Thursday, May 7, 2020

Witnessing the Mandjes' Birth of a New Chapter: Veronica's Lifestyle Maternity Session { North Holland }

A trip to Europe had been a dream for some time. I imagined visiting my happily married sister who is raising her family in the Netherlands, her husband's country. I imagined taking my mother with me. I imagined the trip could be both for pleasure and business - I can take a few photography projects - family portraits, maternity shoots - it would be such a waste to let pass the opportunity of shooting portraits in picturesque European settings. I imagined and hoped. 

Early this year, before the curtains closed on international travel, I had my chance. It was mostly fortunate. I took my mother and my camera with me. Through my sister and her friends, I was able to arrange a few photo sessions with both Dutch families and Dutch -Filipino families. 

My sister's friend Veronica Mandjes, it turned out would be my first maternity shoot in Europe. She was on her 6th month. On our first session at the Kasteeltuin Assumburg, she showed her full baby bump in her white, empress cut dress. The manicured baroque gardens and stone castle seemed a silent witness to the growth of a family. The Mandjeses - Veronica, husband Kevin, and son Erron - braving the cold wind gusts with the warmth of their smiles. When it rained, we decided to continue the session the following day. 
Veronica chose the locations. Our second one was right in their home - in their tub shaped like a womb, it cradled Veronica as she cradled her full belly while soaked in a tub of bath water with petals. This vibrant set seemed like Veronica's ode to her motherhood, her birthing. 

Our third location speaks of nostalgia, of getting back to basics - the family. In Zaanse Schans, which hearkens of old Netherlands with its historic windmills, wooden houses, and barns, the Mandjeses become unbridled. Restraint from the first session, perhaps mostly because of weather, was taken off in place of fun. Their son Kevin is pure, bright joy embodied. In a series of shots, Veronica and Kevin take one each of Erron's hand, lift him up, and let him swing in the air. You think, this happiness in a family can only multiply with the birth of a young one. 

As I take the last couple of shots, I realize that my European dream has been paid well with this reality of immortalizing this family's new life chapter. I'm at home, in quarantine, and I cannot believe my luck in this profession. I am forever grateful.  


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