Maternity Photoshoots: Part 1

Doing a photoshoot can be scary, but doing a maternity photoshoot is a whole other story. I’ve modeled just shy of a decade, and I was still so nervous when it came to every maternity shoot I did. It’s a time where you feel most vulnerable and not yourself, so feeling sexy and confident can be a bit difficult.

Learning how to pose with your specific body type (e.g. your belly bump) is key. A pose can either make or break a shot and you, being the model, are expected to know how to pose yourself, and your bump. Unless you are working with a very talented and experienced photographer (in maternity posing), you have to take initiative and learn your poses. Even when you pay a photographer, you should do your homework and at least know a few poses and what works for your body or not. Of course the photographer will be able to help and guide you, but most photographers aren’t models, so they don’t know everything. They can tweak a pose here and there, but it’s up to you to make the shot.

Modeling takes practice, experience and a lot of trial and error. Most models don’t start out being amazing models and posers, they have to work for it and build their reputation and modeling book. It took me several years to finally start getting fully booked when traveling and to have photographers start seeking me out. It took a lot of hard work to make it, but it was all so worth it. I take pride in reputation and experience, and worked hard to get there. Models are a dime of a dozen, so setting yourself apart is important! I was known for posing, where other models are known for their hair, incredibly pale skin or exotic look.

Now I know most pregnant woman who do maternity shoots aren’t looking to become professional models, but why not prepare yourself and have the best photoshoot possible? There is nothing worse than feeling good about a photoshoot, just to receive photos that just aren’t what you were expecting. Everyone wants to see incredibly beautiful photos of themselves, so here are few tips that will quickly make any photo look better:

  1. ALWAYS point your toes! You may not be able to get up on your tip toes, (depending on pregnant you are) but at least you can point your toes and fake it!
  2. Extend your legs. Extending your legs will give you more muscle tone and help your legs look longer and slimmer. (Pointing your toes will also give you more muscle tone.)
  3. Extend your mid-section (as much as you can while being pregnant) and push your chest out. Even though you’re not trying to suck it in or anything, extending your torso can make a huge difference in all your posing. This also helps makes you look longer and leaner and will also help everything look more even and symmetrical (which we all know is not an easy thing while pregnant)! Lifting your chest up will also help elongate your body and help keep it all in.
  4. Point your fingers. Touching your thumb and middle finger while slightly bending your fingers inward always looks nice. I actually learned this nifty trick from a Disney Princess at Disneyworld to make your hands look more dainty. Fun fact, I was known for my dainty hands and people sought me out just for that! (Sounds silly but it’s actually a big deal!)
  5. Lift your head/chin. Not so much that the lens is looking up your nose, but enough to get rid of the dreaded double chin and awkward angles we all hate so much. Lifting your chin just slightly can make a huge difference. Also angling your face ever so slightly to one side or the other can help with a more flattering angle. Straight on isn’t always the best look for most people.
  6. Know where to bend and turn your body. Some bends and turns will give you roles in unpleasant places. A simple tweak of the pose should help. Extending your mid section eliminates any (or most) unwanted roles (which aren’t fat roles, everyone’s got them when you pose a certain way, so don’t get self conscious!)
  7. Have wardrobe that actually fits! I cannot tell you how many times I showed up to a photoshoot where the photographer or team had clothes that were way to big or small for me. Trying to suck my way into an XS crop top or trying to ferociously pin together a romper that is 3 sizes too big for me is never a fun way to start a shoot. You’re suppose to feel confident and sexy, not overly conscious about what may be sticking out of where. Whether it be providing your own wardrobe or going in for a fitting before the shoot, just be sure to have clothes that actually fit. Woman have this weird thing about not wanting to buy a small large in panties, but in reality, those large panties look SO much more flattering then those small ones you’re muffin top is hanging over. Don’t worry about the number or size as much, just get something that fits well and is flattering.

In general, KNOW YOUR BODY!! I spent hours in front the mirror when I was just starting trying out different poses to see what worked and didn’t work. I’m known for my posing in the industry, and I can give a lot of that credit to all the countless hours I spent practicing and perfecting.

Find some example photos you really like and share them with your photographer ahead of time. Let them know what kind of style you’re going for and if you have any specific shots you have in mind. Some woman even create a board on Pinterest that they share with the team and then everyone has a clear idea of the concept and style. That way everyone can be on the same page and there is no surprises. Once you have some example shots picked out, start practicing them. Try those poses in front of the mirror and be sure you can actually do the pose (and well). Be realistic about your vision and expectations. If you’re not a yoga fanatic, maybe a handstand pose isn’t the right choice for you.

I would highly recommend hiring a hair and/or makeup person as well. Most woman don’t know how to do photoshoot makeup, which is actually much more difficult than regular, every day makeup. The photographer you’re working with should have a relationship with a few that they can inquire with, otherwise social media is a good place to start looking for reputable people. And always be sure to ask your friends! Word of mouth is always the best way to find talent. Either way, this person shouldn’t cost too much, and will make a big difference in the overall look of the finished images. You only get to be pregnant a few times, so why not go all out and make the most of it? These are photos you and your family will cherish forever.

And last but not least, come prepared. Show up to the photoshoot showered, with clean hair and clean skin (as clean as you can with all those hormones surging through your body). As hard as it may be to shave your legs, make it happen. Unshaven legs can look really ridiculous in a photo and it creates a lot of unnecessary photoshop for the photographer. Moisturize your skin before the shoot and even dab some body oil on for a nice sheen. (Especially on that baby bump!)

Always show up with your modeling bag in hand. This bag should include; moisturizer, hair brush, makeup and hair products, a pair of jeans and a couple casual tops, some sheer tights or nylons, a white or nude bra, a water bottle and some snacks for yourself. It’s super important to stay hydrated and nourished during a photoshoot, especially when you’re pregnant. Everyone will understand that you need extra breaks to take care of yourself. Never push yourself past your limits and always put yours and baby’s health first. No photoshoot is ever worth anyone getting hurt.

I’ve got so much more to share about modeling, posing and working with photographers; but I couldn’t possibly fit it into one post. This is the first post of a small series of post, so be sure to be on the look out for Part 2 and 3 of “Maternity Photoshoots” coming soon!

How many of you have done a maternity photoshoot or hope to? If so, what did you like or dislike about it, or what would you do differently the second time around? Were there any tips you learned that made it easier? Would love to hear from you! Like, comment and share!





Shot by Candace Smith | Lighthouse Studio | Oakland, CA

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  • Kim
    August 3, 2017 at 12:18 am

    Excellent read!

  • Sarah
    August 3, 2017 at 4:58 pm

    Thanks for all the great tips!!

  • Heather
    August 3, 2017 at 7:14 pm

    As a photographer, these are excellent tips! The more comfortable you are the better the end product.