Pregnancy Photography - Share Your Tips on Photographing a Pregnant Subject - Digital Photography School

Pregnancy Photography – Share Your Tips on Photographing a Pregnant Subject

Maternity-PhotographyI get asked about photographing pregnant women quite often by readers so I thought it might make an interesting community discussion.

Here’s the latest question on the topic that was submitted by Henry:

“Can you help me to take some great photos of my wife who is 8 months pregnant? We’ve seen a lot of great maternity photography and would like to commemorate our first pregnancy with some tasteful images of my wife’s belly.

We were thinking of getting some professional shots done but seeing as we’ve just bought a DSLR for taking photos of our baby when it arrives we wanted to give it a go ourselves. Do you have any tips for us?”

What tips would you share with Henry and his wife?

PS: for a little inspiration check out our tutorial on the topic - 7 Tips for Taking Great Maternity Shots.

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Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

  • http://www.newmediaphotographer.com Rosh

    Remember lighting is everything. Try some window lighting shots. Don’t use your on camera flash, you will most likely not get the results you are looking for.

    Take a lot of pictures and review them together. Try some Black and white photographs, close up shots and don’t forget the rest of the family.

    Rosh
    http://www.newmediaphotographer.com

  • Kit

    Check out work from other photographers to get some ideas of different poses and angles. Don’t forget to include yourself in the shots too so use the self timer or a remote. Pick a time when your both relaxed and enjoy the process. I’ve just completed my first maternity session and pulled off some great shots mostly because the couple were relaxed and enjoyed the process themselves.

    All the best for your new arrival!

  • http://thatcrystalchick.blogspot.com Crystal

    I’ve only had the pleasure of photographing 2 pregnant women so far, but just remember angles. Try not to take photos straight on, or they’ll just make her look wide. Even slightly rotating the shoulders and face can make a big difference.

  • http://www.stonecafecreations.com His4ever

    Take her outside! Pergnacy is natural, and so is the great outdoors! I just did a shoot with a quilt on the ground with the fall leaves around the lady. I also like to find curvy trees and have the gal either stand next to it or slightly behind it to form a nice frame around her and her beautiful belly. :D

  • deviantangel

    Well, I’m only one down, two to go on the maternity shoots, but I do have to say that being comfortable with your subject and them being comfortable with you is key. You are shooting your wife, so obviously she’s comfortable with you, but is she comfortable with you with a camera that’s going to capture images that you’re gonna share? I shot my sister-in-law over the summer, whom I have known for a lot longer than I have even been with her brother, but there was a serious disconnect with me when it came to me being behind a camera. Of course she loved the pictures and showed them to everyone she knows, but the whole shoot was really awkward, and as my own worst critic, I can tell in the pictures. I think had I taken some specifically non-maternity pictures with her and her hubby first just to get relaxed and for her to get the feel of it would have been best. So the point is that maybe you guys need to take some pictures with the timer or remote or something just get comfortable with the idea that you’re the singular center of attention behind the camera, and any awkwardness will show. Get out there and take some everyday, candid shots of eachother, and then maybe think of doing your maternity shoot. Just an idea that I wish I had known pre-maternity-shoot :) Hope that helps!

  • Howard Search

    I love doing pregnancy photos. I started off photographing my stepdaughter at a friends farmhouse which was empty at the time. I loved doing shots next to the large windows with a small amount of fill flash. I would say that one of the most important things to do is to keep the laughter going and maintain a relaxed atmosphere. Convey to your wife (model) that she is really beautiful.

    Two of my last pregnancy shoots were family pictures. I was really pleased with the interaction of young children with their mothers and the baby. I even got the family dog in some of the photos. Have fun with this!

  • http://www.betterphoto.com/Premium/Default.aspx?id=287940&iPage=6&mp=V1 Feuza

    Hi- I am originally from Brazil and maternity pictures are very big there- every one gets them done and they really do some nice things.You can check out my better photo gallery for pages 6-8 to get some ideas. I like different angles as already mentioned, also it is important to have pictures just of the belly perhaps her sideways and hands on lower belly as if holding, other common shots we do is the mom telling the baby to be quiet as if hush little baby, another one is for mom to form a heart with her hand on belly, and you can also write on belly with lipstick, the babys name or say coming soon, you can add that with text in photoshop later as well. Another big one is getting some baby shoes and using your fingers to lay it over belly or even a plush etc. Hands play a big part in maternity shots, engaging the husband and other children as well. Hope that helps~

  • Gene A.

    On a funny side note, is it just a complete accident that in the “additional links” at the end of this post there is a link for “Photographing buildings” as well? Pregnant women feel big enough as it is, now your just rubbing it in. Don’t worry DPS, I know it was a coincedence, but a funny one at that.

  • http://www.abeautifuldayphotography.com seattle photographers

    I agree with the first poster saying lighting is everything. Try using off camera flash balancing front light with a back light. Also explore high and low angles.

  • Nancy

    I saw the pics on this site….loved them…where can i find some more?

    Thanks

  • DB

    When my wife was about 7ish months, we took quite a few maternity shots. She was not really interested in having a lot show — more abstract and minimal. I think a few of our favorites turned out to be a close photo of her belly with a very shallow DOF (very large aperture — possibly f/1.8 or 2 using 50mm prime lens) where her beautiful belly button was the focal point (in sepia), a full-lenght portrait of my wife wearing a very pretty black dress holding a bunch of favorite pink flower outside with the side of our house that we love and trees in the background on a sunny day (full color) and finally a tight shot of both my wife’s hand and my hand with wedding bands on her exposed belly (in sepia). That was 8ish months ago. A lot of fun! Much more to come. (8->}

  • Nicky Coetzee

    I resently started my own photography business and havent done alot of shoots het. Only friends and family. I struggle to get comfortable with the people that I’m taking photos of and I cant remember any of my ideas. Is this natural or is there something wrong with me?

    I also find pregnancy photos are stunning outside or in there own home. If you dont have a studio lamps are great for lighting.

  • http://www.alisongreenwoodphotography.com Alison Greenwood

    If you are lucky enough to find a subject like I did the other day, one that is willing to be contacted at short notice, so that you can use a breathtaking sunset as your background. Thus creating a silhouette of her stunning pregnant shape.
    You can’t see her face, you can’t see her stretch marks, (she wore a clingy sweater anyway), and since seeing the pictures I took of her, my subject finally agrees with her hubby…that she looks beautiful!
    She no longer feels fat, frumpy and ugly.
    She is over the moon with the pictures I took and always says “hi” to me with a happy smile on her face now.
    This tells me I have done my job well. I’m happy.

  • http://www.redlionimage.com Dan

    focus on the fact that these are the baby’s first photos and not the mother. Try and evoke an emotion..soft back natural lighting with over exposing the background and rimming the belly with low light against a black backdrop work.. fathers hands, face against belly work. Adding in toys for the baby work well..then bring the baby back with the toy. Blocks that spell the baby’s name or “baby” are always enjoyed.

  • http://www.iudsideeffects.org Holly Martin

    when you are looking for baby shoes, choose those that are made from organic materials’~~

  • http://starrphotographics.com Aimee Starr

    Make sure to have some outdoor pillows for mom to sit and lean on. Aching hips are one of the “fun” parts of being pregnant and a pillow or two to sit on on the ground will make her very grateful! Also, laying on your back can be uncomfortable, since it cuts off blood flow to mom and baby, so do these shots before the 7th month.

  • http://www.acnetreatments.asia Dominic Gonzales

    when i first bought my baby shoes, i gave it to my sister’s baby,`’

  • Paula

    Why does everyone with a DSLR think that just because they have a ‘good camera’ they can take professional-looking images? A professional can use a point and shoot and come out with better images than most amatures using a ‘pro’ camera will get.

  • http://www.prettygoddess.com Beautiful Girls :

    pregnancy is sometimes life-threatening specially if there are anomalies during child development and child birth-*:

  • http://www.topgunphotography.net Dave O’Brien

    Paula, all the starting poster said is he wanted to take photos of his pregnant wife. I don’t think he’s expecting “professional” photos, but is looking for ideas. We all start somewhere and it’s the help from others that point us in the right direction….

    I’m taking my first set of Pregnancy photos next week of a single young Mom. I’ve only shot 1 wedding and tend to shoot landscape and military aviation. I’m not an amature photographer, but I am when it comes to portraits…. That’s why I’m here to get ideas.

  • http://amandalauraphotography.blogspot.com Amanda

    Dave, Good Luck! I’m doing my first Maternity shoot tomorrow!

    I’m certainly an amateur when it comes to photography, but how else are we going to learn, then by getting help and actually DOING the work?

    Everyone has to start somewhere!!

  • http://www.momphoto.com Katsoulis

    I think its great for someone with a new DSLR and a baby on the way to explore their creativity by trying to get some maternity portraits. I say that as someone who makes a living as a maternity and baby photographer!

    I have even put together a guide to help parents-to-be and photographers new to Maternity Photography:

    http://www.momphoto.com/posing_guide/index.html

    It is still a work in progress, so feel free to send feedback!

  • Stacey

    I think these tips are great. I am an amateur photographer just learning and experimenting. My sister’s first baby is due in 6 weeks and she is letting me use her as my guinea pig for maternity and new born shoots. She knows that they are not all going to come out perfect but if I get 3/4 out of it then I have acheived my goal. Like someone said earlier in this post we have all gotta start somewhere.
    I have got some good ideas out of all this and hope that my sister and brother-in-laws likes them too.

  • http://www.topgunphotography.net Dave O’Brien

    Here are the shots I took, nothing earth shattering or new, but it was 16 degrees in Jan when we took them so it was very difficult

    http://www.topgunphotography.net/photos/thumbnails.php?album=68

    Good Luck Stacey

  • Kristie

    I think that you should get at least 1 photo with kissing in it. It shows how much you to love each other enough to bring the baby into the world.

  • Amy

    I agree with Feuza, you need to try different angles, this is important. You can have pictures of the belly
    perhaps her sideways and hands on lower belly as if holding,the only advice i give you is to have fun ! I enjoyed my photo session with Nina Drapacz in New York, my pictures are on his website, you can take a look at http://www.ninadrapacz.com for some inspiration! Hope it helps

  • Albert einstien

    Awesome!
    Immense information there.

    pregnacy pillow

Some older comments

  • Kristie

    October 25, 2011 11:32 pm

    I think that you should get at least 1 photo with kissing in it. It shows how much you to love each other enough to bring the baby into the world.

  • Dave O'Brien

    August 6, 2011 12:39 am

    Here are the shots I took, nothing earth shattering or new, but it was 16 degrees in Jan when we took them so it was very difficult

    http://www.topgunphotography.net/photos/thumbnails.php?album=68

    Good Luck Stacey

  • Stacey

    August 1, 2011 06:58 am

    I think these tips are great. I am an amateur photographer just learning and experimenting. My sister's first baby is due in 6 weeks and she is letting me use her as my guinea pig for maternity and new born shoots. She knows that they are not all going to come out perfect but if I get 3/4 out of it then I have acheived my goal. Like someone said earlier in this post we have all gotta start somewhere.
    I have got some good ideas out of all this and hope that my sister and brother-in-laws likes them too.

  • Katsoulis

    January 6, 2011 02:49 pm

    I think its great for someone with a new DSLR and a baby on the way to explore their creativity by trying to get some maternity portraits. I say that as someone who makes a living as a maternity and baby photographer!

    I have even put together a guide to help parents-to-be and photographers new to Maternity Photography:

    http://www.momphoto.com/posing_guide/index.html

    It is still a work in progress, so feel free to send feedback!

  • Amanda

    December 4, 2010 12:07 pm

    Dave, Good Luck! I'm doing my first Maternity shoot tomorrow!

    I'm certainly an amateur when it comes to photography, but how else are we going to learn, then by getting help and actually DOING the work?

    Everyone has to start somewhere!!

  • Dave O'Brien

    December 4, 2010 07:56 am

    Paula, all the starting poster said is he wanted to take photos of his pregnant wife. I don't think he's expecting "professional" photos, but is looking for ideas. We all start somewhere and it's the help from others that point us in the right direction....

    I'm taking my first set of Pregnancy photos next week of a single young Mom. I've only shot 1 wedding and tend to shoot landscape and military aviation. I'm not an amature photographer, but I am when it comes to portraits.... That's why I'm here to get ideas.

  • Beautiful Girls :

    October 25, 2010 04:36 am

    pregnancy is sometimes life-threatening specially if there are anomalies during child development and child birth-*:

  • Paula

    October 23, 2010 02:46 am

    Why does everyone with a DSLR think that just because they have a 'good camera' they can take professional-looking images? A professional can use a point and shoot and come out with better images than most amatures using a 'pro' camera will get.

  • Dominic Gonzales

    August 30, 2010 03:25 am

    when i first bought my baby shoes, i gave it to my sister's baby,`'

  • Aimee Starr

    July 30, 2010 03:46 am

    Make sure to have some outdoor pillows for mom to sit and lean on. Aching hips are one of the "fun" parts of being pregnant and a pillow or two to sit on on the ground will make her very grateful! Also, laying on your back can be uncomfortable, since it cuts off blood flow to mom and baby, so do these shots before the 7th month.

  • Holly Martin

    July 12, 2010 03:59 am

    when you are looking for baby shoes, choose those that are made from organic materials'~~

  • Dan

    April 9, 2010 02:45 am

    focus on the fact that these are the baby's first photos and not the mother. Try and evoke an emotion..soft back natural lighting with over exposing the background and rimming the belly with low light against a black backdrop work.. fathers hands, face against belly work. Adding in toys for the baby work well..then bring the baby back with the toy. Blocks that spell the baby's name or "baby" are always enjoyed.

  • Alison Greenwood

    March 19, 2010 04:25 am

    If you are lucky enough to find a subject like I did the other day, one that is willing to be contacted at short notice, so that you can use a breathtaking sunset as your background. Thus creating a silhouette of her stunning pregnant shape.
    You can't see her face, you can't see her stretch marks, (she wore a clingy sweater anyway), and since seeing the pictures I took of her, my subject finally agrees with her hubby...that she looks beautiful!
    She no longer feels fat, frumpy and ugly.
    She is over the moon with the pictures I took and always says "hi" to me with a happy smile on her face now.
    This tells me I have done my job well. I'm happy.

  • Nicky Coetzee

    June 6, 2009 02:41 am

    I resently started my own photography business and havent done alot of shoots het. Only friends and family. I struggle to get comfortable with the people that I'm taking photos of and I cant remember any of my ideas. Is this natural or is there something wrong with me?

    I also find pregnancy photos are stunning outside or in there own home. If you dont have a studio lamps are great for lighting.

  • DB

    May 8, 2009 06:28 am

    When my wife was about 7ish months, we took quite a few maternity shots. She was not really interested in having a lot show -- more abstract and minimal. I think a few of our favorites turned out to be a close photo of her belly with a very shallow DOF (very large aperture -- possibly f/1.8 or 2 using 50mm prime lens) where her beautiful belly button was the focal point (in sepia), a full-lenght portrait of my wife wearing a very pretty black dress holding a bunch of favorite pink flower outside with the side of our house that we love and trees in the background on a sunny day (full color) and finally a tight shot of both my wife's hand and my hand with wedding bands on her exposed belly (in sepia). That was 8ish months ago. A lot of fun! Much more to come. (8->}

  • Nancy

    November 11, 2008 11:23 am

    I saw the pics on this site....loved them...where can i find some more?

    Thanks

  • seattle photographers

    October 26, 2008 09:36 am

    I agree with the first poster saying lighting is everything. Try using off camera flash balancing front light with a back light. Also explore high and low angles.

  • Gene A.

    October 26, 2008 04:43 am

    On a funny side note, is it just a complete accident that in the "additional links" at the end of this post there is a link for "Photographing buildings" as well? Pregnant women feel big enough as it is, now your just rubbing it in. Don't worry DPS, I know it was a coincedence, but a funny one at that.

  • Feuza

    October 26, 2008 01:22 am

    Hi- I am originally from Brazil and maternity pictures are very big there- every one gets them done and they really do some nice things.You can check out my better photo gallery for pages 6-8 to get some ideas. I like different angles as already mentioned, also it is important to have pictures just of the belly perhaps her sideways and hands on lower belly as if holding, other common shots we do is the mom telling the baby to be quiet as if hush little baby, another one is for mom to form a heart with her hand on belly, and you can also write on belly with lipstick, the babys name or say coming soon, you can add that with text in photoshop later as well. Another big one is getting some baby shoes and using your fingers to lay it over belly or even a plush etc. Hands play a big part in maternity shots, engaging the husband and other children as well. Hope that helps~

  • Howard Search

    October 25, 2008 11:24 pm

    I love doing pregnancy photos. I started off photographing my stepdaughter at a friends farmhouse which was empty at the time. I loved doing shots next to the large windows with a small amount of fill flash. I would say that one of the most important things to do is to keep the laughter going and maintain a relaxed atmosphere. Convey to your wife (model) that she is really beautiful.

    Two of my last pregnancy shoots were family pictures. I was really pleased with the interaction of young children with their mothers and the baby. I even got the family dog in some of the photos. Have fun with this!

  • deviantangel

    October 25, 2008 11:27 am

    Well, I'm only one down, two to go on the maternity shoots, but I do have to say that being comfortable with your subject and them being comfortable with you is key. You are shooting your wife, so obviously she's comfortable with you, but is she comfortable with you with a camera that's going to capture images that you're gonna share? I shot my sister-in-law over the summer, whom I have known for a lot longer than I have even been with her brother, but there was a serious disconnect with me when it came to me being behind a camera. Of course she loved the pictures and showed them to everyone she knows, but the whole shoot was really awkward, and as my own worst critic, I can tell in the pictures. I think had I taken some specifically non-maternity pictures with her and her hubby first just to get relaxed and for her to get the feel of it would have been best. So the point is that maybe you guys need to take some pictures with the timer or remote or something just get comfortable with the idea that you're the singular center of attention behind the camera, and any awkwardness will show. Get out there and take some everyday, candid shots of eachother, and then maybe think of doing your maternity shoot. Just an idea that I wish I had known pre-maternity-shoot :) Hope that helps!

  • His4ever

    October 25, 2008 05:40 am

    Take her outside! Pergnacy is natural, and so is the great outdoors! I just did a shoot with a quilt on the ground with the fall leaves around the lady. I also like to find curvy trees and have the gal either stand next to it or slightly behind it to form a nice frame around her and her beautiful belly. :D

  • Crystal

    October 25, 2008 01:35 am

    I've only had the pleasure of photographing 2 pregnant women so far, but just remember angles. Try not to take photos straight on, or they'll just make her look wide. Even slightly rotating the shoulders and face can make a big difference.

  • Kit

    October 25, 2008 01:01 am

    Check out work from other photographers to get some ideas of different poses and angles. Don't forget to include yourself in the shots too so use the self timer or a remote. Pick a time when your both relaxed and enjoy the process. I've just completed my first maternity session and pulled off some great shots mostly because the couple were relaxed and enjoyed the process themselves.

    All the best for your new arrival!

  • Rosh

    October 25, 2008 12:36 am

    Remember lighting is everything. Try some window lighting shots. Don't use your on camera flash, you will most likely not get the results you are looking for.

    Take a lot of pictures and review them together. Try some Black and white photographs, close up shots and don't forget the rest of the family.

    Rosh
    http://www.newmediaphotographer.com

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