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Capturing the Glow: A Beginner’s Guide to Maternity Photography

7 min read

If you are starting out taking maternity photos, you might feel somewhat overwhelmed and wonder where to begin. Moving from just a hobbyist to a full-fledged business can feel overwhelming. You probably have questions like: What should I charge? What equipment do I need? Do I need a full studio? 

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How much should I charge for a maternity session? 

Hey, photography friends! Let’s rewind to 2011, the year I dove headfirst into the mesmerizing world of photography. Back then, resources were scarce, mentors were rare, and finding online guidance was like searching for a needle in a haystack.

I pledged to master each skill meticulously, starting with setting fair prices that I, as a potential client, would happily pay. But reality hit hard as the years passed. Despite my passion, I barely stayed afloat financially, drowning in a sea of expenses.

Cost of Doing Business

Enter CODB – the almighty Cost of Doing Business. Think gear costs, studio rent, gas for those picture-perfect locations, and childcare when bringing little ones along isn’t an option. And let’s not forget about the digital side – website fees, SEO, ads – all of these expenses take their toll.

Oh, and those adorable props and outfits? They’re not just for show but essential for making photos pop. Plus, maternity shoots mean fancy dresses – and maybe even hair and makeup for clients. Every penny spent on your business adds up and should be factored in when figuring out what to charge.

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But here’s the thing: Don’t worry about what XXX Photographer down the block charges. We’re not here to compare. What matters is determining what you need to charge not just to survive but to thrive in this business.

So, here’s the plan: Calculate your CODB, set your monthly session goals, and crunch those numbers until you find your sweet spot. Your aim? Earning a decent income after covering expenses while doing what you love most—capturing life’s fleeting moments through your lens. Remember, success looks different for everyone, so embrace your unique journey.

What gear is the best gear to use for a maternity photoshoot? 

You have determined your prices and are now booking clients. You have also scheduled your first maternity photoshoot. Now what?

Natural light is your best friend for maternity photoshoots, especially when you’re just starting out. Unlike studio setups with expensive lights and equipment, working outdoors keeps your costs low. Plus, sunset sessions offer beautiful, flattering light for free. I like to start an hour before sunset because this golden hour is the easiest and prettiest light to work with.

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 While a basic camera with a kit lens can do the job, upgrading to a prime lens like the “nifty fifty” with a wide aperture (f-stop) of 1.2 or 1.4 can make your photos shine with gorgeous bokeh. 

My personal favorite for outdoor shoots is the Sigma Art 35 prime lens, but I still carry and use my original 50 prime…13 years later.

I like to go the extra mile for my outdoor sunset maternity sessions by providing a few special touches. First, there’s my collection of maternity gowns, which ensure every mom-to-be feels like a glowing goddess.

Then, there’s the portable dressing room – a total game-changer in terms of convenience and privacy. It’s easy to set up, collapsible for portability and makes outfit changes a breeze. And let’s not forget the cozy fur blankets, perfect for adding a touch of luxury and warmth to any season’s shoot. With these extra goodies, every outdoor session becomes a memorable experience for my clients. I also have clients bring things like ultrasound photos and baby booties to make it personal to them.

When is the best time to do a maternity photoshoot?

Timing is everything when it comes to maternity photoshoots, and I always advise my clients to aim for that sweet spot between 30 and 36 weeks pregnant. For moms with multiple previous pregnancies who might start showing a bit earlier, 28 weeks is also a great time to capture that beautiful bump. The goal? To ensure that the pregnancy is visible and that moms-to-be feel comfortable and radiant during their session.

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Why is the cutoff at 36 weeks? From my experience, anything beyond that can be tough on expecting mamas. Outdoor sessions, which sometimes involve walking or getting up and down, can become exhausting and uncomfortable in the final stretch of pregnancy. Plus, those last few weeks can bring unwanted puffiness and extra weight gain, making it less than ideal for capturing those picture-perfect moments.

How can I make my maternity clients feel comfortable during the shoot?

Meeting with clients 6-8 weeks before their session is my go-to move. We chat about locations, try dresses, and bond a bit before the big day. If distance or busy schedules get in the way, a good old FaceTime chat does the trick just fine.

When clients book, I schedule a meeting and send over their contract, payment details, and a special Q&A form. This form is gold—it covers everything from names and family details to location preferences and any body image concerns. I even ask what they love about their pregnancy body and what makes them unique. It’s a great icebreaker and helps us connect during the shoot.

During the session, I lighten the mood by joking with dads that they’re just props to pose around the mama’s belly – always gets a laugh and helps everyone relax.

Reassure your clients that they do not need to know how to pose themselves. This is the most often voiced concern I get from clients, and they always feel awkward in photos. Remind them by showing them that this is your job, not theirs.

And before we wrap up, I always remind clients about their sneak peek, what happens next, and when they can expect their photos. Clear communication is key to keeping clients at ease and happy.

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How do you light your maternity client during a sunset session?

When it comes to maternity sessions, lighting is everything. While we all adore that dreamy backlit pose with a lens flare, it’s not ideal for the entire session. The golden rule? Face your clients toward the light.

Whether the sun is shining or hiding behind clouds, positioning your clients to face the light ensures they’re properly illuminated for their photos. This not only enhances their features but also gives that coveted creamy skin look we all drool over in photos.

I always arrive a few minutes early to map out my session, capturing areas that will lose sunlight first. This allows for ample opportunity to utilize natural reflectors like water or bring along tools like a whiteboard or professional reflector to redirect light onto my clients during the shoot.

If the sun’s position is unclear or I’m in an unfamiliar location, I whip out my trusty cell phone and record in selfie mode while turning in a circle. This helps me gauge the best lighting direction and angles for the most flattering shots.

Remember, better lighting equals easier editing in the end, so setting up proper lighting pays off big time in the final photos.