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Maternity Photography – Studio or Location?

19“Everyone loves someone who’s pregnant” -Knocked Up

When you do maternity photography sessions, are you more likely to do them in a controlled atmosphere or do you take your momma on-location?

Any type of photography presents it’s own challenges, pros and cons. Maternity photography has it’s own set of challenges and knowing these ahead of time can help you prepare for your session.

note: check out our previous Maternity Photography tips.



  • Controlled environment. No sun to fight with.
  • More private – especially important for a mom who feels uncomfortable ‘gettin’ it out’ in public
  • Once you get things set up properly, you can focus purely on the mum-n-bump and not worry about location challenges


  • Studio shots can be samey if you don’t have some pretty brilliant ideas to shake things up. Yes, every bump is the most special one in the world, and all parents should get the typical hands-on-bump shot, but for your own sake, studio photos can all start looking identical the more you do.
  • Studio shots are great when it’s just the bump, but when you’re trying to catch emotion (or even just relaxed facial expressions), studio can be really difficult. Unless they’re used to being photographed and are comfortable in front of the camera, the parents don’t generally know how to ‘just act natural’.

The short of it

  • In my opinion, studio is best for the isolated bump shots. Towards the end of the session, when they’re comfortable (or they think you’re only photographing the bump) you might catch some raw emotion or tenderness, but I usually use these sessions purely for the beautifully lit shots of the belly.




  • Location shoots offer a more bespoke service which can incorporate their individual style. Locations can be urban or country, formal or casual.
  • For couples who just can’t relax in front of the camera, location photography can help them just pretend you’re not even there and this also lends itself to more romantic, emotional events.
  • You don’t have to have many ideas for location photography. In the studio, all eyes are on you to come up with the next pose or concept but on-location, you can just capture the precious moments as they unfold.
  • Pregnancy is an organic, natural event. Sometimes photographing this in the studio feels…well…just uncomfortable. Even when just viewing maternity photos, I feel more at ease looking at the natural location photos because it just seems to fit the occasion better.


  • You attention is divided. You can’t focus just on your mom, but have to keep considering your camera settings, positioning of the sun, weather, etc., etc.
  • “Everyone loves someone who’s pregnant”. And that means that most people don’t think it’s inappropriate to just stand there and watch your session. This can be really uncomfortable for your mom and dad and unless you have a strong enough personality and a few ready-made lines (exe: “Do you have tickets to this show?”) you’ll have to pick a really obviously private location. Note: I think I need some better ‘move on’ lines. Any suggestions are appreciated! 🙂

The bottom line

  • The bottom line on location maternity shoots? I focus most of my attention on these types of sessions. They’re harder work and they greatly test your ability to be creative and adaptable but when they work, they are so very rewarding.

Personally, I give my couples both sessions. I go to their house with a couple lights, do their studio shots and then take them out on location. They have more to choose from and that makes them happy!

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Elizabeth Halford
Elizabeth Halford

is a photographer and advertising creative producer in Orlando, FL. She wrote her first article for dPS in 2010. Her most popular one racked up over 100k shares!

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