For a huge amount of us, becoming a parent is the most momentous occasion of our lives. It impacts everything – our career, our social life, our relationships, even our personalities. But one thing that some may not consider is how becoming a parent also affects our actual physical appearance, too.
Well, one photographer wanted to better explore this phenomenon. Lithuanian camerawoman, Vaida Razmislavičė, decided to dedicate a whole project to the phenomenon of motherhood. She recruited over thirty brave women and took stunning portraits of them before and after the birth of their first children – and the images are truly beautiful.
The feeling of unconditional love that hits when you become a mom or a dad is unlike anything else.
Any parent will tell you that, though they wouldn’t change it for the world, looking after a baby or a toddler is the hardest job out there.
Looking after a child, while also keeping on top of all of life’s many other commitments, can leave anyone feeling overwhelmed and stressed out.
When you have a million and one things to get done every day, sleep can become far less of a priority. Many will confirm that “tiredness” and “parenthood” are basically synonymous.
Which is what led one photographer to document parenthood in a truly innovative way. Lithuanian-born Vaida Razmislavičė specializes in beautiful portraiture.
It’s called “Becoming a Mother,” and it focuses on the differences in physical appearance of new moms faces, by photographing thirty-three subjects before and after giving birth.
“For this project, I chose a very simple format, like taking a passport photo. I wanted to emphasize the gaze itself, leaving no room for attention to deviate from what is usually depicted in the pregnant woman’s photo (i.e., the bump),” she explains.
“The main intent of this photo project is to show one of the greatest transformations in a woman’s life through her gaze – her transformation into Mama.”
“Through this project, I sought to convey the message of a woman, the carrier of a new life, her immeasurable dedication to cultivating Man, and the changes she makes on this mysterious but often underrated or downplayed journey by society.”
“Motherhood is a deep experiential journey that is filled with happiness, pain, fatigue, love, euphoria, hopelessness, peace, chaos, joy and many more.”
“Becoming a mom, a woman unites with her inner strength, her intuition sharpens, and she begins to manifest her wisdom,” Vaida continues.
“As you give birth, a woman’s eyes change as if instantly – they gain depth, and they reflect the knowledge attainable to only one woman.”
“At the same time, however, a woman must learn to combine all her qualities in a harmonious way: being a woman, a mother, a lover, a wife, a lover, an aspiring and socially active personality, a hearer of her heart, and many more.”
Vaida claims that the two images depict “learning how to live life in its entirety (second portrait after becoming a mother) while remaining in your own inner silence (left portrait during pregnancy).”
“These two portraits are like a bridge connecting two stages of a woman’s life, two separate worlds, and an invitation for a woman to remain in her power, to always hear the voice of her heart, to trust her intuitive knowledge and wisdom as a mother.”
The images really show how much life can change in just a matter of months when it’s parenthood that you’re talking about.
The eyes of the women who have become mothers tend to express more depth and emotion than those same eyes during pregnancy.
“The next meeting took place after they had given birth. It was fascinating to see each participant and how they changed in such a short time.”
And it’s clear that Vaida threw herself into her work. “Very unexpectedly this project became a treat for myself as well.”
“Looking into each participant’s eyes as if I were returning to my experiences as I waited for my first son, the so-so long-forgotten traumas and fears that I had thrown into my inner pantry began to heal.”
“At the same time, it was also about seeing the path I had taken as a mother. What ‘fruits’ I pick today, when my sons are almost grown.”
“[I chose to] show these portraits later. I looked through them daily several times and still felt it was not time to make a point and make them public. I felt this heart-born project as if it were waiting for its own time, its birth.”
And though it took her some time to allow the public to see it, we certainly feel privileged to do so.
“I had to accept it, stop reproaching myself, condemning myself. This wait was like waiting for a human being to be born, as it is and is happening when it has to be: I have no control over it, it has to commit itself to the very process of being.”
Although it was her beautiful photography skills which captured the women so perfectly, it’s clear that there’s something else at work that makes these images so magical.
And not just the women in the pictures.
“This project is a thank you to our moms, grandmothers, promotions – all the women who have ever lived without us.”
“This is thanks to my first son, who has irreversibly turned my world around and his perception. This is thanks to my second son, through whom I once again experienced the miracle of the coming of a new life,” she goes on.
Such as this one, where you can tell that the newborn baby is a hair puller.
It wouldn’t be anything without the participating moms. We can’t imagine that we’d be so keen on getting snapped while heavily pregnant or when trying to look after a newborn!
“I am extremely grateful to every woman who attended and told her story with her gaze,” Vaida gushes.
“Thank you, dear ones, for your patience as we wait for the result – the flower we all planted finally sees the light of day.”
“Before my firstborn, my idea of motherhood was very different. To be honest, I didn’t feel the motherhood instinct when I first took him into my arms,” she revealed.
“I’ve learned everything along the way, including ignoring old know-it-all’s and growing the courage to trust my own decisions.”
“I came up with the idea for this project when meeting people who thought of a newborn as some sort of obstacle to the parents. I wanted to show that it’s possible to continue living in harmony even after having a baby.”
And it isn’t hard to see why – the calm and beautiful snaps really do seem to go some way to capturing the essence of motherhood.
“At first, I was worried about the lighting. I took the before and after photos in different studios (I used whatever spaces I could get) and even thought I could’ve faked the first batch of portraits, I didn’t want to do it.”
“For this project, I used only natural lighting and because of my lack of experience, I forgot that the angle of sunlight in summer and winter are different. Also, things like reflections and the number of windows came into play. I retouched only very little details in post-production, though.”
“Now, if I could do it all over again, I’d use artificial lighting, trying to maintain the same conditions for every shoot,” Vaida claims – but she also says she welcomes criticism, as it helps her improve her art.
“Some statistics: 33 women participated in the project, 36 children were born, 3 pairs of twins, 20 boys, 16 girls. Some children have already celebrated their first birthday.”
But there’s no doubt that it was worth it – and we bet that the women featured will be thankful to have these photos to look back on in the future, too.
For more motherhood related content, keep scrolling for an emotionally intense Facebook post story.