Documenting happy parents-to-be and big, round bellies, maternity photography has found a home in Jamaica Plain and Roslindale.
It can encompass a broad range of images, from intimate nudes that show off a pregnant woman’s big belly, to a family picnic, to an at-home portrait session in soon-to-be Baby’s nursery. Most focus on a large, pregnant belly, but many shoots are just as much about the parents as they are about baby-to-be.
“Moms- and dads-to-be really want to capture a special time in their lives, especially since they are going through something they have never done together before,” Roslindale-based photographer David Stubbart said, describing the draw of this type of photography.
“The women I’ve talked to want to capture a moment in time when the changes in their body are occurring for maybe, just once in their life. It means a lot to be able to remember what pregnancy is like, and what that feeling was,” fellow Rozzie photographer Bruce Spero said.
“Parents, whether first timers or not, have expressed wanting to document this time in their pregnancy and relationship with the baby,” JP-based Jenn Alton told the Gazette. “I look at it like this. You can’t see what is going on inside, but you know what you are feeling and want to capture those emotions.”
Most shoots take place well into the third trimester, when the mother’s pregnant belly is big but not too unwieldy. Many images focus on the belly itself, but the direction of the shoot is largely up to the photographer and the parents.
Many choose intimate portraits with their partners. Some choose nude, boudoir-style images. Some even crop the mother-to-be’s face out of the picture to focus completely on her belly. Some include wooden blocks that spell out the baby’s name, or baby shoes in pink or blue to indicate the expected sex. Other parents hold their hands over the belly in the shape of a heart.
“The more the photo is about the individuals, their feelings, and the uniqueness that is, the more comfortable people tend to become,” Alton said.
“Many of my clients like to bring in personal props or have me focus on maternity photos that have meaning,” Stubbart said.
But JP and Roslindale expectant parents definitely have their own flavor, the photographers said.
“The folks around the JP/Rozzie area have embraced a bit more natural approach to maternity [with] more shoots outdoors, and a bit airier feel to the images,” Spero said.
“I believe that there are trends that happen in photography. I find that clients in the JP and Roslindale communities don’t follow those trends as closely as other communities might,” Alton added.
As professionals, each of the photographers the Gazette spoke to had a different kind of favorite maternity shoot. Stubbart said he loves silhouetted bellies, and that he always takes shots of that. Spero said he loves outdoor shots and taking chances.
“The worst thing that can happen is that you get a few photos that don’t really work. But, you could end up with something really unique,” he said.
Alton said her favorites tend to be the images where the expectant couple perfectly express “the moment.”
“It’s still about them as individuals as well as the anticipation of the future they are building, so when we can capture their individuality in addition to the milestone, I feel like [the picture] was extremely successful,” she said.
Sessions usually last one to two hours and can take place at the couple’s home, in a studio, or outdoors. Sitting fees are usually a few hundred dollars—anywhere from $200 to $500 is common—plus prints and albums, which can push the cost to over $1,000 for highly-produced studio shoots, Spero said.
Alton can be reached at jennalton.com. Spero can be reached at brucespero.com. Stubbart can be reached at davidstubbartphotography.com.
This article has been edited to correct the spelling of Stubbart’s name.