Guide to a Black and White Maternity Shoot

Black and white maternity photos are a beautiful and timeless alternative to full-color pictures. Without bold color to distract the eye, the viewer is forced to focus on the intensity of the monochrome image. While black and white photography has been around for decades, it wasn’t until recently that it became trendy in pregnancy photos.

A black and white maternity shoot requires a special approach. It is important to wear certain colors and styles of clothing to best complement the limited scale of hues. Your photographer will also want to put you in certain poses that best allow the natural light to reflect off your skin.

If you’re planning an outdoor or studio black and white maternity shoot to show off your beautiful belly, there are a few things you should know.

What Is a Black and White Maternity Shoot?

Sometimes the simplest photographs are the most powerful. Black and white maternity photography is a simple and elegant way to display a growing baby bump during pregnancy.

As the name implies, black and white photography refers to photos that are absent of color. Without the distraction of color, the viewer is able to focus on other aspects of the picture, such as shapes, textures, patterns, composition, and the subject herself.

Taking black and white photos can be more challenging than standard color photos as the photographer must think in terms of contrast. The differences between the dark and light tones in the photos are what makes black and white photography so striking.

Like color photography, a black and white maternity session can be scheduled as a studio session or hosted outdoors in nearly any type of weather.  Black and white photography can also take on many types of backgrounds, but the photographer must be cautious of shadows that can make the pictures appear too dark.

For professional photographers, creating a black and white photo involves more than just editing. Photographers must “see” in tone, ignoring the colors seen through the camera lens. Many cameras have monochrome settings that simplify this concept.

When shooting for black and white scenery, it’s best to choose scenes with a vast array of color hues. Once these colors are converted to gray tones, the picture will appear more dramatic. However, in a maternity shoot, the expecting mom should be the focus of the picture, meaning the backdrop should be as simple as possible.

When executed properly, black and white maternity pictures can produce imagery that feels fluid and timeless. These photographs aim to induce mood and emotion and offer pregnant women a sleek alternative to classic color photos.

What Makes This Type of Maternity Shoot So Appealing?

There are many aspects of a black and white maternity photoshoot that make them so appealing. First, black and white imagery never goes out of style. From the old days when we only had black and white films to the current day when black and white pictures are commonly used to portray drama, these photographs have remained remarkable.

A black and white pregnancy portrait eliminates visual clutter and focuses on the most important elements in the picture— the mom-to-be and her covered or bare belly. It is known as a “clean” style of shooting as the photographer doesn’t have to fixate on colors or make color corrections that can be time-consuming.

Color can be dominant in photography and when present, all other elements in the background tend to appear more subdued. When all color is eliminated, the photographer can enhance other important aspects, such as light, shape, contrast, form, and texture.

If you have ever seen black and white photography, you’ll likely agree that it holds more emotion than color imagery. In a black and white maternity photo session, you can more easily see the love and bond that the mother and child have, even before birth. It is often viewed as a more sophisticated style of photography.

Another thing that makes this type of pregnancy photoshoot so appealing is the comfort and control it brings to expecting moms. Pregnant women are more likely to strip down and show off their beautiful, changing bodies as the darker hues create flattering shadows that make many pregnant women feel more confident in their own skin.

What Is the Best Color to Wear?

You may be thinking that it doesn’t matter what color you wear to a black and white portrait session as the photo won’t show color anyways. This is partially true. While color tones are not really important, the contrast that the color creates in photos is.

When choosing a maternity dress or other attire for the photo shoot, you’ll want to avoid neutral colors. When neutral colors are converted to black and white, it can create various “dull” gray tones that make the photo appear faded.

Ideally, you want to wear either light or dark colors that will appear more impactful on film. Consider an all-black maxi dress that pools around you on the floor or an all-white or ivory maternity gown with a long train that creates contrast with a dark background.

Some additional colors that photograph well in a black and white maternity shoot include navy, eggplant, and red. These rich colors would be the perfect option for mothers-to-be that want to have both a black and white version and a color version of the pregnancy photos.

You’ll also want to avoid too many conflicting patterns and textures. When converted to black and white, these patterns and textures can make a maternity photo appear too busy and pull the focus off of the subject. However, some fabrics photograph beautifully. Satin maternity dresses especially provide a great contrast in black and white photos.

Clothing for Black and White Maternity Shoots


One of the biggest decisions you’ll need to make when preparing for a black and white maternity shoot is deciding what you’ll wear. Some of the most popular options include bodysuits and dresses.

  • Bodysuits – Bodysuits are a popular option for black and white maternity photoshoots as they cling effortlessly to the body, creating a beautiful, curvy silhouette. The right bodysuit can create a smooth and sophisticated look, especially when created with the proper fabrics. Satin, lace, and similar materials can give a simple bodysuit a feminine feel that appears gorgeous on camera.
  • Dresses – Maternity dresses and gowns are a traditional option for maternity photoshoots.  When thinking of black and white maternity shoot ideas, many women envision a long, flowing dress in an upscale fabric and trendy design. Maternity dresses can range from casual maxi dresses to more elegant empire-waist gowns that hug all your curves in just the right places.

Top Ideas for Poses

When it comes to black and white maternity shoot sessions, it’s best to experiment with a variety of poses to see which you like best. One of the most popular maternity photoshoot ideas for poses in black and white is the classic silhouette. Silhouette photos not only ease the atmosphere for women who might be nervous but can also show their body shape and belly from a side view which best portrays the growth over the pregnancy.

Another popular pose during a portrait session involves mom cradling her bump. She could be looking at the photographer, at her partner, at her belly, or just down her shoulder. The goal is to make the bump the main focus of the photo.

If the couple is comfortable having the father in the photo, consider having him kneel down in front of her as she stands with her side facing the camera. Dad should hold the belly on each side, allowing the camera to capture this special moment in time.  The expecting parents can also walk down the beach or another scenic location, hand-in-hand, as the photographer shoots the couple while in movement.

Close-ups are also a great option for black and white shoots. Ask the photographer to get some close-up shots of your bump for you to look back on years from now. You can also bring special props into the photos for a close-up, such as an ultrasound picture, your baby’s first pair of shoes, or a “coming home” outfit.  Your photographer will use light to ensure that your props receive the right amount of attention.

Maternity Photoshoot Dresses from J&L Designs

Are you in search of the perfect maternity dress for your black and white maternity photoshoot? J&L Designs Boutique specializes in elegant maternity dresses and gowns for maternity photo sessions and other special occasions, such as weddings, baby showers, pregnancy reveals, and formal events.

When it comes to black and white maternity photography, opt for a form-fitting option like the flattering Analise Long Sleeve Maternity Sweetheart Slim Fit Dress. This gorgeous gown features long sleeves and a form-fitting sweetheart dress that wraps around your curves.

If you prefer a bodysuit, consider the Raine Bodysuit, a sophisticated V-neck fitted bodysuit that offers plenty of stretch and room for your growing belly. The bodysuit also has a large keyhole open back that shows off just the right amount of skin. If you like the look of floral lace, the Pru Lace Vintage Off-the-Shoulder Bodysuit delivers the perfect amount of glam to any photo session.

J&L Designs Boutique specializes in crafting handmade maternity dresses, gowns, and accessories for all of your special events while pregnant. Shop our wide selection of maternity dresses and gowns to wear during your upcoming black and white maternity photoshoot.