Many women or couples want to capture this special time in their lives. There are many reasons why someone might want these kinds of shots including wanting to document their pregnant bodies, or to simply capture the joy and excitement for their baby's arrival.
Since mothers-to-be are typically pretty uncomfortable at this stage in the game, there's some extra things that the photographer should keep in mind when planning and executing a maternity shoot.
First, meet with your client in person before the scheduled shoot if possible. It's a great idea to look at your work together to determine the clients likes and dislikes. Going over your process with the client also helps to prepare them for what they can expect during your shoot. Plus, the better they know you, the more comfortable they will be.
In the pre-shoot consult, be sure to also discuss what types of maternity photos they are interested in. Do they want solo shots or shots with their partner? Do they want nursery shots, studio shots, or outdoor shots? Do they want to be shown in their normal clothing, or do some boudoir or nude maternity shots? Do they have a specific prop that might have sentimental value that they want in one of their photos? And if they have other children or pets, do they want them involved in some of the photos as well?
Get to know a little about your client such as their interests, their comfort levels and boundaries, and any information about their baby that may be helpful. Knowing their comfort level is especially important when getting into maternity boudoir photography.
Find out when the expectant mother is due, how they've been feeling, and any health restrictions that could impact the shoot (for example, being on bed rest).
Along with their due date, consider when to schedule the maternity shoot. You don't want the belly to be too small, but you also don't want to wait until the last minute. The best times to schedule a shoot are between the 7th and 8th month time frame. It's best to avoid the 9th month, since the baby could come early. Pregnant woman also feel much better around 7-8 months about their bodies, skin, moving around, and the clothing options that they can fit into.
Schedule plenty of time for a shoot, since this is most likely a time when you can't go back and re-shoot, and it may take a little longer than normal due to restroom breaks, or the extra time it takes to move into comfortable positions.
A great tip to offer the mother-to-be before shooting day is to wear loose clothing before the shoot to avoid imprinted marks on the skin.
If they are feeling especially self conscious, then having them get their makeup and hair professionally done may help them to feel more confident. Having recommendations on hand for them if they ask is never a bad idea.
Make sure your location is as comfortable as possible for your client. This mainly pertains to studio locations, and may include things such as temperature, cleanliness, and spaces to get ready and sit down. Adding some of the clients favorite music can also help to loosen them up. Of course, a great maternity location to consider is the clients own home.
Reassure the client that they are doing a good job and how beautiful they look. This helps to build their confidence in a time when sensitivity goes an extra long way.
If your client has reserves about any visible imperfections on the body, let them know that you can easily hide or retouch areas of concern if they prefer.
Keep in mind that flexibility and being prepared for anything is important. The client may think that they want a certain type of shot (for example, a boudoir or nude maternity shot), but then in the moment might change their mind, or vice versa and decide that they do want something that they thought they didn't want.
Take a variety of images including both the small details and the bigger picture. Don't just focus on the belly, but be sure to capture the emotions of the client as well.
Finally, get creative with your concepts! Everyone has seen the hands in a heart on belly a million times. If this is what your client wants and you're willing to do it, then so be it. But if they aren't sure what they want or want something different, then it's your job to come up with something unique.