Maternity pregnancy portrait photography is not difficult and need not be done in the studio - in fact outdoor photos can often work better. Take a look at the shot below of a beautiful pregnant woman.
It is 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.
The light is exquisite and I absolutely love the way her skin seems to glow from within. It is nice too that she is going to give birth in winter, a time when the great cycle of the seasons is recommencing, and there is a promise of new life waiting to emerge from within the earth.
Above: Pregnant: 7 Months by Heather Katsoulis
The main problem with maternity pregnancy portrait photography and nude pregnancy photography in particular is that it may be very difficult to find privacy but if you can find a secluded setting such as a garden for example, 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 very important in this shot as it enhances beautifully her glowing skin, something that would be difficult to do with studio lighting. It goes without saying though that strong sunlight will create harsh shadows and is not flattering to the female figure at any time, let alone during pregnancy.
Your model may prefer to have the photo shoot in her own home where she will be the most comfortable but if you suggest making outdoor maternity photos then you will not only get natural lighting but also the possibility of a great backdrop so don't be afraid to suggest a good location. Others may prefer a studio setting; it is formal and professional in feel so they may be more comfortable with that, especially if the shot is going be be nude or semi-nude, which is often the case.
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. This simplifies all the details while emphasising the curved shape of the mother-to-be's abdomen.
Above: Pregnant Woman in the Shadows by Tom and Katrien
The best time to get the shape right is in the seventh or eighth 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. If you place your model near a window (without direct sunlight) you can expose for the background and your model will be silhouetted.
Some of the most beautiful maternity photos are of just the 'bump', and a close-up of the abdomen is always a winner. Your model can keep all her clothes on and just expose her belly which helps to preserve a sense of modesty in the final shot.
Above: The Abdomen of a Pregnant Woman by Canwest News
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!
Above: Pregnant Woman by Ken Hammond
Pregnant women don't always feel they look great. Your model 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 pregnancy portrait, healthy and radiant, so praise her where you feel you can - nothing cheesy, 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.
Don't rush things because really creative maternity photos require lots of time so you can make her feel very special. That's really the most important thing to do if you want to make a photograph that she will cherish for the rest of her life.
I hope you have now got some great ideas for your maternity pregnancy portrait but if you want to take it further, I recommend the books below.