From Classic to Creative: Maternity Photography Ideas that Celebrate All Types of Motherhood

May 5th, 2023
man hugging pregnant woman and kissing her cheek from behind

Becoming a mother is a momentous occasion that deserves to be celebrated in every way possible. One beautiful way to cherish this milestone is by capturing the beauty and magic of motherhood through maternity photography.

Maternity photography gives mothers an opportunity to reflect on this fleeting time in their lives. Maternity photos serve as a visual reminder of the love and excitement that surrounded the baby’s upcoming arrival, to be treasured by both the parents and the child for years to come. The photos can be used to announce the pregnancy to family and friends, or as a piece of art to decorate the home. Maternity photography can also serve as a way for mothers to reconnect with their bodies during a period of constant change and growth, helping them feel empowered and beautiful.

Whether you are an expecting mother, a photographer looking for inspiration, or simply a lover of beautiful art, this guide to creative and unique photography ideas  will help you celebrate the joys of motherhood with a beautiful and timeless photo. So grab your camera, find your inspiration, and let’s capture the beauty of motherhood together!

Preparing for the Maternity Photo Shoot

Preparing for a maternity photo shoot is a special time for expectant parents. Maternity photo shoots can be an intimate experience for mom and partner, or a celebratory event with family and friends. 

Regardless of the type of shoot, there are some things to keep in mind to ensure that the photos come out beautifully. In this article, we will go over some tips and recommendations for preparing for a successful and enjoyable maternity photo shoot.

pregnant woman wearing lace shawl and reflected in the lower half of the image

Tips for helping clients prepare for a maternity shoot:

  1. Timing: Advise your clients to schedule their maternity shoot between 28-32 weeks of pregnancy, when the bump is nicely rounded but the mother is generally still comfortable enough to move and pose easily.
  2. Clothing: Suggest form-fitting outfits that highlight the bump, as well as some outfits that make the mother feel comfortable and confident. Consider suggesting light, flowy fabrics that move well in the wind, or clothing in neutral colors that can be easily paired with different accessories.
  3. Accessories: Speaking of accessories, recommend your clients bring some items to accessorize and personalize their shoot. This could be anything from a cute pair of booties for the baby to a special necklace or scarf that has sentimental value, or even an item that once belonged to their own mother or caregiver. 
  4. Location: Help your clients choose a location that reflects their personality and style. Some popular options include nature parks, urban areas, and their own home or backyard. Consider the lighting and time of day for the shoot.
  5. Posing: Provide guidance on posing and keep your clients comfortable. Encourage them to interact naturally so their personalities can shine through. Also, consider taking both candid and posed shots to capture a range of emotions.
  6. Hair and makeup: Everyone wants to look their best during a photoshoot. Maternity sessions are an excellent time to hire a professional hair and makeup artist (HMUA.) Whether you already have someone you work with and include their services in your session pricing or you share recommendations with your client so they can hire one on their own, they will appreciate how extra special it makes them feel during the session.  

Making the mother feel comfortable and confident during the shoot.

Most people feel a bit awkward in front of the camera, at least at first. That feeling can be exacerbated by the changes pregnancy produces within the expectant mother’s body. Be positive and encouraging throughout the session to help put your client at ease. Not quite sure how to start? Use the steps below to ensure they have a great experience. 

  •  Start by introducing yourself and getting to know them a little
  •  Provide clear instructions and guidance throughout the shoot
  •  Be patient and understanding, especially if they have young children with them
  •  Use encouraging phrases and genuine compliments
  •  Show them some of the shots on the camera display to boost their confidence
  •  Make sure they are comfortable with the poses and location choices
  •  Offer breaks and refreshments as needed
  •  Ask for their input and feedback throughout the shoot
  •  Be open to their suggestions and ideas

Don’t forget to thank them for their time, and let them know you appreciate their business!

Creative Maternity Photo Ideas

It’s not always easy to come up with the perfect theme, pose, or background that hits just the right spot for a particular client or family. To get you started, however, take a look at these classic poses and creative mother’s day photography ideas!

woman in flowing rust dress standing in sand dunes

Classic poses 

  • Sitting pose: This is a cozy and relaxed pose where the mom-to-be is seated on a chair or a bench. She may be holding her belly or looking off to the side with a gentle smile. This pose can show off her baby bump in a subtle yet elegant way.
  • Standing pose: In this pose, the mom-to-be is standing tall with her hands gently cradling her belly. Depending on the angle, this pose can emphasize the curves of her body and showcase her glowing aura. She may also be looking down at her belly with a loving expression.
  • Lying down pose: This pose can be both serene and sensual. With this pose, the mother is lying on her side, propped up with pillows. She can have her hands resting on her belly or cradling her head. This pose is perfect for capturing intimate and peaceful moments between the mom-to-be and her baby bump. Another twist on this pose is to have the partner lying down next to her, with their hands on her belly as well. This can create a beautiful, loving moment between the parents-to-be. 

pregnant woman in red flowing dress

More Creative Maternity Photo Ideas

If you want to try something different and unique, see if these ideas inspire you:

  • Outdoor Photoshoot: Picture the mom-to-be surrounded by nature, standing near a beautiful tree, or walking on a serene path. The natural light and scenery can make for breathtaking photos.
  • In the Water: For a dreamy and ethereal look, consider taking photos of the mom-to-be in a pool or at the beach. They can wear a long dress or flowy fabric that billows in the water.
  • Silhouette: Silhouette shots are always a stunning addition to any photoshoot. In this pose, the mom-to-be stands in front of a bright light source or sunset, creating a beautiful silhouette of the baby bump.
  • Maternity Milk Bath: A milk bath photoshoot is a new and popular trend that’s both beautiful and soothing. The mom-to-be is immersed in a bathtub filled with warm water and milk, creating a soft and serene atmosphere.
  • Maternity Boudoir: If your client is a bit more daring, try a boudoir-inspired maternity photoshoot. This type of photoshoot celebrates the female form and can be done in a tasteful and elegant way. Clients can wear a beautiful flowing gown, lingerie, or work with you to create artistically posed nude portraits to the strength and beauty of their changing body.
  • Goddess Session: Make your client feel empowered and beautiful with a goddess-inspired maternity photoshoot. In a studio or outdoors, goddess shoots utilize long dresses with flowing fabrics, and can also incorporate floral crowns, ethereal lighting, and fans to create movement. It is especially important to work with a hair and makeup artist or recommend your client hire one for this type of shoot to ensure a truly stunning outcome.

Incorporating partners and other children

Incorporating partners and other children into the maternity shoot can be a beautiful way to showcase the growth of a family. 

  • Have the partner give the mother a gentle kiss on the forehead or hold hands while placing them on the mother’s belly.
  • Include siblings by having them place their hands on the mother’s belly, or kiss it together. Or, have them hold ultrasound pictures or baby clothes for a sweet touch.
  • Consider taking pictures outdoors and use natural props such as flowers or greenery to create a serene setting.
  • Get creative with poses that showcase the love and connection between all family members. For example, have the partner hold the mother from behind, or have their child sit on the belly while the mother lays down.

Capturing natural moments

Posed pictures can sometimes look just a little too tense or unnatural. If that’s what you’re struggling with, try one or all of the following tips:

  • Encourage the expecting mother to relax and be comfortable in front of the camera.
  • Use prompts or games to create genuine emotions and reactions. For example, have the father whisper a funny joke or secret to the mother right before you click the shutter.
  • Take candid shots while the mother is interacting with her partner, children, or pets.
  • Focus on capturing genuine moments instead of posed shots. 

Remember, the goal is to capture the joy and excitement of this special time in the mother’s life.

a man kissing a woman's forehead as they both hold a baby ultrasound

Using props to personalize the shoot 

Props bring the new family’s uniqueness and beauty to life, often in creative, personal ways. Look around your studio for some of the following props, or ask your client to bring some of their own!

  •  Baby shoes or booties.
  •  Ultrasound images.
  •  Mama-to-be’s favorite book, toy or object.
  •  A chalkboard or letter board with a message or due date.
  •  A onesie or outfit for the new baby.
  •  Fresh flowers or greenery.
  •  Childhood photos of the expecting parents.
  •  A sonogram photo frame.
  •  Funny or cute signs expressing love for the new arrival. 
  •  Belly cast or painting.
  •  Letter blocks to spell out baby’s name.
  •  Childhood stuffed animals or toys that will be passed down to the baby.
  •  A family heirloom or sentimental item that has been passed down. 
  •  A photo album or scrapbook of the pregnancy journey so far.

Playing with lighting and shadows to create mood and depth.

  • Experiment with different types of lighting, such as natural light or artificial light, to see which produces the best results.
  • Use backlighting to create a dramatic silhouette of the expecting mother’s belly or profile.
  • Play with shadows by using a key light source at various angles to create depth and dimension in the photo.
  • Take advantage of the golden hour during the first and last hour of sunlight of the day to capture warm, glowing photos.

two women with foreheads and noses touching

Celebrating different types of motherhood.

Motherhood comes in all shapes and sizes, and it’s time we celebrate the diversity of this beautiful experience. From adoptive and surrogate mothers to LGBTQ+ families to single moms and other caregivers, every mother and family deserves to be recognized and honored. 

Adoptive and surrogate mothers.

Adoption and surrogacy are two beautiful ways to build a family. Adoptive mothers go through a rigorous, emotional process to bring a child into their home and provide them with love, care, and support. Surrogate mothers selflessly carry a child for another family, bringing joy and fulfillment to those who may not be able to conceive on their own. Let’s recognize and honor these mothers through the medium of photography, and the love and care they provide for their children.

Celebrating LGBTQ+ mothers and their families.

While there is not as much representation of LGBTQ+ families in the media, they are equally as deserving of celebration throughout the year and especially during Mother’s (and Father’s!) Day. Although same-sex couples may have to go through additional challenges to have or adopt children, these differences do not make them any less a family. As a professional photographer, seek to create inclusive spaces where LGBTQ+ mothers and families feel seen and celebrated. 

Capturing the beauty of diversity in motherhood.

It’s time we embrace and celebrate the beauty of diversity in motherhood. Family photo shoots that include adoptive and surrogate mothers, single parents,  LGBTQ+ families, and other caregivers who fill the role of a mother help create spaces where all types of mothers can feel seen and celebrated. 

By creating inclusive spaces and capturing the beauty of diversity in motherhood, we can inspire others to recognize and celebrate it as well. 

mother in white dress maternity session at the beach

Editing and presentation.

Pregnancy is a special time in a woman’s life; capturing those moments through photography can be a wonderful way to remember this precious time. 

However, taking and editing maternity photos can be a daunting task! Let’s explore some tips for editing and enhancing maternity photos, as well as options for presenting the final images.

Editing and enhancing maternity photos.

Editing maternity photos helps make them stand out, turning simple shots into masterpieces. 

  • Adjust the brightness and contrast: Brightening up your photos can make them look more vibrant and appealing, or add more depth and detail.
  • Crop and straighten: Cropping your photos helps viewers focus on the subject; remember to remove any distracting elements while you’re at it! 
  • Use filters: Filters  enhance the colors and make your photos look more professional. 
  • Remove blemishes: The spot healing brush is there to remove any blemishes or imperfections on your subject(s)’s skin.

Sharing your maternity photos with clients.

Once you’ve edited your photos, it’s time to decide how you want to present them. Options to consider include:

  • Online galleries: Online galleries allow you to easily and quickly share your photos with friends and family. Custom galleries can also be shared with your clients.
  • Prints: Printing your photos is a classic way to display them. A wide range of print sizes and finishes are usually available to pick and choose from to suit your style.
  • Albums: Creating a photo album is a great way to tell a story with your photos. You can include captions and text to add more context to the photos.

Maternity photography is an incredibly special way to capture the beauty and essence of pregnancy. By celebrating different types of motherhood and utilizing creative photo ideas, you can create a one-of-a-kind memory that you and your clients will cherish for a lifetime. Take these tips, be inspired by these ideas, and share the joy of motherhood with your clients and their friends and families!


  • Amanda W

    Amanda is the Content Marketing Specialist at Zenfolio and the Owner/Photographer of Wild Orchard Studios photography. A BFA graduate from Maine College of Art and Design and professional Portrait, Family, and Branding photographer for over 10 years, she thoroughly enjoys drawing from her experiences to guide new photographers as they are starting out. Amanda lives in the wilds of Maine with her husband and two imaginative daughters. If there’s such a thing as too much dark chocolate, she hasn’t heard about it.

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