The work of newborn and maternity photographer Reka Choy
PUBLISHED: 14:20 08 March 2019 | UPDATED: 14:20 08 March 2019
Self-taught newborn and maternity photographer Reka Choy wants her past insecurities to help inspire women to celebrate their bodies, as we discover
Her own insecurities made Sussex-based photographer Reka Choy miss out on the opportunity to get professional pictures of herself and her young children when she had the chance. But rather than dwelling on this regret, Reka retrained as a photographer and has now created a business that specialises in newborn and maternity images.
From her new studio, just outside Haywards Heath, Reka captures images of women in the throes of pregnancy as well as newborn babies in the first weeks of life – images that she wished she would have captured when her children were born.
“I didn’t have any professional photos taken of my children when they were newborns or any of me because of finances and because I thought that I looked too big,” she says. “But now I want to tell people not to let these feelings hold you back because in the grand scheme of things they’re not important. What’s important is that in years to come, when your child is grown up, they will have all of these beautiful memories to look back on as well as photographs to pass down to generations to come.”
After ten years working in the shipping industry in London, Reka taught herself photography and editing skills from watching YouTube videos and set up shop as a wedding and family photographer. But, after undergoing some specialist training, she now specialises in newborns and maternity – with the odd family shoot thrown in as well.
Her studio is like stepping into a tastefully decorated boutique, complete with an adorable array of clothing and accessories for babies and a wide selection of glamorous maternity dresses.
“I’ve got lots of lovely maternity dresses, so I tend to advise the ladies to choose from them, but if they have something that they’d like to bring that’s fine as well,” Reka explains.
The women in Reka’s photos would look like they had come straight out of the pages of a glossy woman’s magazine if it weren’t for their bumps – a shape Reka now thinks all women should celebrate.
“For a while I wasn’t quite sure how I wanted the maternity shots to look. I kept thinking about myself and how I would want to look and then I did a bit of training and realised that this is a really amazing thing that our bodies can do,” she enthuses, before adding that it’s important to capture that almost mythical pregnancy ‘glow’.
“The reason I didn’t have maternity photos taken is because I was feeling really self-conscious and towards the end, really tired.
“But, in the middle (once the morning sickness passes and before the bump gets too big) every mum-to-be looks absolutely radiant – just really glowing, glamorous and powerful.”
And it’s a philosophy that’s paying off with awards too. Reka recently won a Gold Award from The National Photographic Society for one of her maternity shots and has received a host of other awards and commendations for her newborn photographs.
It is often said that you should never work with animals or children. But for Reka capturing the first few weeks of a baby’s life is a real privilege – even if does involve rather a lot of waiting around: “The biggest challenge with newborns is obviously their size. They’re still so tiny and very attached to mummy, so when they go into that deep sleep we can crack on and start taking the pictures. But there is a lot of waiting out their moods because you can’t reason with them or bribe them, so you just have to go with the flow.”
Lots of Reka’s newborn photos feature lots of cute accessories, like floral headbands and knitted teddy bear onesies. The babies can also be posed in little flower buckets and on bean bags or simply wrapped in a blanket. Reka says that she is happy to collaborate with parents to capture the perfect shot.
“I encourage people to pop down to the studio, if they can, so we can discuss how they want the photos to look,” she says. “That way we can discuss colours and have a look at the props to see if they want to use any of the little hats and headbands I have.”
For Reka, the best part of her job is the moment that expectant mothers and parents of newborns view the shots for the first time.
“My clients often get quite teary-eyed because they are just so taken with the whole thing. I think that’s such a reward for all the hard work that I put in to each image. I edit every single image myself, so I don’t use filters or pre-sets. I just use Photoshop and I put an awful lot of effort into each picture.”
The effort appears to be paying off, with Reka saying that business has been going well since she moved into her studio. But she is not resting on her laurels and plans on undertaking some courses with the Master Photographers Association in 2019 to develop her skills further.
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