Leah O'Connell

client tips, maternity, newborns

Your Maternity Session Is Not About Your Bump

documentary maternity session
I'm Leah!

I’m obsessed with stories of family, creativity, and simple joys.  A nostalgia nerd, educator, wife, and mom of 3, I believe life’s most fun when you’re dreaming big and having kitchen dance parties. 

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Even though you can only sleep with a minimum of 5 pillows and bread is your main food group, something about the work inside your body right now makes you feel like a rockstar. And you want to remember it. 

Maternity photos used to be unheard of. Now they’re trendy.

And because of that, there’s this huge misconception surrounding maternity sessions – what they’re supposed to look like, how you’re supposed to dress, ya da ya da ya.

We’ve been conditioned, slowly but surely, to believe that a maternity session is a right of passage when you get pregnant. We follow this cookie-cutter model and curl our hair and buy a new dress and imagine the dreamy, backlit glow. 

These photos are lovely and yes, it feels darn good to get dressed up and just honor the beauty in pregnancy. You and your baby will never be one like this again, and it’s truly an awesome thing to just celebrate that by getting in front of the camera in general, no matter how you choose.

But I want to challenge you take it a step further…


And if your answer is “I just want to remember this season,” Great! 

But what about “this season” is so special to capture?


This may seem radical,

but if you think about… I mean really sit with what’s special and why you want to do a maternity session, I think you’ll realize that  —

this session is less about that baby growing on the inside, and more about capturing the world and the people he or she is about to meet on the outside.


  • It’s not about staring at your belly button. 

  • It’s not about a perfect flowing gown. 

  • It’s not about the stunning, scenic location.

  • It’s not about the wooden blocks spelling his name.

Because YOU, beautiful mama, are more than how you look right now. 

Those things are beautiful, they’re fun, but they don’t really capture anything you can’t flip through Pinterest and see a million other examples of.

If you want to “capture this season,” we’ll need more than cheeky props and perfect light.

The patience, the preparation, the hugs, the simplicity, the habits…Your STORY is what will make your maternity session special.

You may look at it and see boring or typical or messy… 

but your children, now and in the future, will look at it and see their heritage.

  • What if we could capture the feeling of sitting on a quiet, clean nursery floor and carefully folding all those little onesies into her drawer, gifted with love from family and friends?

  • Or how your husband loves to clean his bike in the driveway on a summer evening while you just sit on the porch watching him from over your book, dreaming about your future son joining him with a soapy sponge.

  • How a top knot and leggings are your signature Saturday style and all you want to do is watch bad morning TV and eat pancakes in bed with your man while you still can.

  • How you feel like a million bucks even at 8 months strong, so while you get a little more winded these days, nothing makes you feel more alive than your heart pumping and the fresh air on your face when you take the dog for a brisk hike in the woods.

This is the stuff of memories.

lifestyle maternity photos with siblings

So let me be clear –

I believe maternity sessions of all kinds, posed and unposed, styled or not, are beautiful because pregnancy is a beautiful thing. 

But what if we could take a step beyond beautiful and also make them more real? 

More of the home, the friends, the LOVE behind that baby. More about family and feelings and the true details that make up who and where you are a right now. Because soon, it’s all going to look so different!

Let’s capture more of that.  

Someday, our children will want to see that story. And we will too. 


Ready for a maternity session that does more than graze the surface? That’s fun and easy and natural? I’m your girl. Reach out here for more info and to get on the calendar before your due date! Maternity sessions are best scheduled around the 7-8 month mark in pregnancy.

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Hi, I'm Leah.
Family photographer, writer, educator.

I’m  one of the first to meet your newborn baby, the one who won't judge your clothes baskets and unmade beds, and the one who can capture the way your husband looks at you with a twinkle in his eye after 12 years of marriage. I believe in honoring people and telling stories.

I believe art has the power to light up the world in dark places, starting at home.