You know, posing with a belly is something that an experienced model like myself is not really accustomed to. I liken it to the time I was doing catalog work with this furniture company. Here’s j3 with a floor lamp. Here’s j3 on a couch. Here’s j3 with a ceiling fan. You do everything you can to interact with it, but it’s a difficult subject. If you can’t sit on it or lean on it, it’s comes off like you’re posing next to a zoo animal behind a six-inch thick wall of glass. I’m here to tell you that you’re gonna have to get used to it, fellas. Before the baby even comes, the expectation with the modern pregnancy is that you, at least once, find a way to pose with this balloon. Let’s take a look at some creative directions you can go with this now-ritualistic reality of pregnancy in the 2000s. Now, if you got some serious cash, you can go for the artistic look. It usually entails some creative lighting in a controlled studio where you an work with shadows and bouncing the light off of that beautiful little belly. Meanwhile, the man, is really expected to do nothing but “hand model.” Just put your hands in the right position for the perfect sentiment. It’s a pretty easy gig on the guy. For the girl, it’s a pretty simple execution as well. And anything can be touched up because you’re working in black and white and mostly just black or white. That’s an easy Photoshop job, if necessary.
If you’re Tom Cruise, your black-and-whites come with a rented airport and a large fan or turbine to give the effect of wind passing across the set. And you give your wife one of those creepy Tom-Cruise-Hollywood kisses. That’s about as soulless as a kiss gets. It’s gotta feel like he’s kissing you with porcelain. Tom remembers (because he’s seasoned like that) to play to the belly. Grip it with your tiny hands and don’t let go. Man, their black-and-whites look like a freaking Armani ad.
Of course, make sure that you pay good money for your black and white photos. Just because you shoot in black and white doesn’t mean there’s that default artsy look. In fact, if you’re contrast is off, the pics can go south really fast. Some photographers just aren’t experienced enough in the format to be trusted to do a good job. Of course, it’d help if, as the male subject, you’d try keeping your clothes on too. The photographer of this pic was probably just trying to get through the session without filling a trash can with lunch. Unless you’re John Lennon, put your pants on.
You can always take the humorous route which usually comes off pretty clean, but isn’t always worth hanging on the wall. Sometimes, it might actually get you in a little heat with the in-laws so be careful. Don’t poke fun at your wife. Instead, poke fun at yourself. Use self-depricating humor. Shirtless with your belly stuck out is a nice approach. I go into this pose without being asked. In fact, I go into this pose without my lovely wife even being pregnant.
Just remember, black and white or full color, make sure you engage as best you can with the belly. The shots are all about the belly. Hold it. Rub it. Put both hands on it. Embrace it. Like this guy. Nothing special. Just straight up “hands on the belly.” You can do it on a beach, backyard, mountaintop, top floor of the Empire State Building. It’s a classic look that goes anywhere.
What not to do, however, is this:
There’s a number of things wrong with this. Besides the horrible Justin-Timberlake hairdo and “tribal sun” tattoo that this guy insists on brandishing in a photo that will now live forever, he’s clearly making this photo about him and not her. And the position of his left hand is something that not even Photoshop can take care of. Objectifying your pregnant wife in an old Olan Mills studio is pretty classless. This ain’t a junior high dance. Keep the hands up high and, again, it’s all about the belly. With her back turned toward the camera and the belly turned toward him, this is less a pregnancy pic and more two lovebirds with their shirts’ off. Okay, I’m starting to feel uncomfortable. They were just looking for a reason.
So, on Sunday, I got a chance to work my modeling muscle. I didn’t clean up much and went into it pretty raw. The last time I did any serious spread seems like ages ago. So today I was shooting for the natural look. Unshaven. No makeup. Wearing what I wore to church. My lovely wife was looking, well, quite lovely. Ellison was in rare form. It was hotter than hell so there was some discomfort on the set. And, Jacko will tell you, there’s nothing worse to shoot in than a high sun.
You can pretty much trust that, no matter how many angles you work, different subjects, props or locations, it’s all been done before. That’s the difficult part. After you get over that, the photos pretty much just start to roll along. I opted for really making it about the belly. Here’s my “it’s alive!” pic.
Here’s the “kiss the lovely wife” pic because, let’s face it, she’s gone through much more than you have and she still looks damn hot despite it. All those cramps, hip pains, sleepless nights, awkward doctors’ appointments, panicky moments and the overbearing West Texas heat can’t take the “lovely” away from my lovely wife. Looking good, honey. Man, this one has the quality of an engagement photo. We do good together.
Of course, being a house of beagles, you can always incorporate one of the boys. Tucker’s a much better posing dog than the evasive and downright uncooperative Jackson. Here we were in the backyard posing with Tucker as he displays his pee-stained grass. That might be a little more difficult Photoshop touch-up. Man, beagles photo-up really well.
There’s some more out there. We’re keeping them at Shutterfly. We’ll add more later. Don’t worry, I’ll keep my shirt and pants on.