updated 20 Jun 2012, 12:44
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Tue, Apr 26, 2011
The New Paper
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Belly, belly proud
by Jennifer Dhanaraj

LAST week, a heavily pregnant Mariah Carey bared all for the cover of US magazine, Life & Style Weekly.

The diva, who is expecting twins, also appeared nude that same week on the cover of OK! Magazine with her husband Nick Cannon covering her breasts.

But she is not breaking new ground.

Actress Demi Moore first caused controversy when she appeared completely in the buff on the 1991 Vanity Fair cover when she was seven months pregnant.

But that cover had a lasting impact as celebrities like Britney Spears and Claudia Schiffer have since appeared nude on prominent US magazine covers like Bazaar and Vogue respectively.

Singaporean women here are following suit by embracing the trend of taking artistic nude maternity shots.

Mr Jothy John, 43, founder of JJ Photography which does shoots in clients' homes, said: "I've seen a 50 per cent increase in the number of pregnant clients requesting for bare-it maternity shots between 2009 to last year."

He added that 30 per cent of his clients do nude shots.

Ms Maryann Koh, the 38-year old founder and main photographer of The Studio Loft at Pagoda Street said her studio sees about 20 clients who request birthday-suit shots every month.

She said: "The culture here is more receptive as opposed to 10 years ago.

"More women are wearing fitting dresses that show off their bellies instead of flowy dresses that hide their pregnancy."

She has photographed about 70 pregnant clients this year alone, all unclothed.

Some, however, opt for a thin piece of translucent fabric to be strategically placed across their bodies.

Ms Koh said: "The women who come to us are usually first-time mothers and they usually want something interesting to mark their first pregnancy."

She added that for those who are giving birth a second or subsequent time, they don't usually ask for nude shots, but instead, they "do more fun family shots that include their children".

The mothers say the photographs are a keepsake of their pregnancy.

Ms Wendy Jones, 32, is a housewife who had nude portraits taken at Tomato Photo. The shots were composed in a way that her private parts could not be seen. She added: "It's a milestone since this is my first pregnancy and I want to remember my pregnant form."

Special connection

Another first-time mother, 32-year-old make-up artist Adeline Chang, who is due this month, had bare-it photos of herself three weeks ago.

While only her belly was exposed in some photos, she also posed in the buff with only a thin piece of white, translucent fabric draped over her body.

Ms Chang, who had the photos taken at Tomato Photo in Joo Chiat, said: "The photos show a special connection between me as a mother and my unborn child," she added.

Mr Hart Tan, 32, the founder of Tomato Photo, which sees about 30 clients asking for in-the-buff shots every month, said: "During pregnancy, a woman's body goes through huge changes.

"The curves and the light can combine to create beautiful lines ideal for photographs."

Ms Koh said that the best time to take such portraits is when a woman is 35 weeks into term because the baby is fully formed then.

Leonard Se, 43, the founder of LeoNard Photography at Kovan Road, said: "Some husbands actually suggest that their wives take these artistic nude shots because they find their wives' swelling bellies sexy."

Those who are game even pose with their wives during the shoot, like Cannon. But Ms Chang's husband kept his clothes on as he was shy.

All the women said the photographer is a key factor to keep them at ease.

Ms Camilla Lim, 35, a housewife, was 35 weeks pregnant when she took artistic shots at JJ Photography.

Other than some shots where she was fully clothed or others where she was partly draped with gauzy fabric, she was also nude for a black-and-white silhouette that showed off the contour of her pregnant form.

She said: "The photos were shot at my home. It really helped that Mr John was so patient and made sure that everything, including the lighting, was just right."

Her husband was present throughout the shoot, which lasted a few hours.

All the women we spoke to say the bare-it pictures are for personal viewing, not for display. Ms Lim said her parents, who are aware of the photos, might not be open to it.

Ms Jones added: "I would show my close friends and will definitely show the photos to my kids when they are older."

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This article was first published in The New Paper.

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