Photography is about controlling and modifying light so that it does what the photographer wants it to do. Location shoots generally take place during what we call Golden Hour (dawn or dusk) because the light is very soft, even and flattering to most people.
Light can be controlled in both location and studio settings. You will want to know if your photographer uses natural light or studio lights. Your photographer should be able to tell you the kind of light they prefer to work with and the ways they like to modify it (if at all). When you meet your photographer, (and you have to meet them in advance) you can talk about lighting for your face and body type and your personality. If may be that you actually prefer a harsher light, depending on what it is you want to accomplish with your images. Light is everything. Be sure you have some idea what kind of lighting suits you best and that you like. A good photographer will spend time with you discussing their style of lighting.
KEEP IN MIND: Light is usually more controllable in studio. Natural light is affected by time pressure (Golden Hour only last so long), weather and terrain.
TIP: Images that have light coming from behind the subject (back lit) are favorites. Golden Hour is a great way to get that look with natural light.
Just as important as lighting is what you are going to wear. One advantage of a studio shoot can be being able to change outfits a couple times or more. Of course, you can change clothes on location too, but you will need your photographer to have changing tent, or have your partner hold a towel up for you. Many women like the idea of wearing a maternity gown. There is no doubt that these photograph beautifully and accentuate baby bumps flawlessly. Be aware that maternity gowns can take some time to get or rent. It is good to order your gown or gown rental 4-6 weeks in advance of your shoot. You should also ask yourself if you want a nude or partially nude image of yourself. Of course, these are done tastefully. You may think you do not want such an image, but I can tell you that many women are so glad they did do it, even if only they ever see the image. Your body is beautiful in a way it may never be again.
Think about outfits that really express your personality. Gowns are beautiful and should be part of a maternity shoot. But what else suits you? Jeans? Leather? Corporate? Artistic? Athletic? These should be incorporated into your shoot as well.
Finally, do not forget your partner. Be sure to include him in your planning and make sure he is comfortable wearing what is planned. If he is not OK with the wardrobe (or lack thereof), images will show that he feels strange and awkward. Not the look you want for you maternity images.
KEEP IN MIND: Changing wardrobe is simple in-studio but may be limited, challenging or not possible on location.
TIP: Many people find the privacy of a studio appealing given the intimacy of many kinds of poses for maternity shoots, and the several wardrobe changes.
I have found that most people know they want maternity pictures, but they are not exactly sure why. That may seem unbelievable. Isn't it obvious why anyone would want maternity photos? In some ways, yes. But think in more detail about the story you want to tell. These images will probably be the first professional images of the 2 or 3 of you together. If you could imagine showing your images to your child in 15 or 20 years, what feeling or story would you want there to be? Do you want to document just how you looked? How he looked? The love and expectation between you two? Are you going to include a gender reveal sequence too? Are you looking for a glam-type feel? Do you want to show strength? Anticipation? Are you wanting to have an image that will be in your family for generations? What do you want others, like your mother or father, to see images of you at this time. These are are important things to think about. Your photographer will be there to help you answer these questions. This kind of detailed planning is part of a portrait photographer's job.
KEEP IN MIND: Location shoots generally have a lot of location in them. That is the reason to be on location. Usually, the subject appears relatively small with the location taking up most or a lot of the image. In general, studio shoots can focus much more on the subject getting great detail shots. You must decide which is best for the story you want to tell. Your photographer will be able to help you.
TIP: If you want something like a milk bath, or flour throw shoot, a studio may be your only option. Be sure to ask your photographer about these choices.
Whether you choose location or studio images, it is important to get clear on what your priorities are. If you have a certain image in mind that is meaningful to you, be sure to tell your photographer that so it can be a main priority of the shoot. Sessions, especially location sessions, are often pressured for time (Golden Hour only lasts a short time).
KEEP IN MIND: What are you planning to do with these images? Display? Gift? Album? Do you want special image for your baby shower?
TIP: Always meet and interview your photographer in person. The only way a fine-art photographer can get representative images of you is if you meet and and talk.
ABOUT KATIE: Photography is my second career. I was a special education teacher for 20 years before this. My goal as your photographer is to help you make good choices. Maybe you have seen a lot of images on pinterest and you are thinking "Wow, that is an awesome photo". It probably is. But is it the best image for you? Does it suit your personality? Your features? Does it help tell the personal story that you want to tell with your maternity portrait session? These are the questions you want to talk about with your photographer, whether it is me, or another.
During studio shoots, I tend to be very thorough in getting various images with different clothing and tableaus
so that moms and dads-to-be are captured in an honest and authentic way. I guide clients carefully through
posing and lighting, making sure they look their best at all times.