These intimate portraits by photographer Trina Cary are stunning in their own right, however, it’s the authentic story of the real-life couple featured in the images that conveys heartwarming inspiration. The models are Melanie Varney and her husband Gabby, Vancouver-based parents of a son and two twin girls born within 364 days of each other in 2013 and 2014. The twosome appear comfortable and confident in the shots, but it took time to find that courage, particularly for Varney.
Back in 2014 when the twins were first born, the mom recalls searching online for photos of other postpartum twin mothers, struggling to make peace with her new shape and size. She was (and remains) extremely grateful for her children—as she told Huffington Post, “Becoming a mother was the best thing I have ever done,” especially after spending an arduous year desperately trying to conceive—but the pregnancies transformed her body in challenging ways. Despite her husband’s affectionate support, she experienced the insecurities that so many women know so well, comparing her appearance against mental expectations of how she “should” look. Luckily, a solution came in the form of a new photo shoot opportunity.
Cary had collaborated with the mother-of-three before, capturing snapshots of the art products for Varney's company called West Coast Karma. Now, she was looking for a couple to volunteer to model in an intimate lakeside shoot. The Varneys decided to take the plunge, posing together in nude and semi-nude shots with raw emotion and intimacy that make a strong statement. By stepping in front of the camera, Varney agreed to relinquish control of her physical appearance and confront her true form, finding empowerment in her authentic vulnerability alongside that of her husband.
The results convey the tender bond between mom and dad, showing the way their love has endured (and perhaps even brought them closer) through the transformations they’ve experienced as partners in the past few years. The photos also seem to celebrate Melanie’s gentle strength, genuine joy, and unique personality, all undiminished by pregnancy and parenthood. Cary explains, “I hope people will see a strong, beautiful mother, who has chosen to love and cherish her body’s flaws, and a husband, who is still in awe of her.” Her message to viewers is one of empowerment: “Love yourself, stop beating yourself up in the mirror, accept the new you and walk with confidence.” As for Varney and her husband, they’ve encouraged couples everywhere to celebrate their own honest truths. The newly empowered mother and wife says, “I want to teach women and men how to be confident again. You don’t have to be perfect in every way to be beautiful, you just have to own your flaws and embrace your differences.” She also hopes to inspire her children to embrace healthy body images of their own, reminding them that principles like humanity, kindness, and acceptance matter much more than skin-deep values.
Here's a photo of Varney during one of her pregnancies:
Here are more of Cary's intimate postpartum shots of the parents:
All images via Trina Cary.