As the mother of seven children — three from her former marriage, three from her husband’s former marriage, and one two-year-old of their own — Rebecca Ann Hodges will surely appreciate Mother’s Day. But for her motherhood is also a source of artistic and business inspiration.
Hodges, a professional photographer who just moved into an expanded new studio at the Straube Center in Pennington, specializes in creating portraits of mothers-to-be and — later, but not too much later — their infants.
“It’s a fleeting moment,” she says of pregnancy. “It’s not something you can go back to — unless you get pregnant again.” She has heard, and rejects, the negative reaction some people still have to the August, 1991, Vanity Fair cover photo of a pregnant Demi Moore. “What’s more beautiful? To me it’s a miracle. There are a lot of aches and pains, but there’s beauty as well. It’s amazing that your body will do it.”
As for the old notion that all newborn babies look pretty much the same (think Yoda), Hodges sees details — and a business opportunity — that others might miss. “When you photograph them there are tons of little differences,” she says. “Their lips, a crinkle across the nose, a birthmark.”
As for business, Hodges says “it’s growing — definitely catching on.” Word of mouth is one marketing approach; another is hanging photographs in the offices of several area obstetricians. Her clientele is about 50-50 stay-at-home moms and back-to-work moms.
Hodges is originally from Colorado, where her mother was a homemaker and an oil painter and her father worked in the mining industry and loved photography as a hobby. As a kid Hodges tried her hand painting portraits but was never satisfied with replicas she tried to create. Then she discovered photography and realized “wow, I can make them perfect.”
When her parents moved to West Windsor for a time in the 1990s, she enrolled at Mercer County Community College and earned a degree in advertising design and eventually a job with Denby Associates, creating two and three-dimensional displays for Fortune 500 clients, among others.
Later her parents and she moved back to Colorado, where she landed a job with a large format print company. She then moved back east to get married. After her third daughter was born, and having not worked for several years, Hodges decided it was “time to figure out” what to do. She took up photography again, at first working out of her home and eventually moving into a studio.
Her husband, John D’Antonio, is himself an artist, painting representational work and represented by galleries in New York, Boston, and Nantucket, among other cities. He is obviously appreciative of his wife’s work. “Her work in pregnancy dignifies an otherwise awkward physical time in a woman’s life, by transposing her into a stunning model who exudes an uncompromising level of beauty,” he writes in an E-mail. “She captures the soul and essence of her subjects on the order of Annie Leibovitz. She takes a simple subject and elevates it to another level. Becky fiercely opposes the mundane since a mother’s life is hard enough.”
Hodges’ kids and stepkids range in age from 29 to 2. “I have been through all the things a mother goes through,” she says, “from getting them into college on down.”
Hodges offers praise for all parents — “parenting is the greatest job you won’t get paid for,” she says, adding a special word for back-to-work moms. “It’s really hard to be a working mother. We still carry the whole family on our shoulders. You have to be your best at home and best at work.”
Rebecca Hodges Photography, 104 Straube Center Boulevard, Pennington 08534; 609-865-9783. www.rebeccahodgesphotography.com.