How to Style Your Maternity & Newborn Photos

Choosing what to wear for your upcoming maternity and newborn photos can be overwhelming- especially when you’re planning these 2 photoshoots so close together! Over the years we’ve found a couple different ways to think through the planning process to ease the overwhelm and help create picture perfect wall art that feels like it was made for your home. Ever heard of the red thread technique? It’s actually a term used in marketing, but we’ve found that it’s a great method for styling photos with a cohesive look—especially if those photos will be taken at different times but potentially displayed together. Like your maternity and newborn photos!

The Red Thread Technique in Brand Styling

We got a glimpse of the red thread technique in action a few years ago when we did some branding images for Lululemon’s ambassadors. They do their photoshoots all across the country in order to get images of local athletes and coaches of all varieties. Photographers in the area do photoshoots of these local models who represent the brand by modeling their clothes and accessories, and the images are then put up in the neighborhood branches of your Lululemon store. Pretty cool, right? Every photographer shoots a little differently and has a particular style that’s all their own. So, Lululemon has to find a way to tie all these images together so they look cohesive and fit with their brand. They have an entire styling guide they send out to their photographers, which outlines what to do and what not to do. It also includes this idea of the red thread. For Lululemon, the red thread is pretty literal. Every image has a bit of red in it. Usually it’s something subtle, like a hair scrunchie on the model’s wrist, a water bottle in the background, or a flowering plant in the corner. The red thread pulls everything together and helps create cohesive imagery for the Lululemon brand.

Using the Red Thread to Style Your Maternity and Newborn Photos

We think about this as we’re styling our belly to baby clients. What’s your red thread? In short, what’s your baby’s BRAND? What will you have in both your maternity and newborn images that ties them together and makes them complement each other, even if some are outdoor and some are in a studio?
Maternity and newborn photos with similar style using the red thread technique
Usually, the first thing you’ll think of is color. And there are two places you can start with color: the couch, or the crib. The couch represents your living room, because often that’s where we’re displaying our family photos, where they can be seen and enjoyed every day. The crib—you guessed it—represents the nursery, which is another key spot your finished photos might go. Granted, the nursery is temporary and will give way to a big kid room before you know it, but when the nursery is gone, you’ll still want to have the styling/branding that you chose for the nursery woven into your images of the baby. Color isn’t your only key to a cohesive style for your maternity and newborn photos though. You also have specific elements you’re probably incorporating in the nursery—objects or themes that create a mood or vibe. Think about these too as you’re planning your photo sessions. An easy way to start figuring out your red thread is to create a mood board. What colors are you using in your nursery? Throughout your home? What elements or themes are you planning to use in baby’s room? Now, which of those colors and elements can we incorporate into your photos?

Examples—The Red Thread Technique in Action

This can be tricky to visualize at first, so let’s look at a couple of examples:

Example 1:

Baby boy is on his way, and you’ve decorated the nursery in greens, browns and creams. The nursery has a teddy bears/forest theme with natural wood accents. Since this is the nursery, you’re probably brimming with great ideas for your newborn photos. But what about your maternity images? Remember, we want to keep a cohesive style throughout your sessions so that they look like they belong together. What you don’t want to do here is shoot your maternity photos in a red dress at the capitol building. It doesn’t mesh with the baby’s theme of woodsy and natural. While the photos of you on the marble steps in a sweeping red dress might be beautiful, they’ll seem very out of place in the natural nursery when you go to hang the artwork on the walls. Instead, you might choose a sweeping cream-colored dress and venture into some tall trees with sunlight streaming through the leaves. This way your maternity photos have the same mood as the newborn photos you’re planning. After the baby is born, it will be much easier to tie your maternity photoshoot in the woods together with the newborn photos because you already had an idea of your style. Maybe you’ll bring in cream linens, an olive green outfit for baby, and nice neutral khaki/tan tones for the other family members. Tuck a tiny teddy bear into baby’s sleeping arms and have your photographer shoot with warm natural light so the newborn images feel sun-streaked just like your maternity photos.
Baby boy in light brown bear hat
Newborn, family, and maternity photo collage illustrating the red thread technique

Example 2:

Here’s another example: You’re expecting a baby girl and her room is coral pink with light teal-blues, white wood, and a serene beach vibe. Are you still in that cream-colored dress in the woodsy sun-soaked trees? Probably not. The entire vibe is different here so the wooded environment would feel very out of place on the beach walls. Instead, you’ll look for a maternity dress that you would wear on a beach. Maybe a little more skin is showing, the belly is exposed, or you drop a cardigan off your shoulder. Instill that beach vibe with soft, lighter sunset colors and lots of creams and whites. While in Boise, Idaho you’re not going to get an actual beach with white Florida sand and the ocean lapping at your feet, you CAN get a beach vibe by venturing down to the Bruneau Sand Dunes at sunset! When it’s time for the newborn session bring in those coral pink tones for baby girl, plus lots of creams, whites, and soft neutrals for the parents. Or maybe you want a bolder look, in which case you might choose a deep teal tone that stands out against the softer whites.
Infant girl in textured white wrap with coral heart props
Photo collage of parents and twin babies styled with the red thread technique
The red thread technique is a simple way to style your maternity and newborn photos so that they work well together and fit the mood you’d like to evoke when you look back at this special time in your life. We’re always happy to help you with design and styling decisions, so book a consultation to discuss your session or belly to baby package- or book directly online! Our luxury photo experience takes every detail into account, from your pre-session design consultation to your finished artwork. We’d love to help you create gorgeous, personalized artwork that is perfect for your home and family. Book your Belly to Baby package online!
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