Becoming a parent is arguably the biggest responsibility one can bestow upon themselves. The least we can do in return is thank the folks that brought us up. Enter Lithuanian photographer Vaida Razmislavičė. To express her gratitude for everything they've done, Vaida has dedicated an entire series just for moms.
"Becoming A Mother" is a project that aims to show how giving birth changes a woman. Vaida photographed 33 women, 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 (i.e. the belly)."
"Motherhood is a deep experience, filled with joy, pain, exhaustion, and love," she said. "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," she told Bored Panda. "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."
I came up with the idea for this project when meeting people who thought of a newborn as some sort of obstacle to the parents," the photographer 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.
Vaida said it was really interesting seeing all of the little details that changed in just a few months. "In a way, 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 very grateful to all of the participants. Especially for 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 for its post production. They said it's what makes the photos differ from one another. And 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 (I used whatever spaces I could get) and even thought 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 are different. Also, things like reflections and the number of windows came into play. I retouched only very little details in post production, though. Now, if I could do it all over again, I'd use artificial lighting, trying to maintain the same conditions for every shoot." The photographer said she welcomes every comment that can help her get better.