How to take your own maternity photographs

As a London maternity photographer who is also currently pregnant, I understand even better than most how frustrating it is when you can't get a photographer in for that planned shoot. But the good news is that you can always get some lovely maternity photos at home. The below tips are applicable for any digital camera and even for smart phones. All you'll need is a self-timer app and a tripod, or something to prop the phone on at the right height (or even just a willing partner)! I've recently taken a few self-portraits of myself at various stages in the pregnancy to show you what you too can do in the comfort of your own home.

Tip 1: Find the Light

Good portraits at home start with one thing: good light. For this, I would always advise finding the biggest and brightest window in your house (avoiding direct sunlight, unless you have a net curtain or gauze to soften the light) and positioning yourself near it at a bright time of day. Turn off all artificial lights and let the lovely natural daylight show you at your best. Consider backlighting or side lighting for the most flattering shots and experiment with the use of silhouettes or shadows to show off your curves - see the below shot for an example.

Tip 2: Choose a flattering maternity pose

Pregnancy is a complex time for new Mums-to-be. You may feel really excited on the one hand, but not as confident as you usually do in your body on the other. Or you may feel more body confident than ever! Whichever way you lean, there are some go-to poses which always look flattering. Firstly, try to angle any shots straight on or even better, slightly from above - this will show both your bump and yourself at your best. Having the bump on a slight side angle to the camera with you holding it showcases its lovely curves and draws the eye towards it. If you want to expose the bump but not the rest of your body, a carefully placed dressing gown or sheet can work wonders. Or if you prefer to stay completely covered, consider a fairly tight fitting top. Although dark colours can feel comforting, bear in mind that they tend to smother the bump and light colours will show its shape better. And if you feel most comfortable in completely flowy outfits, remember to cradle the bump in the photos so it doesn't get lost under the layers. Below you can see two photos where I've made the bump the focus of the shot without revealing too much of the rest of my body.

Tip 3: Partners and older children

So you've nailed your solo maternity self-portraits and you're now looking to bring in some of the rest of the family. If it's your first child and it's just you and your partner, then you can take your time and use some of the above tips along with a self timer to bring in your partner for a variety of shots - try having them behind you for a nice cuddle with their hands on the bump too, or snuggling next to you on a sofa with one hand on the bump and you both looking down at it. If you've got older children, though, particularly toddlers, you'll have to employ some different strategies to get the shots you're looking for. Be sure that your child is well rested and fed before attempting any shots (mornings after breakfast often work well for this reason), and get the camera and settings completely ready before bringing your little one in, as they likely won't last long. Try to keep their attention by making it a game/challenge or getting them to giggle. In the below examples, my partner was behind the camera making my daughter laugh in the first. In the second, I used a self-timer and remote and encouraged him to hold her up for a few seconds at a time to give me a chance to get the shot.

Tip 4: Make your maternity photographs personal

Once you start to feel more confident about your photos, you can get a bit more artistic by trying different things. Consider intentionally showing yourself in a mirror, for example, to make it a more conscious self-portrait. If you have a digital camera you could use a wider angle lens to give the shot more of a documentary look, or bring in personal items that are meaningful to you - this could be a good time to hold up a scan photo or other props near the bump. Below you can see two of my own shots where I've deliberately shown myself in the shot - the second is a due date self portrait silhouette from my first pregnancy, which gives you an idea of how you can use different techniques together to create varying effects.

Conclusion

Just because you're stuck at home doesn't mean you can't create some lovely maternity self-portraits yourself. Give it a go - what do you have to lose! I'd love to see what you come up with - please do follow me on my instagram page (linked below) and tag me into your shots! And please feel free to contact me for any more information.

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I'm also delighted to be able to share another fabulous photographer from the USA from my blog circle with you - Valerie Eidson is an Asheville Photographer and her post is about the best outdoor locations near Asheville. Take a look and swoon over those gorgeous North Carolina landscapes!

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All content Copyright © 2019 Melissa Gray Peters Photography

Melissa Gray-Peters is a London newborn photographer, family photographer, maternity photographer and baby photographer. She offers organic, enchanting photography for relaxed families based in all areas of North London including Islington, Crouch End, Muswell Hill, Hampstead and Highgate, as well as South London, West London, East London and parts of Hertfordshire.