April 17, 2012

DIY Maternity Photography – The Classic Bump Shot

At this point I’m almost seven months pregnant! I’ve been taking sporadic photos of myself starting at around 17 weeks (I didn’t really feel up to it prior, and my bump, while existent was not obviously a baby.) I love the idea of a maternity photo shoot, but it is one more expense that I just can’t justify right now. I consider myself a budding photographer, so I thought I would try my hand at some classic maternity bump shots. I figure if I love them, I’ve saved myself some money, and if not, I can always do professional maternity photos later.


One of my favorite maternity photos

Through trial and error – both playing with the camera, tripod and remote, and giving the camera to Domingo and insisting he practice before the baby comes – I think I’ve gotten a few good ones. Here are a few tips that I’ve learned along the way.

First, some general photography tips

  • Take photos frequently throughout your pregnancy (or at least as frequently as you can.) Don’t worry about having a once a week photo to chronicle your pregnancy journey, or whether you’re looking your best and well rested. I felt really guilty at first since I didn’t have weekly photos, and the guilt made me even less likely to pick of the camera.
    You may not love the way you look now, but at some point down the line you’ll be happy to have them. This happens to me all the time. I’m such a perfectionist that I’ll take 50 photos and hate them all because my hair is slightly out of place, or my shirt isn’t straight, or it’s cropped a different way than I want. A few weeks later, when you’re bigger and look even less rested and you’re suddenly glad you have them, messy hair and all. You don’t have to share the ones you don’t like, save them for YOU.

  • Take lots of photos every time you pick up the camera. Every photographer on every shot will have some excellent shots and some stinkers. The more you take, the more likely you are to have some were every aspect, from lighting to smile, lines up perfectly.

  • Don’t overlook the stinkers either. Sometimes weird angles, or accidently cropped photos can have a nice artistic effect. In fact, now is the perfect time to play with different angles and cropping. You never know when you will strike gold, and memory cards can hold an awful lot of photos.


    Happy Accident: Unintentionally crop

Tips specifically for maternity

  • Face the light source, so the light is on the bump. Whatever is light will be the focus of attention. If you’re like me, you want that to be the front – baby bump, boobs and face. We don’t need people focusing on my derriere! I like to shoot in the middle of the day, when there’s the most natural light possible, and supplement the natural light with an artificial light source if need be.


    Another Happy Accident: Unintentionally exposure that emphasizing the light source (and also an unintentional crop)
  • Have the camera pointed at your profile rather than your front for a more flattering angle that emphasizes the bump. A 3/4s turn where you’re not quite profile but not facing the camera either also works nicely. It also helps to bend the knees slightly rather than have a straight leg. A bent knee emphasizes curves and can help mask extra lbs.
  • Don’t look at the bump, look about six inches in front of it, especially if you’re not sticking out too much yet. Another good strategy when looking down is to give three quarters face rather than look straight at the camera. Looking down while facing the camera makes your nose and forehead prominent.


    In this one Domingo is looking at my bump and I’m looking a few inches in front of it. I’m also turned three quarters while Domingo is closer to facing the camera. I think it’s a more flattering angle on my face then his. If you look very closely, you can tell I’m not looking at the bump. I just wish my hips were turned a little more so my butt doesn’t look so big.
  • Pick a top that’s at least a little form fitting. The shirt in the above photo wasn’t very form fitting and hangs off my chest, hiding the shape of the bump. In a couple of the photos (like the one to the right), my bump is completely absent from the photo. It’s not so bad in the above photo with the placement of Domingo’s hand on the top of the bump to reveal its shape. But if you compare that photo to the ones with the light pink tank top (or the other photos from other posts) you’ll find the more form fitting ones a bit more flattering.
  • It helps if you stand in front of a simple surface like a blank wall. If I was more serious about this, I would get a backdrop. I plan on getting one before the baby comes so I can do newborn photography, but these days I’m just a little too busy with other chores. For now it’s not too big of a deal, it’s easy enough to edit out the background.


    Left is the original photo, right has the background edited out with a slight filter to look like a vignette. It’s not perfect. You can tell the wall has been digitally removed (the strands of hair are the giveaway.)

I really do own more than 2 maternity tops. I promise.

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