow areas as a complete silhouette is too harsh.

maternity portrait photography
Photograph of the Abdomen of a Pregnant Woman - Photo by Canwest News

Bare Bellies Are Beautiful

A close-up of the abdomen is always a winner and your model can keep all her clothes on and just expose her belly which helps to preserve a sense of modesty. A woman's bare belly is a beautiful thing but if the mother-to-be is giving birth to her second or third child, she may have stretch marks in the lower abdomen area so make sure you choose a good angle that hides any body parts which she is not so happy about. Of course there is always Photoshop if you want to clone out the stretch marks afterwards!

Try searching for "maternity photography" on Amazon using their search box - there are some very beautiful babies - and bellies!

maternity portrait photographyLeft: Pregnant Woman - Photo by Ken Hammond

Pregnant women don't always feel they look great. They may feel heavy, clumsy and certainly not sexy. So you need to be particularly sensitive to her feelings - she still wants to feel that she looks good and you can do this by interacting with her and complimenting her.

She wants to know that she will look glowing in her maternity photos, healthy and radiant, so praise her where you feel you can - nothing cheesey, keep it real but make her feel good.

She has a new human being growing inside her body and this is one of the most miraculous things we can witness.

Maternity portrait photography requires lots of time so you can make her feel very special and create a photograph that she will cherish for the rest of her life.


I hope by now you are feeling inspired and confident that you can make great shots of pregnancy yourself. If you are looking for more inspiration or advice on technique, I recommend the Art of Pregnancy Photography. Not only does it gets absolutely rave reviews from Amazon customers, it is full of really superb images by Jennifer George of pregnancy at all the different stages, with the mother-to-be on her own, with her partner and with the whole family.

An abundance of techniques too including composition, lighting, retouching etc plus how to use props and backgrounds, and a whole chapter on posing. If you are thinking of setting up your own maternity portrait business you will also find a chapter on marketing and sales.

Another excellent book is Mother and Child Portraits which focusses on the bond between mother and child and how to capture that in photography.

The photographer, Norman Phillips, has included lots of inspirational ideas for working with children of all ages, from infants to school age, and techniques for working in the studio or on location. Amazon customers give it 5 stars.







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