How to Light Maternity Photos

Maternity photos are increasingly becoming popular. Being pregnant is a beautiful experience for a mother, and she may want to capture the moment so she can treasure it forever. Because a pregnancy is an emotional experience, the lighting should be dramatic. This is not your typical three point portrait set up. Instead, this is an opportunity to be creative and think out of the box.

Necessary Equipment

You will need at least one large light with a soft box to serve as your key light. You will also need at least two 4 x4 floppy flags, stands, sandbags and a small light to serve as a back light. You will not be using a fill light in this set up. In fact, for this example, fill light is our enemy instead of shadows. 

Lighting Strategy

The basic strategy is going to be to set up a bright key light to be out source, and then use the flags to create shadows on the camera (left and right sides of the subject). The back light will be the last thing to worry about.

Have the subject or someone else serve as the stand in. First set your source light either above the camera or close to it. Once it is set and focused, you can add your flags to the subject's sides to create some artificial shadows. Finally, set the back light. It is very important that all the lights and stands are fully secure. You don't want anything falling on your subject.


Your goal is to create dramatic, high contrast images. You can be as creative as you like. You can chose to shoot the subject on a black wall to have her enveloped by shadow. If that's too dark for your tastes, then you can rent another light, place it on the floor, and shine it directly into the back wall. if you set the light on full spot, it creates a nice circle of light on the wall that falls off into the shadows. Make sure you have plenty of scrims or a dimmer because you do not want the light to be too bright. Or, you can position them in front of a window to have a strong back light over power them and make them appear dark. The decision is yours; be creative and think outside of the box.

Popular Cameras for High Quality Photos: