GREENWICH -- For Koren Reyes, pregnancy and motherhood are not child's play.
The banker-turned-photographer from New York City recently opened a studio on Greenwich Avenue devoted to taking pictures of pregnant women and newborns in artistic -- often nude -- poses.
"Everyone thinks the pregnant woman is beautiful," said Reyes, 46, who began shooting pregnant women in 2005. "What woman doesn't want a beautiful photo of herself? When there's a child involved it's about the two of them."
Reyes, who holds an art history degree from Scripps College in Claremont, Calif., in 2002 made a career switch to photography after getting laid off from Bear Stearns as an options specialist after the terrorists attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Leaving behind a 12-year career in finance, Reyes took photography courses at the Nantucket Island School of Design and Rocky Mountain School of Photography in Missoulla, Mont., and split her time between San Francisco and New York City from 2004 to 2007.
"I had been living in New York City since 1989 and wanted a lifestyle change," said Reyes, a Minnesota native who spent summers at the shop of her grandfather and famous Nantucket basket-maker Jose Formoso Reyes. "For the last 18 months, work faded in California after I raised prices to what I thought were in line with what I offered, so I moved back to New York."
Reyes said her friend Ella Vickers, who in 1998 founded Recycled Sailcloth Collection in Wrightsville Beach,
N.C., to make handbags and other accessories out of old sails, in August asked her if she wanted to share a retail space on Greenwich Avenue.
"We walked up and down the avenue and saw there was quite a bit of retail space," Reyes said.
They set up their shops in a roughly 1,000-square-foot rectangular space formerly occupied by national nursery furniture retailer Cocoon, with Recycled Sailcloth Collection in the front half and Koren Reyes Photography studio in the back.
"People have said that they thought the concept of shared space was really cool," said Reyes, who has booked two assignments since their shops opened Nov. 14 and hopes the pace to eventually double to 100 assignments a year. "It's been great."
Reyes said her prices range from $2,800 to $3,200 for a 20-print album and a wall portrait. The photography sessions, which include makeup and posing instruction, are by appointment only.
The two-shop arrangement is working out well because their products attract attention yet do not compete with each other, said Vickers said.
"People come in and are fascinated," she said.
The shops are a welcome addition to Greenwich Avenue, which has seen an increase in retail occupancy, said Mary Ann Morrison, president and chief executive officer of the Greenwich Chamber of Commerce. An Apple store opened last Saturday at 356 Greenwich Ave., and a Ralph Lauren store opened last Friday at 265 Greenwich Ave.
"You have landlords being more aggressive with their rents because they are at a supply-and-demand point," said Morrison, adding that the attractive rates are enticing some people to open shops. "People who have been collecting paychecks are saying they'd rather write their own."
The Recycled Sailcloth Collection is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Saturday and from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Photographer specializes in motherhood