If you ask me, maternity photography is one of the most difficult types of photography to master.
Why? It's simple...
For starters, you're responsible for documenting one of the most significant moments in someone's life. No pressure, right?!
And secondly, after being pregnant for seven or eight months, your subject might not feel all that energetic, let alone all that pretty. That means you also have to put on the charm and help the mom-to-be feel like the beautiful woman that she really is.
There's also the technical and artistic aspects of creating a beautiful portrait that you have to be aware of as well.
With that in mind, here are 12 show-stopping examples of how to take maternity photos (with samples of incredible maternity wear to go along with!).
Some beginner maternity photographers make the mistake of thinking that their portraits need to be closely framed.
But as you can see in this example, by giving the model some space, you can capture a beautiful environmental portrait that shows a little context of the model's surroundings (and allows you to show off the model's wardrobe, too).
Granted, this isn't always possible, but if you're in a shoot location that offers gorgeous scenery, pull back a little for a shot like this.
Editor's Tip: By shooting with a longer lens from a greater distance, the model is less likely to feel the pressure of being in front of the camera and might have a more relaxed presence as a result.
Light is clearly one of the most important elements in a photo, and the best light of the day is often found at golden hour - that half-hour or so around sunrise and sunset that has soft, warm, beautiful light.
In the case of the photo above, the golden hour lighting falls gently on the subject, eliminating any harsh shadows that might be distracting.
What's more, the consistency of the color in this shot is due in large part to the softness of the light. The result is a cohesive portrait that has a glow about it that's quite eye-catching. The beautifully delicate gown certainly helps in the eye-catching department!
When taking maternity portraits, it's important not to get so caught up in paying attention to the model that you forget other important features of the shot.
For example, when shooting your portraits, keep a keen eye on the background, as the quality of the background can make or break the shot.
In this case, the beautifully blurred landscape provides enough color, shape, and texture to add interest to the shot, but not so much that it becomes distracting.
What's more, the darker colors of the background work well with the sleek, black dress that the model is wearing.
Similar to the previous shot, this image has a lot of beautiful shapes and textures that add an extra dimension of interest to this maternity portrait.
Additionally, the light color of the stones in this shot brightens the image and contrasts beautifully with the deeply saturated color of the gown the model is wearing.
By including elements that have contrast - light and dark, hard and soft, and so forth - you create a portrait that has more depth and interest that engages the viewer's eyes.
Editor's Tip: Using a frame within a frame as was done with the stone columns in this shot helps define the space and bring the viewer's attention to the model and keep it there.
Pregnancy may not feel like the most elegant process, but with the right touches, you can create a situation in which an expecting mother can feel not only elegant, but glamorous as well.
In the image above, the beautiful, sparkling gown and the vintage car add that touch of glam that makes this such a unique portrait.
But pay attention to the small details if you really want to create that high-end look.
In this shot, the model's hair is spot-on, as are the make-up and accessories. Everything is done in coordination to create this delicate, 1930s Hollywood vibe that's so pleasing to the eye.
One of the primary challenges of any portrait is what the model should do with their hands. That is, if you don't tell the model where to put their hands, they will most likely look awkward.
Fortunately, there's an easy maternity photography tip for this - just have them place their hands on their baby bump, as seen in the image above.
Not only does this take care of an awkward hands situation, but it also helps frame the baby bump, making it more obvious in the portrait. This is especially helpful when the model is wearing a flowing gown that might otherwise mask the baby bump.
Earlier, I noted that a portrait taken from a further distance can offer you an opportunity to create an environmental portrait.
But that doesn't mean that close-up maternity photography can't be beautiful, too.
The key to a close-up photo is to frame with intentionality. By that, I mean watch where the shot is framed so it doesn't look like the model's limbs were accidentally chopped off.
In this example, the portrait is cropped at around mid-thigh, which gives us that close-up look that allows us to see this model's beautiful eyes, her figure, and the chiffon robe she's wearing more closely.
Editor's Tip: When cropping the image, avoid doing so at joints - elbows, wrists, knees, and ankles to prevent the level of crop from looking unintentional.
Backlighting is one of the best kinds of light for maternity photography because it gives you an opportunity to accentuate the model's form.
As you can see in the image above, the sunlight illuminates the model's beautiful dress, making her more of a focal point in the image.
Not only that, the silhouette created by the form-fitting gown gives us a prime view of her baby bump.
Notice how the model's hands are up and out of the way as well. No awkward hands here!
One common rule for portraits is to suggest to models that they avoid clothing with busy patterns.
But as with all photography rules, sometimes that rule can be broken!
In this instance, the floral patterned gown makes the image feel more cohesive because the pattern is mirrored in her floral crown and her bouquet.
Having your model look off-camera, as was done in the portrait above, creates a completely different vibe than if you have the model look right down the barrel of your lens.
Looking off-camera is more casual, almost as if the photographer has caught the model in a moment of private thought.
Not only that, but having the model look off-camera can help them relax. Paired with a light, airy gown like the one this model is wearing, it can help you create a much more natural-looking portrait!
Editor's Tip: Using a reflector will help fill in darker areas on the model when the sun is illuminating the scene from behind.
Depth of field is an important consideration when taking portraits.
By using a shallow depth of field, you can get a beautifully blurry background, like the one in the image above.
But you can also blur out elements in the foreground as well, which creates more depth in the shot for a more intimate portrait.
When manipulating the depth of field, just be sure to maintain the sharpest area of focus on the model so that the viewer can see the model's eyes, face, figure, wardrobe, and accessories in sharp detail.
With that, you have 12 gorgeous photos and maternity photography tips to help you improve the quality of the photographs you take.
Editor's Note: The images in this article are used with permission by the photographer, Amber Fite. To see more of Amber's work, visit her website or connect with her on PhotographyTalk, Facebook or Instagram.