Becoming a parent is perhaps the biggest responsibility anyone can confer upon themselves. But being a mother is one of the hardest and most stressful jobs out there, so it’s no wonder becoming one can change you both physically and psychologically. The least we can do in return is thank the folks that brought us up.
A Lithuanian photographer Vaida Razmislavičė has created a project titled “Becoming A Mother” where she photographed women before and after becoming mothers, before and after they delivered their firstborn, and really focused on their eyes. “For this project, I chose a very simple format, as if I was taking passport photos,” she wrote. “I wanted to highlight my models’ gaze, taking away everything that would interfere with it”.
The photographer said: “Motherhood is a deep experience, filled with joy, pain, exhaustion, and love. When a woman becomes a mom, she really feels her inner energy; her intuition becomes stronger, and her wisdom reaches new heights.”
Vaida has gone through these changes herself. “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. I’ve learned everything along the way, including ignoring old know-it-all’s and growing the courage to trust my own decisions.”
Vaida came up with the idea for this project when meeting people who thought of a newborn as some sort of obstacle to the parents. She said: “I wanted to show that it’s possible to continue living in harmony even after having a baby.” Vaida knew this from her own experience as she managed to get a Master’s degree while raising two kids.
She also added that this was really interesting seeing all of the little details that changed in just a few months. ” With this project, I ended up healing myself. Looking directly into these women’s eyes, I relived giving birth to my first son. All of the traumas and fears that I locked somewhere inside myself came back, only to vanish in the process. I realized the journey I’ve been on as a mother. The fruits that I’m reaping today now that my boys are almost all grown up.”
“I took my time before making this project public,” she added. “I would turn on these photos every day, however, it felt like it wasn’t the right time. It was as if the series was waiting for its own birth. I had to stop criticizing myself over it. This period was a lot like the time when you’re waiting for someone to be born. And it was over the same way, too: you can’t control it, you just have to let go and believe that it will happen when it needs to.”
Vaida is extremely grateful for all of the participants, especially or their patience. The 33 women that stood in front of her camera gave birth to 36 children, including three pairs of twins, in total, 20 boys and 16 girls.
Some of them have already celebrated their first birthday.
After she released the project, a few people criticized it, they said it’s what makes the photos differ from one another. While Vaida agrees it contributed to the overall effect, it was just a small part of it. “At first, I was worried about the lighting. I took the before and after photos in different studios and even though 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 is different. Also, things like reflections and the number of windows came into play. I retouched only very little details in post-production. The photographer said: “If I could do it all over again, I’d use artificial lighting, trying to maintain the same conditions for every shoot” and that she welcomes every comment that can help her get better.