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Montecito Maternity Session | Santa Barbara Maternity Photographer

Updated: Jun 22, 2022

5 Tips to help you plan a successful Maternity (or any) Photo Shoot


maternity photo session. close up of a pregnant woman and her husband caressing her baby bump.

As you prepare for your baby to enter into the world, your to-do list is probably a mile long. Having a professional maternity photo session may seem like just another weighty item to add to your list, but a maternity shoot is empowering and a perfect way to remind you of the beauty of your body during your pregnancy journey.


Read on for five of my best tips that will help ensure that you come to your maternity session refreshed, relaxed and ready to create beautiful photos!

maternity photo session. pregnant woman and her husband look into each others eyes as they walk along a path in a park.

When is the best time to do a maternity session?

You may well ask and its the first question I'm asked most often. Of course every mother-to-be is unique but the best time frame is in your third trimester, usually between 27 - 32 weeks. You'll have that lovely, beautiful baby bump but you're not quite at the hard to get comfortable and tired-as-heck stage.


While you can do your maternity session a bit later in your pregnancy, there’s a pretty good chance you will have more trouble posing and standing for long periods of time. And let’s not forget that some babies like to make an early debut! And yes, it has happened!


maternity photo session. pregnant woman and her husband pose in fron tof old stone building with blue distressed door.
Plan your session between 27- 32 weeks to reveal your baby bump beautifully and comfortably.

What to wear for your maternity session?

Think in terms of what will show off your baby belly the most. Flowing dresses with an empire waist, crop tops, tops or dresses that open-up paired with boy shorts or any two-piece outfits that bare your belly are all optimal choices.


Whatever you decide to wear, take time well before (at least a few weeks) your session to choose your outfits and make sure they fit and look the way you want them to look. It's a good idea to also have back-up wardrobe options that accommodate changes in your body shape as well as changes in the weather.


You should also pick out clothing for any other family members who will be part of the session and make sure to choose outfits that coordinate and don’t clash with your own.


Extra Tip: Of course, you want to look good in your photos, but comfort is just as important. Choose clothes made with stretchy fabrics; maxi dresses with an empire waist or short lacey dresses with a Boho vibe are great options. *Lukalula is an affordable on-line store with an abundance of fabulous styles and accessories to choose from, all designed especially for maternity photo shoots. I'm also a fan of *Pink Blush, they always have their finger on the pulse of up-to-date fashion trends, many you can still were post-baby.

pregnant woman sitting on a park bench, her husband is sitting next to her with his arms around her baby bump
Lacey tops that open up and stretchy fabrics are always good options for both comfort and style.

Pamper yourself

Hair and make-up are the obvious things to tend to when prepping for professional photographs but let’s not forget that your hands will appear in almost all of your images, so you want them looking fabulous! Your maternity session is the perfect excuse to pamper yourself a little with a professional manicure. You may also want to consider a pedicure if you plan to be barefoot or wear sandals.


close up of a pregnant woman caressing her bare belly
Well-cared for, manicured hands photograph beautifully

Get plenty of rest and stay hydrated

It may seem obvious, but making sure you get plenty of rest the night before your session and staying well hydrated really does go a long way to keeping you looking refreshed and at your best. While some things like blemishes are easily ‘fixed’ in the post production process, a fatigued and dehydrated look isn’t one of them. After all, there's actually a real reason it's called 'beauty sleep'. Check out this slideshow from WebMD to learn all about it!


In addition to drinking plenty of good ol' H2O, avoiding salty foods before your session will help minimize undesired and uncomfortable puffiness. Snacks and processed foods like pretzels and potato chips, crackers, tinned and frozen foods are obvious high sodium fare but be sure to check nutritional labels on other foods, you may be surprised at how much sodium is actually in items such as bread and sweets!


pregnant woman caressing her baby bump
Getting plenty of rest, staying well hydrated and avoiding salty snacks before your photo session will ensure that you look your best radiant and refreshed self for your photographs..

Plan a special date

My final quick tip is to make the most of this special time. Your body is at its most beautiful stage and you have taken the time to make sure your makeup and hair are perfect. So, go ahead and take advantage of this and plan a fun date or special outing after your session to celebrate the new life you are about to bring into the world.



Check out more photos below from this gorgeous maternity session with Heather and Shayne at Manning Park, Montecito California ...


Final thoughts

  • Schedule your session to take place between weeks 27 - 32 of your pregnancy

  • Finalize your wardrobe, hair, make-up and nails well before your session

  • Get plenty of rest the night before your session

  • Drink plenty of water and avoid salty foods before your session

  • Plan a fun date or special outing after your session

These are just a few of my go-to tips from my Maternity Session Prep Guide that comes with each session to help you come to your session refreshed, relaxed and ready to create some stunning maternity photos.


I hope you enjoyed these tips and photos from one of our recent maternity sessions. If you're expecting, I'd love to help you celebrate this beautiful time in your life with a maternity session. Contact me to learn more about booking a session.

COMING UP in the next blog post: Ventura Newborn Session (the sequel to this maternity session)

*I have no affiliation with the companies I've linked to in this article, I genuinely love what they offer and mention them solely for the convenience of my readers.


About the author

Laurie "LoLo" Spencer is a lifestyle and portrait photographer based in Southern California specializing in emotive photography for families, couples, maternity and newborns.




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