Maternity photos rank high in the “must have” list. In my years as a maternity photographer in Los Angeles, I have noticed a few things. Here, I want to share them with you. Use these tips to help you find, plan, and experience the best maternity photos you can.
1. When To Take Maternity Photos.
If possible, do not spend weeks or months trying to decide if you want maternity photos. Trust an expert. You want maternity photos. In my work, so many expecting moms call me days before they are due. By then, it is too late. Scheduling is limited. No one ever regrets getting maternity photos. You can do them yourself, or hire a professional. The best time is during weeks 28 to 34. Most women are showing nicely and they still have enough energy for a photo session. Here are more reasons not to wait too long:
Maternity photographers tend to book out 4 to 6 weeks in advance
Maternity photo shoot poses are usually easier on mom earlier rather than later
Maternity gown rentals take at least a month’s notice
Location sessions may need to be rescheduled due to weather
2. Pinterest Is Just For Ideas
Everyone loves Pinterest. It is a good place to start to get some ideas for the kinds of maternity photos there are. It can help you decide what kinds if styles you like. You will be able to see lovely location and studio images. However, it is important that you keep in mind your own personality. Remember, you are looking at what other moms-to-be did. Maternity photos at the beach during sunset may be stunning. But do you have any connection to the beach? Is it a place that is important to you? Try to think about locations that are meaningful for you. You will photograph better and be happier with the maternity photos you get. If the beach is someplace you never usually go, your maternity photos should probably not take place there. Here are the best ways to use Pinterest to plan your maternity pictures:
Look for gowns that you like. Make a note of colors and styles.
Look for locations and studio maternity photos that speak to you.
Study images with expecting moms alone, and with her partner. Which ones do you like?
3. Decide About Hair and Makeup
Maternity hair and makeup is a very personal thing. Some women prefer a more “natural” look. For them, these images are mostly about the relationship with their expectant child. For others, having the “glam maternity” experience is what is important. In my experience as a maternity photographer, both ways yield showpiece maternity photos. It totally depends on the person. Here are a few things to consider about hair and makeup for maternity photos:
Think about whether you want hair extensions, a new color, or cut for these images. Long hair can be a lot of fun in studio, especially if there is a wind machine.
More natural looking, subtle makeup often does the trick. Even for glam maternity sessions, less is more on the make-up end. I recommend to go easy on the contouring, select light or more skin toned eye shadow and light lipstick. It is less intrusive and gives a finished look to your maternity pictures.
Decide how you feel about bare belly shots. Many maternity photo poses show a bare belly. Usually, the skin tone on your baby bump is different than the skin tone on your face. Some people love the difference, others hate it. Again, it is a personal thing. Many maternity photo clients decide to spray tan so they have a consistent looking skin tone. If you want even skin, then you will have to plan your spray tan appointment accordingly.
4. Think About Maternity Gowns
The kind of clothing you select for your maternity photo session depends a lot on whether it is on location or in studio. If you are on location, gown changes can be tricky. You also have to consider how the gown will behave in water, or sand, or in areas with a lot of brush. What if it is breezy that day? How will the gown look. If the gown is sheer, and you want back lit sunset images, are you comfortable with that? Here are a few more things to consider about clothing for your maternity pictures:
Buy or Rent. Maternity gowns are a bit of an investment. Most start at around $175. Renting gowns can save some money. But there is still the rental fee, cleaning fee, and shipping. Be sure to research how much it really costs to rent. You may find that buying and then selling your gown to a friend a better option.
Photographer’s Wardrobe. Many maternity photographers own several maternity gowns. Be sure to ask. If you can find a photographer who owns a gown you can use, you have saved time and money for sure.
No Maternity Gown: While it is common for most women to wear a maternity gown for their photo session, it is not mandatory. If you do not want to wear a traditional gown, that’s fine too. I have had clients wear jeans and a shirt, boy shorts and a camisole or just bikini bottoms. It all depends on where your session happens and on your personality.
5. Be Aware of Location Permit Fees
Most people do not realize that most locations require a permit for professional photo sessions. In the Los Angeles area, permits range from $85 to $400 or more. Many people assume that they can just go to a public park for maternity photos. It may be possible. Some public parks are gorgeous. Be sure to avoid hiring photographers who just “run and gun” it and hope they do not get caught. If you do decide on a local park, think about your maternity photo experience. Is a public park really what you want for your maternity images? In most cases, such images end up looking like snapshots. Be prepared to pay more for those gorgeous locations with dramatic vistas. Here are more facts about permit fees:
Permits range from hourly to daily. Be sure you have at least 2 hours.
Scout the location in advance. Know where to park and how difficult it is to walk to that perfect spot.
If you want to change outfits, make a plan. Does your photographer have a changing tent? Will your partner hold up a towel?
Have a backup plan if the weather lets you down.
Maternity photos are something every mom-to-be should have. You can do them yourself, or hire a professional.
Katie is a maternity photographer in Los Angeles, CA 91042