If You're Expecting In Brazil, You Need A Pregnancy Photographer | KUOW News and Information

If You're Expecting In Brazil, You Need A Pregnancy Photographer

Sep 14, 2015
Originally published on September 14, 2015 10:06 am

You find out you are pregnant. You're happy. What do you do next? Well, if you are Brazilian, you immediately book a photographer who will preferably shoot you in scenic Rio de Janeiro.

And if it's Saturday in Rio's parks and beaches, it's pregnancy portrait day.

Beatriz Costa Vasconcelos, who is heavily pregnant, is standing in the middle of the forest wearing a lace shirt that's open to better show off her bare belly.

Photographer Alexandre Carniere tells the husband to move into the shot and to place his hands on her midriff. Close your eyes, he tells her, and think about your new child.

The scene looks serene. Carniere says he's trying to immortalize a moment.

"Our mission is to try to capture the connection between the family," he says.

Except so too are other photographers who are waiting with their pregnant clients to take a picture in the same place.

It's 8 a.m., and there are at least 10 photographers here already. Possibly more.

The first time I went to the pond at the visually stunning Botanical Gardens, I thought I'd inadvertently stumbled onto a human spawning ground or some kind of fertility rite. Every woman I saw looked like she was about to give birth. Their hair, though, was perfectly coiffed. Their bellies were bare in form-fitting outfits.

Ale Crisostomo, a photographer who has been working with families for eight years, is extremely passionate about her work, and her images are beautiful. She says there is a lot more competition these days, and she tries to be inventive.

"This is a beautiful moment," she says. "I like to capture the look in women's eyes, the love, the waiting for the big day."

The parks in Rio de Janeiro are the most popular places to shoot, she says. People come from other cities to take their pictures here, like the photographer Carniere, who traveled from another state.

"In Rio, there is a kind of magic that brings people to here, because of the nature, the landscapes, the beauty that we have here," says Carniere.

There's another reason the parks are in demand, Carniere says.

"People search for these locations because of security as well," he says, "because shooting on the street is very dangerous actually. We have very expensive equipment and it's hard to work and feel unsafe."

Getting mugged would kind of ruin the moment.

So how much does this cost? It isn't cheap. Crisostomo's pregnancy package starts off at $550.

Carniere says there are several reasons people want to spend money on this.

First, social media — it's huge in Brazil.

Second, everyone has a camera. How to get the social media edge? Professional pictures, especially if you have friends who have done it.

"More and more families are searching for a professional to do better photos," to get that something special, he says.

Sociologist Marisol Goia has a list of 10 reasons why there's been a boom in these photos. They include the expansion of the middle class with more buying power, the Brazilian love of family, and the fact that pregnant bodies are now seen as beautiful and not shameful.

And then she says something that really resonates: Brazilian birth rates are now among the lowest in the region. Women, who are well-represented in the workforce, are increasingly having just one kid.

"So that pregnancy becomes something almost sacred. It needs to be celebrated. These pictures do that," Goia says.

At the end of the interview, she whips out her own pregnancy album to show me.

When I said everyone does it, I meant it.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

When Americans have a baby, they take a million pictures of the baby. The images may include that iconic shot of the mom, exhausted but smiling, holding the baby for the first time. That's the American custom. In Brazil, people also take pictures, but there's no need to wait for the baby. Many couples book a photographer as soon as they find out they are expecting. NPR's South America correspondent Lourdes Garcia-Navarro reports on pregnancy portraits.

ALEXANDRE CARNIERE: (Speaking Portuguese).

LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, BYLINE: Beatriz Costa Vasconcelos is heavily pregnant, and she's standing in the middle of the forest, wearing a lace shirt that's open to better show off her bare belly.

CARNIERE: (Speaking Portuguese).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Photographer Alexandre Carniere tells the husband to move into the shot and to place his hands on her midriff. Close your eyes, he tells her, and think about your new child. The scene looks serene. Alexandre tells me he's trying to immortalize a moment.

CARNIERE: Our mission is try to capture the connection between the family.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Except so, too, are other photographers who are waiting with their pregnant clients to take a picture in the same place.

It's 8 o'clock in the morning and there's, like, 10, 12 photographers here already.

CARNIERE: Maybe more, yeah.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: If it's Saturday in Rio's parks and beaches, it must be pregnancy portrait day. The first time I went to the pond at the visually stunning Botanical Gardens, I thought I'd inadvertently stumbled onto a human spawning ground or some kind of fertility rite. Every woman I saw was about to give birth. Their hair, though, was perfectly coiffed. Their bellies were bare in form-fitting outfits. Ale Crisostamo is a photographer who's been working with families for eight years. She's really passionate about it, and her images are beautiful. She says there's a lot more competition these days, so she tries to be inventive.

ALE CRISOSTAMO: (Speaking Portuguese).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: "This is a beautiful moment," she tells me. "I like to capture the look in a woman's eyes, the love, the waiting for the big day. The parks - here in Parque Lage and the Botanical Gardens - are the most popular places to shoot," she says. And Alexandre tells me people even come from other cities to take their pictures here.

CARNIERE: Rio, there is a kind of magic that brings people to here because of the nature, the landscapes, the beauty that we have here.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So that, but there's also another reason the parks are in demand, Alexandre says.

CARNIERE: People search for these kind of locations because of security as well. Shooting on streets, it's very dangerous, actually.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: They could steal your cameras...

CARNIERE: Yeah, yeah.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: ...Which would kind of ruin the moment. And doing this isn't cheap. Ale's pregnancy package starts off at $550. Alexandre says though he thinks there are a few reasons people want to spend money on this. First, social media - it's huge in Brazil. Second, everyone has a camera - how to get the social media edge - professional pictures, especially if you have friends that have done it.

CARNIERE: More and more families are searching for a professional to do better photos...

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Something special.

CARNIERE: ...To - yeah, something special.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I left the park, and I went to speak to a sociologist about the phenomenon to get some perspective. I meet Marisol Goia at a cafe. She has a list of 10 reasons why there's been a pregnancy portrait boom - all of them good.

MARISOL GOIA: (Speaking Portuguese).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: "The expansion of the middle class with more buying power, the Brazilian love of family, the fact that pregnant bodies are now seen as beautiful and not shameful," she says. And then she said something that really resonated.

GOIA: (Speaking Portuguese).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: "The fact is that Brazilian birthrates are among the lowest in the region, so that pregnancy becomes something almost sacred."

GOIA: (Speaking Portuguese).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: At the end of the interview, Marisol whips out her own pregnancy album to show me. When I said everyone does it, I meant it. Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, NPR News, Rio de Janeiro. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.