Well, we have officially reached week 38 friends! Seriously cannot believe it (but also I can because I feel like I’ve been pregnant for years 🤪). I couldn’t be more pleased with how our DIY family maternity photos turned out too. We hired a professional with our first daughter, Hadleigh, and I might actually like these more.
I am all for hiring professional photographers and supporting small business owners. But if you love photography, have a decent camera (or even a nice IPhone), and have a little editing skills then there is no shame in saving some money and taking them yourself!
In this post I am going to share my tips for taking your own DIY family maternity photos and making them look professional!
Figure out your style/theme
I love having more candid – in the moment photos. There’s something real and raw about them. I do like to mix in some subtly posed photos as well, but overall I love the photos that are taken in action!
For this shoot, I knew I wanted an outdoor, bohemian theme. So I chose our outfits, location and editing style accordingly.
Some other styles or themes are “studio” type photos that are very posed. I do find these beautiful as well. With Hadleigh we went into our photographers studio and took some photos on a fake bed. You could do this in your own home on your own bed.
I also see a lot of milk bath photos with flowers in them, which is also unique and beautiful.
Find your location
Location is so important! I am always on the hunt for beautiful places to shoot photos. I am usually drawn to nature like fields, mountains, water, etc. Old buildings and cute downtown areas are also favorites of mine.
I just so happened to discover the Graylyn Estates when one of my clients asked me to shoot her maternity photos there. Even though it’s only 20 minutes from my house, I had never heard of it before. But, right when I pulled in I fell IN LOVE. The buildings are covered in the prettiest stone with ivy growing up some of the walls. The flowers were still bloomed and vibrant with pinks and whites,. Different types of beautiful trees were everywhere. There was a pretty stone bridge with a pond and a fountain. It was like a dreamy castle.
Having some sort of trees around, especially during sunset, is always nice. Some of my favorite photos to take are those where the sun is peaking through the trees at sunset (like the photo below).
Overall, find a location that you are in love with. A place that sparks happiness when you are there. It will not only provide beautiful scenery in your photos, but it will show through your expressions.
Pick the right time of day
My favorite time of day to shoot is at sunset, or “golden hour”. The softness of the light gives such a pretty glow to photos. I also love when the sun peaks through the trees like in the photo above. It’s best to avoid shooting in the afternoon because the harsh light can cast unflattering shadows in your photos.
Another good time of day to shoot (if your family is not an evening bunch), is early morning before the sun gets too high in the sky.
To find out what time the sun rises and sets you can check your weather app. I like to shoot an hour or two before dark.
Clothing choices also play a pretty important role in how maternity photos turn out in my opinion. I prefer neutral colors with some pops of color that won’t clash with the setting. For mamas, long, flowy maxi dresses always look so pretty. You don’t want the dress to be too flowy so that you look frumpy or it hides your bump too much.
For dads, you can’t go wrong with nice khaki pants or jeans and a simple button down shirt. Our go-to is always khaki slacks, brown Sperry’s and a white oxford button down.
For kids, same concept. Keep it simple and make sure it coordinates. I only have one daughter so I dressed her in a cute boho cream colored dress.
Outfit choices that were similar to what we wore during our photos are listed at the end of the post.
Recruit a friend/family member
Luckily my step mom takes a bunch of photos so I knew she’d be an easy person to recruit for being the photographer. We just gave her a brief lowdown on our camera and told her to snap away.
I suggest adjusting your settings beforehand so it’s all ready to go. And make sure you are frequently checking the photos your family member or friend is taking. The lighting can change based on the angle and which way you are facing the sun, so minor adjustments to your settings might have to be made.
The settings on my camera are usually set at 100 ISO, f 1.8 aperture and 500 shutter speed. I always adjust the aperture first if needed because I feel like this doesn’t alter the quality of the photo as much as the other settings.
I do not have the fanciest camera out there. I have a beginners DSLR with a decent portrait lens and it works for me for the time being. You don’t need to have the most expensive equipment to get quality photos. Heck, you can even use your Iphone these days because those cameras are so good!
If you don’t have a friend or family member you can recruit, then I suggest investing in a decent tripod and wireless camera clicker.
All the camera gear I use is listed at the end of the post.
Take a TON of photos
You’ll definitely want to make sure you snap as many photos as possible. Even if you’re just walking to the next location or setting up for the next pose. I tend to find the most precious photos are the ones that weren’t planned and were captured in the moment. Plus, when you’re shooting photos with kids this is a must! As there moods and facial expressions change by the second!
Find good presets + editing app
Finding a beautiful preset that you can apply to your photos is game changing! A preset is a saved edit that you can copy and paste to all of your photos. You will normally only have to make minor adjustments to them and it will save you SO much time. There are a ton of bloggers and photographers that sell presets. You can find them cheap on Etsy as well. Just find one that you are drawn to!
I use the Lightroom editing tool and Chelsea Damon presets. If you want to learn more about how I edit my photos you can check out this post : The Best Mobile Photo Editing Apps.
This is such a beautiful time in your life. You’re preparing for your new baby and capturing the last moments that you will carry him or her in your tummy. Enjoy the moment and relish in it. Every time my husband gets snippety when I want to take photos I always remind him how much we treasure them. And we really do. You don’t have hire a professional to capture precious photos of you and your family.
I hope you enjoyed these tips for DIY family maternity photos!
Your photos turned out absolutely beautiful! And congratulations!
I LOVE LOVE LOVE these photos! How beautiful, what great tips to have a great maternity session. Such an important set of photos for memories down the road.
Such a great post!! Especially in the current environment when families may not be comfortable hiring a photography. And your photos are fabulous!!
I love all the photos. It’s giving a happy, homely and warm vibes. Thanks for the tips and – Congratulations.
Your photos turned out so lovely! Thank you for sharing these great tips for a successful family photo session!