How to Make Money with Maternity Portraits

How to Make Money with Maternity Portraits

How to Make Money with Maternity Portraits with Karen Bagley

Want more information on this article? Get access to video content and additional supporting images. Launch the June issue of the magazine by logging in or signing up for a free account by clicking here. Shutter Magazine is the industry’s leading professional photography magazine.

When I first started my journey in photography, I shot everything. At some point I asked a couple of ladies to be maternity models for me, in hopes of being able to photograph their newborn. During and after those sessions, I realized that maternity portraits were all the same, the typical shots in a grassy field, or holding baby shoes on their belly. There was no one even remotely near me photographing pregnant women the way I felt they should be photographed.

Being a mother of two girls, I remember all too well how it felt being pregnant and wishing someone could take my portraits in a way that would make me feel beautiful, especially when I wasn’t feeling so beautiful. I didn’t get pictures because I was unimpressed with what was available. That is what began my curiosity into this field.

Early on, I didn’t think I would make money from maternity portraits—until my husband said he thought I could photograph these women the way they want to be photographed, and could make money from it. That was all it took. I began to experiment and found that lots of women were searching for a photographer who could take maternity portraits to the next level. They wanted high fashion, gorgeous gowns, different locations and a modern feel.

Photographers tend to regard maternity photography as a side or bonus session to newborn portraits. But these sessions can meet and surpass what you expect to profit from a newborn session. To make big bucks from these sessions, though, you have to offer something better than the rest. Your experience, images and products must kill the competition’s.

These woman expect the best. They are buying maternity gowns that cost as much as wedding dresses. They are having baby showers and gender reveals that cost as much as a wedding reception. It’s time to capitalize on this trend. These tips could help you make money from maternity portraits.

Tip #1 – You cannot sell it if you don’t have it.

If you want to book and start selling more maternity portraits, you have to be photographing them. Find yourself a few expecting mommas and create something different. I don’t care if you have to borrow a friend and put a fake belly on her (I’ve done that). Pregnant women want to feel beautiful and sexy, and maternity portraits are in the highest demand they ever have been.

But not just any maternity portraits, fashion-forward maternity portraits. No more hands in the shape of a heart on the belly in a field with jeans and a white T-shirt, please. We have to provide something better. When you are photographing in the same spot with the same gown (if your clients are even wearing a gown), more than likely you are having a hard time making money from these sessions, if you’re making money at all. Create art pieces for these women.

TIP #2 – Market for maternity.

Like I said, don’t just view it as a side or bonus session to newborn portraits. Promote your maternity work. You will be surprised by the reaction you get. I even have husbands calling me to book these sessions for their wives because they are excited about capturing this time in a new and unique way. When you show off your maternity work, you will find those clients who will spend to have them done right. Clients who take maternity portraits seriously are willing to spend more, and they tend to do the same when their newborn arrives. This has led me to find my optimal clients and make more money from multiple sessions.

TIP #3 – Know what your clients want.

This might be a little difficult if you are not booking many maternity sessions. Think big. Look at pregnancy content on Instagram and Facebook. The more you dig, the more you will see how serious these ladies take pregnancy. Look at all the money you could be making. These women are spending thousands on baby showers, thousands on their little one’s nursery, thousands on documentation.

Each of these areas is one more opportunity to sell. I produce images for my maternity clients that they will want to buy later.

For the baby shower, they want to display a large statement piece (acrylic or metal prints—my clients love these for showers). I always get some wide dramatic shots for a large print. Another huge seller for baby showers are my slideshows. I take snippets of video during our sessions, and put those together with nice music and some of their images. The first question they ask after seeing their slideshow is, “Can I have that for my baby shower?” This is easy extra money that takes only 15 to 20 minutes of your time.

For the nursery, my clients prefer canvases. I prefer less sharp edges in a newborn’s room, which is why I feel canvas works better than metal or acrylic.

To document this beautiful time, push albums. Albums are an insane selling point for my business and my number-one seller with maternity clients. If you are not offering albums to your maternity clients, that is madness. You have to change that immediately. I always shoot with some variety, be it a change of gowns, poses or locations, because I know my clients will want an album to preserve this special time. The more variety and looks you have, the bigger the album you can sell.

Do some research. You won’t know what your maternity clients want until you are booking and doing sale sessions. But you’re at a good starting point.

To sum up, understand that there is a huge need for maternity portraits. They can make you money as long as you put in the effort to make yourself stand out, market your work and carry the right products. Maternity clients will come to you. My clients come from all over, even from out of state, because they have seen what I can do and that it’s different.

A large maternity portrait sale will not affect the money they spend on their newborn portraits. They represent two totally different sets of emotions and moments. Trust me: They will spend on both.

Want more information on this article? Get access to video content and additional supporting images. Launch the June issue of the magazine by logging in or signing up for a free account by clicking here. Shutter Magazine is the industry’s leading professional photography magazine.

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