PARENTS

Intimate Sleeping Portraits By Jana Romanova Capture Parents-To-Be At Their Most Vulnerable

14/04/2015 13:41 BST | Updated 14/04/2015 13:59 BST

A photographer has found a unique way to create exceptionally intimate and natural pregnancy portraits that capture the vulnerability of parents-to-be at a moment when their lives are about to change forever.

Documentary photographer Jana Romanova's Waiting photo series features overhead shots of couples sleeping in the months before their baby is born.

waiting

When Romanova first publicised the series in 2013 the pictures provoked an unexpected reaction.

"People wrote very strange comments, things like 'Horrible pictures. They make me never want to get married'," Romanova, from Saint-Petersburg, Russia, tells HuffPost UK Lifestyle.

"I used most of these comments on the back of my business cards with my website address and of course every time I gave a card to somebody they were shocked, but they also always checked out my images."

Two years on, Romanova is in the process of publishing a book featuring the photos and she has seen an overwhelming shift in the tone of the responses her pictures receive.

"For some reason comments are much, much nicer now and people almost never write anything rude, only good things," she says.

"I don't know what actually changed, maybe something in the air."

waiting

Romanova started the project in 2009, a time which she says was "the end of an era" for her and her friends as many of them started to have children.

"Suddenly all of my friends became involved one way or the other in the 'expecting' process, and all of our conversations got this special 'parent' flavour, which very often had a panic taste," she wrote on her Indiegogo page.

"But no more late night beer drinking, nor spontaneous adventures nor meaningless chit-chats."

She adds that Waiting started at "the moment when everybody around me suddenly became adults, while staying vulnerable, hesitating and unguarded as they were before.

"But it also tells a story about something that will come, because all of these children who are already invisibly present on these images — they symbolise this waiting for a future, the future that will be totally different and, of course, much better than our 'here and now'.

waiting

After taking several images of couples she knew, Romanova started to look for strangers of around the same age. In total the project comprises 40 images to reflect the 40 weeks of pregnancy.

To take the photographs Romanova had to wait in the couple's home until they were both fast asleep and then quietly enter their bedroom and climb up a step ladder to get the ariel shot.

"I still find it really beautiful - what you actually see if you try to make a picture of sleeping people from a ceiling," she says.

"It is funny in a way, but this is very much about what photography can capture - a situation you would otherwise probably never see from that point of view."

waiting

As well as being intensely personal, Romanova says her Waiting photos also tell a story about a moment in Russian history.

"It is also about the way young families live in big cities of modern Russia, twenty years after the fall of the Soviet Union," she say. "The country that will be known to their children only from history books."

To see more pictures from the series scroll through the gallery below, or visit Romanova's Indiegogo page to preorder her book.

Waiting

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Watch Romanova explain how she manages to take the overhead shots without waking the sleeping couples in the video below: