These maternity poses are simple, natural, and beautiful. Create a gorgeous gallery of photographs with a series of client-approved setups.
3 easy posing themes, a gazillion gorgeous images
These five maternity photography poses work with every pregnant person, every happy couple, and every family!
Here’s where to start…
#1: Solo poses for a pregnant parent
Most maternity sessions are mom-only shoots, so you want your posing game to be on-point! Here are some key points to remember when posing moms-to-be:
Choose an easy location
Scout photography locations that don’t require a ton of walking. It’s safer for everyone if the shooting spot is easy to access, so consider a nearby outdoor maternity location in warmer months, or an indoor location for winter maternity photos.
“Communicate a lot prior to the shoot,” advises Andrea Nigh. “Find a great location that best fits your client’s personality so they are excited for the shoot!”
Remember that not every pregnant person identifies with she/her pronouns. Consider including a pronouns line in your inquiry form and questionnaires. This will help you build trust with every client.
Include wardrobe options
Some women feel extremely uncomfortable in their prego skin. Help them choose a gorgeous outfit so they feel their best for their pregnancy pictures! Consider creating a client closet full of gorgeous one-size-fits-all gowns. Or you can make a client guide (or Pinterest board) with links to your favorite shopable looks!
“I meet with each expectant mom prior to her session so she can view and try on my gowns,” explains Janae Marie. “Because I provide a wide variety of sizes, colors, and styles of dresses, each woman is always at ease after she meets with me; no more worrying about what she will wear!”
Janae’s gown collection comes from Sew Trendy Accessories!
Prioritize safe, comfortable poses
A belly full of baby can make it hard to achieve certain poses. Make sure your poses account for the physical challenges your pregnant client may be facing.
Maternity photoshoot poses essentially fall into two categories:
- Seated poses
- Standing poses
After that, it’s all about
- where they place their hands
- how they interact with their gown (making it flow or twirl, etc.)
- the beauty of the location
- natural facial expressions
Find ways to flatter the body
Pregnant bodies are beautiful! You know that already, of course; that’s why you’re offering maternity photographs!
But there are ways of photographing pregnancy that aren’t so flattering. Use these methods to ensure your client loves the way she looks in her pictures:
Avoid shooting straight-on
This angle can make you client look BIG instead of pregnant. Big bodies are beautiful, too, but that’s not the point of a maternity shoot! You want to flatter the belly and make it clear that your client is expecting.
“Most pregnant women already feel a bit self-conscious about their new shape, so thoughtful maternity posing is key,” says Vanessa Hicks. “Make sure they feel comfortable in front of the camera, and remind them why they are taking these images. The adventure they’re embarking on is a wonderful one!”
Shoot from the side
A side-view is a flattering angle that helps highlight a beautiful baby bump. Ask your client to cradle her belly for a few photos to establish that natural connection between parent and child.
Use a longer lens
Wide-angle lenses can stretch and distort your client’s frame. Instead, choose a long lens that will capture the truest depiction of this milestone moment. On a full-frame camera, longer lenses include 85mm, 100mm, 200mm, and above.
Encourage bent arms and legs
To create the appearance of movement, guide your client to:
- gently bend the knee closest to your camera
- lift their skirt to create a natural bend at the elbows
- tuck their hair behind their ear for an easy curve of the arm and wrist
#2: Posing couples for a maternity session
If your soon-to-be parent has a partner, they may wish to include a few photos of the two (three!) of them together. Find out in advance if this is the case, and ask your client what percentage of photos they want with their partner versus alone.
Interaction is everything
“I do direct my clients,” says Andrea Nigh, “but I keep them moving, talking, and laughing so they let their guard down and really enjoy the shoot. These images are so natural and beautiful; I prefer them over heavily-posed shots.”
This is one of the best parts of photographing couples: they aren’t alone in their posing anxiety! Instead of letting themselves get worked-up and nervous, they can turn their focus toward one another for some truly connected moments.
More movement is possible with two
Movement poses are safer when you’re photographing a couple. Now your client has a hand to steady her as they stroll through a field or down a city street.
Walk-and-talk—but from the side!
Walking poses are beautifully relaxed, but we already said you should avoid front-on shots, right? Instead, shoot from the side, and instruct your pregnant client to lead their partner as they walk, just like Kaytlin Lane did in her portrait shown above.
Dip and spin
With a partner’s steadying presence, your client can safely dip and twirl for a sweet series of shots. Kaytlin’s maternity portraits shown below are a gorgeous example of how movement can add interest to any scene.
Pregnancy is unexpectedly stressful for some couples. Use their photo session as a chance to help them reconnect and forget their worries.
Try these moments of connection:
- dad’s hand on mom’s belly
- seated and snuggling
To keep the connection going, make sure your clients know the photos are going great. Janae Marie shares, “I compliment my clients a lot, taking a shot and immediately remarking on how beautiful it is. After a few photos, I show them an image, and they’re always in awe of how gorgeous they look!”
Back to front
This simple pose works both standing and seated. You can gauge which is better depending on the couple’s heights and the location.
The two images below by Andrea Nigh and Captured Happiness Photography are great examples of how a simple back-to-front pose can create a beautiful moment of connectedness between partners.
#3: Family maternity poses the whole crew will love
Enhance your next maternity session booking by including the whole family! Partners, kids, grandparents, pets… all are welcome!
As with couple portraits, however, you’ll want to ask your client to define how many photos they want alone, as a couple, and as a family. Add a section like this to your questionnaire:
Approximately what percentage of your photos do you want in each of these categories:
- Me alone: _____%
- Me with my partner: _____%
- Me with my kids: _____%
- Me with my whole family: _____%
Find what makes this family special
Every family has their own unique connection. Some families are super touchy-feely, while others may be less so. Go with the flow of what feels right for each family, but don’t be afraid to encourage them slightly outside their comfort zone, too.
“I don’t over-pose my clients,” Andrea Nigh shares. “Instead, I have them walk, talk, and interact with their significant other and family because I want to capture the moments, genuine smiles, and laughter. I shoot a lot and move around a lot to get different compositions, light, and angles.”
Props don’t have to be cheesy
Ask your family of clients to bring a handful of lifestyle props that truly represent them. Here are a few ideas:
- Do they love baseball? A mitt, ball, and glove are fun for a few themed maternity pictures.
- How about a picnic? An heirloom quilt, oversized basket, and a simple snack (like sliced apples) help create a frame-worthy family photo.
- Ask the parents to bring a print of their latest sonogram. This is a great precursor to the “after” photo you’ll take when the baby arrives. (Check out Sasha Q.’s example above!)
Follow the leader
Line up the family members to create a side-view pregnancy photo of them all walking one after the other. If you’re shooting in a large outdoor space, move around to create multiple versions of this pose. Your clients’ only job is to smile, laugh, and have FUN!
“Don’t just stand in one spot and think you are good to go,” Andrea clarifies. “Move around and look for the moments that tell your client’s story.”
One pose, multiple photos
If you take Andrea’s advice and stay active while you’re shooting, you’ll get way more photos than if you stand still.
From wide, landscape images to close-up shots… from side-facing to front-facing to rear-facing image… There’s almost no limit to the number of unique photos you can create out of a single pose!
As Andrea Nigh explains, “If you are only focused on making a particular picture and never step back to observe the moment in its entirety, you may miss the way her husband is looking at her or the way her child has a hand on mom’s belly. All of these moments tell your client’s story!”
Maternity clients are almost always repeat clients
The best part of photographing pregnancy is the ROI—return on investment. If you make your maternity clients happy with beautiful posing, thoughtful wardrobe help, and a memorable photography experience, you’ll be the first person they call as their family grows!