Maternity photos can be lifelong keepsakes. We asked one of the Tampa Bay area's best photographers, Carmen Wilson, to share some of her top tips to help you take your own photos at home.
Camera and Lighting tips:
Do not use a flash. Flash will take away the natural glow. Shoot in a low light situation; such as sunset or sunrise. Experiment with your camera by turning off the flash and setting your ISO to a higher setting such as 400.
Pregnancy does not need anything to take away the simplicity of the belly. Avoid background items such as blinds, a couch, kitchen cabinets, etc....Take the images outside under a tree or a plain background.
Focus on the belly and don't distract with busy patterns of clothing. Keep it simple to allow the story to be captured beautifully.
Wear a shirt such as a tight tank top that exposes the natural curves of the belly or wear a tie in the front shirt to totally expose the belly.
A pregnant mother looks beautiful embracing her bare belly with her hands. Have dad or her children place their hands on the belly too.
Experiment with different angles such as standing, sitting on the edge of a seat, or laying down on a blanket.
Fill your frame! Oh, this is the biggest mistake I see in candid shots. They are too far. Get close to pregnant mama.
When is the best time to take maternity photos? How many weeks?
When taking maternity photos your goal is to have a belly close to the size of a basketball. Typically, between your 7-8 months of pregnancy. You want to look pregnant....there shouldn't be any questions whether you are or not. So, in other words if you are feeling "big" you might not be as big as you think. ;)
What seems to look best in photos?
It all depends on what look you would like. There are several looks that my clients request. Here are a few:
A long, soft, flowy dress for a timeless image with simple accessories. Accessories are of utmost importance because while mommy is embracing her belly her ring or bracelet can be a main focus.
For a casual look, simply jeans and a tank top. Maybe a personal item that is really special to you such as those special booties that your mom made for the baby or a bracelet for mom with the baby's name engraved.
Bringing sexy back is one of my favorite looks...I believe that lots of women have that " I am fat " thinking going on during pregnancy, but the reality is they are glowing and absolutely beautiful. A gorgeous laced pushup bra accompanied by cute boy shorts or panties make mama feel sexy and beautiful again. For the grand finale daddy is a great prop to bring emotion into the images. His job is to love on her and embrace that sweet belly.
Some women are self conscious of their pregnant bodies, but why do you think they should still have maternity photos taken as a keepsake?
Pregnant women are glowing, and they have great beauty within their new shapes. They just don't often see it.....If we take the time to hire a photographer to capture our wedding day so we don't miss anything because life will brush those memories away....wouldn't you want to remember the next greatest moment in your life? Wouldn't you want to remember how your eyes twinkled when you felt that little person in your tummy ? Or the way your husband/partner looked at you as he touched your belly? Sometimes, it's not even about how we look but how we capture an emotion between two people that love each other. A maternity shoot preserves those moments, that beauty, and that time. I would do anything to go back in time to capture any of my pregnancies. It is often that I tear up during a presentation because I remember that I did not capture those moments in my life.
Share three of your favorite maternity photos and tell us why you like them.
I would have to say that the shoots that I favor are the ones where clients allow me full artistic freedom. It is often we talk on the phone and share a vision together. We discuss a plan of what they will be wearing and bringing to the studio. Location is also discussed and that makes it even more fun for me. Planning allows for a perfect shoot.
Now, if I must choose some favorites... (LOL)
The mommy by the Window in the long, flowy, ivory dress with her pup. I'll never forget this shoot. She rolled in with bags full of clothing, literally every shoe in her closet and almost all of her jewelry. I had so many options. It was fabulous. I choose the long dress because I knew it would capture her gorgeous shape and length. Then we had Jack; the cutest dog ever peeking out of the window. It really was a breathless moment for me...I knew I had to complete the story when the baby arrived.
Belly in the water: This shoot was literally a few days before the baby was born. What I love about this image is the confidence mommy had at FULL term. She embraced that pregnancy shape I was talking about previously. This was a round perfect basketball at it's best. I had my camera in a ziploc bag and was completely in the water from waste up. It allowed me to capture the roundness of the belly while capturing the water drops on her body. I love this image.
Sexy back! Mommy in her bra and panties. I just adore these photos. When a client relaxes in front of the camera it is evident. She was able to just let go of any insecurities and allow me to capture her smile and gorgeous body. Look at her belly; it is a full size belly which makes perfect pregnancy images.
Any tips to hire someone to take maternity photos?
- A photographer that specializes in motherhood photography. Choosing the right angles and lighting is so important during a pregnancy shoot. We want mom to be photographed from her best angles and that only comes with years of experience. Look at their portfolio on line and in person.
- Interview any potential photographers. Making sure you feel comfortable in their presence; you will be building a long term relationship with them.
- The Quality of their Work: Are prints printed at a professional lab with archival quality? Is there a 100% customer satisfaction guaranteed?
There has been many magical moments in my life, but I remember two in particular. Late at night a sweet man whispering into my belly " I love you little girl" and then
the day when a nurse handed me my sweet baby girl and I looked at my husband and whispered in his ear "when are we going to have another baby".
Now, fourteen years later I remember that on those days I fell in love with him all over again. A pregnancy brings us closer together, babies complete us, babies make mommy and daddy fall in love again. Why wouldn't we want to capture one of the greatest days in our lives?