Beyonce's pregnancy post highlights changing trends in maternity photography.

By Carol Rääbus

The rise of social media and online photo sharing has seen increasing numbers of women marking and celebrating their pregnancies publicly.

Last week, singer Beyonce announced she was pregnant with twins, releasing a staged photo on social media showing off her growing bump.

The announcement provoked a lot of reaction, mostly positive — with only a few remarking on her mismatched underwear and flower arrangement.

However, a couple of decades earlier, this same image would have been considered quite shocking.

Social historian Dr Nicola Goc from the University of Tasmania said images showing a woman’s naked pregnant belly have only been publicly accepted in recent years.

A key moment was in August 1991, when Annie Leibovitz’s photo of Demi Moore was on the cover of Vanity Fair, Dr Goc told Helen Shield on ABC Radio Hobart.

“The newsagents and distributers were so shocked by it they slipped in a white page so that all you could see was her head — and they slipped it under the counter with the pornography.”

Before the 1990s, it was fairly unusual to see pregnant women in photos, other than in some private family photo albums.

“Most people didn’t photograph or want to be photographed pregnant,” Dr Goc said.

“You didn’t want to be seen in that way … it was just the way we were conditioned.”


Booming business of bump photography.

Tanya McSwan, a photographer based in Launceston, said much of her business came from women wanting maternity shoots.

“We want to bring out that glow that you hear about but you don’t necessarily feel [while pregnant],” Ms McSwan said.

“So we try to bring it out in you.”

Ms McSwan said trends for photo shoots changed over time, but being outdoors is popular at the moment.

“There’s a lot of outdoors, flowy material, and then we have our artistic nudes,” she said.

“Then you get the family involved if you want to … you can do milk baths, glitter, body paint … you can go all out.”

Bryony Geeves decided to have a formal photo shoot to mark her pregnancy, which she then shared on social media.

“I kind of got tired of having the same conversation over and over again,” she said.

“I just wanted to celebrate how wonderful I felt being pregnant and how joyous it is to be a woman.”

While Ms Geeves said she enjoyed getting positive feedback about the photos online, the shoot was mostly just for herself and her family.

“I love looking back at photos of my mum when she was pregnant with me and thinking about what life was like back then,” she said.

This post originally appeared on ABC News.

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