couple embracing with expecting mama in white maternity dress for Seattle maternity photo shoot

How to Pick the Right Maternity Dress for Your Photo Shoot

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I am Neyssa Lee a Seattle area photographer, mom of 6, planning obsessed, and who help you see the beauty, love and joy, in your own family’s chaos. I also use my super power of time management to help fellow photographers take control of their businesses. Learn more by heading to my ABOUT ME page.

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couple embracing with expecting mama in white maternity dress for Seattle maternity photo shoot

When you begin searching for the right maternity dress for your photo shoot you will find thousands of options. It is overwhelming. How do you begin to select the right one for you? With these top tips you can feel confident picking the right maternity dress for your photo shoot.

Before the specific maternity dress tips, keep in mind the basic what to wear for maternity photo tips. As a Seattle photographer, the most important point I want to drive home is that you are staying true to you. While you want to be a little more formal than you are on a normal day, you still want to see yourself in your photos.

If you’re finding it too challenging to select a maternity dress, it is likely because you are looking at styles that don’t fit you. I have been in your shoes, going down the Pinterest rabbit hole chasing boho styles that are gorgeous but are not for my body.

Okay, now for the tips.

Indian couple for pregnancy pictures in Seattle area woods

Pay attention to the neckline of the maternity dress.

It might be a little shocking I’m not starting with fabric or color of the dress for your photo shoot. However, as a maternity photographer and a mother of 6, I know first hand how important the neckline is.

Pregnancy changes our bodies. Captain Obvious here! However, pregnancy does not just mean a growing belly. Our chest grows too, often a lot in the first and third trimester. A deep neckline that worked pre-pregnancy, can be a bit more flashy than you expect for your maternity photo shoot.

There is nothing wrong with flaunting what you’ve got! I encourage you to try on your dress a few days before your session to make sure you are comfortable.

To go along with the neckline would be how the shoulders fall. Off the shoulder dresses are gorgeous, as long as you can wear it without feeling like you need to adjust or tug on your dress constantly.

Bonus tip: Do you have a toddler or preschool aged child? The deeper necklines tend to cause other little ones to pull down on the maternity dress during the photo shoot as they are holding onto you. Having a little less plunging neckline can help prevent re-enacting the Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson Super Bowl!

couple embracing during Lincoln Park maternity photo session

Select a dress that you feel comfortable in.

This may sound like I’m repeating myself telling you to be you. I am a little bit. But this point is that you select a maternity dress for your photo shoot that you are physically comfortable in.

A form fitting dress is a stunning way to show off your bump in pregnancy photos. However, if you aren’t comfortable in the dress, select another style.

A long, or maxi, dress is more ideal for maternity photos than a shorter length dress.

Now before you come after me with how so-and-so wore a short dress for her pregnancy photo session and it was gorgeous, I do not doubt you. I have had several clients wear shorter dresses that are beautiful.

However, a shorter dress is harder for you to move around in. You already are growing a baby! Let’s not add more challenges for you. It also limits things like your ability to sit down, thus limiting your maternity photo shoot.

A longer maternity dress allows for a little more movement without worrying of flashing anyone as you dance, frolic, snuggle your children. Even more, if the dress is less form fitting, the movement you can create in the dress will add an extra beautiful layer to your photos.

Woman holding belly during Gold Creek Pond Pregnancy session

When choosing a maxi maternity dress for maternity photos, make sure the top is well fitting.

A maxi dress photographs beautifully whether or not you’re pregnant. Because we are wanting to show off your bump, having some shape and form fitting style to your dress in the bust will be most flattering. This also helps enhance your bump, even if the rest of the dress is more of a loose and flowing style.

Again, keep in mind that above tip! The neckline is import

Use your own closet to decide if a print or solid is right for you.

Look in your closet. What do you naturally wear the most? Is it prints or solids?

If you’re more of a print woman, wonderful! Florals are feminine and gorgeous and fitting with maternity dresses.

Do you prefer solids? That’s wonderful too. Select a color you feel confident in, that works with your skin tone. Colors to typically avoid are navy and black as the detail and shape of your baby bump can get lost in the shadow. At the same time, neons can cause terrible color casts on the skin of anyone near you.

Family of three with mother in pink maternity dress for photo shoot

Choosing a maternity dress with an interesting fabric can elevate your photos.

Keeping the above tip in mind, be comfortable, choose a dress with texture or layers to add extra interest to your session. Wearing a sleek, form fitting dress? Add layers and texture with a cardigan, wrap, or sweater that has texture. The benefit of having an extra layer is that you can always take it off.

Mother in blue maternity dress for photos at a Seattle beach
Mother in blue maternity dress for photos at a Seattle beach

Perform the try on test before your pregnancy photo session.

You can have the most beautiful maternity dress for your photo shoot. However, if it does not fit well or you are not comfortable in it, it will show in your photos.

Give yourself at least a few days before your session and try on your dress. This is something that I have to suggest you act a little like Goldilocks here. Try on your dress too early, and your body could change too much still. Try on your dress too late, and you don’t have enough time to find something else.

When trying your maternity dress on, move around in it. In our photo shoot we will be moving, playing. If you have children and you are able to lift them, try picking them up.

Do you find yourself pulling at your dress? Are you feeling like you are showing too much skin? Are you adjusting the dress constantly?

With a few simple movements you will know if your maternity dress for your photo shoot will work or not.

Profile maternity photo with gorgeous sunlight during Seattle maternity photo session

When all else fails, ask your photographer for guidance on selecting the right maternity dress for your photo shoot.

Your photographer is the expert. Personally, I have photographed hundreds of expecting mamas. I have also selected outfits for maternity photos 6 times! I am available to help each mother I work with for her pregnancy photos.

With these simple tips you can feel confident in selecting the perfect maternity dress for you!

Where to start looking? How about my Favorite Places to Find Bump Friendly dresses?! Plus, checkout (and follow) my Pinterest Profile for what to wear tips and inspiration.

Keep planning for your maternity session with more from the blog.

Comments +

  1. Becky says:

    This is so helpful! I never thought about the neckline or how the shoulders fall…I was always just focused on the “bump.” And the toddler test…brilliant! I’ve always loved florals & prints and felt like I could only do solids for photos, but this makes me feel more confident to choose what I love!

  2. Christine says:

    So many great ideas here! I agree it’s nice to try the dress on ahead of time to double check that it’s flattering AND comfortable.

  3. Emily C says:

    Sage advice! The tip about neckline is a great one that I had never really thought about – thank you!!

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