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Mother's Day

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More moms begin baby pictures before birth

By Brian Beckley

The Courier-Herald

Expectant mother Kendra Smith has a series of photos at her home of her first baby, Aiden, now 15 months, that start even before he was born.

In the opening frame of the photo series is a shot of Smith's pregnant belly just weeks before Aiden's arrival.

“Just so he knows we value this time and wanted to preserve it,” Smith said. “It just kind of takes me back to the moment; the anticipation and excitement we were feeling.”

As the birth of her second child approaches, Smith went back to the Photographs of Life studio in Buckley for a second round of maternity shots, some of which include soon-to-be big brother Aiden.

Maternity photos is a growing trend in the world of photography, with expectant mothers heading to studios in increasing numbers to capture their pregnancy and celebrate their motherhood even before the baby's arrival.

“You really are a mother already,” said Amy Allan, owner of Emages Studio in Lakeland Hills. “Their lives changed the moment they found out.”

Though the roots of the trend are often traced back to a very pregnant Demi Moore's 1991 Vanity Fair cover shoot, Allan, who had photos taken during her second pregnancy and wishes she had them from her first, said the number of maternity shots she takes continues to increase.

“Up until the last six months, most people brought in their newborns,” she said. “We're seeing a huge trend of women coming in for maternity.”

Allan said she is surprised at the number of soon-to-be-moms who arrive for photos, many of whom sign up for her photo club and start with maternity shots instead of the traditional newborn pics.

The trend may also be generational, with new parents seeing pregnancy as something to celebrate more than their parents may have. For Allan herself, when she had her photos done, she remembers her father telling her that they were nice, but that she shouldn't show them around too much while her friends all loved the photos.

Stephanie Traugett said she had seen a friend's maternity pictures and decided to head in herself to have a set done.

“It just seemed like a good idea,” Traugett said. “This time goes so fast and it's a neat way to capture it.”

“I wanted to document such a special time in my life,” agreed Laura Hogenson who, like Smith, went to Photographs of Life for her pictures.

Hogenson said at first she thought the idea was weird, but was really pleased with how the photos - which she called “waiting for you” - turned out.

“You could see the expectation and anticipation,” she said.

Nadine Sims documented the growth of her son, now 13 months, by taking maternity photos every trimester while she was pregnant.

“Whenever I saw pictures of pregnant women I thought they were really pretty,” Sims said.” Plus, it's not a state you are normally in.”

“Most of the focus is on the belly,” said Steve Vandergrift of Photographs for Life. “It's basically just focusing on the changing shape of the belly.”

Vandergrift said he started doing maternity shots when his sister-in-law asked for a sitting. Since then, word of mouth has spread and he is seeing an upswing in maternity business. Vandergrift said he likes to see the anticipation in the photos.

“I really like that kind of quiet, thinking about what's coming your way,” he said.

“It's the connection of motherhood,” Allan agreed.

For both of the photographers and the mothers, favorite shots are close-ups of the belly with both parents' hands in the frame. As finishing shots, many of the women choose black and white or sepia-toned images.

“Most of them, I think, are coming in and wanting artsy shots,” Allan said.

For many of the women, the photos also provide a look back at the beginnings of motherhood, a time that may seem to be long, but seems to fly by in retrospect.

“You really don't know what you're going through until you have a chance to look back on it,” Hogenson said.

Brian Beckley can be reached at bbeckley@courierherald.com.

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