Are you expecting a little bundle of joy? Are you planning on having a professional maternity portrait session to highlight this special time in your life?

More and more moms are realizing the allure of having photographs taken by a professional photographer while pregnant.  Gone are the days of pregnancy being related to looking and feeling inadequate. Now, up-coming motherhood is viewed as empowering and beautiful. Capturing this beauty is a must. If you think about it, becoming a mom happens so rarely compared to other important life changing events.  

There are important things you will need to plan and prepare for to ensure a successful maternity portrait session. In this guide, whether this is your first time or you have previously hired a professional maternity photographer, the following six steps will guide you through preparing for this special photography experience.

Maternity Session Portrait


1. When to Schedule Your Maternity Session

Book Your Session Early
The first step in preparing for your maternity session is actually hiring the right photographer and scheduling your maternity session. Most of my clients book around 12 weeks to 16 weeks gestation or about the time they are finding out the sex of the baby. While scheduling a maternity portrait session is not as difficult or time sensitive as it is for newborn sessions, booking ahead will help ensure availability during the best time frame for showing off your pregnancy.

28 – 32 Weeks Works Best
Plan to have your maternity portrait session scheduled when you are 28 – 32 weeks along. You will be just the right size for me to show off your cute little bump  while you can still move easily and comfortably enough for flattering poses.  I can still photograph later, however, you may start to show signs of swelling and flushing or may not be as comfortable standing for long periods after 32 weeks. 

White Clock

2. Before Your Maternity Session, Be Sure To Do This

Let Me Know If You Would Like Any Nude, Partial Nude or Implied Nude Images Taken
With professional high-fashion maternity shoots the goal is to show off how beautiful your body is right now; however, not every new mom-to-be is comfortable undressing completely for certain images. It is important you discuss what your preference is with me before the session. If you get to my studio and happen to change your mind, no worries! I want you to feel completely at ease in front of the camera.

Additionally, if you have any physical concerns such as scars, moles, tattoos or other skin concerns, discuss this with me before your appointment so I will know how to pose to address your concerns.

Have Your Fingernails Professionally Manicured or Tipped
Your hands will be in every image so we want them looking fabulous!

Manicured Fingernails

Style Your Hair in a Way That Most Reflects the Style Of Image You Are Trying to Achieve
If your images are more casual, for instance, wear your hair less styled and more loosely done. If your session is scheduled to be dramatic, have a dramatic style and so forth. Makeup should also follow these guidelines.

Apply Your Makeup Specifically for Photography
If you are applying your own makeup, remember that makeup shows up differently on camera. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Ensure your skin is healthy, hydrated and apply a good primer for makeup.
  • Avoid shimmer and sheen style makeup. They will appear very shiny on camera. Always opt for matte.
  • The camera can diminish features you would normally try to accent like your lips or eyes. So be bolder when applying makeup to those areas. For example, if you normally use brown liner or mascara, maybe use a shade of black this time. Keep it balanced and be careful not to overdo one specific area.
  • Oil-Blotting Wipes can be your best friend for removing excess shine. Be sure to bring some with you.

Make Up Artist Palette

Treat Yourself…Hire a Stylist!
If you are able to, go ahead and hire your own stylist and/or makeup artist to do your hair and makeup for you. Be sure they are trained and familiar with applying makeup specifically for photography purposes. I work with several stylists regularly and can refer you or you can get your hair and makeup done in my studio the morning before your session at an additional minimal cost.  Make it even more fun and have them add a few temporary extensions in your hair.  Yes!  Go all out! It’s a fun day.

Get As Much Rest as Possible the Evening Before
Some of you may be thinking “yeah right…fat chance”. I totally get that this can be hard depending on your daily routine. But if you are able to, getting as much rest as possible the evening before can really help you come to the session refreshed, relaxed and ready to create some stunning maternity images.

White Sheets on an Unmade Bed

Eat and Drink!
Staying hydrated during your session is important.  Drink water all morning and eat light snacks frequently to keep your energy up and your skin supple.  I know you will have to go to the ladies room a little more during your session, which is completely ok! I keep refrigerated water on hand for you and snacks, just in case you are too busy or overwhelmed getting ready, but please eat breakfast.

Strawberry in Water

3. What To Bring With You

Family Members are Welcome
Family members such as your spouse, children are welcome.  Please avoid friends and extended family during your maternity session.

Special Items are Great to Include
Special items such as ultrasounds, jewelry, heirlooms or other nostalgic items create a sense of your family identity and are a great prop to include in your session. Watches are discouraged unless they have special meaning and need to be included.

4. What To Wear

I do have a limited maternity gown collection at my studio, but you may want to have something you have chosen for yourself in styles and colors of your own choosing. If you would like to take a look at current gown styles, check out the following preferred vendors:

Sew Trendy Accessories

Mi Estilo


I have relationships with many vendors and may have current discount codes for you to use. If the gown is one I would love to add to my collection, I may make you an offer to purchase your gown after the session. These gowns are great to wear to your showers or special occasions, too.

Bring Stretchy Fabric Clothing
You will have several clothing changes during your session. At my studio, I will provide some gowns, wraps and drapes, but you will probably want to bring stretchy fabrics such as yoga pants, leggings, bandeau bras and tank or tube top styled shirts (black or white at least, more colors even better), loose flowing dresses, maxi dresses, sweaters, or pullover shirts, etc. Throw your whole drawer of sexy undies and bras into your bag or grab a hand full of lingerie from your closet, too! This could be a nice excuse to visit Victoria’s Secret for an update to your drawers (your chest of drawers that is).

Black, white, neutral and rich colors are best.
Stay away from patterns or fabrics with too many colors or are too busy as they will take the focus off of you. Use your best judgement, but keep it simple and fun, or smooth, classic to evoke the purity of innocent new life.

For Maternity Images With Family Members
Your outfits should be coordinated as much as possible, but not matchy-matchy.  Have dad-to-be bring white, gray and black outfits in a mixture of casual or dressy.  Jeans, slacks and khakis work as well as black and white t-shirts. Everything should be fairly new with no pilling or rips and be ironed. Use a lint brush to quickly roll over any clothing last minute.

Bonus Tip For Nude Or Partially Nude Images
If your session includes nude or partially nude images, please have undergarments such as lacy undies and/or bras available.

Maternity Session Portrait


5. What To Do On The Day Of Your Maternity Portrait Session

Eat a Light Snack and Drink Water before the Session
This will keep you energized, hydrated and your skin supple.

Apply Non-Greasy Lotions about Two Hours Before the Session
Apply non-greasy lotions about two hours before the session to reduce the appearance of uneven dry spots or other skin problems. Please to not use artificial tanning lotions or have a spray tan prior to the session. If you have recently used a tanning lotion or still have a spray tan, please allow fading for three weeks before the scheduled session.

Remove any Elastic clothing at Least One Hour Before Session
Remove any elastic clothing, bracelets or socks which may leave elastic marks at least one hour prior to your session so your skin will be naturally smooth. Don’t forget to remove those rubber bands from your wrists.

Plan For Siblings to Leave the Studio After Their Images are Completed
The real focus is on you and your growing little bump.  If you choose, there will be images with dad-to-be and any siblings, but this is not a family session.  It is a completely different style so only a few images with others will be in the final results. If siblings are included, I recommend to focus on these images first and then have dad or grandparents leave with them for a fun little play date while we finish the rest of your session. The Richland County Library, State House, Marble Slab Creamery, Edventure and a variety of other kids friendly places are just blocks from my studio.

If you are Running Late on the Day of your Session … No Worries!
If you are running late on the day of your session, don’t fret! If you get stressed over a few minutes, tension will show through in your images. I would rather you be a few minutes late than stiff, uneasy or unable to relax. Please do keep in mind however, that if you are more than 30 minutes late, we may want to reconsider another day so it is easier on you and will not conflict with other appointments. I do not want to rush you through a session either.

city lights at night

6. Plan A Date! You Deserve It!

My final tip is to make the most of this special day and time. Your body is at its most beautiful stage. You have taken the time to make sure your hair and makeup are perfect. You have just had an amazingly wonderful maternity portrait session with Fine Art Newborns! So go ahead and take advantage and plan a fun date or outing to celebrate the new life which will be here in a few short months!

There you have it! My six steps on preparing for the best maternity photography experience. If you are also planning to have professional newborn images done, don’t miss my article on How To Prepare For A Newborn Portrait Session.

That’s It!

Now that you know how to prepare for your Maternity Portrait Session, if you are expecting and have not booked your newborn or maternity photographer yet, I would love to hear from you.

Fine Art Newborns is a professional photography studio located in downtown Columbia SC on Assembly Street right across from the State House. I offer Newborn Sessions, Maternity Sessions and Fresh 48’s.

I serve the Columbia, Lexington, Chapin, Sumter and Blythewood, South Carolina areas primarily, but often have clients from Charleston, Greenville, Charlotte and several surrounding states. 

Book your session now by visiting my BOOK NOW PAGE to reserve your date! Please call me at 803.530.9767 if you have questions or would like more information.