While trying to figure out what to wear for family photos can be hard, trying to figure out what to wear for maternity photos might be next to impossible! Maternity sessions are typically scheduled three to four months ahead of time, so knowing what the weather might be like, or what size your belly will be....it can feel overwhelming. But with several years of maternity photography experience, I'm here to help!
Maternity photo are for you. They're a reminder that, no matter how hard the last 6-8 months have been, you are a rockstar. Full stop. I mean, you're growing a human being! How crazy is that?!
But having been there, I know there are days you don't feel like a rockstar. The days where it's hard to get out of bed, and nothing fits (like literally, not even your shoes).
Maternity photos are a third trimester pick-me-up. A quick couple hours to remind yourself that you are a badass, you are rocking this thing called life, and dang, you look good doing it. My job is to make you feel and look absolutely stunning, no matter how you feel!
Maternity photo style options
If you look at Pinterest/Instagram/Google, you will quickly realize there are several options for styling a maternity photo session.
1) Form-fitting, body conscious maternity dresses.
Tend to be fitted through the arms, bust, belly, and upper legs. Often made from jersey or stretchy lace material. Depending on the fabric, it can be somewhat unforgiving on bumps and undergarment lines, so you may want to put extra thought into undergarments with this style.
My maternity clients have great luck finding this type of dress at Amazon.
2) Empire-style maternity dresses.
Fitted through the bust to the top of the belly, then loose. One of the most flattering styles, IMO. Can be sleeved or sleeveless, and comes in a ton of different fabrics.
One of my favorite retailers for loose fitting maternity dresses is Baltic Born.
3) Sheath maternity dress.
Similar to the form fitting dress, except above-the-knee length and fitted throughout the body.
My clients tend to find these dresses at Amazon, Target, and Old Navy.
4) Boho or prairie maternity dress.
Not fitted in bust or belly, often patterned. Beautiful for mountain sessions! Avoid stiff cotton fabrics, and look for something with some drape.
Boho and prairie dresses can be found at Baltic Born and Amazon.
4) Jeans/pants and shirt.
While not my preference for photos (see below), this is always an option! You'll want to pick a shirt/jacket/cardigan combo that doesn't hide the belly. (We had to reschedule this session by a couple weeks for the 2021 Blizzard, so this client is 38 weeks pregnant!)
Why should you wear a dress for your maternity photos?
I am the last person who should be telling other people to wear a dress, but dresses are just SO beautiful in photos! They add texture, movement, and just the tiniest bit (or a lot) of drama. Bonus: they tend to be the most flattering style for maternity photos.
While it's not true for every client, I strongly recommend looking for a long, empire waisted dress. Long dresses cover up swollen legs, and allow you to wear comfortable footwear. Empire waisted dresses are loose through the butt and thigh, letting you get away with the comfiest underwear you own! Look for a dress that accentuates the curves on your upper body (bust, belly), but is loose through the butt and legs.
Choosing shoes for your maternity session
I had never thought about shoes as much as I did in my third trimester with my twins. Because uh, what do you MEAN my flip flops don't fit??? Swollen legs and feet are the bane of (almost) every pregnant woman's life, especially by 30 weeks.
Wear comfortable shoes!! I cannot stress this enough. Wear shoes you can walk in, that fit, that you won't fall in. If those shoes are not what you envisioned for your maternity session, bring a second pair and you can change when we get to the spot we're going to take photos.
This is even more important for maternity sessions in mountain locations. Crushed granite and cactus are even more treacherous when you can't see your feet!
Does absolutely nothing fit? It's okay! Let me know ahead of time if you just cannot find anything that fits except your house slippers, and we'll find a session location that can hide your feet. I've photographed clients in long grass, and you'd never even know they only brought their Crocs to the session!
What to avoid for your maternity session
Be careful what you buy from Amazon. If buying a jersey fabric dress (aka stretchy fabric or "t-shirt material"), make sure the fabric isn't super thin. Thin fabric will show allllll the bumps, including the ones you maybe aren't so hopeful to show off! If buying on Amazon, plan on buying a few outfits to compare.
Lace hides a lot, and I've really been loving the form fitting lace overlays I saw the last couple years!
Try on your clothes ahead of your session
I strongly suggest trying on your clothes a few weeks ahead of your session, and again a few days before your session. We don't live in a place with many local options for maternity clothes, so you'll be disappointed if you realize the day before our session that your dress doesn't fit anymore!
Watch for underwear and bra lines. While I can photoshop out the occasional line, if it's in every single photo from your session and you want it gone, I'll need to charge an extra retouching fee ($50/hour). Exception: bra straps and clasps on your back - I rarely photograph maternity client from the back.
Should I have hair and makeup done for my maternity photos?
Completely up to you! If you're looking for an excuse to splurge and have some extra pampering, absolutely. If it sounds stressful and like One More Thing, skip it!
I know that little baby hairs near the face are the bane of every pregnant woman's existence. I will do my best to edit out the crazy little flyaways!
Note: if your session is taking place inside the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens conservatory, there will be intermittent fog, so it will be REALLY humid. I would suggest skipping having your hair done, as curls can go flat really quickly in there.
How to dress for the (always unpredictable) weather
Layers. Layers, layers, layers. While I know I mentioned several times to avoid covering up your bump/belly, when it's 20 degrees out for your winter session you may want to bring a jacket that's photo ready! We can do photos both with and without your jacket during your maternity session.
It's Wyoming, so don't forget about...the wind. Since maternity sessions are time sensitive, and need to happen in the wind prone months of February through May, we may end up photographing your maternity session in less than ideal conditions. If you have long hair and it looks to be windy, consider wearing it up for our session.
Winter Maternity Sessions
As anyone who lives in southeast Wyoming knows, winter is...something else. I don't typically schedule sessions for winter, but that's not really a possibility when it's a maternity session!
For winter maternity sessions, I suggest layers and appropriate footwear. Wool leggings (or at least leggings) under a dress are a must. If we're headed up to the Summit/Happy Jack Recreation Area, you'll need snowboots. If it's an in-town session, wear whatever has the best traction for potentially icy sidewalks.
As with windy spring sessions, bring a jacket that can be incorporated into photos! If we happen to get a sunny, windless day (as we did in the session below), we can always drop the jacket for few photos. But it's good to have the option! For the session below, my client found a Baltic Born dress, wore leggings and snowboots, and brought along her winter coat.
What should your family wear for maternity photos?
Keep it simple! I suggest dads wear jeans/slacks and a solid (or lightly patterned), untucked button up shirt or t-shirt. For little kids, look for solid colored t-shirts/sweaters/dresses and jeans. And don't forget to keep them comfortable as well as weather appropriate!
For additional help on dressing your family, as well as choosing colors for your session, check out my What To Wear For Family Photos post. I strongly suggest choosing your outfit first, then building your family's outfits to coordinate with yours.
Final Tips and Tricks
1) Bring hand lotion (or have your spouse put it on in the car).
I would estimate that 9 out of 10 dads that I photograph mention how dry their hands are when I go to photograph their hands on your belly. I rarely ever notice the difference, but it might make your spouse a bit less self-conscious if they don't have to worry about it during the session!
2) Transition Lenses
If you wear transition lenses, you either need to plan on leaving them off for the session (sorry!) or bring a second pair of glasses with the lenses popped out. I'm seeing more and more clients wear these, and depending on the light, they can be almost impossible to see through. If you don't have a second pair and want to keep them on for the session, you are welcome to do so, just know that I can't promise I can lighten them.
3) Bring chapstick/lip gloss.
Your lips WILL get dry during your session, and I strongly recommend you bring a water bottle with you during the summer months, especially for mountain sessions.
Suggested Maternity Dress Retailers
"What To Wear For Family Photos" Posts
What to Wear for Family Photos
What to Wear for Extended Family Photos
More info on maternity photos
How to plan a gorgeous maternity session
Cheyenne Botanic Gardens maternity session
Wanting to book a maternity photo session?
You can find more information on my maternity session info page, including pricing and booking info.
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