Wedding photos and maternity shots have long been a staple of family photo albums. These days, however, another type of more personal portrait is becoming popular.
Breast-feeding photos, taken while a mother feeds her young child, have been in demand lately. At an apartment in Osaka on a recent weekend, moms and their hungry offspring were waiting to have their photos taken by Hiroko Ishikawa, a professional photographer.
Ishikawa, 33, had set up a makeshift studio for mothers who wanted to have breast-feeding shots taken.
As one mother, wearing a lace veil with her child suckling on her breast, posed for the camera, Ishikawa was snapping away, telling them, “Great, wonderful.”
Tsuyuko Oto, an esthetician from Sakai, Osaka Prefecture, was there with her 11-month-old fourth son.
“I came here to get a memorial photo of the two of us, thinking he would be my last child,” said a smiling Oto, who planned to display her breast-feeding picture on the wall in the hallway of her home.
Ishikawa started her "mobile" photography service under the concept “mother takes photo of mother” two years ago, shortly after she gave birth to a boy. Her service is called “Mama Torimasu” (Mom photo service) in Japanese.
“Breast-feeding photos can be a visible memento of a mother’s love,” Ishikawa said. “I want to take ‘food for thought’ photos for mothers raising children.”
Another photographer, Naoko Tada, 40, operator of the Baron Photo Work in Tokyo, also specializes in taking baby and family photos. Tada started her photo-taking service in Tokyo three years ago after her 5-year-old son asked her a question.
One day, as Tada nursed his 2-year-old sister, the boy asked, “Did I drink mom’s milk, too?”
“I thought, ‘Has he already forgotten that he had been breast-fed?’” she recalled. “I felt sad.”
Another breast-feeding photo session was held at the Mihikaru maternity center in Tokyo in April. Yuko Ikeda, a 37-year-old homemaker, was there with her 8-month-old son Aoi.
“I want to show him this picture when he reaches a rebellious age,” she said.
These photo services are generally reasonably priced, starting from under 20,000 yen (about $250), including shooting fees and a CD-R with photo data.
Photo studios such as Matsuya in Ukiha, Fukuoka Prefecture, and Precieux Studio in Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward, have added breast-feeding photos to their menus.
Child-rearing magazine Hiyoko Club, published by Benesse Corp., featured an article last autumn on how to take breast-feeding self-portraits.
“It’s a mother’s privilege (breast-feeding) and a happy time, something fathers cannot possibly experience,” said chief editor Yukiko Nakamura.
“Today’s moms enjoyed having ‘purikura’ pictures taken (at instant photo booths to make tiny photo stickers). They are used to having photos taken. I understand why they want to capture a precious moment that will never come back.”
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