Not every maternity session needs to be glamorous. Sometimes the most intimate pregnancy pictures are the ones you take yourself at home with your family.
As a professional photographer who offered maternity sessions in my studio for years, I firmly believe that families should add to their collection of pregnancy pictures with DIY at home photoshoots. This way they’ll have both the posed, glamorous photos and the fun stuff at home that shows life as it is. Especially with a toddler.
It’s a special time in a family’s life and, in my opinion, beautiful photos include the at home moments.
Why do your own maternity pictures?
I’m not saying that you should bypass the professional maternity photoshoot, but that you should add to it with your intimate insight into your unique family life at home.
Plus, as you know, there’s only so long that you can hold a toddler’s attention. For pregnancy photoshoots with toddlers in the studio I worked on the premise that I had 20 minutes to get good photos that included toddlers. After that I considered it a bonus if I could get a willing, happy toddler involved.
So, as an extra bit of advice, if you’re planning a family maternity photoshoot with toddlers – get the toddler shots first!
1. Doorway silhouette maternity pictures
Of course the belly is the most important part of a maternity shoot and what better way to highlight it than with a silhouette?
Silhouettes are much easier than you think.
Make sure that the background is brighter than the subject and then underexpose the subject. This will make the subject just a shape and the background will blow out.
An even better way of doing silhouettes at home is to use what you have – doorways. A doorway creates a natural frame around the subject, which adds to the composition and really draws the viewer’s eyes to the subject.
This works particularly well if you have a door at the end of a hallway that leads to a bright room filled with natural light, or the outside.
Further reading: How to photograph silhouettes with ease in any shooting mode
Plus it’s a really simple pose, so is easy to do.
To make the most of this pregnancy picture and really show off the bump:
- Ask mom to stand in the doorway with her back to one side of it
- Place both hands below the bump or one below and one of top
- Bend the leg closest to camera
- Look down towards the bump
Pro tip – for a more flattering jawline I always tell my clients that it’s a fake look down. If she has long hair it also helps to bring the hair forward a bit.
Otherwise you run the risk of creating double chins. At this stage in the pregnancy mom is going to be feeling quite heavy and will have picked up a bit of weight around the upper arms and face, so you have to be very conscious of this.
Further reading: 4 steps to easy maternity photoshoot poses anywhere
If you don’t have a backlit doorframe, have mom stand in front of a large window and allow the window backlight to be overexposed.
How to do a fake look down
- Just ask her to look down towards the floor and not the bump
- Then to lift her chin up and forward slightly towards the opposite side of the door frame
- Not a lot. It has to be subtle, otherwise it will look odd, so small movements are important
2. Kissing /hugging bump – abstract
A photo of a toddler hugging or kissing mom’s belly is always a cute shot and a must have for every maternity album.
But you can take this up a level and make it a more professional looking photo simply by going in close and filling the frame with the moment.
In a sense this shot then becomes about the two siblings, even though it of course includes mom’s belly.
Get in close so that half the frame is filled with mom’s bump, and just her bump.
Ask the toddler to put their hands on either side of the bump. Don’t get too particular about this, because it’s more important to capture the moment than to have exactly the hand placement you want.
Then ask them to whisper a message to their new sibling, kiss the bump, blow raspberries or hug the bump to get them to engage.
For added variety you can move further away to also get all of mom in the shot. Just make sure you move fast.
Bonus tip – make sure that you’re happy with your camera settings before the toddler is anywhere near the shot. You don’t want to be messing around with your camera and missing out on precious moments while the toddler is still a willing participant.
3. Hand painting the bump
We all know that the best way to get a toddler to do anything is to make a game of it. What toddler, or young child, doesn’t love getting a bit messy with paint?
That’s why this fun maternity photoshoot idea is a creative idea that’s also a great way to engage big brother or big sister while making it fun for them.
- A set of finger paints for toddlers
- Somewhere that looks good in a shot, but can handle a bit of paint overspill
- A simple outfit for mom – white shirt or vest top and jeans
As before, make sure your camera settings are dialled in before the fun begins so that you don’t miss any of the fun, messy moments.
When is the best time for a maternity shoot?
I’ve always advised my maternity clients to book in their shoot for a month before due date, because they’ll have an adorable baby bump, but won’t yet be feeling at their most uncomfortable.
It’s also not a good idea to leave it too close to due date in case baby decides to come a bit early.
What to wear for a maternity photoshoot?
When it comes to maternity photoshoot outfit ideas, the list is endless. From nude, to lingerie, to jeans and a vest top or flowy dresses.
You can spend a fortune on maternity gowns and maternity photoshoot outfits, but honestly I’d keep that for a maternity session in the studio or outdoors with a professional photographer.
For a maternity shoot at home a maxi dress, works very well – just make sure that mom places at least one hand below the bump so that her shape is shown.
Another great option is a simple fitted dress, with with sleeves or without. It’s a win win – super comfortable for mom and a fantastic way to show shape, especially with silhouettes.
Whatever outfit you choose, the most important thing is to make sure that the clothing isn’t overly patterned.
I prefer just plain solid colors. This is because designs distract from the subject’s face, and even though a maternity picture is about the bump, this is a portrait after all, so her face is still important.
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