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News & Insight

Beyoncé’s Artistic Maternity Session & Why You Need To See It

By Shivani Reddy on February 2nd 2017

Maybe it’s the flowers, or the ghoulish-green veil, the point-and-shoot f/14 quality or even the ridiculously flat lighting, but there is something oddly intriguing about this maternity shoot and I am sure many of us are wondering what exactly inspired the photographer to capture R&B royalty in such a manner.

Being a diligent and dutiful member of the Beyoncé ‘Bey-Hive’, this is by no means an article bashing ‘Queen Bey’, but more so a commentary on how there isn’t one right type of maternity shoot.

Most celebs don’t even bother hiring a photographer for an announcement like this, it usually just ends up being an iPhone photo with a filter slapped on top and a cheesy caption below, but the 35-year old superstar announced late Wednesday night on her Instagram that she is expecting twins with this image that garnered over 9.2 million likes:

Soon after, her website was inundated with photos from the shoot.

Now, other than the pure elation I felt when reading the caption, this image, under the scrutinous eye of a photographer, is just really very humdrum – flat light, a bit of a creeping hand, and what could be construed as a minor lack of attention to detail, make for a lackluster image. And a glance through the other images from the collection gives off a very similar sense of perplexed looks as you scroll through direct flash Terry-Richardson-Inspired maternity images and wide compositions that show a clipped backdrop.


Art Director Awol Erizku, a 26-year old Ethiopian multimedia artist, is the brains behind the collection called ‘I Have Three Hearts’. Known for his adaptation of classical artworks, examining African American culture within American society. If you’ve been following Beyoncé for the past decade you can see a shift of influence in her album artwork to that of Western Art History and this production is another example of that adaptation.

A comparison made in a recent article by Huffington Post from Beyonce’s World Tour Poster and Elizabeth I’s Armada Portrait in 1588.

There is definitely more intrigue than meets the eye though, understanding that Erizku wanted to channel a heavenly Virgin Mary aesthetic (Our Lady of Guadalupe and Renaissance Madonnas) portrayed in the blooming garden of flowers and ethereal femininity of the images. The standard portraits of Beyoncé are taken at a somewhat lower angle, giving her a soft authority with a motherly touch. Typical maternity portraits photograph the subject straight on and don’t have this type of assertive look – it’s a subtle expression that completely refutes that Beyoncé is to be placed in a typical mold of motherhood.

While it has faced harsh criticism in the photo community (what doesn’t?), I implore you to dig a bit deeper into the entire series to grasp a larger theme: this is a direct message on the traditionalist ideals of our society; that there is no right way to announce a pregnancy and that doing back-flips in a pool while being 3-5 months pregnant or using your future children as inspiration to create a cultural commentary is by no means a crime. The collection definitely provokes the idea of maternity shoots of the future now that a high-thought standard has been set by the self-pronounced Queen Bey.

[RELATED: Selena Gomez Can School Photographers On Growing Instagram Value & Marketing]

See the entire spread here. What are your thoughts on the photos? What would you have done differently? And here’s a thought to leave you on:

CREDITS: All photographs shared were taken by Awol Erizku.

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Shivani wants to live in a world where laughter is the cure to pretty much everything. Since she can’t claim “Serial Bingewatcher” as an occupation, she’ll settle for wedding/portrait photographer at Lin and Jirsa & marketing coordinator here at SLR Lounge. For those rare moments when you won’t find a camera in her hand, she will be dancing, eating a donut, or most likely watching Seinfeld.

Follow her on Instagram: @shivalry_inc

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Phil Bautista

    I’m not a fan of the pics. Seems like Queen Bey put too much faith on the art director and didn’t want to mess with his vision. Personally, I would’ve asked for my money back or asked for a reshoot if these were shots of my wife.

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  2. Antonio Abrego

    I remember when I first looked at them. I thought my screen was not bright enough, color balance was off, and the website had used filters over the images like models do to pictures on instagram. 

    Guess that is what they really look like. It’s the dudes style So  I get it but quality is not great.

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  3. Jeffrey House

    Sorry to those who like Beyoncé but it’s impossible for me to respect her.  I think these photos are horrible and don’t find anything artistic about them.  They look like  those images we see in past awkward family photos.  But post anything with a superstar and it’s loved.  

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  4. Mokhtar C

    Its very simple, This photo would have not got all the attention it is getting if it was not Beyonce in the photo. 

    Not because the photographer is not talented. But becsuse this is the wayof the world now. And the way of the world now is “Follow” based rather than “Personal Opinion” based. 

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  5. Anesha Collins

    Beyonce is known for being different and can care less about other people’s opinion o her creativity which is why she does what she does. If you think for a minute that she didn’t look at the pictures before they were released you’re naive. She’s an inspiration to me as a female entrepreneur. 

    3 Things Creatives Can Learn From Beyonce:

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  6. Jonathan Brady

    Seems like trying to discover the art after the fact.  Maybe the photographer was robbed on the way to the shoot and used his cell phone?

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