March 12, 2000

A Pregnancy Session (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

During the previous week's session Victoria mentioned a friend of hers was pregnant and might like having her photos done before she came to term. After a small flurry of e-mails and phone calls, a date was set, and both Nancy and I crossed our fingers that the day would arrive before the baby.
35mm infrared original

Luck was with us, and Nancy arrived at the studio still pregnant (she was due four days later, and ended up having a baby boy, Lee, six days after our session). After setting up the lights, we started to work,. I borrowed a friend's Mamiya RZ for the session, as it is a much faster camera to work with than a view camera but still gave a very high quality image. The decision turned out to be a good one, as it permitted me to make a large number of images in a relatively short session. 
6x7 film
As the motivation for the session was Nancy's pregnancy, this was the obvious focal point for the images, with us working around the interplay of light and shadow on the belly. The motion of Nancy's strong hands massaging her baby fascinated me and fully half of the images are of her hands moving across her belly, a wonderful depiction of the relationship between the mother and unborn child.

My favourite image of the session came as a surprise. Before I started working, in discussing the session with several friends, they all agreed that the one image to be avoided was a frontal image of the belly - we all thought that it would look too distended. At the close of the session however, I tried a few images of Nancy's belly directly on, filling the frame with the swell of the pregnancy, and in my favourite image, Nancy's hands, encompassing the baby. Framed by the breasts above, and the legs below, it makes for a wonderfully tender image of Nancy and her unborn son.
6x7 film
For the first part of the session, I used a white backdrop, which turned out to be totally inappropriate - the body against it looked too dark, and of all those images, not a single one gave me the results I was looking for. Once I shifted to black, however, things came together, and the same poses that had failed with the white now worked wonderfully, with the dark shadows and rim lighting defining the figure wonderfully.

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