I can’t believe I haven’t thought to write this post yet, but it occurred to me, that I could really be helping a lot of you out there! And this isn’t just for dad. It could be your best friend, mom, sister…heck, even your older child if you have one! I know it’s not feasible for everyone to hire a professional to take maternity portraits, and even if you do end up doing this, it’s typically just once during your pregnancy. (Of course, belly series are becoming more popular.) Most couples still find it fun to document the whole thing from no belly to bursting belly, and I’m definitely encouraging you to do so!
Here are a few photography tips to help you along the way, but remember that rules can always be broken!
1. Be Creative.
We’ve all see the profile against a white wall, and if it doesn’t look like a mug shot, it sure doesn’t speak to the intimate, complexity of pregnancy and motherhood, so think out of the box and have fun! If mom has been craving big bowls of ice cream lately, have her sit down with a big bowl of rocky road and fire away! Be silly and make her be silly too. On the other hand, if she’s been feeling low and depressed, which sadly often happens with a massive influx of hormones (be gentle, it’s not her fault,) you might want a sweet, introspective shot with less eye contact with the camera. Have her feeding your chickens, or tending the garden or painting the baby’s room. Action makes for fun, spontaneous ideas!
A 1/4 or 1/2 turn will show her belly more than a front-on shot. And it’s more flattering to the rest of the body too. Have a lot of contact with her hands and the belly, not just arms at her side. Either both hands slightly under the belly or one on top and one on bottom works well. Looking at the belly creates more connection. Standing or kneeling shows off belly and mom’s figure better than sitting. It’s tough to get good sitting pictures since the torso all compresses together. If you do have her sit, do so on the very edge of a chair, bed, stool so her legs can point down and the belly doesn’t look squished up. Have her wear tighter clothing that shows the belly or less clothing.
3. Turn off the flash.
Absolutely don’t use it. If you need more light, go outside. If it’s cold or you want more privacy, stay inside, but go right next to a window.
4. Avoid direct sunlight.
Most portraits are more flattering in softer light so stick to open shade when shooting outside. There are nice times to use it like at the golden hour, right before sunset or on a softer, cloudy day. Backlighting works well too, but is technically trickier.
5. Sidelight shows contour.
If you happen to be standing by a window with natural light streaming in, position mom to have the light coming across the belly vs. straight-on to show more contour. The same goes for soft sunlight…have it stream across the belly.
6. Get closer and farther away.
Don’t forget to get close ups plus wide shots of the torso, or even the whole body. Use her in the environment or zoom right in on the popping belly button, for example.
6. Be kind and flattering.
The woman before you is going through more changes physically, emotionally and mentally than you can possibly imagine. This often leads to her being more self-conscious, and less connected with her changing shape. A compliment here and there will go a long way. Remember, this woman is sacrificing her body for a good year plus to bring your child into the world, and she needs all the support she can get. That also means it might be a good idea for YOU to take the initiative, like, “Honey, it’s been a while…let’s do another portrait of that gorgeous belly of yours.”
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to get every week or even every month. Just doing it a handful of times throughout will be a special thing for you to have later.