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 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.

  • In addition to photo shoots we're just shy of launching our Podcast series and Blog. If you'd like to suggest a topic or a guest for the podcast or hear more about becoming a blog contributor just send us a note!


Preparation for photo sessions

  • 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.
  • Since we have opened the door to include parents of all gender identities, many have requested to shoot with their partners. While we encourage adult participants to photograph alone, you're welcome to shoot with a partner, spouse, co-parent, etc. However, each adult participant must book a paid session.
  • If you are attending a gathering/group session and would like to be photographed with a friend or group please note the relation/organization/and names of all members so we can coordinate and approve according.
  • The day of your shoot please bring with you:
    • Clothing items for your session - Remember that visually this is a project about bodies, so we need to see them! Most participants choose to be photographed in their underwear and bra (if applicable) but you can also choose to be photographed entirely nude, topless, or if you have religious/cultural requirements, in black fitted clothing. 
    • 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. If you're participating in a gathering/group session each event will be tailored to the space but will include a time for community, sharing, and empowerment before we shoot. 
  • Hair and Makeup: We do not provide professional hair and make up for our sessions any longer, unless otherwise noted. As such, please arrive camera ready. We request that long hair is worn down, styled, with soft curls if applicable. Short, curly, natural hair, braids, locs, etc should be styled as you normally would. If you choose to wear makeup for your session please ensure that is natural. Light foundation/concealer, mascara, soft blush, and gloss are okay. Please refrain from wearing eyeliner or any dramatic/bold colors.
  • After hair and makeup we'll transition to photo and video portions of your shoot.
  • The Interview: If you are participating in a private session, shooting always starts with a brief video interview. We ask that you bring a black fitted top for this portion of your session. You'll prepare for your interview by submitting a written narrative prior to your session. 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.   If you're participating in a group session/gathering you'll still be given the opportunity to share via a written narrative and we'll chat live (but off camera) during our community time
  • The 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. If you've booked a private session we will then sit together and you will select the final portrait 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. If you've booked a group/gathering session I'll select, edit, and deliver your top three images to you in the days following your shoot. 
  • After Your Session: You did it! Immediately following your session you will receive your high resolution digitals of your official portrait 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.