Getting ready to jump head first into maternity photography?! Read on for our 13 secrets to success!
Maternity photography is such a beautiful opportunity to capture the glowing mom to be right before the arrival of her new baby! You have the opportunity to make her feel like a million bucks, but you also need to take care to ensure her comfort during what can be quite an uncomfortable time in her life. Preparing for these sessions can really reduce the amount of stress for everyone, so it’s really essential that you plan and have your arsenal of tricks in your back pocket. So let’s get down to business! Here are our 13 top tricks for making sure you get the perfect photos that will make a lifetime of sweet memories!
1. Be on Time!
The best time to photograph maternity sessions is typically between 33-36 weeks into pregnancy. BUT make sure to consult with your client about any special circumstances surrounding the timing of her session. Clients expecting multiples or who have experienced complications in their pregnancy or who may be facing an early delivery may want to schedule their session a little bit sooner so they don’t miss out—that’s okay too! Be flexible to each mother’s needs.
I LOVE to shoot maternity sessions with my 50mm lens because it gives me so much versatility to handle a variety of angles, compositions and lighting situations. Maternity sessions can offer you much variety in lens choice—long lenses will work just as well and offer gorgeous compression, and wide-angle lenses can let you get in the whole scene. Just be careful of distortion with wider angle lenses—we don’t want to make mom look disproportionately large. For more on how to choose a portrait lens, check out this great tutorial!
Some of the best lenses for maternity sessions are:
35mm, 50mm, 85mm, 24-70mm, 70-200mm
3. Camera Settings
These sessions can be a great place to practice shooting pretty wide open. Nothing like a gorgeous bokeh to place the focus on the mom to be and her beautiful bump! Just be careful to close up when needed to get all the important aspects/people in focus (like the dad to be and any siblings!) 😉 If you want to read more about camera setting, check out this awesome link!
Suggest to Mom and Dad before the session bringing along a few special moments of their pregnancy like an ultrasound photo or a special object with baby’s name on it! These can add a special personal touch to the photos. This is a great question to ask when they inquire about your services or when you send a client questionnaire! You can even have a few on hand that you bring to a session just in case they can’t think of anything they’d like to include! Get creative and make sure you personalize it for each client.
It’s a great idea to include the siblings to be in the photos—but it can also be tricky to manage if they’re very young. Suggest bringing along something for them to do while mom is having solo shots done, like an iPad or a coloring book with crayons. If the sibling(s) are toddlers or babies, ask if a friend or family member like Grandma can accompany to assist. Older children that can take direction can hug/kiss Mom’s belly, making for adorable loving poses. With younger children, you may not be able to direct the love as much, but just keeping them close to mom can naturally get you some snuggly shots and the more candid interactions can actually be winners in the end!
6. Maternity Posing
It’s going to be natural for Mom-to-Be to want to touch her belly— LET HER! Just make sure to help her vary her hand positions. Hands can go on top, on the bottom, one on top and one on the bottom (I like the left hand on top to show off the bling!), in a pocket if she has one and even one hand on the belly and one in her hair! Make sure when posing her standing to help her lighten and flatter her figure by bending a knee and when sitting to shift weight to one hip and point the toes ever so slightly. I love incorporating both profile shots and straight on shots and don’t forget to take a few close ups of her belly! When adding in Dad and siblings, prioritize connection! Make sure everyone is touching and don’t miss the shots with everyone’s hands on the belly—it’s gold!
7. It’s All About that Bump
Casual or long dramatic gown, the most important factor here is the FIT. Express to Mom-to-Be prior to your session that more form-fitting attire is much more flattering on a pregnant body and will show off that amazing BUMP—the whole reason we’re here!
I keep a handful of maternity gowns in my studio wardrobe from lace to silk and neutrals to saturated tones (try plum purple—gah gorgeousness!) that my clients can choose from for no extra cost. If you choose to stock up, go with a large in most dresses, you can always clamp in the back, but it’s much harder to loosen them for obvious reasons. Make sure to let your client know to coordinate Dad and sibling’s outfits, but not match. It is a great idea to send along a client style guide with visuals of what to do and what not to do ahead of time, and you can even allow them to bring a couple options with them and let you help them style in the first few minutes of the session!
The options are endless with maternity sessions, from stunning outdoor locals like beaches and wide open fields at golden hour (the hour before sunset or after sunrise!) to incredible indoor masterpieces on seamless paper in dramatic gowns (we love Savage Seamless!) you really can’t go wrong! Take advantage of the beautiful natural landmarks around where you live and don’t be too shy to get in the water or lay down low on the ground to get the shot! Just be mindful of the comfort of the mother to be— long walks uphill or over uneven terrain may be out of her comfort zone this late into pregnancy and you should never ask your clients to do things that make them uncomfortable or put them in any danger.
This is going to depend largely on your area/market, but I price my maternity sessions the same as all other portrait sessions using my same three package portrait sheet UNLESS they are being added to a Newborn session or 1st-year bundle (hello discount!) in which case the pricing varies slightly. Try to incentivize your clients to combine maternity and newborn sessions, securing you a larger amount of revenue up front and merging two life milestones that fit so seamlessly together! Here’s an example:
Average 30 min session: $200
Average 60 min session: $275
With Newborn Session as Mini Maternity (30 min): $650 (25% off)
10. Session Length
I offer maternity sessions in both 30 minute and 60 minute length, however, I do not allow for siblings, pets, or other family members besides the mom and dad to be if the client opts for a mini session—if this comes up, just explain to your clients all of the benefits of going with a full-length session when working with these additional variables. If the entire family is included, remember that it will almost turn into a family session with mom, but that she’ll also want solo maternity shots! Keep that in mind for both pricing and cost!
11. Same Day Sneek Peak
I do this for ALL of my sessions and it can be especially fun if the parents to be are waiting to announce the pregnancy, the gender or the name—help them do so WITH your gorgeous photos! Sharing a same day sneek peak really shows your clients that you are commited to their experience and SO excited to share their photos. This gets them pumped to see the rest of the gallery! You can even opt to write a blog post and share that with your clients 4-5 days later with some of your favorite images!
12. Phone App
Pixieset and Shootproof both now offer a free feature allowing you to send a custom app to your clients to install to their phone–what a great way for new parents to show off your photos to all those anxiously waiting for the baby to arrive! What’s cool is that they don’t actually have to log in to a desktop to view and share their photos with family and friends! Score! This is something that you can literally do in about three minutes that adds a TON of value to your service! Remember, VALUE is key!
13. Free Prints
Along the same lines as #12, consider sending a few FREE 4X6’s or 5X7’s a la Betsy to the new parents– they’ll LOVE you and you’re making it easy for them to show off your work at their baby shower and beyond!
Maternity photography is such a great way to give your clients stunning images that they will treasure forever! Really impressing your clients in this instance can also lead to future business, like newborn, milestone, and family sessions! Make sure to knock their socks off with a “thank you” and stellar customer service. With that and these tips, you literally can’t go wrong! Happy session!