6384 hours. 266 days. 40 weeks. 9 months. 3/4 of a year.
However you are counting down the days, that amount of time is fleeting and before you know it, it will be over and you will be holding a baby who will forever more shape and change your life.
I must admit it is not something I initially thought about and I don't remember any photographers offering any kind of "maternity portraits" as my own children were being born even as late as 2008. Maternity portraits are becoming much more popular and why not? It is a magically wonderful moment in your life but it only lasts a very brief amount of time. I know that the love for your child is completely unconditional and during this period you are physically as one with the most defining person in your life. That is in part I believe why so many women are choosing to capture that memory while they can.
Although Maternity Portraits are becoming much more main stream, maternity photography has had a rough and rocky ride. It was not in the too distant past that "the bump" was considered offensive and one only needs to look at the fashions of the past to realise that women were encouraged to cover up for the sake of decency. It was only in October 2010 that it became illegal to treat a woman unfavourably because she is breastfeeding another example of society imposing its prejudice.
Thankfully times are changing and it can be argued that the change was thrust into the light in 1991 via the legendary photographer, Annie Leibovitz and her portrait of Demi Moore. Naked. Bump. On the cover of Vanity Fair. It is hard to comprehend the controversy it caused at the time due to the frankness of Leibovitz's portrayal of a pregnant sex symbol. It led to divided opinions, ranging from complaints of sexual objectification to celebrations of the photograph as a symbol of empowerment.
To me, quite simply, it was a brave image on the cover of a great magazine—a stunning work of art that conveyed a potent message that challenged a repressed society.Vanity Fair
This photograph has long been parodied and inspiring since. Claudia Schiffer followed on appearing heavily pregnant on the cover of Vogue and in 2012 Jessica Simpson appears on the cover of Elle all drawing inspiration and empowerment from the original 1991 Demi Moore portrait.
A Long Road
Diana and Kate
The Leibovitz portrait was taken way back in the 90's and if we head back a decade earlier to the 80's when cartoons were better and all you needed for a music video was a power ballad, a wind machine and big hair, we will find photograph's of Princess Diana heavily pregnant and the perfect display of that changing attitude.
It is interesting when we compare the photographs of Diana during this time compared to that of Kate Middleton.
The differences are easy to spot, firstly Kate is not wrapped inside a curtain, we can see her legs, she is wearing heels and most importantly we can see her bump. She is looking far more glamorous and is that because of fashion, need, want and attitude? Is it a good thing? Does this comparison highlight the fears of the Leibovitz portrait, that pregnancy is becoming sexually objectified or is it a time of celebration and a symbol of empowerment?
There are obviously a lot of different opinions out there, Dr Meredith Nash says in an article for the Daily Mail 'I worry that we're covering up the reality of being pregnant - the fatigue, the headaches, and the mixed emotions - with these glossy images. It sets the bar higher for women, implying it's not OK to show how hard pregnancy is. Instead you have to look beautiful, slim and hot at all times.'
Dr Laura Tropp adds: 'Pregnancy used to be time of preparation and reflection but now it's a time for clothing and trends and baby showers and pregnancy photography."
I could add that pregnancy was also a near taboo in public along with breast feeding lead by clothes, trends and lack of network support (baby showers). It is also a point to note that the industry is being lead by women for women. A vast majority of maternity photographers are female and had become interested in it through their own pregnancy and we can of course go back to that Leibovitz portrait of Demi Moore. A legendary female photographer taking portraits of a female Hollywood legend.
What these images and article ultimately show is evolution. Times are changing and they have ultimately changed for the better, that celebrity culture rules (and can be toxic at the same time distorting the view of yourself and the world around you) and that celebration of the pregnant form and female empowerment has given women and mothers the freedom of choice.
I wholeheartedly agree with Dr Nash, we should not forget how how hard pregnancy is and I also believe that you do not have to bend to the influence of celebrity culture that you should look this way or that. ALL women are beautiful. ALL pregnant women are beautiful and when I hear other photographers ask "why wouldn't you want a maternity photo session" I have given you plenty of reasons why not.
There are, however, many other reasons why you could. It is your choice of taste and belief and when it comes to choosing a maternity photographer, male or female, I believe your photographer should understand the wider issues but also completely believe in the reasons why pregnancy portraits are a good thing. You want your photographer to deliver a maternity portrait session that does not simply piggy back on to a trend, saying "ME TOO", but instead says something about you, your beliefs and the uneqauled connection you have with your unborn child.
The first stage is to arrange your pre-shoot consultation which will take around 30 minutes. Let us know a convenient time to call you and leave me a phone number. If you have any initial questions at this time of course we would be happy to answer them when we talk.