I don’t know about you, but most of the mums I have photographed in the past are not 100% sure if they want to do a maternity session in the first place let alone to be it in the open public space.
Have a think where would you like to do a pregnancy session. It probably will greatly depend on what you will wear for the photo session. If you are wearing more revealing maternity dress, most likely you will want a more private location.
The beauty of doing outdoors maternity sessions is that you can pick and choose locations. You can go to tested places or try to explore new locations. Last year I had a mum who wanted a forest look photoshoot so I had to go out and find more woodland look location.
How to choose the outdoors maternity session location.
When I choose maternity session locations I look for a few specifics. The location which can give me a variety of backgrounds. Like the beach, grass area, maybe rocks etc. I would not want to be stuck with only one background like a beach.
I also consider what time of the day is the best to do a photoshoot there. Check where the sun will be during the shoot. If it is an open place, I would want to go there very later evening as midday light might be too harsh. If parents really want to go midday, I would try to offer locations which give some shade for portraits too.
TIP: Make sure you visit the location beforehand and plan your locations for the portraits. Go at the same time when you are planning the photoshoot to see where is the light.
If you are shooting only with available light, make sure you position your subject in a good light. If you are out shooting during midday, make sure your subject is in such a position so her body shape is very well lit. normally I would say, the sun would be slightly behind the subject. You are shooting into the shadow.
If you have an overcast day, great and easy. No matter where you go you will have a nice soft light. If you want to introduce more punch to your portraits, you could get some off-camera flash lighting.
Experiment with your light. Try to do a variety of portraits. Do some backlit portraits to add some more dramatic pregnancy photos.
3. Variety of maternity portrait poses.
When you shooting outdoors it is pretty hard to achieve a variety of poses. Mum would mainly be standing and it is pretty much the same belly hugging pose. I would change the variety by either changing the dress or changing the locations. Going to the beach, then grass area, then rocks etc.
Add dad into the photos. It is not an option for dad not to be in photos, I always ask them to step in. It adds more personality and connection between subjects.
Do more close up images or change the angle completely. Walk around the subjects to find a new background and the look.
4. What to wear for a maternity photoshoot.
I always recommend wearing clothes which will show off your belly very well. Nothing too baggy as belly will disappear in clothes. I have maternity dresses or wearing a pair of jeans and a nice top will do it well too.
What you will wear for your photoshoot will greatly depend on where you are shooting and what kind of look mum is after. Some families will prefer very simple no-fuss clothing and have very simple maternity portraits. Others will want more fancy dresses and make this super special. Some couples want to do a simple walk in the park photos.
General guidelines always are no stripes across the body, no big logos, if you are wearing really tight maxi dress, make sure your underwear is not showing through. Especially if the maxi dress is one solid colour. Patterns are fine but bear in mind that it is harder to show off the belly if you have a load of flowery patterns going on. The eyes will be looking at the dress not really you. You could have one dress like that, but the simplicity and timeless is always the best way to go.
5. How to change dresses during outdoors pregnancy photoshoot.
After a few of my outdoors photoshoots, I quickly realise I need a solution to dress changes during photoshoots. I was fed up walking back to the car for the change or clothes. Especially if mum would want like 3-4 changes. Too much hassle and waste of time. Also, it restricts you how far you can go.
So I bought a collapsible standing tent. It was an amazing investment and I love it. You have to practise a bit of how to fold it down so in front of the clients you don’t like a bit silly fighting a collapsable tent :)
We would take a bag or maternity dresses and head out. You carry a bit more, but you don’t need to keep coming back.
I don’t get this too often, but here and there I would have siblings or pets attending the maternity session too. I love it and it comes with its own set of challenges. I always recommend bringing with you an extra person who can look after the sibling or the dog. I’m afraid dad won’t cut it here as I need him for photos too :)
We could possibly take some essential portraits and then they could be moved to the car or fold out the blanket and play on the side while we take the portraits.
7. Extra tips I have learned.
These are smaller tips but worthwhile to mention.
If mum wants a very nice fabric flying photos, please make sure your dress has a looong train. So when dad is throwing it up in the air, it has a volume. I do this at the studio but haven’t done it yet on the location.
In most photos mum might be wearing very little. Ask mum to bring with her a bathrobe or long cardigan to cover up, while walking to the location of the shoot. Especially if it’s a windy day. She might be cold or dress flying up high exposing her a bit too much.
Bring with you a plain colour towel, dark or light, for mums to sit on if they are doing some sit down poses and you don’t want the dress to be mucked.
Print out a list of some ideas you want to on the location. Easier to explain to mums what are you after.
Hope these tips will help with your next outdoor maternity photo session. Enjoy shooting and check out my other guides. DIY Maternity photography is a great one for indoors maternity sessions.