Demi Moore may have set the trend for pregnant women everywhere when she did the August 1991 cover of Vanity Fair magazine in her birthday suit, her tummy round and bulging with seven months of pregnancy. Twenty-five years ago, that experience may have been a privilege for celebrities, but these days, practically any mom-to-be can have her own Demi moment. Just go online and type #maternityshoot, and you’re bound to find a great deal of prenatal photographs.
Most celebrities with a bun in the oven have also had their pictures taken specifically for this special moment. Locally, Neri Naig, Paula Peralejo, Mariel Rodriguez, and Iya Villania, to name a few, all posed for the camera with their pregnant bellies. And, just recently, Georgina Wilson bared her growing baby bump for a magazine cover.
But, we wonder: Would a regular mom like us be willing to do a maternity shoot? We asked several women to find out how they feel about it, and we were surprised with the answers.
Some of the women cited their physical appearance as a reason not to do it. “I skipped it because I didn't feel glamorous being pregnant,” says Marga Llanera-Alaguia. “In fact, I hardly have any pregnant photos!” It’s not uncommon to feel this way because women’s bodies encounter lots of physical changes during the course of the pregnancy.
For some expectant moms, however, it is during this time that they feel most comfortable with their bodies. This alone encourages them to create a keepsake of this stage in their lives, hence the photo shoot. “Amazingly, I felt better with my body when I was pregnant. I felt sexier. I was able to wear what I would not wear before. Plus, I wanted to document my pregnancy,” shares Angel Cruz-Daylo.
For Diane Aquino-Manauis, “I had to skip mine because I was ordered by my OB-GYN to rest. I was a little upset because this was my first pregnancy, and at the same time relieved that my daughter was okay because I followed my doctor's orders,” she says.
Some also cited busy schedules for not being able to do so. But for these women, phone apps like Bumpie, which takes photos of the belly week after week, sufficed.
Interestingly, maternity photographs also serve more than just a documentation of the pregnancy or a precious memento. It can also help convey to your child how he or she came into this world.
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“I had one so that it will be easy to explain to my son that he came from my tummy,” explains Leah Araos-Castillo, “because I heard from a friend that her son cannot imagine himself being inside his mom's tummy.”
For those who want to give it a go, photographer Sofia Genato of The Stork Studio advises that the best time to do it is between 31 and 35 weeks of your pregnancy, when the belly is rounder and already prominent.
First time mom-to-be Ann Medialdea Dela Cruz, who had her shoot at 36 weeks, shares a lesson learned: "I should have done this earlier when I still felt fab and it was easier for me to move, not now when everything feels big and heavy.” Of course, there are photographers who will still accommodate your request to shoot, but it might be too tiring for you and your baby past the 35th-week mark.
So, how should you prepare for the shoot? A tip Sofia gives clients is to know what kind of shoot they want. Do you want it done indoors or outdoors? With props or without? Is there a theme? You may then discuss this with your photographer during a pre-consultation session.
Photographer Lai De Guzman, who has been doing maternity shoots for over six years, also encourages women to search for inspiration. “This helps both wife and husband to get into a fun project, which they can do together in preparation for the shoot.”
As far as the trends go, Sofia says that pregnant women are now more playful and adventurous with their concepts. “More moms are now looking for more than just studio portraits,” she remarks. Lai agrees, saying, “In the past, the options for maternity shoots were limited to a private space like a studio. These days, clients are willing to be photographed outdoors or in places that a team of stylists can build and create.”
Both Sofia and Lai acknowledge that the openness to do maternity shoots is a result of the popularity of pre-nuptial photo sessions. With engagement shoots a popular prelude to the wedding photo session itself, it’s only logical that couples would also want to have their pregnancy documented. It’s also the same reason why newborn photography is popular.
One factor that women have to consider is the cost of the shoot. With all the things you have to prepare for with the baby’s arrival, including the hospital bills, it’s only pragmatic to take into account how your maternity shoot will fit into your budget.
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Rates for maternity shoots differ -- they can go from as low as P3,000 (depending on packages) in mall studios, to much higher, if done by an experienced professional. It also depends on the photographer’s rate and your chosen theme. You’ll also have to factor in the fees for the makeup artist, hairstylist and props stylist.
Some women we asked were lucky to have photographer friends who were willing to snap their pics for free. And then there were others who chose to do it on their own—from styling to photography.
At the end of the day, it really is a combination of factors that will determine if you should (if you can) have a maternity shoot or not. If you decide to skip it, there are other ways to remember this special moment by. But for those who opt to do it, maternity shoots serve as a reminder of the life that they’ve been entrusted with. Mom-of-two Kaycee Anne Lim, who did it on both her pregnancies, explains it well. “Pregnancy is an experience not every woman is blessed with, and I think having a photo shoot celebrates this blessing.”