Pregnancy takes the greater part of a year, and women may want to wait until the third trimester before planning maternity portraits. That way, the photographer is sure to capture the fullness of a woman's belly. Taking the portraits too soon may not offer you the results you wanted. "There is a 'best time' to take maternity portraits," says Merians. "It is best to be at the very end of your pregnancy. Yes, women are bigger and have gained some weight, but this is part of the beauty of pregnancy. Capture the beauty of your big belly and be proud."
To Color or Not to Color
Many women interested in maternity portraits will ask to see samples or a portfolio of other women's portraits. When doing so, they will see a variation of film types used: black and white, color, and sepia tones. Does it matter what type of film is used? According to Merians, it is a matter of preference and desired results. "You can choose color or black-and-white film for maternity portraits, and both offer great results," says Merians. "However, black-and-white film is recommended for a strong contrast. And remember, the photo shoot should have dramatic lighting to highlight the belly and face and offer a beautiful shot."
How to Pose
Posing for maternity photos involves the obvious: getting your best side. However, how your "best side" is captured does vary. "All photos are primarily taken from the side," says Merians. "You want to capture your belly's fullness. Spot lighting is used to highlight the stomach and face only. The shoot is usually done standing up because the body position needs to show the stomach fully. This is the most flattering position. However, contemporary poses such as sitting on a bench, a stool, lying down, or kneeling can also be done, taking into consideration the comfort and safety of the woman, of course."
There are as many variations on images and poses for maternity portraits as there are expectant women. Most pregnant women feel naturally drawn to the artier aspects of black-and-white or warmly-toned sepia prints. "Nudes, semi-nudes, and silhouettes are popular approaches," says Elizabeth Vegvary, professional photographer and owner of Northern California-based Angel Photography, which specializes in capturing images of pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding. "However, there are also women who feel more at ease fully clothed in vibrant color outside in a field. This is your portrait session; most photographers are extremely accommodating. Natural lighting during the daylight hours, either inside or outside, also is a wonderful way to capture the pregnant form."