#SVDCBodyLove | Naomi Body Building to Birth
Meet my beautiful client Naomi, who I've had the pleasure of capturing four times! The first time I spoke to Naomi was on the phone, she was bubbly, funny and super organised. I was pumped to meet her and capture her, but I didn't expect what I got.
On the outside she was strong, fit and powerful, but the more I photographed Naomi, I saw her softness, vulnerability, huge heart and generosity.
I absolutely love capturing women, especially open hearted, warm, gentle women, and Naomi is the epitome of this.
For the first shoot, Naomi had just won a body building competition, the first she'd ever competed in, and wanted to celebrate and capture her body at this time in her life. We went to Powerhouse, an old concrete warehouse with incredible graffiti art over the walls. We had so much fun, clicked instantly, and the shoot was a huge success!
Naomi was energetic, funny, and a total go-getter. We really connected at that shoot, and she was super proud of her images, sharing them and the #SVDCBodyLove message all over social media, which as a photographer, is the most beautiful reward!
Soon after this shoot, Naomi and her fiancé Scott were pregnant with their first baby, so naturally, Naomi booked in for a maternity shoot, I couldn't wait! I adore maternity photography, there's something really beautiful about a woman's energy when she's pregnant. It's one of my favourite types of shoots.
After this photoshoot Naomi asked if I'd photograph her little man coming earthside. I was over the moon! Yes, of course I wanted to photograph her birth! It was to be my first birth, yayy!
So, along came The Leap Day, 29 February 2016, 7am in the morning, I was waking up to go to work, when I got a message from Naomi to say she was in labour. I called in sick to work, raced into the hospital, snacks in my bag of course, and proceeded to the labour ward.
Naomi was in the birthing bath, her pain intensifying. I'll never forget her beautiful pregnant body floating in that bath, breathing on the gas, with some amazing midwives talking her through it.
I felt calm, I had all my belief in Naomi and what she could achieve.
After about an hour in the bath, Naomi was given the all clear, she was 10cm dilated, and could start pushing, so we all moved to the room. She hopped in the shower for some relief, and pushed for what seemed like hours.
This is when I captured one of my all time favourite images.
This journey was exhausting for all involved, but Naomi stayed adamant, strong, determined, she was going to do this.
It was during this time of pushing, when at one stage, there were 5 women in the room, holding space. Naomi was squeezing my leg as she contracted, the midwives we're holding her, I was breathing with her and encouraging her to keep going.
Naomi was so amazing, so strong. It was at this moment I looked around and thought, this is what it's all about. Women coming together, supporting one another, looking after one another, and helping each other through. We all instinctively knew what she needed, and we were there for her.
Unfortunately, this 10cm dilation diagnosis was inaccurate, and it turned out she had been pushing on a 8-9cm cervix for hours (OUCH!!).
After over twelve hours of labour, Naomi was exhausted, of course, all that work for no reward (yet)! I was so proud of all she'd achieved, she had pushed and pushed and tried and tried to get that baby down, but it was never going to happen as she wasn't fully dilated. We were all defeated. The doctor decided it was best she be admitted to theatre for a C-Section. I kissed and hugged her, passed on all my good vibes and went home.
Well, I was meant to go home, but I went to get myself some food, before heading back to the hospital to hopefully capture them as they arrived back to the ward. Unfortunately my phone battery was dead, and I didn't have my charger with me.
I waited for 2 hours, but had to get home, it was late, and I didn't have a phone to contact anyone.
Literally as I got home, I got a message from Naomi saying they had delivered a little boy, and had arrived back in the ward and she was thanking me for everything. I was shattered, I'd missed them arriving, but they didn't mind, they were thrilled to have their little guy in their arms.
Not even a week later, C-section and all, Naomi made it, with 6 day old Henry, to my #SVDCBodyLove Exhibition & Fundraiser - I know right, freaking superstar!!
#SVDCBodyLove Event 2016
After 3 months of absolutely aceing motherhood, it was time to bring the camera out again. Naomi asked me to capture her post-partum body with Henry.
We took these beautiful photo's in her home, and I was so in love with Naomi's post partum body, to me it was just as sexy, if not more, than her pre-baby body.
We both believe in normalising breastfeeding and opening up the conversation of what happens to a woman's body during and after pregnancy, so it was an absolute pleasure to capture this beautiful Mumma and her divine bubba.
"All photoshoots have captured me very differently and because of this I have been able to love my body and appreciate it so much more. Stevie is a very kind hearted, caring and beautiful woman who has a magical way of making you feel relaxed, comfortable and beautiful in front of the camera." - Naomi
#SVDCBodyLove Post Partum
Naomi, you have become a very dear friend of mine, whom I'm sure I'll capture many more times over.
Thank you gorgeous woman, for all your support, and all your love of me and my work, it means the world to me.
Written by Stevie van der Chys
Founder & Photographer
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