Becky and Ava – The Reflection

mirrored childbirth

Part one – the first shoot

We arranged for Becky to call up to the studio, having briefed her on what to expect.
I had not personally met Becky, but knew very well a close friend of hers, who would be coming with her and helping.
On shoots like this, there is always a female third party present, which helps in a number of ways.
Firstly, it is always handy to have an assistant, both for myself and for the subject.
I may need the hair arranging, or any props like silk may need draping and adjusting, allowing me to see the adjustments, without invading the subjects personal space.
Conversely, the mother may need a hand onto and off the floor, and help with the removal and reapplication of the dressing gown, which we can then leave until the very last minute for comfort.
Secondly, it helps for the peace of mind for everybody who is concerned in the shoot, including not least those not present, such as husbands and partners.
When we shoot newborns, the assistants are always fully newborn photography trained, but for maternity this is unnecessary.
Just basic first aid is sufficient.

The lights, background, camera etc. had all been positioned beforehand, so ideally Becky could walk in, take the shot and walk out with as little stress as possible.
Becky arrived looking really well, calm and looking forward to the shoot.
If Becky was at all a little nervous, it wasn’t apparent whatsoever.
Firstly we had checked if she had any problem we should be aware of
We went though once more exactly what we would be doing, and Trish assumed and demonstrated the poses, so Becky could get straight into position, and out again as soon as possible.
We chatted and joked, and before you knew it, we had made our first shot, which looked just how we were hoping it would.
After we were happy with this shot, we checked how Becky was, and after being certain she was happy, relaxed and comfortable, we went on to do several more.
It would be a shame to be in the studio, and not at least attempt to take a few more variations of maternity shots.
The reflection shot was of course ‘The Main Event’, all the others, icing on the cake so to speak, also came out really nicely.

Becky sitting and showing her bump

Part two – the wait

For us it was just time, around about 7 weeks.
For Becky it was & weeks of time ticking towards the birth of her daughter, and then the real impact of a new baby following the big day.
Fortunately, as a mother of three, this (although never a walk in the park) situation was something she was not unfamiliar with.
On 04 August, baby Ava was born at 13:06, happy healthy and 8lbs 6oz.

Subsequently we made arrangements for them both to come up to the studio.
This time it was my partner Heidi who came along to help.
As there was a newborn involved, we needed a fully trained assistant.
As a mother of three herself, and our chief ‘baby wrangler, Heidi was really excited to meet Ava!!!
If anything, this was a far trickier shoot than the first one.
In one respect it was easier, as now having already met Becky, the second shoot was as expected very relaxed.
Although the utmost care has to be taken when dealing with someone who is pregnant, they will normally be so used to it, it isn’t an issue for them.
We always start with a rundown of their general health, and if there are any issues we need to be aware of.
However introduce a baby, and as you would expect, the assumed care levels go through the roof.
Both Becky and Ava performed as if it were their day job, and the actual shooting probably took no longer than 10 minutes.
However (as is sometimes) the case, although the studio was warm and comfortable, as Avas’ clothes were removed, when the change in temperature hit she did have a little accident on mum!
It wasn’t a drama though, and we had some pampers on hand.

The positioning of Ava and Becky could not have turned out better.
Becky looked terrific in her pose, and Ava stared at the camera as if she was quite aware of both what was going on, and what was required.

Part three – the editing

This was a long process.
Although the utmost care had been taken to get the lights in the correct position, along with Becky, we were trying to recreate something which had happened around 7 weeks previous, and all the tiny details did matter.
The lighting needed to match, and the angles of the shadows in the reflection had to make sense and look realistic.
On a couple of occasions, the file was closed and looked at again the following day, as looking at something for too long makes you lose your objectivity.
Finally the finished image was ready, and the first to see it for approval was Becky.
We wanted her to be happy with the image, before anyone else saw it, and she was over the moon with it.
A number of people, including Heidi, said that they wished they had done something like this with the birth of their children.
Heidi said it would be worth having another baby just to have a chance to create this image – almost!!

Part four – the reaction

We were overjoyed at how the finished image looked.
Subsequently, we uploaded the image to a number of online forums we are member of.
All were either photographic or photo editing groups, and comments and accolades we received were mind boggling.
It was quite humbling to read the amazing comments, made all the more special to come from fellow photographers.
On just one forum alone, which is mainly US photographers, the image had 2.2K reactions.
Here are just a handful of the comments.

2,200 reactions from one group alone.

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