There are many different types of portraiture. Maternity is probably one type that is truly one-of-a-kind. Each maternity session is different, however, these tips will help you have the same approach to your sessions so they run smoothly from beginning to end.
Keep Posing Simple
When women get a maternity session photographed, they are usually between 7-9 months pregnant. As a photographer, you should know that a growing belly is tiring. Therefore, keep posing simple and move your client to a minimum to help her stay comfortable while you are photographing this beautiful moment in her life.
In order to keep the focus on the belly, use your client’s hands to frame the belly. One hand on top and one below, both below, both on top, or rubbing the belly. All are great ways for your clients to connect with their belly. They will also appear more natural in photos as the bump is the main focus.
Popping one knee out can help give your client a little more shape. This is especially helpful if she is wearing a long maxi dress or wardrobe that hides her natural shape. Make sure that your client pops out the knee that is closest to the camera. She can do this by putting one foot on tip-toe or just bending the knee.
In order to make the belly stand out while still giving your client a bit of shape to her body, angle her at 45 degrees from the camera. This makes the maternity silhouette more prominent in the photographs.
Posing with Partner or Siblings
When posing with siblings, make sure to pose your client first and then have her children surround her. Or if she is willing to carry one sibling. Try different poses and allow for natural posing to happen. Children might be excited to rub or kiss the belly, and you can capture many natural expressions.
When posing with partners, make sure that they are interacting or connecting with the belly as well. A hand on the belly, or kneeling, rubbing or speaking to the belly can really bring out a connection. Don’t be afraid of just focusing on the partner and the belly bump. Take photos close-up and from afar to include both clients.
Photographing the whole family can be tricky during a maternity session. Keeping the energy light and happy can really help bring out the best expressions. Working quickly is a good idea to keep the siblings interested and engaged. Move through poses swiftly and try to tell jokes or be playful to help.
Whether you’re photographing your client indoors or outdoors, try to maximize the number of poses in one spot. Being pregnant can cause swollen feet if she is on her feet for too long. When posing siblings and partners, move them first or move them closer to your client so that she doesn’t have to move around too much.
Know Your Pregnancy Facts
If you are a female photographer and have been pregnant before, then you can skip this tip. However, if you have never been pregnant or are a male photographer, it is really important to take the following into consideration. You will ensure your client has the best maternity session experience.
- Maternity clients may not be able to walk around a lot without getting tired or swollen. Take breaks between setups and offer her a seat whenever possible.
- Bathroom breaks: Be close to bathrooms because a pregnant woman will need to go often.
- Offer water and snacks. Pregnant women need more calories so it’s really important for them to have healthy snacks and lots of water. It’s a nice gesture if you these to the session to offer her. Take it a step further by asking what her favorite snack is right now.
- Ask if they will want retouching done to their belly. Some women prefer to keep it natural as it is in real life. Some will want a little extra editing. Asking up front can keep you from doing double the work or having to re-edit photos later.
- Ask if your client will want to show her bump or not. This will help you prepare her to bring the right wardrobe.
- Do not point out the obvious: that they are pregnant, or big, or look like they are having twins or anything of that nature. All you should ever say to a pregnant woman is that she looks beautiful and congratulations. Anything outside of that can seem like unsolicited advice or opinions. It may be interpreted as rude.
These are just a few of the things you should be aware of in order to give your client the best maternity session experience. She will see that you have put a great deal of effort into her comfort and will be instantly appreciative.
Props and Accessories
Ask your client to bring props or accessories that she has already purchased for her little one. Shoes, bows, onesies, signs with the name or another special item that can really personalize the session for them.
The more they bring, the more you will have to play with resulting in more options and variations for your clients. It can be exciting to incorporate the items into the session.
Photograph the items alone as well as with the bump. A nice detail photo of the item can look really nice in an album. You can also offer ideas for them to bring props or particular accessories to create more of a story.
If you are photographing inside your client’s home, you can photograph the nursery. As well adding to the overall experience of her pregnancy, it will show the experience of waiting for the baby to arrive.
Show Your Client Photos During the Session
Pregnant women are very self-conscious about the way they look. To make sure that they feel confident, show her a really great portrait of herself during the session. This can give her a boost knowing that you have captured her best.
Letting her see for herself that she is radiant and beautiful can make the session go much smoother. She will trust that you are getting the best photos of her during this very unique and important moment in her life.
Offer a Newborn Session
When you are wrapping up the maternity session, offer your clients a newborn session for when the baby is born. Newborn sessions are typically done within two weeks of the baby being born so they don’t lose their newborn features.
Chances are that your client hasn’t thought that far in advanced yet and it will be nice for them to come back to you since you have already built trust.
Let them know about the session options you offer and how you can create a beautiful album of both sessions so that they can always look back on these joyous moments in their lives.
If they walk away with a great experience during their maternity session, they will certainly want to come back for the newborn session. And all subsequent portraits thereafter. Don’t miss your chance to keep your clients coming back!
A maternity session is special in that you get to photograph this very unique, one-of-a-kind moment in your client’s life. Make sure to stay positive and energetic. Take breaks and snacks, and be aware of what you say.
Guide your clients through the process so that they can enjoy and trust you to make the best photographs possible of such an important time in their lives.