One of the saddest things for me, as a specialist pregnancy photographer during lockdown, is that I have been unable to capture those beautiful pregnancy moments for my booked in clients. Sadly pregnancy has a time limit and my clients that were expecting in January, February, March and early April have missed their professional pregnancy photography session with me, as professional portrait photography studios are locked down to comply with Government rulings.
So I have been thinking about what I can do to help in this situation. Something easy to do on a mobile phone and that doesn’t involve complicated arrangements or expensive equipment. One of my favourite images from my pregnancy photoshoots is a side profile, backlit image, such as the ones above. It shows the individual shape of the bump and as Mum does’t have to look at the camera it is perfect if she is feeling a little camera shy or nervous.
For this type of image you will just need a window area, that lets in natural light and just to soften that light, add some voile curtains, which you can get from most places very cheaply. I got mine from Ikea
A little tip on location – try and make sure you have a blank clutter free wall behind you. There should be nothing distracting in frame and the focus should always be on you and your bump! And just so you can see, two of the above photographs were taken in my front room at this window! I now have my beautiful studio with a huge floor to ceiling window that I use for these types of photographs.
One thing I do need to say is that I use professional standard cameras, lenses, editing software and lighting and have undertaken many years of specialist maternity photography training. A mobile phone is not going to achieve what professional equipment and training can. This is why clients come for one of my professional photography sessions. But what this blog will give you is some ideas that you can use, so you can capture your pregnancy, using your mobile phone, whilst we are in lockdown and professional photo shoots are not possible. So, on to tip 1!
Tip One – What To Wear (Or Not)!
When my maternity clients come for their session with me they can choose from a whole wardrobe of clothes, that are specially designed to show off their bump, whilst being comfortable for the pregnant body. Some of these items cost hundreds of pounds to buy and that is just not realistic for a home session. So instead, look in your own wardrobe for inspiration. If clients are coming for an outdoor maternity session they may well choose clothing from their own wardrobe and this is what I advise them to look for:
– A top or dress that is fitted over your bump. The point of the session is to show your pregnancy off and baggy, ill fitting clothes will not achieve that. Make sure your choice is well fitting, as is your underwear. Make sure it is ironed and neat, creases can be very distracting in a photograph.
– The focus should always be on the subject, so avoid clothes with logos, bold patterns, spots, stripes, instead go for plain neutral colours that will work well in any environment.
– Choose clothes that you feel confident and comfortable in. You may choose to go nude or semi nude, so make use of fabric or shirts to drape and cover where necessary.
Many of my clients also invest in professional hair and make up so they look their very best for their photographs. Although you may not be able to have a professional do your hair and make up at the moment, I would still encourage you to do your own. It is a fabulous excuse to pamper yourself a little, do your nails, style your hair and add your own make up touches. It will really lift your confidence and mood!
Tip Two – It’s All About Light!
One of the most important aspects to a good photograph is good lighting. With the type of image we are trying to achieve the lighting is very simple. You need to be standing in front of your window that has your voile curtains diffusing the light. The voile will also help to stop any hard sunlight or harsh shadows, which is not what we want for this image. If you look at the above photograph of the pregnant Mum and Daughter, you can see that everything is very soft and there are no harsh sun spots or shadows.
In the two photographs that are inside (below) the subject was standing next to the window, off to the side, which is also a great position for you to try. Just remember my tip in point one about having a plain wall and uncluttered background.
Tip Three – Pose
Even the most natural looking maternity photograph will still have an element of subtle posing. We want to be drawing all the attention to that bump and the Mother’s connection to their unborn child. One of the best and easiest ways to do this is by using hands to direct the attention to the baby bump.
You can place your hands on top of your bump, underneath your bump, to either side of your bump, or my personal favourite cradle your bump with hands above and below, as you see in the below images:
Some important things to remember when you are using your hands to pose:
– Channel your inner ballerina! Keep your hands soft and gentle, create a nurturing touch with your baby.
– Tuck your thumbs in against your fingers, so your hands emphasise your bump, not distract from it.
– Remember to keep your fingers gently placed together and not spread out across your bump. We want to encourage a feel of gentle love and cradling, rather than what is known in the pregnancy photography industry as ‘claw hands’!
Tip Four – Camera Angle
One of the big advantages of using a mobile phone is that it is light and portable, so you can easily achieve all sorts of interesting angles.
One thing you need to remember with camera angles is the rule that whatever is closest to the camera will be the largest thing in frame. A common camera angle for the ever popular ‘selfie’ is an image taken from above the eye line, which means the head is dominant in the frame and the body is much smaller.
With maternity photography we actually want a part of the body (the bump) to be equally as dominant in the frame as the face. So, you need to lower that selfie angle to just below your eyeline. This ensures that your bump and you are the stars of the image!
In order to achieve a great angle you may need to ask someone to actually take the photo on your mobile phone for you.
Tip Five – Focus
On professional standard cameras we are able to select points within the frame for our cameras to focus on. We can tell our cameras what is important, what we need to be sharp and in focus and what we don’t. As a standard rule within all portrait photography, including pregnancy images, the focus should be on the eye closest to the camera for closer images or the face, if you are more distant.
Did you know that you could do the same with your mobile phone camera? Technological advances in mobile phone cameras mean that to a certain extent you can tell your mobile camera where you want it to focus by gently pressing on the spot on your screen. Some mobile cameras also allow you to adjust exposure as well, meaning you can make an image lighter or darker in camera.
This link from DP Review gives a great explanation on mobile phone focussing.
For this particular backlit image your mobile phone camera will try and make everything darker, because it will be seeing a lot of light coming in through the window. It will try and compensate for that by making everything darker, to preserve the detail in the lighter areas (highlights). For this image we actually want the lighter areas to be bright, so adjust your camera exposure upwards manually. You do this by holding your finger on the yellow sun symbol next to the focus square and move it upwards until your skin tone looks well lit and not dark and shadowy.
Then take your photo!
I hope these tips help you to capture this amazing time in your life. You may choose to use one or two of the tips and experiment for yourself, or you might follow them all. Either way, these tips will help you to take a better pregnancy photograph, in your home for you to remember this very special time in your life.
My studio will be reopen for photography sessions (studio and outdoors) as of the 12th April 2021 and I cannot wait to welcome all those wonderful parents to be, bumps, babies, children and families back.
I have missed you all!
If you want to book your photo shoot with me go to: