This project was carried out as part of my last year BA (Hons) Photography at the Interactive Design Institute, University of Hertfordshire, UK. In this project I used a number of external resources: please see references at the bottom of the page.

About the Project

In the project Musings of Pregnancy: Rosa’s Journey Rosa and I pursued an intriguing objective: through Motivational Photography I helped to materialize self-visions of Rosa on her way to child delivery in a series of cinematic composited images.

During her pregnancy Rosa experienced strong emotions that affected her psyche and resulted in various thoughts and feelings. Together we formalized  these into metaphors, visualized and represented them in abstract  imagery. The composites illustrate how Rosa feels on the inside.

These portraits are accompanied by simpler “polaroid style” photos. In contrast, they complement each of the complex composites to show how people see Rosa in everyday circumstances.

The divergence between what people see from the outside and the reality of Rosa’s inner world is striking. Each pair of images is accompanied by a personal message written by Rosa herself.

The fact that Rosa is happy with the images and sees them as source of future exchanges with her daughter makes me feel that we reached our intended goal. I am extremely grateful for this exciting journey and would like to thank Rosa for her generous commitment.

I wish you a lot of pleasure in discovering the images that follow.

1. In My Womb

click on image to enlarge

As this is my first pregnancy, I am very aware of all the changes my body is going through.

Some of these changes are positive and pleasantly surprising (the little thumps my baby girl gives me to show she is still alive and kicking), other changes are more unpleasant.

The extra weight, especially during the later stages of pregnancy, has given me quite a backache and uncomfortable feeling however I sit or stand.

Water, whether the shower or the swimming pool, relieves these aches tremendously.

Floating in the swimming pool is a blessing during pregnancy, and just like I am weightless and only hear muffled sounds in the water, I can imagine my lovely baby girl doing exactly the same at the same time.

We are two peas in a pod at such a moment and I feel extra tightly connected.

2. Cumbersome

click on image to enlarge

In the last weeks of teaching and working on my PhD in Canadian studies, before my maternity leave, I have experienced just how bulky I am.

I feel heavy and incapable of moving easily. I have trouble sitting in a chair for extended periods, typing on a computer puts pressure on my back and my getting up from low chairs and sofas is incredibly amusing (to others).

Next to this, I miscalculate my size. Whereas previously I could easily navigate in tight spaces such as moving in between tables in restaurants, I am now often starting the attempt of moving through tight spaces only to discover that my circumference is far too wide for whatever spot I want to move through. 

I feel trapped in somebody else’s body, even though I am pretty sure it is actually my own…

3. Chilling Out

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Generally, I am a person who is always cold.

In summer I am capable to wear a cardigan even though the sun is shining and everybody else is half naked, in winter I wear tights under my jeans, thick woollen sweaters, heavy boots and thermo-shirts to keep warm.

I basically drag warm cups of tea with milk around most of the year to keep warm and happy.

However, since I am pregnant I am constantly hot and dislike anything with caffeine.

It feels unnatural and weird to constantly walk around in sleeveless shirts and sandals, only drinking water, and it feels like a part of my personality just disappeared.

The summer heat bothers me tremendously, and I dream of colder weather just to cool off a bit.

4. Stretch MAR[k]S

click on image to enlarge

I am firstly and foremost hoping to have a healthy and happy baby girl, but the worry that my body will never be the same is definitely present.

As every pregnant woman probably is, I am curious to see what will be left of my body after giving birth: will this then empty shell recover or have I massacred it by getting pregnant? Will my tummy bounce back or just blob around, will my wide hips ever get some shape back?

Even though my common sense knows it will not really matter what I do or what I look like afterwards, my body will adjust how it is meant to adjust, I am still applying oil against stretch marks. 

Even if it turns out that it does not do anything at least it gives me the feeling that I did something friendly for my own body and it helps with the dryness and tightness I have been experiencing. 

Moreover, it gives me the feeling I take care of myself, it is a quiet moment of rubbing in oil and bonding with my baby. I experience this as extremely pleasant.

5. Heavy Wait

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From trying to avoid to go to the doctor’s office ever, to being there regularly to get check-ups, and receive information and advice is quite a change.

The appointments are not necessarily unpleasant, and every now and then the reward is that I can actually see my baby on the screen during the ultrasounds.

From the first time that my love and I saw her on the screen my baby girl became a real person and every time there was a new ultrasound we saw how she had grown and how she had become more humanlike.

It is crazy to imagine such a small creature growing inside, completely dependent on me, growing gradually and waiting to come out to be validated and loved as a new world citizen.

Who knows who she will be, what her passions and hobbies will be and where she will sail off to in life? I can only hope that I can offer her whatever support she needs to reach fulfilment in life.

6. Daughter Empowered

I remember that one dark night during one of my Christmas holidays as a child I had a walk with my mom. We passed the local technical college and, it being the 80s, both noticed an unconventional advertising. The advertising read “A smart girl is well-prepared for her future” and was meant to draw more girls into technical professions. Though I myself never went into a technological profession, my mom (who never stopped working, even after my birth) and I always agreed that this was a strong and useful message. 

Even though our Western society is still patriarchal at the basis, I think enormous progress has been made for the better. Whereas my mom was looked at askew for not staying at home, nobody is arguing with me that I should quit my job after labour. Here in the West are slowly moving away from the idea that women are helpless creatures (passive, sweet and accepting Sleeping Beauty, Snow White or Cinderella) towards the idea that women are allowed to be opinionated and in control of their own destiny. 

This is also what I hope for my daughter’s future, that she figures out what she wants in life and that she follows her dreams and passions. I hope that she does not sit around to be saved by a knight in shining armour or prince charming and I hope that her story will not end with her marriage and a “happily ever after” (what does that even mean?). I hope she will set goals for herself and perhaps finds a soul-mate somewhere along the way, who encourages her and roots for her just as she does for the other person – just as I have with her father. I hope she will shape her own destiny with passion and courage, her father and I will definitely be rooting for her too.

Word of Rosa

I would like to thank Andy so much for capturing my pregnancy in such beautiful and unconventional images. The combination of “real-life” situations and feelings with cinematic representations give such beautiful memories for the future. I also enjoyed adding texts myself as I discovered how valuable this whole experience – the pregnancy and the photographic journey – has been. I can see myself showing this album to my daughter when she and I are older and discussing with her how special it is to have her be part of our lives. I am truly filled with gratitude. Thank you Andy.

- Rosa B.

References and EXIF

Model: Rosa B.
EXIF Model: 2 Elinchrom 400 Watt lights (bare bulb), f/18, 1/80 sec, 100 ISO, 35mm (Canon zoom 24-105), Canon 5D MkIII
Background: "Underwater" by koko_stock @ DeviantArt 
Tutorial: “Underwater Fantasy" tutorial by Aaron Nace of Phlearn 
Model: Rosa B.
EXIF Model: 2 images, natural soft light (two big windows on a overcast day), f/4, 1/30 sec, 400 ISO, 32mm (Canon zoom 24-105), Canon 5D MkIII
Background: Parliament of British Columbia, Victoria, BC, Canada
EXIF Background: mixed ambient light (natural+artificial),  f/5,6, 1/30 sec, 6400 ISO, 24mm (Canon zoom 24-105), Canon 5D MkIII
Tutorial: “Studio Compositing" Pro tutorial by Aaron Nace of Phlearn
Model: Rosa B.
EXIF Model: natural soft light (two big windows on a overcast day), f/8, 1/50 sec, 1600 ISO, 60mm (Canon zoom 24-105), Canon 5D MkIII
Background: "Erosion by Scarp Retreat in Gale Crater" [on planet Mars] by NASA
Model: Rosa B.
EXIF Model: 2 images, natural soft light (two big windows on a overcast day), f/8, 1/50 sec, 400 ISO, 50mm (Canon zoom 24-105), Canon 5D MkIII
Background: "Blizzard 2" by Obsession-stock @ DeviantArt
Tutorial: “How to Create Snow in Photoshop" tutorial by Aaron Nace of Phlearn 
Model 1: Rosa B.
EXIF Model 1: natural soft light (two big windows on a overcast day), f/5,6, 1/320 sec, 400 ISO, 55mm (Canon zoom 24-105), Canon 5D MkIII
Model 2: Rosa’s baby
Info Model 2: Scan of ultrasound prints by Geboortecentrum PUUR, Hoofddorp, The Netherlands
Background: Port in the village of Marken, North Holland, The Netherlands
EXIF Background: natural light outdoors, f/10, 1/200 sec, 200 ISO, 60mm (Canon zoom 24-105), Canon 5D MkIII
Model: Rosa B.
EXIF Model: natural soft light (two big windows on a overcast day), f/8, 1/80 sec, 1600 ISO, 55mm (Canon zoom 24-105), Canon 5D MkIII
Element 1 - Background: ”Ungru Castle 128” by MASYON @ DeviantArt 
Element 2 - Sward: ”King Arthur's Excalibur Sword” by FantasyStock @ DeviantArt
Element 3 - Stone: ”Sky, sea, rock” by pueang @ DeviantArt 
Tutorial: “Rain Effect | Photoshop Manipulation Tutorial" tutorial by Arun Kumar