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People’s interest in maternity photography has really exploded over the last few years. 8 years ago, when I was pregnant with my first son, you couldn’t have paid me a million dollars to document myself in that “condition.” Pregnancy kicks my trash. I don’t just do the “basketball under the t-shirt” look. . . oh no. Oh good mother of Phineas, no. That belly b l e e e e e e n d s into the the rest of my poor, sorry self. Head to toe, I’m puffy. Imagine the Pillsbury Doughboy, pregnant.
It ain’t pretty.
OR IS IT?
The recent surge in the popularity of documenting this exciting time in a mother’s life is causing me to rethink. The images I see (and take) of these women, are beyond description. They’re beautiful in the kind of way that there simply aren’t words to describe, but that’s OK, because you don’t NEED words. These images make you feel.
But the fact remains, it simply ain’t comfortable to have a camera all up in your space when you’re 9 million sizes more woman than your normal self.
Getting up high and shooting down on your subject is a sure fire way to create a slimming portrait. It creates the illusion of elongating the body and thus it has a wonderful slimming effect (pregnant or not, I might add).
Above, I focused in directly on the belly, and the feet respectively, to highlight some of the details of the pregnancy. It’s clearly flattering in the above example, but
even when especially when you’re taking a full body shot, you’ll find the same holds true.
Shooting from above simply flatters the physique. High fives, girls! High fives.
If you turn your subject, even ever-so-slightly, you’ll notice that the angle is much more flattering. Notice Jane, above, by simply having her move her left leg a hair closer to the camera, her right hip naturally pulled back, thus hiding the booty. . . just a little. Every pregnant gal will thank you for that. Every.single.one. Unfortunately, Sir Pregnancy doesn’t discriminate in the distribution baby weight . . . belly, booty, boobies, it’s all the same him. (Did I just say boobies on DPS? Don’t anybody tell Darren.)
The beauty of this pose is that it hides the booty, while still maintaining the slimming angle of the stomach. Shooting the stomach from the side is almost always more flattering, as it allows you to see the curve of the back, thus making the subject look pregnant, not simply. . . well, just. . . not pregnant. . . you know? Gosh, this post is A LOT harder to word than I thought it would be. . .
The image at the top of this post is a great example of an abstract maternity image. That darling belly poking out from behind Daddy? GOSH, I love that shot. It is artistic while simultaneously telling a story. Love.
Here (left) is another version of the image referenced above. The second image (right) uses abstract depth of field to produce a similar flattering effect. We can draw the eyes away from the belly as the focal point, while still telling a powerful story. It feels like we’re peeking in on some beautiful, intimate moment between mother and her unborn child. I love the way this image makes me feel and the story it tells.
Adding Daddy to the equation makes the images more about relationship and emotion than they are about Mom’s body. Looking at these photos, you find yourself completely immersed in the love and JOY of this couple. . . and oh, she just happens to be pregnant. These are the kinds of maternity photos that I really resonate with. They’re alive, joyous and REAL. They are more about capturing memories of a special time in a family’s life than they are about highlighting a state of the body. Side note: when I explain to my clients that this is my goal, to capture this special time in their lives, not simply to photograph her pregnant, it always puts Mom at ease. And when mom’s at ease, EVERY image you take of her will be more flattering—she’s comfortable, because she no longer feels like there’s a spotlight blaring
in her face on her figure.
Aaaaaand I’m just including this one (above) because it makes me laugh. Hard. Look at Jane’s face. She doesn’t know quite how to react. Ha!
Hind sight truly is 20/20. I wish so desperately I could go back in time and love my pregnant body. I’ve had 4 beautiful little boys, and I hardly have any photos of myself pregnant with any of them. That’s tragic. The bigger they get, the more I wish I could hold on to those treasured times when they were tiny. . . all the way back to when they were dancing around inside my belly. . . . this is especially true of my little Gavin.
Gavin died in 2010. I want desperately to forever remember every second I had with him, and guess what? I have a total of ONE image of myself pregnant with him. It’s a cell phone picture my husband caught one night at dinner (and I just spent the last hour looking for it— I can’t even find it).
The point of the matter is: these images matter. They do. And if you approach them as such, you’ll do better work, your subject will feel more comfortable and connected, and those factors will always lead to more flattering images overall.
NOTE: The subject in these photos, Jane, is one of the tiniest, most lovely pregnant mothers I’ve ever shot. This post is in NO WAY meant to highlight her as needing flattering poses to look like the hot pregnant momma that she is. I chose her for this very reason, because it would clearly be evident that I was not using her as an example of why creative posing is necessary in maternity photos. I’m simply using her to illustrate universal principles.