The beauty of a niche market
Nov-20-09, 01:44 PM
Mumus are history. Today’s mindset is pregnant and proud.
So says photographer Koren Reyes, who recently opened her studio on the slope of Greenwich Avenue in Greenwich. She specializes in pregnant women.
Reyes said pregnancy photography is fairly specialized because there’s little time to dawdle; there is a long-established time limit on the subject.
“It’s a little bit trendy right now,” said Reyes. “Everyone knows the Demi Moore picture, but that was 1991, a long time ago. Lately thought here’s been a lot of celebrities on the cover of magazines pregnant. Women are aware. My mom was taken aback when I told her I’d focus on pregnancy. She’s of that generation where women who were pregnant wore the biggest clothes they could find and stayed inside. It’s the opposite now, women are out there and in the public eye, not hiding at all.”
Reyes said the popularity of pregnant photography also has to do with the fact that women are waiting longer to get pregnant. She said her mission is, “to give new mothers the ultimate fine art expression to remember one of life’s most precious milestones.”
“For many of them it’s hard to get pregnant,” said Reyes. “When they finally do they’re in an extra happy place, they want to celebrate it big time. To have photos done is really appealing. What woman doesn’t want to have a beautiful picture of herself? Though with the pregnant photography, it’s not quite as self-serving; it is about someone else.”
Either the woman or the couple together decides the comfort level in terms of nudity and poses.
“I talk to my subjects,” said Reyes. “It’s a challenge and I work to get these moments. That’s what people respond to in the pictures and often they’re surprised with the results.”
Reyes comes from the world of banking. She worked in the past for Barclays, Chemical Bank, the Royal Bank of Canada and Bear Stearns.
Reyes’ grandfather is Jose Formosa Reyes, who popularized the traditional Nantucket basket in the 50’s by adding a lid, and invented the Nantucket basket purse. Reyes, who grew up in Minnesota and thinks of herself as outdoorsy, worked summers repairing baskets into her mid-20s.
In February 2002, Reyes was laid off from Bear Sterns. She spent that summer on Nantucket taking a photography class at Nantucket Island School of Design.
“I found it to be very technical yet very artistic,” said Reyes. “I called my accountant and he said his lowest paid photographer was $27,000 per year and his highest was $750,000 per year. There was money in photography and there was room for me. Once you figure out the basics, the rest of it is being open, persistent and putting out a good product.”
After her Nantucket class, Reyes was encouraged by her mother to find a niche. She moved to California and began doing project photography, starting with a series of women over age 40, tastefully nude.
“We had a show and it went great,” said Reyes. “I thought about what was similar and came up with pregnancy. I got some volunteers and within a week I had my niche.”
Reyes came back to New York as her calls from clients there began to roll in. She moved her studio to Greenwich this year, sharing a Greenwich Avenue storefront with friend and bag designer Ella Vickers, who makes bags and accessories out of recycled sailcloth. In addition to her studio, Reyes can be found online at korenreyes.com.
“It makes so much sense,” said Reyes. “Greenwich is a dynamic, international city with the added component of being a great place to raise a family; the decision to open my studio here was an easy one.”
Among Ms. Reyes’s other special focuses are the photography of children, family, and couples, including capturing the awe of tiny newborns and their parents. She was named “Top Pregnancy Photographer of the East Coast” by Fit Pregnancy Magazine.