When asked what provoked her to start taking pictures of pregnant parents to be Russia’s Jana Romanova answers at the time when she first undertook her project it was a situation that all her closest friends seemed to all be pregnant coincidentally at the same time and she simply sought to understand the process and changes that were taking place.
Thus what transpired as a curiosity would end up becoming a full on fledged project which soon found her seeking out and being sought out for similar projects by other similarly expecting couples.
Tells the photographer of her project ‘waiting’: ‘A couple of years ago, I suddenly noticed that almost all my friends were about to become mothers and father,’
‘I wasn’t really ready for this unexpected change in my life, because I couldn’t imagine it without spontaneous travels and night talks about our amazing future,’
‘My favorite people were about to become real adults with a lot of responsibilities, and they all took the change in a very different way, acting like a happy family in public and sometimes crying in fear of the prospect when nobody was watching.
‘I started photographing my friends, their friends and, in the end, people I don’t know, in the most personal and intimate place – their bedroom – early in the morning while they were sleeping or drowsy.
‘It’s a time when people don’t care about their appearance, being natural, and looking at the photographs I tried to understand what kind of roles a young man and woman play in their new family.’
Seeking to affect the most natural vantage point possible, wanted her photos to be as natural as possible, Jana Romanova tells how she sometimes waited until five or six in the morning to get the perfect shot.
A perfect bird’s eye view would be achieved with Jana standing on a ladder, giving the viewer an intriguing vantage point.
Over two years, Jana Romanova took 40 photos of 40 couples, telling how each picture representing a week of pregnancy.
In this way, Jana explains she was able to capture feelings and emotions from all stages of pregnancy – from the moment when a couple realise their little partnership is expanding, to the very real prospect of a baby coming into their lives.
‘From when he hasn’t yet realised he’s going to be a father, and she is alone with the knowledge of the small life growing inside her, to the stage where he becomes a child himself – rejecting this new responsibility, and, after that, coming to a moment where he awakens and, slowly, they start to play equal roles in the process of waiting for their arrival,’ as Jana describes it.
‘They are waiting not only for a child to be born, but also for their entire life to be changed in 40 weeks.’
Naturally one wonders as much as she sought to document the changes of the expecting couple if she also sought to document her own changes or rather her own understanding of change and development and impending birth of self. A view and feeling one could perhaps attest to as one observes the resulting images.
Jana Romanova was born in 1984 in Russia, and got a degree in journalism from Saint Petersburg State University. She won the PDN Photo Annual (USA) in 2011 and Photography Book Now by Blurb 2011 in documentary category. In 2011 she started teaching documentary photography at the Faculty of Photojournalists in Saint Petersburg.
Go here to see more of Jana’s work.