Angie, a childhood friend of mine, is pregnant with her first child and asked me to do a little photo session with her before she gives birth in two weeks! I am not a professional photographer and I’ve never taken any maternity photos, so I decided to use this experience as an opportunity to learn some new photography skills.

After spending a couple of days pinning inspiration photos to my board on Pintrest, I met Angie at my favorite place in Kansas City…the Nelson Atkins Museum Sculpture Park.

Here’s three things I learned about maternity photography during our session:

1. The belly rules … when possible, zoom in on the belly! That bump is what epitomizes pregnancy…

2. Keep the session short with minimal poses… I started our session on the far end of the sculpture park and worked our way back to the car, but I definitely made Angie go from standing to sitting to standing again waaaay too much.

If/when I do another maternity session, I will plan my shots to avoid repeating poses (I took way too many photos this time) and will try (if possible) to do all my sitting poses at the end of the session so as to avoid the up-down-up-down-up-downness of this session.

I would also keep the next session to 90 minutes…max. We went for two hours and while Angie was a trooper, she definitely seemed exhausted by the end.

3. Try some out-of-the-box shots and have fun…while I know a lot of people love the old “making my hands into a heart over my belly” maternity shot, it is a tad bit overdone and there are plenty of other fun shots to do…such as…

Angie’s baby boy will be named Roman so I wrote his name on her belly and drew a little arrow. If you don’t known the name of the baby yet, you could always just write ‘baby boy’ or ‘baby girl’ as an alternative. It made for some fun shots…

We also did a whole series of shots of Angie twirling since she was wearing a cute flowy skirt – she felt silly at the time but they turned out beautifully (and she looked the most natural in these frames).

Or if there is some iconic landmark (like the Nelson) in your city – it could be fun to feature it in the photos…

These were all fun and a bit more unique than the heart/belly combo, but for the record, if Angie had asked me to do that pose, I would have because ultimately, she is the one who is going to be looking at them all the time. Luckily, she didn’t though!

Of the 550(!) photos I took, about 88 really stood out as keepers.

I learned a lot from this session and know what to do next time to speed up the actual shoot and save myself a lot of time in the editing process.

For those of you who dabble in photography (either professionally or for fun – like me), what are some of your “go-to” rules for getting a good shot?

I am totally open to learning from you all!