The Evolution of Maternity Photos in my Career

July 10, 2021

Inspired by Demi Moore's groundbreaking pregnancy photograph, featured on the cover of W magazine in 1991, I began my maternity photography career photographing many, many similarly-posed women.
I began taking maternity photographs in 2005 when a good friend of mine asked me to take photographs of her belly. I was so touched to be asked and given a chance. I suppose that's how most diversifications in one's career occur - someone gives you a chance. Back then, pregnancy wasn't something you could simply offer to photograph.

And there is something to be said for that. Back then, when women were semi-dressed (in one case, I arrived and she was completely naked!) you were photographing women in a vulnerable state - and certainly not in a way that they portrayed themselves to the rest of the world. Women had to know that you were worthy of that trust if they were trusting you with an intimate glimpse into their lives.  


I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have photographed the 'Demi Moore' pose: a semi-naked woman posed with one hand holding her belly, the other covering her breasts. It was probably the start of the glamourisation of pregnancy, coupled with the desire to document and appreciate a life-changing milestone.
Maternity photographs then were probably for personal use. You would perhaps show your friends, frame one and that would be the end of it. In our parents' days, they perhaps took one documentary photograph on their film camera - and possibly didn't make eye contact with the chemist when they collected their prints.


How times have change

 Social Media
Social media has been a game-changer for both photographers and the expectant couples among us. Now, pictures are shared on platforms where everyone - your mom, your work colleagues, your parents' friends (and Joe, the weird, slightly creepy neighbour) -can see them.  This has resulted in a gigantic shift in how women choose to be represented. Yes, they have a bump. But that's not all we're documenting any more.

 
Capturing the beauty of pregnant women has given a boost to sideline industries. There are now thriving businesses that sell and rent out the most beautiful gowns for a maternity photoshoot. Long gowns and flowy fabrics in a variety of colours, which create a soft, feminine feel. Some have slits in the front so that the belly can be shown if required. There are dresses for every figure and every level of comfort.


When I first started, the moms did their own make-up. These days, the shoot is carefully scheduled around hair, nail and make-up appointments. 

Maternity pictures now are shot to be shown to everybody. Canvasses are made and placed in an eye-catching part of the house. 

I'm sure in the days when women were having 13 babies each, they did not hire an artist to paint them in their pregnant state every time. As times have changed, so too have our attitudes. Smaller families mean that pregnancy may be only a once or twice in a lifetime event. Once it is done, it's done. There is no going back and getting those pictures again if you didn't get them at the time. 

Having had two children myself, I certainly see the value in having them. My son was fascinated to see what I looked like when I was expecting him. When I was pregnant with my daughter, my husband took some beautiful pics of that pregnancy. It's a special family milestone, and if you're up to it, well worth getting pics of

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