In the midst of a WhatsApp conversation with my best friend who lives abroad about my pregnancy-swollen legs, hands, and how I feel like a total heifer at the moment, I mentioned to her that I wanted to do a maternity photoshoot. Her response, quite understandably, was “If you feel so unattractive at the moment why on earth would you want to take pictures?!” Good question Roch, good question!
I hadn’t actually really thought about why I wanted to capture the last weeks of my pregnancy on film, other than knowing that I really wanted to. This very astute question prompted me to think about why I was so keen.
It’s no secret that I have never had a very comfortable relationship with my body. Despite being pretty fit and active, I have always been overweight, and it is only when dedicating myself 100% to a demanding exercise and diet regime that I have managed to get to a place where I was starting to feel happy with it, but it was at the expense of many other areas of my life and simply not sustainable. I know, sounds like an excuse, but the honest truth is that when viewed alongside all the other priorities in my life, while it was functioning perfectly, getting my body to look the way I wanted just wasn’t at the top.
Early pregnancy brought some of my worst insecurities to the fore. For what felt like forever, you couldn’t really tell I was pregnant, I just looked like a fatter version of me, one I had struggled to keep in check. Clothes were uncomfortably tight, and I was faced with going up a dress size or two to accommodate my now super-enormous chest. This has happened to me before without the excellent excuse of pregnancy, and it brought back all manner of feelings of inadequacy in managing my weight and worries about how I looked. I was walking around hiding my stomach, sitting so nobody would see it, doing the classic ‘cover your stomach with a cushion when sitting’ thing. It didn’t help that for much of this time we hadn’t announced my pregnancy so I felt even more conscious of my weight. Once we had, I did my best to make sure I made a show of massaging my stomach so people would know I was pregnant and not just fat!
However, around the middle of the 5 month mark, I suddenly had a noticeable baby bump, and it changed everything. I suddenly felt proud of my burgeoning stomach which I could now feel was harbouring our growing (and kicking) child, and was keen to wear tight tops and dresses to show it off. I wasn’t just fat anymore, I was fat for the best reason possible.
The more my stomach grew and stretched, the more proud I felt of how my body was growing this tiny human, all without me really doing anything at all. It felt (and still feels) miraculous. I started to think I might have been a little tough on my body all this time – I was judging it on its appearance, and not on how strong and capable it was. Around this time I overheard someone come out with the classic (and somehow perfectly Yorkshire) ‘handsome is as handsome does’ while running errands up in the village, and it suddenly struck me – no matter what my body looks like, it is the only one I have and it is doing a damn good job. Every midwife check up has reinforced this – baby is growing fine, I am fine, everything is progressing perfectly, despite me being an older first-time Mum (I refuse to call myself geriatric, though to be fair, the last few weeks of the third trimester you definitely start to feel it!).
Our babymoon to Santorini was when the thought of doing a maternity shoot really solidified. I have never felt confident in a bikini before, yet I happily paraded around with my big bump (and all my other lumps and bumps) on display all week, and I felt amazing. I suddenly realised I wanted to capture the magic of what my body was doing, and how proud and happy it made me feel.
My Insta-friend India (@indiawoof) had just had a stunning maternity photoshoot done, and she recommended I get in touch with Anna and Gemma of For the Love of Photography who are based fairly near us in Derbyshire. I am so glad I did! You can see why from the stunning photos in this post.
From the moment they arrived at my filthy, dusty building site of a home, to be welcomed by a nosy pug diving into their handbags and clambering all over them, it was clear they were both really lovely, laid back girls who we were going to get on with. I am not exactly confident in front of the camera, and neither is Ste, so feeling so relaxed with them from the start was a huge help. Given the state of our house, with no single room still intact to use for a shoot, we had decided to go to Beaumont Park, which is a stunning landscaped park a few minutes away from our house, on the side of a hill with beautiful views down over Huddersfield. It was looking particularly beautiful on the day of our shoot because of the enormous rhodedendron bushes bordering every lawn.
We started off with a few shots in front of one of them, to get us relaxed. Both Anna and Gemma were shooting, and we weren’t sure where to look, but they explained one would be taking shots of us facing the camera, and the other would be capturing more candid ones at the same time. This way they have captured some absolutely beautiful photos that are even better than I had hoped, despite our nerves in front of the camera, which quickly disappeared as we went on.
In fact, it was an entirely lovely experience – it was a beautiful day, the park is stunning at this time of year, and it just felt like a stroll with friends, albeit one where they had to patiently wait not once but twice for the pregnant lady to visit the loo! We even got ice creams.
If you’re looking for a photographer for a maternity shoot, or a wedding, or baby shower, or indeed, any event, I highly recommend getting in touch with For the Love of Photography. You can see from their blog that the results of their shoots are consistently wonderful, and they’re lovely people too, which is always nice! In fact, they wrote a lovely post about our day too, which I can’t stop reading. Thank you both so much for capturing this magical time in our lives, I hope we can have you capture many more!