Picturesque Pregnancy

Story by Randi Jo Gause

  • Soul Focus Photography Soul Focus Photography
  • Relic Photographic Relic Photographic
  • Relic Photographic Relic Photographic
  • La Vie Imagery La Vie Imagery
  • Kaile Meyers Photography Kaile Meyers Photography

It may seem counterintuitive – after all, who wants their photographs taken when they’re feeling awkward, uncomfortable and several pounds beyond their normal weight?

But don’t let self-consciousness prevent you from the opportunity to document your journey to motherhood – and the first chapter in your child’s life – with maternity photos.

“Your maternity session is the beginning of your child's story, the beginning of the relationship between you and your child, and a beautiful reminder of the unique capabilities of a woman's body,” describes Rebecca Cook, owner of Soul Focus Photography.

We tapped the expertise of local photographers to discover tips and tricks for capturing the best shots of your burgeoning belly.

Right on Time

You know that old saying that the camera adds 10 pounds? Well, lucky for you, bigger is better when it comes to maternity photos. Most photographers recommend scheduling your photo session between 30 and 35 weeks into your pregnancy, and as early as 28 weeks if you’re carrying multiples.

“Thirty weeks is usually the earliest that a pregnant belly has that 'pop' and takes a good round shape, and women carrying multiples are going to ‘pop’ earlier,” Cook explains.

Still, when you choose to have your maternity photos taken is a personal preference. Some women prefer to photograph before their belly gets too big and uncomfortable, while others want to wait until closer to the end of the pregnancy.

Picture of Professionalism

When choosing a photographer to take your maternity shots, make sure it’s someone who makes you feel comfortable. Discuss the style of pictures you’re interested in so you’re on the same page, and review their resume of images to get a feel for their style and quality of work.

“Find a photographer that is an artist at heart,” advises Hanna Salmans, owner of Relic Photographic. “Your images will only be as creative as the person on the other side of the camera.”

Selecting a photographer who puts you at ease and whose creative abilities you trust will allow you to relax and simply enjoy the process.

A Family Affair

Why not round up the whole clan for your baby’s first family portrait? Maternity photos offer the perfect opportunity to capture the anticipation and awe of the daddy-to-be and older siblings.

“I think some of the most beautiful and emotional pictures are those that include loved ones,” Salmans adds. “Capturing the expectancy in the eyes of a child or the love in the face of a father – nothing is more beautiful.”

Adding children to the mix can be a recipe for disaster without the right approach. Stick to basic poses and keep props to a minimum. Fostering a casual and playful atmosphere will help elicit genuine emotion from everyone in the room, and inspire natural poses.

“Hands are important – hands on bellies, around bellies, under bellies. Mom’s hands, dad’s hands, children’s hands – there is just something about them,” describes Salmans.

Comfort Zone

The location you choose for your maternity photo session is largely dependent on the style of photos you want. Because let’s face it – who wants to bare their belly in the frigid snow?

A studio or in-home setting inspires a classic, intimate feel, and offers a more comfortable and private atmosphere. For that reason, it’s also a common choice for portraits with nudity or implied nudity. Still, contrary to popular belief, baring it all for the camera is not the most common type of maternity portrait.

“I prefer lifestyle photography, which is getting your subject in their natural element,” says Kaile Meyers, owner of Kaile Meyers Photography. “I have used anything from a sidewalk or a wooded trail, to a restaurant, library or the client’s living room.”

Mother Nature also provides an array of outdoor venues to capture the essence of your personality, from sassy, playful snapshots downtown, to rustic, natural portraits in the woods.

“I take 90 percent of my maternity photos outdoors. Natural light is by far the most flattering for maternity photos and Alaska gives you limitless options for creating unique and inventive photos,” Salmans emphasizes.

Some of the most unexpected locations can make ideal backdrops, so try looking for locations with interesting textures, such as concrete walls, weathered wood, stone and brick.

Cook says some of her favorite backdrops include old rustic barns and buildings. “I love peeling paint and the texture and color that these buildings bring to a photo shoot.”

Stylish Snapshots

Yes, billions of women across the world have given birth. But you and your child are completely unique and your photos should reflect that.

“Think about the style you envision for your portraits, whether it be fresh and colorful with bold outfits or a timeless black and white studio portrait,” suggests Meyers.

Incorporating fun or sentimental props will showcase your unique personality and evoke emotion in your photos as well.

“Besides the usual items like baby booties or wedding rings, I enjoy using things such as a bold necklace, statement shoes like some boldly colored pumps, cupcakes, fruit or an old chair,” describes Meyers. “Or natural props like a boulder, flaky tree trunk or a pile of snow.”

Still, the most valuable accessory you can bring to your maternity session is confidence, which will translate to your photographs. Know that you are doing something amazing – growing a new life inside – and you look beautiful!