The 4th Trimester Bodies Project began in 2013 as an ongoing photo documentary and storytelling series created by photographer Ashlee Dean Wells. In the years since, the project has grown into a global feminist movement addressing all things parenthood, politics, and positivity. This project is dedicated to embracing our inherent beauty, normalizing our experiences, and celebrating the changes brought to our bodies by through pregnancy, childbirth, parenthood, and breastfeeding.
Our only guideline is that you are willing to {tastefully} bare it all in the name of honest beauty. It doesn’t matter how you’ve come to parenthood or how old your children are. If you’ve the bravery, we’d love to photograph you and share your story.

Why participate?

There a several reasons this project exists and is so important to ourselves personally and society as a whole. You can read the personal journeys of founder and photographer, Ashlee Dean Wells and co-founder, Laura Weetzie Wilson to get you acquainted with our mission.  We encourage folks to participate in celebration of their journeys to and through parenthood, to embrace or acknowledge a loss, or as a marker on their road to self acceptance and body positivity. On a larger scale, many women participate to share their collective voice in changing societies dialogue about women and our bodies.

If you're simply looking for a private photo of yourself and your children in the style of 4th Trimester Bodies Project's vision or your own, please consider hiring me privately rather than participating in this photo documentary. You can view my broader work here.

How to participate:

We have just wrapped a 3.5 year, tour that took us to 55 cities in 8 countries but don't worry, there are still many ways you can be involved!:

  •  Check out our event schedule to see if we have any gatherings, talks, or photo sessions scheduled near you. 

    • You can book and register for a shoot, when open, directly via our Web Store

    • If you'd like to see what you can do to bring a 4th Trimester Bodies Project photoshoot and gathering to your community, just email us and we'll help you get started!

    • Once you've completed check out for your chosen spot, you're all set! Do a little dance and wait for us to follow up with additional details.


Preparation

  • Once you're booked in for your shoot there is usually a bit of a lull. We're just as excited for your shoot as you are, we're just likely busy with the cities and shoots before you.
  • 7-14 days prior to your shoot you'll receive an email from us with location details as well as some requests and pointers to allow our time together to be as amazing as possible. If you are traveling in from out of town or need any information sooner, don't hesitate to reach out. We're happy to help if we can!
  • Children are always welcome to shoot with you regardless of age. We ask that you bring a helper along if you have young children, particularly toddlers, who might need your attention.
  • The day of your shoot please bring with you:
    • Black underwear (lace and detail are okay)
    • Black bra (Optional, you can wear one or go topless if you prefer.)
    • If you are a loss mom, feel free to bring a memento (picture, stuffed animal, etc) to represent your child.
    • Children 3 and under are generally photographed nude and older children in fitted black clothing - leotards, underwear, bike shorts, boxer briefs, etc

On your shoot day!

  • When you arrive for your session, we'll take a moment to get settled and acquainted and then we'll get started with hair and makeup.
  • Hair and Makeup: Professional hair and make up is provided for each client to ensure a clean and consistent look. Everything is very light and natural. Above all else, we just want you to feel a bit pampered and allow ourselves time to warm up to one another.
  • After hair and makeup we'll transition to photo and video portions of your shoot.
  • The Interview: Shooting always starts with a brief video interview. We ask that you bring a black fitted top for this portion of your session. While we don't release specific questions ahead of time, you can simply be prepared to tell your personal journey through woman and motherhood, as well as, discuss why you chose to participate in the project. We ask that you do not make notes or come with a prepared statement. Trust that you know your story better than anyone! We'd like for you to tell it to us candidly. I'll ask direct questions and don't worry, no one will see your video footage in it's entirety other than me. This footage just allows us to capture your story and information and sit down with you again should we need to revisit anything.
  • The Headshot: After your interview we'll dry eyes, touch up make up and move on to a simple headshot. We'll only use this on our end if/when you're published in one of our books. You'll get a digital copy of this final image as well.
  • The Official Portrait: After your headshot we'll transition to your official portrait. You'll get changed and we’ll start shooting. This part of the shoot moves quickly especially with young children. Keep in mind we're after a candid, engaging shot, not a posed family portrait.
  • The Post Process: After your shoot I will chose my favorite images from your session. We will then sit together and you will select the final portrait and headshot you would like to use for the project. I will convert them to black and white and show you the finals. We don't do any photoshopping or retouching other than color conversion.
  • After Your Session: You did it! Immediately following your session you will receive your high resolution digitals of your official portrait and headshot via email. You can use these images - make prints or post online, however you'd like. We just ask that you don't alter the images in any way. Your image and bio will be posted to our website and shared among our social media accounts the day of your shoot. Welcome to the 4th Trimester Bodies Family!

One of our alums wrote a beautiful piece about the process and her experience which you can read here -

Mothering Not Modeling: Black Panty Salvation. 

And another here - 

The Birth Hour - 4th Trimester Experience


If you have any questions about the project or our process please feel to check out our FAQ page and/or send us a message.