Bumps, babies and Boris (and Carrie) Johnson

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Bumps, babies and Boris (and Carrie) Johnson

Photographer Romy Becker never imagined she’d one day be taking pictures of the former prime minister's baby

Carrie Johnson

A scroll through Romy Becker’s Instagram account would make anyone feel broody. The documentary-style photographer from Borehamwood captures the most intimate moments of motherhood, birth and family set-up. But this wasn’t always her chosen subject matter.

“I grew up in Johannesburg where I loved going to the bush and taking photos with the camera my dad got me,” Romy explains. “I always loved photography and studied it in high school, then some musical theatre, followed by photojournalism. When I took a gap year in London for my studies, I stayed. Although photography was my passion, I actually ended up working in shoot production and project management with great brands like Net-A-Porter and Charlotte Tilbury.”

Whilst still working and pregnant with her first child, Romy began offering family shoots for free at the weekend to her anti-natal cohorts and she was back in her happy place taking photos. With two young kids to focus on now – Issy is three and a half and Leo is 16 months – Romy notices a keen interest in photography by her daughter, who wanders around with her own toy camera. I ask her advice for budding photographers. “Keep shooting and reach out. I’ve met some incredible people and I get a lot of jobs through social media.” Case in point Carrie Johnson (wife of Boris and new mum, for the third time) who discovered Romy through word-of-mouth connections on Instagram. “It was such a beautiful shoot at their home. She was lovely to work with and it led to so many business enquiries which I’m so grateful for because I am super busy. My husband Adam is my biggest cheerleader and he constantly sends me lists of pregnant celebrities to contact.”

Romy has also had her work endorsed by Vogue Italia. “Each Monday they do an open call portfolio and accept 500 images from photographers worldwide. If selected, your shot is acknowledged by Vogue and you can send that picture out with Vogue’s endorsement. It’s brilliant exposure.”

Whilst many photographers have a team, Romy chooses to work solo. “The work is so emotional and private – you’re going into someone’s home, taking photos of bare skin and breastfeeding and it’s such an intimate and personal space, so the less people the better.”

Prior to the shoot Remy sends over a questionnaire about the shoot style they’re after: relaxed or more artistic. “Everyone is different. I’ve shot super-body-confident to much more reserved, where the mum has specifically requested to not show much skin. When I first walk into a space, I ask to keep the lights off, looking for areas of natural light, maybe a window with light streaming in. Sometimes I might move furniture around. I do a mix of indoor and outdoor shoots – outdoor works really well for maternity – that ‘Mother Earth’ feel. It’s just so empowering to be grounded and in nature.”

Everything seems as pretty as a picture so far, but surely there have been some disasters. “I’ve been lucky. If mum is relaxed, so is baby. I’m a patient person and I love my job because it’s relatable, having young kids myself. There’s always something to talk about and I’m constantly learning new things.”

I ask Romy how it makes her feel when she’s shooting those stand-out moments. “I feel excited, especially when I get ‘THE’ shot where everything works perfectly. I think the bath shots with baby are amazing – so private and special and the mums never say it, but they always want that shot because it makes them feel beautiful!”

Of all the shapes and sizes Romy’s photographed, is there a ‘perfect’ subject? “One of the first girls I approached was at a festival – she was just so body confident in her pregnancy, really hippie and earthy. I set up a group calling for pregnant women and she said yes. That was the start of everything for me. I’m definitely not looking to close my market – but from those sort of shoots, I get to expose rawness and empowerment which allows me to fully show my capabilities.”

In Romy’s line of work she’s always the one friends give their camera phone to at parties. “I’m like, ‘my work is different’! But I guess I call up my friend who’s a paediatrician if I’ve got a concern about myself and she tells me, ‘I can help with the kids, but…’”

Focussing on her future, Romy is looking at organising a shoot to bring together women of all different shapes, sizes, colour and race. “Perhaps some Jewish News readers! I’ve been having conversations with a friend about doing something positive around motherhood and breastfeeding and whilst the concept is only in working stages, I really want it cover how natural something like this is, but also how difficult emotionally and physically it is too.”

Everyone seems to keep a favourite photo as a screensaver, so I ask to see Romy’s, which unsurprisingly turns out to be a really natural shot of her holding her daughter on her hip.

“My friend took it on my camera. So, it looks natural but I may have directed it a ‘little bit’. I can’t help it. That’s my job. And I love it.”





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