Punk Mama Andrea M. is expecting her first baby in April and was kind enough to share her story surrounding her beautiful and powerful maternity shoots on the blog. As this blog was created to be a collaborative space, we look forward to hearing from other Punk Mamas in the future!
My very first thought after having a positive pregnancy test was, “Oh man, I cannot wait to get maternity photos done!” My secret baby Pinterest board was jam-packed full of reference maternity photos long before we ever even announced. So, once we received the good news, I immediately asked two photographers that I used for previous photo shoots – one of them even took our announcement photos. The process of having maternity photos done has been one of the highlights of my pregnancy, and I’m excited to share it with you today!
I am no stranger to the camera; I have modeled on and off for most of my life; paid, trade, and for fun. Needless to say, maternity photos were a personal and exciting way for me to celebrate my pregnancy. I chose to do two separate maternity shoots: an outdoor-woodsy type shoot, and a natural, more intimate studio shoot. I had so many ideas and styles of maternity photos that I loved that provided great reference material. I knew I needed Valerie Leatherman of Bunker Hill, WV to take my outdoor photos, and Charles (Chuck) Martin of Glen Burnie, MD to do my studio set.
While I had done dozens upon dozens of photo shoots before these, I don’t think anything could have prepared me for this experience. Pre-pregnancy, I would pride myself on being able to naturally transition from pose to pose. But while being pregnant, a giant, growing, and moving belly can get in the way and change things a bit! I found that I couldn’t quite move or position my body in the ways that I wanted to and was used to. Even when I thought I was posing exactly how I wanted, I would see the photos and notice a very natural but completely unflattering fold of skin, and have to completely reevaluate my posing game plan – not that a natural look is a bad thing, I was just going for something more polished. Surprisingly, the day before my first shoot (the outdoor set) I had a lot of anxiety because I had never done anything like this before. I reached out to some fellow Punk Mamas for advice, and Amber kindly shared with me a couple of infographics with flattering posing suggestions. Candyfield’s Photography’s Pregnancy and Maternity Photography Guide was an invaluable resource when learning which poses would best show off my baby bump while still looking flattering.
Surprisingly, my wardrobe selection may have been one of the most taxing parts of the process. I worried so much about picking the “perfect” dresses, getting it in the right size (which is nearly impossible to do when pregnant and ordering online!), and then learning to pose my body in each outfit. For my outdoor shoot, I looked for dresses that portrayed an aura of nature, elegance, purity, and power – like a goddess. I wanted to make sure that I looked and felt beautiful in it, and if I could wear it again, than that would be a bonus! I shopped online for a couple of options, which was a real hit or miss experience for me. I ordered one gown that I absolutely loved, but it ended up being way too small aka I couldn’t fit my arms and my boobs in at the same time. My last minute option was to head to the mall, and I surprisingly found a few options there. Selecting items to wear for my studio shoot was much easier. Since the studio shoot was going to be more simple and intimate, I was able to wear lingerie, delivery robes, and comfortable sweaters.
I had decided to do my maternity photo shoots around 28-30 weeks pregnant, that way I would be visibly pregnant but not physically miserable or uncomfortably large. I am due in late April, so this meant that my photo shoots would need to be scheduled for February. And yes, my outdoor shoot was before Maryland’s rare and unusual February heatwave! The day of my outdoor shoot ended up being around 40 degrees, but with the wind chill it felt well under 30 degrees! I was freezing and I think it shows on my face. But I also think I look fierce and powerful, so I love how they turned out.
My studio shoot was amazing and I was able to work with a talented group of people. Chuck has done tons of studio shoots for me as well as head shots for my makeup clients (Beauts by Dre). His lovely girlfriend Beth always tags along to help with posing and essentially is an extra set of eyes – she was my saving grace in this shoot as I was much more exposed and intimately posed. One thing I experienced as a result of these photos was the strong reactions they elicited. I received incredible responses from all – strangers, friends, and family. But I also received some very negative responses from some family about my studio shoot for it being “too revealing.” This was certainly not the first time I’ve gotten comments on how revealing or risqué a shoot I’ve done was, but it was definitely disappointing because I put a ton of work into making sure it was very tasteful, natural, elegant, and celebratory of the life I am nurturing. To be honest, disappointing is an understatement, I was very upset and hurt by it and had waves of strong emotions that ranged between wanting to cancel my baby shower to vowing to never leave my house again. Hormones had nothing to do with this…HA! I did end up removing the studio photos that I shared on Facebook to avoid any further negative comments on them, but I still post them on Instagram and in “safe spaces.” While these maternity photos were not everyone’s cup-o-tea, I am so pleased with how they turned out as well and I so happy that there are people out there that love these images as much as I do. In fact, my boyfriend’s reaction to my maternity photos may have been one of my favorite parts of this experience – his support and positive reactions made this experience that much more incredible.
When looking back on these images, I will remember what an intense and emotional process it was – a perfect reflection of pregnancy. There were moments that were difficult and taxing for me physically (the wind chill), and it was also draining on me mentally (dealing with unnecessary criticism from family members). Not to mention, the pressure I put on myself to have the perfect maternity photos to remember this beautiful period in my life. When I look back at these photos, I will remember the roller coaster ride they took me on, just as my pregnancy has. Every bump in the road, and every hiccup, means I am that much closer to the beauty that waits at the end.
If there is a “moral of the story” in this ridiculously long blog post, it is that maternity photos are personal, beautiful, and raw, and something every expecting mama should do if the opportunity arises. If I had the chance again, I would do it exactly the same and wouldn’t change a single thing. Do it for you and do it in a way that reflects this passing moment in your life. I love every single image that was taken, even the more unflattering ones that emanate honesty and sacrifice and love. Doing a maternity shoot, let alone two, was such an amazing and empowering experience for me and I’ve never felt more beautiful or strong as a woman.