Prenatal, or expectant mom, portraits are some of the most precious photographs taken. It marks so many things. Not just the start of new life – a miracle in a woman’s tummy – but it also heralds the change of so much more. The start of a new family, the change of a whole lifestyle, a responsibility of parenthood that remains no matter how far from the nest they fly.
It’s an exciting, precious time. It will dominate conversations, decisions, and nearly all of your choices.
In the rush of life, as memories get buried and changed, photographs of this moment become a touchstone that brings you back to all the emotions, all the people, and most importantly, to where and how your connection with your child began.
I recall when Sally came in to see her prenatal images; it was a few weeks after the birth of her son. To the envy of her friends, her body was well on the way to pre-prenatal shape. The first thing she said when she saw her tummy was, “Wow! I had forgotten how big I was!” Then in a rush of reminiscing, she started to tell me about the highlights of her pregnancy. We spent the next 30 minutes as she emotionally shared that.
Children find the images fascinating; it gives them a sense of where they came from. It also gives them connection to the coming of a sibling with the next tummy bump. They can visually grasp that they both come from the same tummy, the same place. Little Carol expressed it so warmly when I was photographing her with her mommy’s tummy. She kissed the large full tummy, then as she hugged her mom, she said,”I used to live there when I was really tiny. I’m big now!”
The best prenatal images, the ones enjoyed years later, are the creative images, and not just a record of size and date.
Mary Beth started her session months in advance. She would come in for a quick silhouette nude image sideways. She started this the first month she found out she was expecting. Every 30 days she would come in for another, until we were 8 months out doing a full session. We put her progression of expanding tummies into one long strip of images. It hangs below the large wall image of a soft, sensitive prenatal moment.
They don’t need to be all timeless and sensitive. I am delighting in watching Sandy, a boudoir client of ours, post her delightfully humorous images of her tummy’s progress. Complete with thought balloons, her joyful partner in the pictures with a grin as big as hers, it’s fun to see.
Photographs stir our memories and anchor us in our community, and prenatal images remind of us of the start of precious life, of a delightful family. They bring back all the warmth, joy, and love that swirled around that time, enriching today with each viewing and sharing.