Maternity photoshoot poses can be broken down into just four steps, or parts to consider. They are bump (of course), hand placement, leg position and head. Everything else flows from there.
When photographers first start maternity photography it can be quite overwhelming, because it feels like there are so many aspects to consider. Maternity poses are all about the bump, but we also want to consider and flatter the subject.
Bear in mind that, at 4 weeks away from due date, chances are she’s feeling uncomfortable and not at her most attractive. Good maternity posing and photography will show her just how gorgeous she is.
I love photographing pregnant women, because of their beautiful curves for light to sweep over.
So I’ve included a few lighting tips at the end.
The 4 parts of maternity photoshoot poses
If you do a Google search of maternity poses, you’ll see that the vast majority of photos have these maternity posing techniques in common for:
Master these aspects of maternity posing and you’ll have the basis for all maternity photoshoot poses, whether they’re formally posed in a studio, relaxed beach maternity poses or maternity poses with husband and family.
1. Bumps in maternity poses
To make the most of her beautifully round baby bump, avoid photographing her facing you.
Pose her so that she’s mainly side-on to camera. I prefer her not to be completely side-on in most maternity poses, because it’s a bit too two dimensional. You need to really show off the roundness of her bump.
So, once she is side-on to camera, ask her to turn back to you slightly.
Top posing tip – when she turns back to you, ask her to move her feet as well. If her feet stay side-on to camera, she’ll naturally drift back to that position. This applies to any pose, not just maternity posing.
2. Hands in maternity poses
Hands are a very important part of maternity posing, because they frame and draw attention to the bump, especially in detail shots of just bump and hands.
It’s the same with studio maternity poses, relaxed beach maternity poses, standing, sitting or lying down maternity poses (as in the photo at the top of this article). How your subject poses her hands is crucial.
The standard placements are:
- Both hands above the bump
- One hand above and one below the bump
- Both hands below the bump
Of these three standard hand positions for maternity poses, the middle one is my favourite.
But it’s a bit more complicated than that…
Both hands above bump
In the first image of both hands above, the veins on her hands are obvious. This is because the light is coming from camera left and slightly behind the subject.
No woman wants veiny hands, so you have to be really careful with lighting when posing both hands above the bump.
Hands above and below bump
Notice that in the middle photo the hand closest to camera is below the bump for two reasons:
- It frames the bump
- If the far side hand were below, all you would see is floating fingers below the bump, which would look odd.
For the same reason, make sure that her far side hand above the bump is further over than she would naturally place it so that you can see more of the hand.
Both hands below bump
Make sure that she doesn’t interlock her fingers when posing with both hands below the bump.
This is a hand posing tip for all types of portrait photography – when fingers interlock they make hands huge.
Further reading: 8 tips for posing hands in photography – posing mistakes to avoid
Dynamic leading lines created by leg and arm positions.
3. Leg position for the best maternity poses
Like with all female posing, in maternity photography posing we want to accentuate curves and flatter a woman’s shape. Leg position can make such a difference.
The leg closest to camera should be bent and her foot raised slightly, resting on the toes, so that she is not flat footed. By resting her foot on the toes or the ball of the foot at least, in a full length shot it looks more elegant and lengthens the leg.
This works particularly well with the hand above and below maternity pose, because the line of the leg leads into the leading line created by the arm.
Plus, diagonal lines make a more dynamic and interesting pose.
On the left the mood is thoughtful and inward thinking, especially as her face is hidden by shadow. On the right it feels as if she is excited and looking to the future when her baby will arrive.
4. How head position alters a maternity pose
Head position says so much in portrait photography, not just maternity photography. With just the change of head position you can create two different images with different moods.
So, to maximise the variety of images in a maternity photoshoot, remember to alter head position before moving on to the next pose.
Really important point for maternity photoshoots
Remember that your client is carrying quite a weight, she’s tired and uncomfortable and you’re asking her to stand with her weight mainly on one foot for most of the shoot.
Alternate which way she faces to give her a break and ease her muscles.
Lighting tip for better maternity photos
While this post is about maternity photoshoot poses, I just want to mention lighting briefly. When you’re photographing form, light direction is extremely important.
Regardless of whether you use natural light or flash, the best ways to light a maternity photoshoot are:
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