The Ultimate Maternity Photo Guide for 2023


Congratulations, mama-to-be! You’re embarking on a magical journey, one that’s sure to be filled with the wackiest of cravings, glowy skin (or not), and a newfound love for stretchy pants. But in all the excitement, don’t forget to capture these precious moments with gorgeous maternity photos.

You have a lifetime ahead to shower your love on the baby. Right now, let’s focus on pampering and treating yourself like the superstar you are! So, grab your pickles and ice cream, because we’ve got the scoop on how to rock the maternity photo game in 2023.

Table of contents

  1. Professional vs. DIY Maternity Photographer
  2. Choosing the Right Photographer
  3. Where to Look for Your Photographer
  4. When to Book Your Session
  5. How Long Does a Maternity Photoshoot Last
  6. How Much Do Maternity Photos Cost
  7. Retouching and Editing
  8. Hair and Makeup for Your Shoot
  9. Posing for Your Maternity Photoshoot
  10. Incorporating Your Husband, Kids and Pets
  11. Booking and Next Steps

Hiring a Pro Maternity Photographer vs. DIY

In this day and age, it’s so easy to find a YouTube video for anything. I’ve learned how to style my hair, do a gel manicure, and even rehab furniture, all from YouTube University. Honestly, I did my own maternity photoshoot when I was pregnant during the pandemic.

So as someone who has had professional maternity photos done with all the works and has DIY’d my own shoot, I think I’m uniquely qualified to say that I much preferred hiring a professional.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s definitely pros and cons to both!

nude maternity shoot with pure white background
maternity photo Deja 27

Pros & Cons of DIY Maternity Photography

When going the DIY route, I loved the intimacy of having my shoot in my own home alone. As a shy person, I was able to try looks that I may have been uncomfortable with in front of someone else and just have fun with it! It was exhausting running back and forth to my camera though, and since I don’t have a Pinterest-worthy house, I was really limited in the ideas I could try.


  • Completely private and intimate environment
  • All the time in the world
  • Freedom to be creative and try new ideas (outfits, makeup, poses, you name it)
  • Budget friendly!


  • Time consuming (especially if you’re a perfectionist)
  • DIY can be exhausting since you’re doing everything (taking photos, makeup, hair, outfits, lighting, etc.)
  • Limited to your home/yard
  • Limited equipment (camera, lights, props, etc.)
  • No Editing/Touch Ups

Pros & Cons of Hiring a Professional

Hiring a professional allowed me to just sit back and be pampered. She posed me, provided hair and makeup, and also provided all of the clothing and accessories. I felt so relaxed and still use those photos to this day!


  • You can relax and enjoy the experience!
  • No need to worry about posing
  • Creative environment with clothing and props
  • Pro hair and makeup is often available (typically involves an upcharge)
  • All equipment is included and taken care of
  • Editing and touch ups included


  • More expensive than DIY
  • Less intimate environment (This really depends on the photographer which is why it’s important to find someone you trust and can be truly comfortable around)
maternity photo Kathleen 38

Choosing the Best Maternity Photographer for You

Since for most people getting maternity pictures is kind of a one-and-done type of situation, you really want to make sure that the photographer you choose can deliver photos that match your personality and style.

Some things to look out for are:

Portfolio – It’s so important to thoroughly look through their portfolio to make sure their style matches what you’re looking for. Check their Instagram and website to make sure you’re in love with their work.

You also want to look for a decent-sized portfolio that shows they’re experienced and maybe even specialize in the type of photos you’re looking for. Don’t choose a light and airy photographer and then expect your photos to look like an editorial Vogue shoot and vice versa.

Reviews – I can’t stress enough that a really great thing to look at is a photographer’s reviews. Just like any other service, check out sources like Google or Yelp instead of the reviews on their website to see verified reviews from past customers on the experience, their comfort level, and even photos from their photoshoot. Sometimes past clients can answer questions you never even thought to ask!

Pricing – Lastly, consider pricing, as it can significantly differ among photographers. I always like to say buy it right the first time, to avoid buying it again later or regretting a purchase. You want to find a photographer who is the best balance between your budget and the quality of work you’re looking for. A super cheap photographer often has the work/experience to show for it and also every high-end photographer isn’t always worth the price tag.

maternity photo Deja 17

Where Should I Look For A Photographer?

Like any service, it can be really hard to research and find the best person for the job. Just ask me how long it took me to find someone to paint my house…The good thing is through trial and error I now have some great recommendations on how to find just what you’re looking for!

Facebook Groups – I promise Facebook can be used for more than First Day of School Pictures and catty arguments. Facebook groups have helped me find my kid’s dentist, the midwives who delivered my VBAC, and countless other things. I’d recommend joining mom groups near you (i.e. Chicago Moms, Atlanta Moms, you get the idea.) and asking if they have any photographers they would recommend and to post photos from their sessions.

Google – It’s the #1 search engine in the world for a reason! Looking up “maternity photographers near me” or “(city) best maternity photographer” usually brings up plenty of photographers to choose from.

Pinterest – As the surprise feature on the list, Pinterest is actually a really great way to find photographers and see their work! It’s essentially an image-based search engine and looking up the major city near you and maternity photographer should give you plenty of options to choose from.

When to Book Your Maternity Shoot

The best time to book your maternity photos is honestly as early as possible since some popular photographers may take limited clients and book out months in advance.

As far as scheduling your photoshoot, I always recommend between 28-34 weeks. Usually, if you schedule your session before 28 weeks you may not have that adorable baby bump to show off. If you schedule after 34 weeks you may not have the energy to power through a full session. Also, things like sciatic pain, Braxton Hicks, and all the other aches and pains could make their debut, not to mention overachieving babies who like to make an early appearance!

maternity photo Christina 3

How Long Does A Maternity Shoot Last?

Studio maternity sessions with me typically last 1-3 hours and can go longer if hair and makeup services are required. It can vary wildly between photographers though and I have even seen maternity mini-sessions offered with 15-30 minute time slots. I always like to have at least two hours of shooting time blocked off for all the pee breaks and outfit changes we may need to fit in!

How Much Do Maternity Photos Cost?

Whew…this is a hard one to answer. Not to sound like a broken record but (say it with me…) it varies. I’ve seen pricing from $200 to $3500. There are photographers who follow the in-person sales pricing model and other photographers (like me) who offer an all-inclusive pricing model.

Usually, all-inclusive pricing is more upfront and you’ll know what you’re paying in advance.

In-person sales are set up to where you pay a session fee and then choose the package or images you’d like to purchase once your session is over and the photos are in front of you.

Neither is better than the other in my opinion, they’re just different and once again something you should keep in mind when booking a photographer.

maternity photo Kathleen 21
maternity photo Autumn

Will My Photos Be Retouched?

Most photographers retouch their client’s images with some paying more attention to detail which is usually reflected in their pricing. There are varying levels of retouching pregnant moms may be comfortable with and it’s very important to communicate that with your photographer.

I’ve had many clients who would prefer to remember their stretch marks and birthmarks and I’ve had other clients who would like them removed.

What Should My Hair & Makeup Look Like?

For studio sessions, I recommend nice glowy skin with bronze-colored eyeshadow and nude lips. Unless the looks we’re doing require a bold makeup look, I find that a nice bronzy face is fairly neutral and goes with most outfits.

As far as hair, I’m a huge fan of what I call “your hair but better”. Let’s say your go-to style is a ponytail. I say let’s add some extensions and add some waves and volume! Love braids? Let’s experiment with length and updos. I’m a fan of glam portraits, but no one style of hair is the only way to execute that.

For outdoor photoshoots, obviously, weather is a huge concern, between rain, heat, snow, and wind. This is why I’m a huge advocate for natural-looking hair and makeup. I want to feel like I’m getting a chance to peek in on an intimate moment during your pregnancy. From windswept beach waves or a perfectly coiffed afro, it’s all about living in the moment.

maternity photo Kathleen 27
maternity photoshoot oversized white dress shirt on black background

Posing for Your Maternity Photoshoot

Posing is a common concern before a shoot and there’s no need to worry. That’s what your photographer is here for! Our job is to bring out the best in you, and a huge part of that is trust. I promise some of the wackiest feeling poses turn out to be client favorites! I will say that if a pose is genuinely painful or uncomfortable, let your photographer know immediately, take a rest, and move on to the next pose.

Can I Involve My Husband, Children, Pets, Etc.?

You absolutely can involve husbands and children, in fact, many photographers prefer it! Usually the more people in the photos the more diverse the options are for the clients.

There are some things we like to do to make sessions involving kids go as smoothly as possible: I like to start the maternity session with the family photos so that we can make the most of the time when everybody is fresh and in good spirits. From that point, we’ll play it by ear. If we can get lots of shots then great! If not, then I usually ask Dad or a support person to take the kiddos for ice cream or time in the park as a reward for a job well done!

If you are looking for some inspiration on how to incorporate your husband, take a look at these couples maternity photo ideas.

Pets may be a little more tricky with studio sessions for insurance, safety, and allergy reasons. Be sure to find a photographer who is comfortable with pets before booking your shoot so your furry family members can be included.

maternity photo Kathleen 6 1

The Next Steps to Booking Your Maternity Photoshoot

Now that you’re armed with all the information you need to have a successful maternity photoshoot, let’s get you all set with the session of your dreams! It’s time to capture those precious baby bump moments and have a blast while doing it.

Step one: Resist the urge to eat all the pickles and ice cream in one sitting (we know, it’s tough!).

Step two: Grab your calendar and pick a date between 28-34 weeks when your belly is perfectly perky and ready for its close-up.

Step three: Reach out to us – your soon-to-be-favorite maternity session dream team. We’ll chat about your vision, and what the perfect session looks like for you.

Step four: Get ready to laugh, twirl, and strike a pose. I can’t wait to capture your gorgeous glow and beautiful pregnancy journey!

maternity photo Black Editorial and Aesthetic Pinterest Pin