Since maternity photos are typically taken at 30-36 weeks, my guess is that there are a lot of pregnant mamas out there who are disappointed to cancel their maternity photo session. This is not fair at all, and I am so sorry. I was brainstorming ways for families to capture these moments without a professional photographer. Obviously, I would never recommend doing your own portraits INSTEAD of booking a photographer. But in this case, you really do not want to miss this VERY special time in life! ANY photos are better than no photos at all, remember that!
Taking your own photos is not easy. Before we even get started, I want to make sure you give yourself some grace with this. You are NOT going to like every single photo of yourself. Your body is changing daily, you are likely stressed, and neither you nor the person who is helping you is a pro photographer. So, take a LOT so that you can narrow down 10-15 that you like.
The following 10 tips will help you achieve photos you will like, at home:
1) Clean your equipment.
This is probably obvious, but select the newest phone/camera you own and clean the lens first.
Be gentle and take care not to scratch it. Use a tissue if you don't have microfiber cloth.
2) Have the person helping you (maybe your partner, roommate, etc.) stand on something.
Having your designated photographer stand at a higher angle to you. Nothing too drastic-- 6" to 1' is plenty. TOO steep looks very dated and is just too much. (We aren't trying to take a 90s hit single cover.) This will ensure that your angles are better. When you shoot down on someone, it is much more flattering.
3) Choose a more formal outfit.
This will elevate your photos, trust me. And it will give you a reason to put on your maternity dress that you love. I recommend flowy fabrics.
4) Go outside.
The lighting will be better. Avoid the times of day when the sun is the harshest (11am-3pm). The easiest way to make sure your photos are good is to find some shade, or wait to take photos until a cloudy day. Stand in the shade, and make sure that there is EVEN lighting on you from head to toe. Sometimes, tree branches or other things in the sky create shadows. You want to make sure you are evenly lit from head to toe.
5) Never squarely face the camera.
Side angles with one hand below the belly are easy. Try a few where you look down-- NOT directly at your belly, but a few feet in front of your belly to avoid double chins. Make sure to put your weight on the foot that is farthest away from your photographer. Have your helper make you laugh. Pro tip: take some walking shots! Walk away and towards the camera, looking to the left, right, and at the camera.
6) Avoid sitting shots (if you can stand).
Sitting poses are the hardest to accomplish, even for a professional. I would skip any sitting poses.
If you are in a wheelchair or otherwise need to sit, the above tip about your helper being at a higher angle is even more important. Have them stand, but crouch, to get a great angle of you. I would also recommend sitting up straight and putting one hand on the underside of your belly, and the other on top. Easy!
7) Explain composition to your helper.
You want to make sure that your photos are not taken from weird angles (those crooked horizon photos are very early 2000s yearbook photo. CRINGE!). Making sure that the horizon line is straight, and that there are no tree branches/random objects coming out of the back of your head, are two basic things to watch out for.
Pro tip: have your helper tap the screen where your face is so that the camera exposes for your face.
8) Easy way to shoot props:
If you have baby shoes, or a cute stuffed animal, that you'd like to use for this, here is a simple trick. Take a soft fuzzy or faux fur blanket and put it in window light or in the shade outside. Lay it down flat and place the baby shoes, baby books, etc. on the blanket, and use your phone/camera to take photos straight down. This is much easier than trying to take photos of your baby shoes on your belly (which is cute, but might look a little forced or predictable).
Pro tip: Take some shots of a toy you or your partner treasured as a kid, or your favorite stuffed animal that you've gotten for your baby.
9) Get a variety of focal lengths.
Ask your helper to take a variety of photos from a distance and then close up. This will make your album look much better than if all of the shots are from the same focal length.