A reflection of change

Maternity shoots

A reflection of change

Kareena Kapoor walking the ramp with her baby bump made waves on social media and sparked discussions in various fora about how this is a celebration of pregnancy.

Meanwhile, closer home in Bengaluru, it looks like more and more mothers-to-be want to cherish this phase, and the memories they associate with it. City-based shutterbugs say they have been landing an increasing number of maternity photography projects lately. And clients come from across different sections of society, they observe.

“It has become mainstream now,” says Antony Pratap of Nevervoid Photography, comprising two lensmen and two editors. The group has worked on about 50 maternity photography projects. “But we did one first for a friend a couple of years ago,” he admits. “We added pictures on our website, and it has simply caught on.”

For many other photographers too, it was a chance request that got them experimenting with this genre. Sharmilla Shah, founder of ‘Wedding Bellz’, had clients, whose wedding memories she had immortalised, trickling in for such projects initially.

“For every 10 shoots I do, eight are wedding and the other two maternity,” says the mother who also had photographers at a friend's studio click her pictures when she was pregnant eight years ago. “Since then, it has picked up and people are more aware of it,” she adds.

“Even earlier, people had photographers at rituals related to pregnancy, but the element of celebration in those pictures were more subtle.” She and her fellow photographers agree that a Western influence is responsible for the popularisation of the trend. However, her clients over the past five years — except for one — have requested her not to share or use the photos in a public domain.

“Most Indian women don’t put them up, at least until the child is born,” she observes. “Their families are often anxious that the child might come to harm from an evil eye.”

But she does see a shift in sensibilities. “Karisma (Kapoor) is from a similar background, but chose not to be photographed when she had her child,” she says. So Kareena's move serves as a reflection of change as well as an inspiration, she believes.

Sowmya Mense, who runs the popular Facebook page SowmyaPhotography, disagrees. “So many doctors, engineers and people from other professions continue working till an advanced stage in their pregnancy nowadays,” she says. “I also continued to do shoots till my eighth month. So why put celebrity moms-to-be on a pedestal?”

Her clientele have progressed from people whom she had already worked for to fresh faces. “And from those who wanted a handful of frames to a those who ask for a full-fledged shoot,” she says.

“Many even insist that it's creatively crafted. They want to truly celebrate the transformation of the body.”

Last week, she shot a would-be mother in a tub of milk, with flower petals floating. “I don't limit the location to parks, like many other photographers do. I’ve done another on the streets — around MG Road and Brigade Road,” she says.

Like Sharmilla, Sowmya has also been on the other side of the lens of maternity shoots. Did she share her pictures online? “Not really, they’re really personal for me,” she replies.

Rohith, who started ‘Baby Graphy’ in 2010, gets about 15 to 20 maternity projects a year. “Till around two years  ago, the numbers were two or three annually,” he says.

“It might still be a more niche market than wedding photography, but now, at least, any moms-to-be who want to get their pictures taken have a number of options in the city.”

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