Creative maternity photography using a bare strobe light

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Are you a photographer looking to take striking maternity portraits? If you’re wanting to capture something truly unique, then pushing the boundaries of your craft is essential. One way to do that is by shooting creative maternity portraits using strobe lighting and no modifier attached for interesting results. In this blog post, we’ll explore how to use pure strobe power combined with manipulation of light, shadows and angles for some stunning images worthy of any portfolio or client gallery!

One bare strobe creative maternity photography - editing - Lola Melani Academy

A bare bulb flash is a flash or light source without any reflectors or light modifiers attached. I used to fear the hard light created by bare-bulb strobes, but I’ve come a long way from that! Nowadays, I’m using it for all kinds of interesting and creative lighting effects in studio maternity photography. In my studio work, sometimes I’ll place the bare bulb behind people as background or rim lights; other times near white walls or corners for soft fills; even on its own with foam board reflectors to control spillage – creating perfect main lights every time!

The setup

I was excited to push my creative boundaries and come up with something new for an upcoming maternity photo shoot. I came up with the idea of using a crinkled background paper roll that had been sitting in my studio for ages! After cutting off four pieces, I wrinkled them and hung them on a v-flat – it totally gave an Antelope Canyon vibes effect – exactly what I wanted.

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To bring the look together perfectly, I chose a formfitting monochromatic knit dress (found on that really tied everything together. All-in-all this maternity shoot was one of those great creative moments where all your ideas come alive right before you!


I wanted two very different looks for this shoot, so I got creative and used just one Profoto b10x bare bulb strobe! Firstly, I pointed it towards my white wall to get beautiful fill light and some striking contrast on my model – exactly what I was going for! To create this look I used my Canon 5D Mark IV camera together with a 24-105mm F4 Lens. My camera settings were 1/125 F8 ISO 200.

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Secondly, however, things changed up drastically: by pointing the strobe at the ceiling instead of directly onto her face; it’s soft wraparound light gave off an incredibly flattering glow. The outcome? Two totally distinct lighting styles with perfect results each time – super impressive if you ask me!

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After I opened this image in Photoshop, getting it ‘picture perfect’ was just the beginning. To give it a vintage vibe, I did some color grading on Lightroom- adding reds to shadows and cool green-tinted highlights before finally giving everything that final textured touch of graininess. It was a fun process!

One bare strobe creative maternity photography - editing - Lola Melani Academy


Maternity portraits can be truly incredible when you use a bare bulb strobe! You’ve got lots of options to choose from – bounce the light off ceiling or walls, point it straight at your model, or create an artistic silhouette by using it as backlight. Get some innovative tips and tricks on shooting maternity with just one bare strobe in this episode of The Collective – enough creative ideas to add a modern twist to those memorable images!

One bare strobe light for maternity photography - variety of studio setups - Lola Melani Academy

Want more? Check out this Video tutorial where I cover a variety of creative ways to use one bare strobe in maternity photography.



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