Maternity + Family

Maternity Photography: A Great Revenue Stream

May 28, 2021

By Andre Brown

Just over a year ago, our world as we knew it came to a screeching halt. For the foreseeable future, life had been abruptly and drastically changed. And for those of us who are full-time photographers, business was non-existent for quite some time. Wedding photography was the bread and butter of my business and my livelihood, but since photography is considered a luxury, we were not on the essential workers list. Providing for our families was quite the conundrum, but in true artist fashion, the photography community became more innovative than ever to safely overcome restrictions and generate business in new ways. For me, that was maternity photography.

[Read: 2021 RF + WPPI Portrait Photography Tips and Trends]

I recall seeing a news report about “porch sessions.” Although many were displeased with photographers breaking the stay-at-home order in efforts to “stop the spread,” I personally found it to be quite clever. Since my go-to lens is my Canon RF 70-200mm f/2.8, which let me work well outside with 6-foot distancing restrictions, I thought this was particularly smart. Many photographers followed suit and booked their own porch sessions—some even from inside their cars! 

[Read: Work From Home—How Photographers Can Book and Shoot New Sessions Now]

There was also a surge of “virtual sessions.” Creatives were directing clients via cell phone and webcam to help them capture images of themselves. There were virtual engagement, family and even boudoir sessions! These innovative ideas led to creatives making massive pivots so that their businesses could keep generating income. Even if the sales weren’t as strong as they were before, the buzz generated from these sessions led to post-lockdown bookings for many photographers. 

[Read: Virtual Newborn Photography—How One Duo’s Approach is Thriving]

This is where maternity photography came in. I personally wasn’t super innovative in my approach to sustain sales for my business. However, I was able to find success in doubling down on portrait photography and zeroing in on improving my process with in-person sales to boost overall revenue.

I pride myself on building lifelong relationships with my clients and being their go-to for all major life events. So in lockdown, my focus shifted from new weddings to servicing those loyal clients in as many ways as I possibly could. After photographing roughly 40 weddings in 2019, I went to work on my existing client base. You know the saying, “First comes love, then comes marriage…” Well, I’ll add “then comes the maternity session!”

[Read: Creative Photo Editing—How a Funky Style Emerged from Lockdown]

The timing couldn’t have been any more perfect. I’d been photographing maternity sessions since I started photography. In fact, the second session I’d ever photographed was my sister’s maternity session. However, I had never marketed myself as a “maternity photographer,” and I had never really posted images from those sessions on my site or social media.

By chance, one of my wedding clients was expecting and contacted me about her maternity session. Studio sessions fell within the COVID-19 guidelines of no more than 10 people in a single location, and I could photograph with my trusty 70-200mm lens.

© Andre Brown

After posting a few images from the session, the baby boom began! Posts turned to shares, shares turned to inquiries, and inquiries to bookings, virtual in-person sales sessions and money in the bank. 

Just over a year after this pivot, my maternity photography sessions are up three-to-one compared to the wedding portion of my business. Improving on my in-person sales strategy is an ongoing process, but I was able to create a surge in revenue for my business that had effectively always been there. As we slowly creep back to “normal life,” some of my in-person sales sessions are still held virtually to keep myself and clients as safe as possible during these times. The impact of the pandemic forced me to see my business in a different light; my untapped revenue stream had been under my nose the entire time. Sometimes you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to grow or become more successful in your business—it just takes a different perspective. 

Each of the maternity photography sessions vary. As shown in the gallery above, I produce sessions that range from standard white background to elaborate decor. The more detailed setups come with an additional fee. This gave me the excuse to work with vendors I’d had relationships with in the past, and it gave me the opportunity to form new ones with others. All of this let me spread the wealth with people who in turn could also send potential clients back to me.

Andre Brown is a wedding photographer based in Atlanta, GA. He was named a 30 Rising Star of Wedding Photography in 2020. He last wrote about how to find and shape indoor light for wedding portraits.