Family & Maternity Photographers
What camera gear do family and maternity photographers use? If you’re asking that question, it may be because you’ve discovered a hidden passion!
If you’re thinking of switching careers to become a photographer or changing genres to shoot family and maternity, knowing what gear to invest in is a great place to start.
On these pages, you can find details of what professional family and maternity photographers carry in their kits.
Here, photographers share plenty of insights and useful tips on why those chose their gear and what they use it for. Some even share their personal journeys of how they came to end up in the family and maternity genre and how their style and career has evolved over time.
Family/maternity photography is a unique and special genre that’s incredibly rewarding for both photographer and client.
Style-wise, you could say there are broadly two main types: posed and documentary (though it’s a spectrum and those are really the two extremes).
Think of family portraits where everyone’s smiling at the camera, pregnancy photoshoots of glowing mothers-to-be cradling their bellies, and portraits of tiny newborns snuggled in blankets. Those are the posed variety of family and maternity shoots.
Documentary style photography is completely candid. The documentary family photographer is a fly on the wall, silently snapping away as the family goes about their daily lives.
They might capture moments of laughter between siblings, a mother in the kitchen baking cookies, children picking flowers in the garden or playing on a trampoline.
These photographers might also capture birth stories in all their intense and beautiful glory. Others double as wedding and engagement photographers.
As for what equipment you use, your choices will be influenced by whether you prefer a more styled approach or candid documentary approach.
A lot of family and maternity photographers who shoot posed portraits stash lighting equipment in their kits, while others prefer to rely on the glow of the sun to light their portraits.
Prime lenses that are great for portraiture – like 35mm or 50mm lenses – are a repeating theme in many of the photographers’ bags. This is true for both posed and documentary styles: those with very wide apertures can create beautiful, dreamy bokeh and lovely background separation for both still and moving subjects.
You might also notice telephoto lenses in the kits of documentary family photographers – for example, a medium telephoto lens like an 85mm. This allows them to be a little bit further from the action so they can get the shot without being too obvious or intrusive.
Many family and maternity photographers prefer the versatility of zoom lenses and stick to having several of these in different focal lengths in their kits.
Of course, every photographer is different. But you can certainly pick up some handy ideas and inspiration from seeing what others use.
By the way: let’s not forget that a camera bag can hold more than camera equipment. From toys to props to “baby shushers”, having some handy extras can take a shoot to the next level and make everything run a lot smoother!
Do be on the lookout for those tips and tricks as you read the photographer features above. And good luck on your photography journey.