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It’s All About the Belly: Maternity Photography

Ruby de Luna
November 10, 2005

Vanity fair magazine caused a scandal 15 years ago when it featured a cover photo of a nude and very pregnant Demi Moore. These days expectant mothers are paying hundreds of dollars to bare their bellies for the camera. It’s the latest in maternity marketing. KUOW’s ruby de luna reports

FOR MANY PREGNANT WOMEN THE LAST THING ON THEIR MIND IS TO SHED THEIR CLOTHES AND POSE FOR PICTURES AFTER GAINING 30 POUNDS. BUT MORE AND MORE MOTHERS-TO-BE LIKE 44-YEAR OLD KARI HULL ARE DOING JUST THAT. HULL TAKES HER CUES FROM PHOTOGRAPHER JENNIFER LOOMIS.

JENNIFER LOOMIS: “Looking down at your baby, babies. Open those shoulders, yeah. (Camera click). Okay, but we can’t see your pretty face.”

ON THIS DAY HULL IS DRAPED IN SOFT IVORY SILK, HER TUMMY EXPOSED.

LOOMIS: “Mmhmm, keep coming, just chin, yeah but look down, there you go& that’s good.” (camera click, then fade under tracks)

HULL SAYS SHE WANTS TO CAPTURE THIS EMOTIONAL MOMENT IN HER LIFE. SHE’S 44 YEARS OLD. SHE AND HER HUSBAND HAVE BEEN MARRIED 3 YEARS AND ARE EXPECTING TWINS IN DECEMBER. THIS IS THEIR FIRST PREGNANCY. HULL SAYS IT WILL ALSO BE THEIR LAST.

HULL: “We’re just excited and looking forward to seeing something that is beautiful that somebody is able to capture the moment and that special moments that we’ll be able to share with our kids later on.”

MATERNITY PHOTOGRAPHY IS A SMALL BUT GROWING NICHE IN THE MATERNITY BUSINESS. PHOTOGRAPHER JENNIFER LOOMIS IS ONE OF THE PIONEERS IN SEATTLE. SHE REMEMBERS HOW JUST FIVE YEARS AGO PEOPLE THOUGHT SHE WAS CRAZY TO TAKE PICTURES OF PREGNANT WOMEN. SHE EVEN HAD DIFFICULTY PLACING AN AD IN PARENTING PUBLICATIONS.

LOOMIS: “I got a call from the publications saying, we can’t run this. And I said why and they said it’s a naked pregnant woman. And I said, she’s not naked, but they wouldn’t run the ad. ”

THE PUBLICATION RAN THE AD ONLY AFTER LOOMIS CHANGED THE PICTURE. SHE DISCOVERED THE MOST EFFECTIVE MARKETING WAS TO HANG HER PICTURES IN PLACES WHERE PREGNANT WOMEN OFTEN GO SUCH AS MATERNITY BOUTIQUES AND BIRTHING CLASSES. THESE DAYS LOOMIS COMMUTES TO SAN FRANCISCO AND NEW YORK WHERE SHE’S BOOKED THROUGH MARCH. SHE SAYS IT’S NOT JUST THE PHOTOGRAPHS THAT DRAW HER CLIENTS.

LOOMIS: “I feel like a big part of what I do is give these pregnant women a different way of seeing themselves. And they walk away feeling beautiful. And that’s important to me.”

MATERNITY PHOTOGRAPHY HAS BECOME SO MAINSTREAM THAT EVEN JC PENNEY OFFERS IT, BUT FULLY CLOTHED. WOMEN ARE EMBRACING THEIR PREGNANCY, EVEN SHOWING IT OFF. AND MARKETERS ARE TAKING NOTE. JULIA BECK IS FOUNDER OF FORTY WEEKS, AN EAST COAST CONSULTING BUSINESS THAT HELPS COMPANIES REACH EXPECTANT AND NEW MOTHERS&

BECK: “I think that we are looking at a much different attitude towards pregnancy in general; it is not a means to an end anymore the entire process from the preconception all the way through childbirth is a lifestyle, a life cycle of its own; a moment of its own. So rather than getting ready for baby; we are being pregnant. there’s a difference.”

AND WHAT’S DRIVING THIS ATTITUDE CHANGE ARE WOMEN IN THEIR MID-THIRTIES AND OLDER WHO PUT OFF MOTHERHOOD. BECK SAYS MANY ARE PROFESSIONALS AND THEIR EXPECTATIONS ARE DIFFERENT. OFTEN THESE MOMS-TO-BE HAVE THE MONEY TO SPEND ON PRENATAL YOGA, SPA TREATMENTS AND RITUALS THAT FOCUS ON THE PREGNANCY EXPERIENCE. OF COURSE, IT DOESN’T HURT TO HAVE HOLLYWOOD CELEBRITIES LIKE DEMI MOORE WHO SHOWED THAT YOU CAN BE HOT AND PREGNANT. I’M RUBY DE LUNA, KUOW NEWS.

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