In early November, my lady and I had the mandatory maternity shoot. You know, the ones where couples pose in cool backgrounds, smile and the pregnant woman looks regal as can be.
Admittedly, I had heard of maternity photos, but never really paid any attention to them. I knew it was something that couples did , but never understood the reason for them. I just thought it was one of those things where they said “hey, lets take some photos while I’m pregnant”.
There I stood in the middle of a beautiful backdrop, while the photographer contorted herself in positions that only a yogi would understand, to get the perfect shot. Light, pose, background, and facial reactions were all part of her instructions. “Smile, no less, no more, left hand higher, no lower, ok good, stay still. Ok, again. One more. Ok, now you can breathe.” It was like a workout. As the day went on though, I started to understand why this was important and why, in my opinion, it had to be done.
This is our first child. When will we have another “first” child? These photos captured a moment in her first pregnancy that she will cherish way after the baby has gone to college. She’s becoming a mother for a first time so why not celebrate that fact. I’m becoming a father for the first time, and this is something that was always in the back of my mind, but now is front and center. Why not capture this moment? We are sharing this experience together. This will be part of the memory of the journey we are undertaking. Our daughter will look back at these moments and think to herself “geez, you guys got some cheesy smiles.” I’ll just reply, “Yup, and you inherited it, now go do your homework!” Joking aside, she’ll be able to look back and see how we felt on that beautiful fall day, taking photo after photo celebrating her pending arrival. This is as much for her as it is for us.
Women go through ups and downs physically and mentally during a pregnancy. Happy, sad, excited, depressed, anger, elation, and a lot of other emotions that we as men could never understand. What I noticed during the shoot was that she could not stop smiling. She had a few outfits picked out for the day and made a quick change from one to the other. She felt beautiful inside and out and our photographer made sure of that. Her body is going through all these changes and here she was smiling, posing, and feeling as beautiful as she’s ever felt. As I stood next to her during one of the shots, I whispered in her ear “you look beautiful babe.” Her smile widened, and you could feel her spirits lift. It had a carry over effect and she was on cloud nine for days after that shoot. As for myself I was coming off foot surgery and it was the first time I ventured out and walked /limped on my repaired foot. I got a haircut, shaved, and got into my nice clothes. As I stood, posed, shifted, and smiled, I began to feel like my old self again. My smile got bigger, and I fully immersed myself in the experience. It was the spark I needed to feel good. Crazy what a simple photo shoot can do for self-esteem right?
Sometimes you take the person that is next to you for granted. It’s not on purpose, but you see them every day and you just become…accustomed to them being there. You make assumptions based on your relationship and things aren’t said or acted upon when they should be. In between shots, while our photographer set up her camera, I would crack jokes to my lady about us doing the shoot, or some other nonsensical thing that my twisted mind could come up with. “Did Adam and Eve have a maternity shoot? Will any of these photos end up as the ‘place holder’ photo in a frame at Target?” You get the idea. My point is that we bonded during the experience and felt closer to each other. It’s important that this foundation is continuously fortified because as the adage goes (paraphrased), without a solid foundation, everything else will collapse.
Our photographer picked a fantastic location. The scenery was amazing, and the fall foliage was in full bloom. We got lucky as it was also a beautiful day and the weather couldn’t have been more perfect for a photo shoot. I must admit, it was fun. Yeah..I admit it; I was skeptical going in, but once it got underway, I had a blast. If you know me, you know I’m 42 going on 16; I’m a big kid at heart. I was cracking jokes, making faces, and just being silly. It got to a point where I had to scale it back because we would’ve lost all the good light for the photos and that would’ve been no bueno. We had some props that we used during the shoot. We had two pairs of baby booties (OMG SOOOO CUUUUUTE!) and a drawing board where we could put a message for our daughter. When we were thinking of what to write, I suggested “Free ride is over!”, “Your Dad is handsome”, “Don’t tell mom!”, and “GET IN THE CHOPPA!”. Of course, I was overridden on all of those, so my lady and the photographer picked. I didn’t see anything wrong with what I suggested but eh, it turned out well. Using the props was a great idea and just added to the creativity of the shoot. There were a lot of beautiful backgrounds that enhanced the experience and made for some great shots.
After about 3,047,836 photos, 4 outfit changes each (including the photographer), 83 lenses, and about 9,382 poses, we called it a day. I’m exaggerating of course. It was only half of those numbers. We get an email and a call a week or so later and our photographer had photos for us to choose from. She eliminated test shots, bad light, crooked smiles, closed eyes, and any picture where I was posing like I was in the old neighborhood. We met up, opened the laptop, and what happened next was…unexpected. I went silent. I’m as talkative as they come, and for me to go silent, it must be something incredible. Photo after photo, I couldn’t help but stare in awe as to how incredible she made us look. I was asked a few times if I was ok and I just nodded. We get to one photo, and I got emotional. It was a picture of me holding the baby booties and looking down at them and smiling. When I saw this photo, I stopped, and felt my eyes well up, a lump in my throat, and got goosebumps all over. In that moment, I totally understood why this photo shoot was important. As a first-time dad-to-be, seeing those booties in my hand, that will be on the feet of my daughter, and me smiling like I was happiest person in the world, left an impression on me that still has not worn off. They looked at me and smiled and didn’t say a word. They knew. They understood what I was feeling. In that moment, it all made sense. There was another photo that put into perspective what this shoot was all about. My lady was sitting in the grass with some casual clothes, legs crossed, and in a meditative pose. The light was perfect, her face was glowing, and she looked peaceful. In that shot, she encompassed everything that she is going to be as a mom: cool, calm, collected, and beautiful.
We picked our favorite photos and let our photographer put the finishing touches on them. After another week or so, we meet up again and go through the final selections. Photo after photo, I was moved as to how special that day was. The beauty of this journey that we’re on was captured and was tangible as you scrolled from photo to photo. My skepticism turned to belief as to why this was important.
To our photographer Monica, who climbed rocks, wiggled under a table, sat on wet grass, posed us, and made us look like the most incredible parents-to-be in the world, thank you. This was a special moment in time and we are truly grateful for this experience.
If you’re in the NYC area and are in search of a photographer, you can contact Monica at: firstname.lastname@example.org. You won’t be disappointed.
And now, a few of the photos of that wonderful day.