What To Expect During Your Maternity Photography Shoot

What To Expect During Your Maternity Photography Shoot

You’re carrying around a little bundle of joy, and now it’s time to capture it on camera. Lately, it seems like the trend of shooting maternity photography is widespread and extremely popular. Just like pregnancy, there are a few expected and unexpected joys, bumps, or setbacks that can happen or occur when scheduling your upcoming maternity photography shoot.

Many love the idea of maternity photos but don’t know where to start. Others seem to not have the budget and believe them to be costly.

Luckily, here at the H Collective, we’re here to give you the breakdown guide of what to expect…when you’re expecting to take maternity photos. From all the prep work and financial information, the logistics on set, to the ideas and considerations that occur after the photos are taken. Read on as we share and review all the tools to set up and create a comfortable and glowing maternity photography shoot.


There’s a good deal of work that goes into any photo shoot before the day-of, and there’s no exception for a maternity photography shoot. In fact, maternity photography shoots may call for some additional necessities to guarantee the shoot goes swimmingly. These can include: extra set up time, as depending on the pregnancy term it may be more difficult to move around and get situated (you are carrying a human life after all!). Another bucket list addition would be setting up one or more meet and greets with the photographer, as this will create a sense of comfort on set (particularly if any of the images will be exposing or revealing). Addressing aesthetics in both wardrobe and skin care has also been noted to be a point of attention for many who engage in maternity photography shoots. Read on as we review in depth these points and a few others as it pertains to preparing for an upcoming maternity photography shoot.

Skin – Pregnancy is a finish on the skin that no primer, foundation, or concealer alike could replicate (even though many brands have tried). There are those who experience a radiant and lit from within facial complexion when they’re carrying their child. Unfortunately, while are hormones are pumping and trying to produce excess cologne for elasticity we’re still growing and fast). Many receive stretch marks when pregnant, and it’s not only common, but in most cases expected. Those who are partaking in a maternity photography shoot, may want to expose and shoot their stomachs but may be self conscious about their new marks. We’re here to say (even though the body is beautiful in any way!) there are ways to slow down the process of stretch marks growing and producing. Try using essential oils and natural moisturizers to diminish the stretch marks. You can do this by mixing a carrier oil (such as coconut or avocado oil) with concentrated oils like Frankincense  to both even out complexion and give the skin additionally elasticity. *Make sure when purchasing essential oils you’re buying from a reputable company with organic formulas.

Wardrobe – Whether deciding to shoot your maternity photographs in the nude or sport an adorable summer dress, there’s a myriad of options to choose from. Fortunately, the baby belly is making its way into the latest fashion trends and more designers are including maternity lines into their collection. This gives mommy’s to be the option to have a wide variety of outfit choices on set. Pending on the time of year, or location set, outfits may want to reflect the photo’s theme or compliment the surroundings nicely. The number one standout tip when it comes to wardrobe for your shoot, make sure you dress comfortably (because discomfort can show on camera). Ladies, when it comes to undergarments try and wear seamless underwear to include an additional level of comfort. Some couples, also like to coordinate their outfits together (if deciding to shoot both mom and dad-to-be). Discuss the logistics with your photographer, but often times there’s the ability to have more than one outfit choice throughout the maternity photography shoot. Some of the best online retailers to look for both cute and baby bump-hugging clothing are:

Makeup – Like mentioned early, it’s common that the hormone production that’s taking place in the body during pregnancy, acts as a natural and dewy highlighter all on its own. Even so, many still like to glam up for their maternity photography shoots. Makeup artist recommend going with the non-makeup or natural look (which believe it or not, can be more difficult to achieve than a noticeable full face of makeup). Below, we’ve broken down the best makeup choices to use for each area of the face:

  • Skin: Lather’s Sweet Almond Face Moisturizer. This moisturizer is safe to use everyday, and with its ingredient list packed of vitamins from almonds, macadamia nuts, and avocado you’re skin is in for a real hydration punch. Plus! When carrying a child, you want to make sure you’re avoiding adding chemicals to your skin, Lather’s product is free from parabens, sulfates, or synthetic fragrances/colors.   
  • Foundation (if needed): Maybeline’s Fit Me Dewy & Smooth. What’s great about this product is that the formula is lightweight and only helps to bring in moisture and even out the skin tone. Natural freckles (that tend to be released or seen clearer in pregnancy) are still visible.
  • Under Eyes: Tarte’s Shape Tape. Pregnancy means that mommy-to-be may not be sleeping as much as she would like to. Tarte’s concealer is great, as it covers dark circles under the eyes extremely well.
  • Bronzer: Benefit’s Hoola bronzer. There’s no need to go full sculpt when putting on makeup for a maternity photography shoot. Hoola is great because it gives a subtle tan to the skin without looking too fake or manufactured.
  • Blush: Tarte’s Dollface, gives just enough of a pop of subtle pink undertones to the cheeks, without thinking you’ve experiences a heavy flush. Many may want to consider skipping blush, if pregnancy has given your overall complexion and red undertone.
  • Highlighter: Becca Champagne Pop is great is looking for a sparkle and dewy appearance on camera. If looking for more of a matte (non-glitter) highlighter, try Yves Saint Laurent’s’ Touche Eclat .
  • Eyebrows: Keeping them natural, but tame and in place is the ultimate goal for a maternity photography shoot. Try clear brow gel by Victoria Secret Beauty, Brow or Never, as well as Anastasia Beverly Hills’ Clear Brow Gel.
  • Lips: Try and stay in the nude, or subtle pop of color during your maternity photography shoot. One of the perfect nudes (and relatively universal) on the market is Smashbox’s Be Legendary Lipstick in full frontal.

Hair – Hair, depending on your length, texture, and color can range from person to person. While some want to style with loose curls, by putting in rollers or using a hair wand, others may add some volumizing texture during a maternity photography shoot. A great way to add texture is to incorporate some sea salt spray product, try products like Playa’s Summer Spray.  

Researching Photographers In The Area – Through different online portfolios and databases, it’s easy to find the perfect photographer for your upcoming maternity photography shoot. Different online sites to use include: Photographer Central, Find A Photographer, and Photosesh. Each of these sites, compiles your location information, experience level, and price point (yes it’s true you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to have an incredible maternity photography shoot). Some even include a user network where you can review testimonials, ratings, and status updates. Don’t worry! Because there’s time to pick your favorite photographer in the bunch. Most couples and photographers recommend shooting photos at thirty six weeks. Reason being, is that the bump is pronounced, but you’re not far enough along to create discomfort during the shoot.  

Meeting Your Photographer – Once you’ve picked out your photographer, whether online, through a friend, or a service, it’s time to meet them. Do not wait until the day of the shoot to shake hands and become comfortable with them. Maternity photography shoots can be rather intimate. It’s recommended to create an ease or comfort, that way your photos don’t seem forced (as this can show clearly on a final image). We recommend meeting your photographer at least twice — once in a casual setting (such as going out for coffee) and the other at the location you plan on shooting at. Additionally, the pre-shoot meet may be the best time to address any reservations or body insecurities. This way your photographer has prior knowledge and is able to work with these concerns on set.

Discuss Locations – As we previously mentioned, locations are an important aspect of any maternity photography shoot. Before picking a definitive location, have an idea of the style or themed photography session you’re looking to capture. Do you want a set shoot? Or something in nature, your favorite spot in the city, etc. As you can see there are a wide variety of options to choose from. A great way to pick the perfect spot for you, is to discuss with your photographer. As your photographer is comfortable and experienced shooting around the area, they’ll be able to location scout with your interest in mind. When discussing locations, come to the meeting with these list of questions answered:

  1. Do you want to shoot inside or outside?
  2. If outside is there a natural setting you had in mind?
  3. Is there a specific spot you see having your shoot or are you open to ideas?
  4. Does this location (if chosen above) have any significance to your life’s story (i.e. University campus, park you had your first date).
  5. Do you want one location or two?

Hydrate – While this pertains more towards forty eight to twenty four hours before the shoot, make sure to drink plenty of water. Not only will it keep you hydrated during your shoot, many models agree water is the best beauty product. Hydrating prior to any photoshoot reduces inflammation and clears complexion. Try to drink at least sixty four ounces of water the day before shoot (in reality, you should have sixty four ounces of water every day!).


You’ve done it all, you’ve set up the perfect maternity photography shoot. From picking the photographer, to setting the locations, to choosing your outfit and makeup/hair for the day of. It all comes down to these next couple hours, but no worries! You’ve done your prep work, and the day will go swimmingly. So relax, play some of your favorite tunes and get to smiling.

Arriving on Set – Your photographer will likely give you a set time. Make sure to arrive no more than five minutes beforehand. While many think it’s better to show up extra early it may be the opposite. Usually a photographer arrives an hour or so before you to set up lighting and his set (whether it’s on location or at a studio). Showing up early will distract him or her, and make them feel like they should cater to you versus finishing their set (and trust us, you want them worried about the set instead). The easiest comparison would be someone showing up early to your dinner party when you’re scrambling to get everything done. On the flipside, don’t be late! Not only will it waste the photographers time, there’s often times that you’re slotted to a very particular time that can’t be extended. Whether it’s set allotment or on location permits.

Taking Test Shots – There are several reasons that photographers take test shots. Half of the reasons have to do with their settings, like adjusting aperture and focusing you as their subject. The other reasons have everything to do with you and your comfort in front of a camera. It’s proven, that when clients are told that their engaging in test shots it takes the pressure off. Your begin building comfort in front of the camera and are able to connect and express emotions which is particularly important in your maternity photography shoot (you’re going to keep these forever). When the photographer thinks you’re set and his settings are perfected, they’ll announce it’s time to move on past the test shots.

Having An Open Dialogue With Your Photographer – As mentioned earlier, clients are encouraged to meet their photographers prior to the shoot to create a comfortable and open atmosphere to promote dialogue during the shoot. There’s an unspoken rule on set, especially when you’re the paying client, always express how you’re feeling. Whether it’s an uncomfortable pose, your not confident in the angle, etc, speak up about it. But remember, just like any artist, photographers are showcasing their creative vision, so just don’t demand or tell. Try and work collaboratively with your photographer.  

Baring Skin – A question you’ll want to know the answer to as you arrive on set, are you baring skin? Some (like the iconic Kim Kardashian) show it all and leave nothing to cover when shooting their maternity photography shoot. Some subtly show their tummies, while others stay completely covered. Whichever decision you choose is great, and will be respected by your photographer. You’ll just need to let them know where your head is at and how comfortable you are showing your skin. *Side note, if you’re interested in a full nude maternity photography shoot, try announcing that ahead of time. It’ll be more than likely your photography will have to schedule studio time (as going nude in a public place may be a little more difficult).

Learning Different Poses – If not a seasoned model or Instagram influencer, it may be daunting to think of rocking different poses while at your maternity photography shoot. Not to worry, your photographer will work with you to suggest what movements to place you in. The only clarity you should share during your shoot, is which side profile you prefer and any particular poses you tend to go to when posing for pictures. If anything, being on set might expand your mind into learning how your body looks in different poses.

Taking Solo and/or Couples Shots – It all depends on the couple how the shot list will unfold. Whether or not it’s just mommy-to-be showing off her tummy or a joint couple together, there’s an expectation on set (or even beforehand) to inform your photographer about who you want in your photo. If you plan on adding shots with your partner in additional to singular shots, this can increase the time of the overall shoot. As the additional shots may take organization to reconfigure, try and let your photographer know right away.

Changing Locations – When changing locations, expect to have your photographer account for that allotment time in the payment. What’s lovely about changing locations is you get a variety of background, potential lighting, and overall a completely different vibe. While there are so many benefits to changing locations, the additional cost and time are a considerable deterrent. Instead, if wanting to change locations, try a park or city corner that has multiple vantage points to create a completely different look, and you don’t have to travel far (and be charged an arm and a leg).

Using Props – Props are one of the fan favorites when it comes to partaking in a maternity photography shoot. Props can tell a story, create a feeling, or even reveal the gender of your baby. Let your photographer know when you arrive on set (or beforehand) if you plan on using any props for your shoot. A few props that have been used in the past include:

  • The Ultrasound – A snapshot, of a snapshot of your baby.
  • The Family Pet – To show your furry friend is excited to welcome home a little brother or sister.
  • Your Children – If this is not your first child, just like recommending your pet, bring along any other future siblings to show the family before it grows +1.
  • Announcement Board – Having the baby’s name, how far along you are, or even the size comparison (baby is the size of an avocado/etc). An example of a baby announcement board can be found on Etsy.  


While the pressure of the maternity photography shoot is off, there’s still work to do to wrap up the shoot. From picking your favorite photos, to sending them to your loved ones, to framing and creating keepsakes, there’s a good bit to do.

Looking Through Selects – The roll of photos that happen from your shoot are known as selects. There will often be a good amount of time (usually minimum two weeks) before you’ll see any of your photos. During these two weeks, the photographer will be sorting, editing, and adjusting. Once he releases the selects, it’s up to you and your partner to choose your favorites. There will be quite a bit, so it may take a while to sort through your own maternity photography shoot.

Where Are These Going? – Are you blowing up these photos and putting them on your wall? Getting cards or announcements made and sending them out in the mail? Now that you’ve taken the photos and took time to sort through them, it’s time to share them.

Keeping A Written Journal – You’ve gone through the process, and made it to the other side. It’s time to write down everything you’ve learned, the things you’d do differently, and how you felt during the process. This may come in handy if you decide to do another maternity photography shoot with your next child, or have a family member or friend ask for advice.

Creating Keepsakes – You’ve sent out your special photos, maybe put one in a frame on the nightstand, now what? These are special images you’re going to want to cherish forever, and show your baby one day. Start off by potentially creating a baby book, the first chapter can showcase these images, and the book will continue to grow as your baby grows. Another keepsake to create from your photos are custom canvases. They’re a classic approach to a standard photograph.