For those of you who are new to the blog, welcome to Fluttering Shutter Photography! I'm a maternity/newborn/children, family photographer in Loudoun County, Virginia. That being said, this is coming from a photographers perspective, but it is (more importantly) coming from the perspective of a mom.
As many of you know, I'm currently in my second trimester of pregnancy with baby #4. Being someone who is on Facebook quite a bit, I'm in a mom group for women who are having babies in 2017 and another mama-to-be posted this morning asking if it was "terrible" if she didn't get maternity pictures done. I wrote out a response, but I wanted to share it wider because I think it's important for ALL mamas. But in order for me to be able to tell you what I think, it's important for you to know a little bit more about ME, personally. This is a more personal post than my usual blogs, so it's a little bit harder to write, but I really do feel passionately about the subject, so I'm willing to share. This is my husband and I pre-marriage and pre-babies. I was 5'4 and 125 pounds. Oh, to be that young (and skinny) again!
In 2007, I got pregnant with our first child, Lily. I have about 5-7 pictures of me pregnant with her, but this one means the most because we're standing with my grandparents, who have both since passed. This is at about 7 months pregnant.
I remember being pregnant with her and thinking "Wow, this body is so amazing! Look at this cute belly that I have!" I remember feeling her move for the first time. I remember WATCHING her move in my belly for the first time. I remember being pregnant with her and being PROUD of what my body could do. When she was born, I felt amazing. But who wouldn't with a perfect little newborn like her??
Fast forward through some hard times getting pregnant (I'll save that for another day) and I got pregnant with our son, Tyler. While being pregnant with him, I STILL felt like I was in awe of what my body could do, but I also knew that I was overweight and wasn't entirely comfortable showing off my body. Even though I felt incredibly blessed to BE pregnant after trying for so long, I was still having a hard time with my self-esteem. This is one of the very few images I have of me pregnant with him. (This is at 35 weeks. Please excuse the bathroom selfie.)
At this point in my life, I had started to take an interest in photography and really began to see the value in having pictures taken. Why? Because when Tyler was just a few weeks old, my grandmother passed away. I have a single picture of his foot in her hand because she had had multiple strokes. I don't know if she even knew that it was the foot of her great-grandson that she was holding onto, but that picture means the world to me. I felt it was so important to start capturing moments that I had some not-quite newborn portraits for Tyler and Lily done. This one is one of my favorites and I am so grateful to Emily Law at Flom Designs and Photography for getting this shot (and all of the others)!!
When Tyler was about 8 months old, we found out that we were pregnant with our third child, Elena. I was still nursing, had just started to get back into working out and was really trying to lose some of the baby weight. Even though I was really excited, I was also really uncomfortable because I KNEW that it would be harder to achieve my weight goals while being pregnant. So, I just took care of myself and tried to enjoy my pregnancy. (Here I am at 9 months pregnant with her. Note the Canon Rebel t3i WITH the pop-up flash!)
Elena was born about 2 weeks after this picture was taken and I was so happy to have her, but I was still REALLY unhappy with my weight and I was really looking forward to getting back into shape. In the meantime, I practiced my photography on her because I wanted pictures, but I couldn't justify the cost.
Now 9 years later pregnant with #4, I was 160lbs pre-pregnancy. I don't have any maternity pictures....YET. I WILL do maternity pictures this time around because this is DEFINITELY our last baby and because I have an even greater appreciation for pictures now. (And I solemnly swear that I will post those maternity pictures and newborn pictures everywhere, even if I feel huge.) I've learned a few things in the 9+ years that I've been on this motherhood journey and I want to share them with you:
Far too often we, as mothers, don't get into pictures because we don't like the way that we look. But you know what? Our kids don't care about our gray hair, or our extra 15lbs (or if you're me, 35 extra.....), or our messy hair or no make-up. They care about seeing pictures of US with them. And even more importantly? They'll care about having those pictures when you're gone.
Remember when I said that the image that I have of my husband and I with my grandparents is so completely special to me? It's special to me because all that I have left of them are a few physical objects, memories and photographs. Those moments will never happen again. NONE of these moments will ever happen again. All of those bellies of mine? Each one was different. All of those newborn features? Gone. They're all big kids now:
Look, I totally get feeling like a land whale, especially when pregnant, because I feel that way too sometimes, but how often are you going to do this? I didn't do professional maternity/true newborn pictures with any of my other children and now, I regret it. Tyler was the only one that got professional images of him taken as an almost-newborn (he was about 6 weeks old).
I KNOW that professional photography isn't cheap. There are TONS of reasons for that, but one of the most important ones is that being a professional means having experience. That experience comes with knowing how to pose a woman who is self-conscious about her weight in such a way that it truly shows off her beauty and not her weight. It comes with knowing how to pose a newborn in such a way that they are 100% safe and comfortable. There are a variety of reasons to choose a professional photographer (you can read more about that here), but I understand that it isn't always a financial priority. If you can't afford a professional photographer, I'd be happy to talk to you about how to take better pictures at home. You can even follow my Momtographer Mondays blog posts, if you don't want to reach out directly to me. If you WANT a professional photographer, I'll gladly help you find someone who is a perfect fit for you, even if it's not me.
I wish that I could show each of my children every moment of their lives before they could remember, but I can't go back in time. With this pregnancy, I'm blessed to have wonderful photographer friends and to be able to have newborn images done by myself and others, but even if I wasn't a photographer, I'd urge every mama to get portraits done. BE IN YOUR PICTURES! Show your children that you were present with them during their childhood. We often have tons of photographs of our children and a bunch of them with one parent, but mamas are usually taking the picture because sometimes it's the easiest place to hide. Stop being afraid! You.Are.Beautiful!! Your children deserve to see your gorgeous face smiling next to theirs for years and years to come. You are only pregnant with them once and they are only teeny tiny for so long. Capture those moments! Show them how small they once were! They deserve it and so do you.