Veronika Gant curved her hand around her stomach, demonstrating the pose she wanted her pregnant photography subject to adopt.
“Like this,” Gant said, instructing the woman in front of her to lift one leg and bend the knee.
She tilted her head, studying the woman in front of her. “Yes,” Gant said, nodding affirmatively.
The 38-year-old photographer works out of her home in Far West San Antonio, which has a front room converted into a photo studio – complete with vinyl backdrops, a makeup station, and a waiting area for friends and family members.
Gant, a Slovakian immigrant, started her photography career in high-fashion photography. But when she moved to San Antonio, she decided to switch gears to actually serve clients.
“This is a family-oriented city,” she said. “If you are in a city like that, you should adjust what you are going to do. … It’s still photography.”
Gant stopped photographing runway models and started snapping shots of pregnant mothers. It’s a different audience, but she fell in love with it, Gant said.
“I just find the beauty in it,” she said. “Like, how I can apply beauty and to find the beauty from this, and tell mom, ‘You’re beautiful.’ And especially when you’re pregnant, a lot of moms, they don’t see that – they actually skip the maternity sessions and they just tend to tell me that they don’t feel good and they don’t feel [like] themselves.”
Gant merged her love of an editorial, high-fashion aesthetic with maternity photography by creating her “Vogue” style shoot in 2018. It’s Gant’s most requested photo session. She even had a client fly from Virginia to be photographed by her, she said.
“I didn’t expect that it would be like that,” Gant said. “I was actually just playing around because I was starting to build my YouTube channel, and I was like ‘I have to create something unique.’”Gant’s “Vogue” maternity shoots involve dramatic gowns, a magazine-style backdrop, and the option to recolor the background and her client’s outfits to any shade they’d like. One afternoon, 28-year-old Alyssa Dean stood in front of a fan with her hair and gown fanning behind her, a striking image against a dark backdrop. She was taken by Gant’s “Vogue” photos when she looked through the photographer’s profile, she said.
“Those are the ones that caught my attention,” she said. “They are so creative and magazine-worthy. It’s not typical at all.”
Dean is on her second pregnancy but didn’t take professional maternity photographs when she was pregnant with her now-4-year-old son.
“I didn’t do any of this stuff and really regretted it, not capturing these memories,” Dean said. “This time, I wanted to indulge in it a little because most likely it’ll be the last one.”
Gant loves the idea of helping people document one of the most important parts of their lives and making them feel beautiful at the same time. When she was pregnant with her own child, she felt like she was glowing, she said.
Sometimes pregnant moms with older kids in tow will come to her studio and tell Gant that it’s their first professional maternity session, but that they wanted to have just one done to remember that time. Those sessions range from photographing the women by themselves to children cuddling their mom. Gant welcomes partners and family members as part of the maternity shoots, she said.
“It creates a legacy for the family,” she said.
Gant also specializes in newborn photography and offers a “Watch Me Grow” package where she documents the pregnancy, the newborn baby, the baby’s six-month milestone, and a first birthday cake smash. The cake smashes are the most fun to shoot, she said. Some babies are confused, but others destroy their cakes with gusto.
“They’re so different,” she said. “Sometimes they just enjoy them – they are laughing and they are smashing and all dirty.”
Gant’s passion for giving women stylized maternity photos comes from her delight in documenting her own pregnancy, but also from a yearning for her mother to have done the same. Her mother did not take photos while she was pregnant, Gant said. She dabbed a few tears away when she spoke about her own parents, who still live in Slovakia. She only has a few family photos in San Antonio with her, as the rest are back at home with her mother.
“I think it’s pretty strong for kids to see [their] mom with a smile in the picture and holding the belly,” she said. “And just be young and beautiful – waiting for you to come.”