How to Do an Outdoor Maternity Photoshoot

How to Do an Outdoor Maternity Photoshoot

Maternity photos are not always easy to get right. In particular, when shooting outdoors, you may encounter several obstacles that may surprise you. However, if you can handle them, you’ll be rewarded with fabulous results. Combining maternity photos with the beauty of the outdoors is natural and worth the extra trouble. Read our tips for getting started and take advantage of this beautiful combination.

You only need a few things for your outdoor maternity photoshoot:  

  • Longer lens
  • Reflector
  • Comfortable shoes

You’ll need a longer lens (lens with a longer focal length) because traditional portrait photography is best shot on 85mm or 50mm lenses. There is plenty of space outdoors to make the most of these longer focal lengths.

A reflector comes in handy because outdoor photography is best shot during the golden hour and a reflector is generally recommended for golden hour photography. 

Pack a pair of comfortable shoes because the great outdoors is filled with branches and pine needles and you don’t want to make your model move around too much. After all, she’s pregnant. The photographer should be the one doing all the running around.  

Outdoor Maternity Photoshoot
There is plenty of space outdoors to make the most of a very long lens. Nikon D750, Nikkor 105mm f/2.8, 1/3200s, f/2.8, ISO 100, focal length 105mm

Prepare your model 

It’s important to decide whether the photoshoot will be of the mom-to-be only, or include the partner as well. The photoshoot also depends on what style you agree on and what the weather is like. Couples photography is most often taken in normal clothing based on the current weather. Don’t force your model to wear light, flowing dresses in the winter unless they come up with the idea on their own. You don’t want to risk her getting sick.

If the mom-to-be is alone, you can take a more stylistic approach to the photoshoot. You can include a flowing dress, a crown, wreath, and other props. 

Outdoor Maternity Photoshoot
A flowing dress with a wreath transforms the model into a goddess. Nikon Z6II, Nikon 50mm f/1.4 AF-S NIKKOR G, 1/160s, f/2.8, ISO 400, focal length 50mm

Of course, you can also include the model’s older children in the photoshoot. Have them wear similar colors to mom, or at least colors that don’t clash.  

Before you head out, be sure to plan the route to the photo location. This way, the model doesn’t need to spend too much time getting there. She should also be wearing comfortable shoes which she can always change out of for the shoot. 

What to look out for

As already mentioned, make sure the photo location is well accessible. The model shouldn’t have to walk far or uphill, especially in extreme cold or heat. Keep in mind that a pregnant woman may get tired easily, feel nauseous, need to stop to catch her breath, and might need to use the bathroom often. All of this should be kept in mind. The photoshoot should take no more than two hours.  

Also, remember that some pregnant women suffer from swollen ankles. This can be concealed using longer dresses or by shooting in tall grass. Be sure to ask about any allergies. You don’t want to make a model with allergies stand under blooming trees in the spring.

Outdoor Maternity Photoshoot
It’s best to do maternity photos with the partner so the model has someone to lean on. The partner can also help carry things.  Nikon Z6II, Nikon 50mm f/1.4 AF-S NIKKOR G, 1/100s, f/2.2, ISO 100, focal length 50mm

Use nature’s full potential

Nature is beautiful so don’t be afraid to use it to its full potential. For instance, the golden hour offers the best lighting. Try taking your model‘s silhouette against the setting sun. Be sure to shoot in RAW so you can play around with the photo later.

Outdoor Maternity Photoshoot
Here’s a non-maternity photo that demonstrates the silhouette we have in mind. Nikon D750, Nikkor 105mm f/2.8, 1/4000s, f/2.8, ISO 100, focal length 105mm

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TIP: Take advantage of what each season offers. Flowers in spring. Fields of grain or water in summer. Colorful trees in autumn or snow in winter.  

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Include pets

If you and the mom-to-be agree, feel free to include animals. For example, you can include the family’s pet dog. Or, you can make arrangements with animal handlers and include less common animals, such as less common dog breeds, exotic birds, or even foxes. See if there is an animal handler in the area that offers these types of services. 

You can get beautiful photos if you have your model pose on the grass or among ivy. We definitely recommend making use of sunflower, poppy, or other fields in season. You can also try putting the mom-to-be in the water if she likes water. There are insects around rivers in the summer, but they shine beautifully at sunset. In this case, bring insect repellant, and be sure to check for ticks!  

Also, try to get a close-up of the baby bump. Have your model hold a freshly-picked flower over her baby bump. Or, try taking different shots through flowers and bushes to frame the picture nicely. 

Outdoor Maternity Photoshoot
Baby bump close up with flowers. Nikon D750, Nikon 50mm f/1.4 AF-S NIKKOR G, 1/1600s, f/3.2, ISO 100, focal length 50mm

Communicating with your model 

Just like with any other model, make sure you treat her with empathy, are honest, and don’t force her to do anything she doesn’t want to do. Some women feel overly sensitive during pregnancy and it can be easy to make them cry. It’s not their fault, it’s natural. So be respectful. Be sensitive to your model’s needs and the photoshoot will go well.  

Outdoor Maternity Photoshoot
Your model must feel comfortable and trust you.  Nikon D750, Nikkor 105mm f/2.8, 1/4000s, f/2.8, ISO 100, focal length 105mm

In closing

Maternity photoshoots take advanced planning and consideration, especially if you are shooting outdoors. You should be prepared for the unexpected. When you are outdoors, don’t be afraid to use nature to its full potential. Work quickly and be creative. Don’t be afraid to prepare some ideas for poses. You can even gather inspiration from other maternity photos, but don’t copy them. Work with the light and natural surroundings and your results are sure to be spectacular. 

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