Jennifer Loomis’ passion for photography evolved from a hobby to working in a camera store and soaking up all the knowledge she could, to a Master’s degree in photojournalism, and finally to a fine art photographer specializing in maternity imagery.
Unique images of this unique body shape has gotten her coverage in print, online, radio and television media from The New York Times to Entertainment Tonight. It culminated in the publishing of her first book, Portraits of Pregnancy: The Birth of a Mother (Sentient, 2009) and an international exhibit at Palazzo Della Penna, a contemporary museum of art in Perugia, Italy in 2011.
A pioneer in this relatively new niche, Jennifer says there’s a different attitude nowadays surrounding pregnancy than in the past. “A lot of that has been led by celebrities,” she says. Remember the issue of Vanity Fair magazine with a pregnant Demi Moore on the cover? “And there are a lot of moms who are having children later in life. They treasure their pregnancy more because maybe they had to work at it,” Jennifer adds.
Maternity photography requires a special touch that Jennifer has been careful to develop in a career working with more than 1,700 women. “My photojournalism background allows me to see this unique individual before me and capture what’s emblematic of who she is at that moment in her life,” Jennifer spends time before her shoot getting to know the mom, asking what she likes about her body, what she doesn’t like. “You have to be sensitive and careful with the moms you’re working with,” she says. “That helps me create a unique portrait of her.”
Poses range from a tight shot on the mommy’s pregnant tummy with mom and dads hands clasped to three-quarter and full-length portraits to fully or partially clothed and tastefully posed nudes. “My whole mantra about wanting them to feel beautiful is really about wanting them to see the beauty in their pregnant body,” she emphasizes.
Jennifer’s images are almost exclusively printed in black & white, however she does shoot a mix of digital and film—using the Nikon D7000 digital SLR and Nikon F100 film-based SLR cameras. Her lenses of choice include the AF-S 24-70 f/2.8G ED and PC-E Micro NIKKOR 85mm f/2.8D lenses.
Why B&W? “I think it’s much nicer for this type of photography. As pregnant moms get closer to giving birth, their bodies change and they get stretch marks and other discolorations. I think black & white is more forgiving and allows us to focus on the beautiful shape of the belly in the light.”
Why do clients come to her? Her clients have varying reasons for why they choose to have maternity photographs taken professionally. “Some of my clients come in because they feel like they should do this for their baby. They say, ‘Maybe I’ll feel better about my body in the process of it.’ It runs the gamut. Some moms really love themselves when they’re pregnant, and some can’t stand themselves when they’re pregnant. Often a friend has told them to come in because I’ve made them feel really beautiful.”
Jennifer says that most of her clients are amazed at the final images she produces. “They say, ‘I can’t believe that’s me. You made me look so beautiful.’”