Morphogen concentration changes in space as well as over time during development. However, how these dynamics are interpreted by cells to specify fate is not well understood. Here, we focus on two morphogens: the maternal transcription factors Bicoid and Dorsal, which directly regulate target genes to pattern Drosophila embryos. The actions of these factors at enhancers has been thoroughly dissected and provides a rich platform for understanding direct input by morphogens and their changing roles over time. Importantly, Bicoid and Dorsal do not work alone; we also discuss additional inputs that work with morphogens to control spatiotemporal gene expression in embryos.