Maternity Photo Shoot Dress Guide

What is the best thing to wear for a maternity photo shoot?

As a maternity and newborn photographer, I have come to realize that outfit choice is THE one element that can make or break a portrait. I also know that it is often the most stressful part of taking photos, which is why I wanted to put together this guide for you! Because no pregnant mama should be adding aaaany extra stress on her plate. 

I gotchu.

*the grinch voice* “BUT WHAT DO I WEAR?!” 

My journey as a photographer has been one big learning process, and through it all I’ve concluded that in general, the best thing to wear for a maternity photo shoot is a bump-friendly maxi dress.

But wait! It’s not quite that simple.

Below I will go over what makes the perfect maternity dress, things to avoid, indoor vs outdoor photo shoot tips, and where you can buy gorgeous dresses that will compliment your already-beautiful-pregnant ambience!

What makes the perfect maternity dress?

I get all giddy when my clients wear the perfect maternity dress! My primary responsibility as a maternity photographer is to make my clients feel STUNNING. Part of that is getting them all dressed up, because as a mom myself, I know that I didn’t always feel stunning when I had heartburn and edema. 

Choosing the perfect dress is a huge confidence builder! So here is where I start:

  1. Make sure the dress has an empire waist line (so it hugs right at the top of the bump)
  2. Look for multiple layers of fabric that gather in the right places. Tiered dresses are sooo pretty in photos because the extra layers add a subtle, dreamy texture. 
  3. Maxi dresses that drape all the way to the floor — it’ll make you look like the queen you are (and not put any pressure on you to make sure your legs are tanned before the photo shoot)
  4. COLOR. I’m a huge fan of natural, neutral colors. White, tan, light blue, blush, and pastel colors are generally what I lean towards when I’m choosing my own client wardrobe. However, this can vary with your photographer’s style and the location of your photo shoot. When choosing the colors of your outfits, here are some quick tips:
    • Consider how you will use your photos. Do you want to hang them? If so, do your outfits coordinate with your home?
    • What colors do you LOVE yourself in? Like I said before, the most important thing is for you to feel beautiful!
    • What colors does your photographer recommend based off of his/her style and the location of the shoot?
    • AVOID BLACK. I have taken maternity photos with black outfits and it is too dark so it hides the bump. We want to see the bump!!!

Maternity dress for studio photo shoot vs maternity dress for outdoor maternity shoot

I am a sucker for studio maternity shoots. They are so cozy, intimate, and in my case, minimal so nothing can distract from the beauty of this stage in life. They also look SO good as decoration in any given room. 

I talked about color in the section above, but I need to mention that if you are taking your maternity photos in a white studio, I highly recommend you stick to my style’s color palette (white, tan, light blue, blush, and light green colors). These compliment the dreaminess of white studio photography that makes it so heavenly! 

If you are taking your photos outside in nature, it isn’t as important as it is in the studio to dress in neutral colors. I still recommend it because in my opinion, it is clean, timeless, and non-distracting, but talk to your photographer about your specific dreams of what you want your shoot to be like and I’m sure she/he will know how to help you accomplish that.

What to avoid in a maternity dress

If you want the perfect maternity dress, stay away from these kinds of dresses:

  • Dresses with large, distracting patterns
  • Dresses with no empire waistline (or even worse, a waistline that is a little lower than the top of your bump)
  • I said it before but I’ll say it again — black dresses!
  • Any dress that has one thin layer of fabric. Yes, these are the cheap amazon maternity dresses! In my experience, these do NOT look flattering and can reveal insecurities that are hard to fix with posing and editing. 
  • On that note, any dress that reveals a part of you that you are insecure about. If you’ve never liked your arms, don’t wear a spaghetti strap or tight sleeves! Wear a dress that has gorgeous draping sleeves, or add a pretty robe/cardigan. 
    • As I said before, with pregnancy comes the growing, stretching, and weight gain. YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL because of who you are and the fact that this journey is creating a HUMAN, not because of your appearance. The fact that society tries to make women feel like they need to fit a perfect mold during this time is so frustrating to me. However, my job as a photographer is to create photos that you LOVE, not photos that you will be picking apart because of this and that. And I’ve found that your dress choice can either help or hinder that tremendously. 

Affordable Maternity Dresses Under $50

H&M Maternity White Dress – $45
Amazon Open Shoulder Maxi Dress – $26
Venus Smocked Detail Maxi Dress – $37
Venus Maxi Dress – $44
Windsor White Tulle Maxi Dress – $36
H&M Floral Maxi Dress – $50
Forever 21 Tiered Lace Maxi Dress – $42

Beautiful White and Pink Maternity Maxi Dresses

Free People Maxi Dress from Nordstrom – $76
Baltic Born Maternity Dress – $55
ASOS long sleeve maternity dress – $140
Vici Dolls Lace Maxi Dress – $92
Baltic Born Open Shoulder Maxi Dress – $76
Baltic Born Maternity Dress – $111
ASOS Floral Maxi Dress – $68
Etsy Maternity Dress – $63
ASOS White Maxi Dress – $70
ASOS Pale Blue Maternity Dress – $102
Azazie Flutter Sleeve Maxi Dress – $70

Best stores that sell maternity dresses

Another dress shop that I LOVE by a local owner is the Flutter Dress Shop. She hand-makes the most gorgeous, boho dresses that are perfect for photo shoots. You can either rent or buy your dress. If you buy, you can customize it to be just the way you imagine your perfect maternity dress is. I highly recommend checking them out!


Courtney Wilde

Are you looking for a maternity photographer in the Seattle area? I’d love to be considered! Check out my maternity page for more information, or contact me for my pricing and availability.


Share on facebook
Share on pinterest
Share on google

Leave a Reply

On Key

Related Posts

Maternity Photo Shoot Dress Guide

What is the best thing to wear for a maternity photo shoot? As a maternity and newborn photographer, I have come to realize that outfit

%d bloggers like this: