Can I even get maternity photos in Death Valley National Park?

Absolutely! Although it may seem strange to celebrate a new life in a place called "Death Valley," this national park provides a gorgeous backdrop to document your growing family. With a few precautions and a lot of self-awareness, you can have a perfectly safe and enjoyable maternity session here.

What precautions should we take?

If you want maternity photos in a desert, I recommend three things to ensure everyone's safety and comfort:

  1. Stay hydrated! This is obviously crucial for anyone visiting Death Valley, but especially for pregnant women. The dry air causes our bodies to lose water quickly, and we usually don't notice it because we aren't sweating as much in low humidity. It doesn't have to be hot to get dehydrated here. Remember to include electrolytes, plain water is not enough! I love these little Mio Sport enhancers to add electrolytes to any water bottle.
  2. Choose an accessible location close to an air-conditioned vehicle. Death Valley has a lot of gorgeous views that require little to no hiking. More on those exact locations below. It's a good idea to stay close to your vehicle so you can take a break in air conditioning if you need it.
  3. Make sure you feel empowered to pause or end the session at any time. I make sure my couples know that we take our cues from her body. If she feels sick or tired I have no problem at all taking breaks or ending early. My first priority is your health. Only YOU can tell me when you're at your limit, and I will always respect it. If a photographer makes you feel like you have to "push through," they are putting their portfolio above your safety. Not cool.
A pregnant couple look at each other against a background of mountains at sunrise in Death Valley National Park

What time of year is best to take maternity photos in Death Valley National Park?

I recommend late October through mid-April. The shoulder seasons tend to have highs in the 70s-80s, lows in the 50s. It will get chilly in the winter here with highs in the 60s and lows in the 30s-40s. Keep in mind these temperatures are on the valley floor where it's warmest, and this is where most attractions are. If you plan to go up into the mountains the elevation will drastically affect these numbers and you should plan accordingly.

Everyone knows June-August is HOT (it hit 130 degrees Fahrenheit in 2021) but the uncomfortable and dangerous heat really starts in May and lasts through September. Monsoon season poses an additional risk in the summer/fall. Flash floods are relatively common in this timeframe. Of course, these are just general ranges and Mother Nature is going to do as she pleases no matter what this blog says.

Heat gets all the attention, but no one talks about the wind. There is a high chance it will be windy while you're here! It can range from a light breeze to dangerous 65 mph gusts. As we do for any adventure sessions, we keep a close eye on the forecast and adjust our plans as needed. And the wind actually creates GORGEOUS photographs! Taking photos outdoors inherently comes with some risk. The key is a willingness to adjust and go with the flow.

Where can we take pictures without hiking? I'm worried I won't feel well!

Many gorgeous locations just a short walk from the car. Here are three of my favorite spots that don't require serious hiking!

An Indian American couple kisses at Zabriskie point in Death Valley National Park

Zabriskie Point

Young family runs down a sand dune in Death Valley National Park

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes

A couple does a lift on the white salt flats of Death Valley National Park

Badwater Basin

Do we need a permit to take maternity photos in Death Valley National Park?

Nope! Permits are not required for portraiture like this unless you want to use a prop, set, or models. You can learn more on the NPS website.

A pregnant woman in white smiles at the camera during her maternity session in Death Valley
A pregnant woman in white smiles at her bump during her maternity session in Death Valley
A pregnant couple in white lean in for a kiss during a maternity session in Death Valley

What should I wear for my maternity session in the desert?

From a photographer's perspective, I recommend wearing something flowy with lots of movement that still accentuates the bump. Most importantly, you should be comfortable and CONFIDENT. If you're feeling self-conscious about your outfit that discomfort will translate into your photographs.

You could go in a more dramatic direction with a longer maxi dress, or something like a skirt and casual top if that's more true to you.

Coordinate your partner's outfit to be in the same color palette, but you don't have to match from head to toe (unless you love the monochromatic look!). All of my couples receive a "What To Wear" outfit guide from me to help with this process too.

Death Valley National Park is certainly a nontraditional backdrop for maternity photos, and that's exactly why you'll get jaw-dropping images. Take inspiration from the images on this blog, then contact me to set up your own maternity session here!

A pregnant couple smiles at each other holding up a onsie during their maternity session in Death Valley National Park
A pregnant couple dances together during their maternity session in Death Valley National Park
A pregnant couple smiles down at the bump during their sunrise maternity session in Death Valley National Park


Arpit & Nidhi P.

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"Steph did a phenomenal job on our photos. My wife and I told her ideas we were looking for. She scoped out the places around Death Valley to make our ideas come to life. She knew the exact timing for us to arrive to make the photoshoot magical.

She went above and beyond to capture our special moment. I would highly recommend her to anyone that is looking for excellent photographer.

10/10 and 5 Stars from us!"

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