She arrived at the studio for her maternity session with big bags of designer clothing and jewelry, big Texas hair, and a big and bold personality. It was clear within seconds of meeting that she was entirely different from me, but I appreciated her shockingly candid and forthright nature as well as her great sense of humor. She knows exactly who she is and makes no apologies for it, which I found refreshing.
Recognizing this about her so immediately upon meeting, I still proceeded with the shoot in my rather usual way done for maternities. Which is to convey the beauty of the curves of the pregnant body, and also the thoughtfulness that this incredibly wondrous time can evoke in a woman as she contemplates her unborn child.
This wasn’t working out so well.
I wasn’t happy with what I was getting because I was posing her in ways that reflected more of my view of pregnancy than hers. Contemplative may be a very good adjective to describe me, but it was a mistake to attempt to apply this trait to her portraits. When I finally got that, the mood of the session changed, as I began to explore what exactly her experience of being pregnant was. And it was drama.
In the end, my favorite portraits seemed to contain within them an unlikely but perfect melding of both subject and photographer, where we were both able to remain true to ourselves and yet exist simultaneously on a frame together.