The Photo Industry Need To Do Better.

“This industry is unkind to mothers, there is no denying that.”

“Leading up to giving birth, I completely hid my pregnancy and never mentioned it to anyone. Even when I became so obviously pregnant, I just never talked about it to clients unless they brought it up.”

“I can’t tell you how many women shooters/assistants have felt they have to hide their pregnancy in order to keep working. The whole topic/concept is so difficult to navigate.”

“I didn’t share it on social media or tell anyone in person until I started to show. I hated it, I wanted to shout my exciting news from the rooftops but I knew the impact it would have on my work, which is incredibly sad”

Here are some comment from a post I made on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/C4yc-K6O-dq/

Leading up to giving birth, I completely hid my pregnancy and never mentioned it to anyone. Even when I became so obviously pregnant, I just never talked about it to clients unless they brought it up. I was terrified of losing a job if someone found out/like I’d be an undesirable person to work with. I did almost lose a job with a very large well known client who found out through word of mouth that I was in my 3rd trimester. They stopped emailing with me and instead called me to ask me very personal questions like when my due date was, if I was physically able to take on the job, etc. it was so sketchy that the woman did it all over the phone.

A week after my son was born, just home from the hospital, my editorial shoots and hustle paid off. I got a call from one of the big three agencies in Boston at the time. The Photo Buyer *gushed* over my work, the creative team loved it! They couldn’t wait to meet me. When can I come in? In my half awake new mom haze I said “I just got back from the hospital with my first baby. Let’s get something on the books in three weeks.” She hung up on me. I never heard from them again and still haven’t shot for them 20 years later.

DO NOT TELL A SOUL. I worked til 37 weeks but could have gone until the day I delivered. The main issue was being uncomfortable driving. I took 2 months “off” but it was extremely slow afterwards and no one hired me for an ad job for another year. If I did it again I’d keep it all a secret, unfortunately I lost a huge IUD pharma campaign because they found out I was pregnant. The irony! Obviously it’s illegal but what can you do?

Luckily I didn’t show and I hadn’t told anyone when Covid lockdowns started so I could kind of hide it through not being outside. Even after having my baby I didn’t really tell any clients or post about it. When my main client found out I had a kid the jobs dropped off dramatically.

During my first pregnancy which was 18 years ago, I had a photo editor tell me straight up when I went to the office after a shoot that she “wouldn’t have hired me if she knew how pregnant I was” – at about 32 weeks. In general I hid my pregnancy for fear I wouldn’t get work.

I kept my pregnancy to myself and did not share publicly or with clients. I just showed up to work pregnant and did my job just as well (sometimes better) than I did not pregnant.

Pregnancy is the easiest part of navigating life as a freelancer (I told clients on a need-to-know basis while pregnant 13 years ago, and happily worked until 39 weeks). The hard part of working in this field really happens once the child is born. I know many female photographers whose careers were sidetracked by the challenging logistics of balancing an unpredictable photo schedule and childcare.

I kept it very private. Nothing on the internet until my daughter was born. Almost 100% of the time, I only told clients once I was already on set because it was visible. I was soooo scared to lose work because I thought people might assume hiring me would be a risk.

I worked until I was 38 weeks pregnant but also didn’t tell any clients that I was pregnant for fear of not being hired. The part I found difficult was after I had the baby, trying to be 100% on shoots after little to no sleep some nights but the pumping was really difficult, having to take a break somewhere private every few hours was very tough.

Never told anyone but also wouldn’t lie if asked. Wore oversized clothes on set and worked up until a month before birth. Booked an extra assistant if needed just to have an extra person to have my back. Was back on set when baby was 8 weeks old which was a bit unnecessary/early in hindsight (for me – everyone’s different). A few clients didn’t book me because I was pregnant but I figured I don’t wanna work for them anyway – it’s my choice.

In my experience as a event and editorial shooter in LA at the time, not telling anyone i was pregnant until it was very obvious was a good choice for me, only because once the clients knew I was pregnant they were all very kind but many were also much more cautious and concerned about me, and acting as though i was much more delicate like I should be doing something at a desk LOL so I had to really reassure more people that i was absolutely fine and capable. And that women have done this since the dawn of humanity and i’d let them know if i was ever feeling not capable.

My boss and management was not supportive at all. I was scrutinized even if I only came in 30 minutes late due to doctors appointments and so I scheduled each doctors is the very first appointment of the day so I could rush to work

This is a really important topic to discuss as a lot of us feel we cannot tell people we are pregnant for fear of not getting booked. I was also one of those people. I didn’t share it on social media or tell anyone in person until I started to show. I hated it, I wanted to shout my exciting news from the rooftops but I knew the impact it would have on my work, which is incredibly sad. I would turn up to shoots and shock people not only because I was pregnant but because I was still very much capable. IMAGINE!? Once the news was out and baby arrived, I did have some clients presume that I wouldn’t want the work we had in the calendar for the coming months and THAT is the problem. The attitude towards pregnant people drastically needs to change

Book pregnant photographers and support them by booking them when they are back to work.

Let’s try and change this crappy narrative, we deserve better!

Recommended Posts

1 Comment

  1. For shame! It’s shocking to see how pervasive this treatment still is – and to think that a high number of photo buyers are women. This topic needs greater exposure as a discriminatory practice.


Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *