When you’re 25 years old and your friends are having babies left, right and center, the changes can be quite overwhelming. Which was exactly what photographer Jana Romanova felt in 2009.
“All the fun and the drinking and the hitchhiking stopped and, for me, it was a really difficult moment because I felt like I was alone,” she said.
To cope with these changes, Jana turned to her love of photography.
It all started when she slept over at a pregnant friend’s flat one night. She woke up to find Julia and Mikhail sleeping on the floor. There was a ladder in the flat, as the couple were renovating their home to prepare for their expectant child. So she climbed up and took a photo of them from above.
“That picture said something to me about their relationship; the way they were sleeping made them seem very much like a team while being extremely disconnected at the same time.”
This was how her “Waiting” project started.
She photographed a few more friends and friends of friends, until she ran out of pregnant couples. She then started contacting expectant people on social media.
“I would say this was the most difficult part. I sent hundreds and hundreds of letters asking: ‘can I photograph you sleeping?’ and for about 99%, the reply was: ‘you’re insane!’”
“I was lucky to find really open-minded people who would agree not only to let a stranger into a house, but also to stay asleep while this stranger is climbing the ladder, making noise, holding a camera right over their heads, and — waiting.”
Jana’s goal was to photograph 40 couples to represent the 40 weeks of pregnancy.
“The whole project took three years to complete. I must have emailed about 300 people in order to convince those 40 couples to be photographed. And I needed to spend the night with them, so that made it even harder to be given access.”
While the project may look like an easy one, it came with a great deal of danger, too.
First of all, the equipment is heavy.
Imagine dropping a big camera on someone’s head.
Pets are another hazard.
“Some pets (not understanding what’s happening up there) become very protective and start fighting with the camera, with the photographer, or with the ladder. I’ve lost several times to fights with cats, dogs, and even one ferret.”
And, of course, some people just plain forget.
“At one point, the husband, sleeping peacefully nuzzling his pillow just before I started pressing the shutter, opened one eye, then the another one. There was real fear in his eyes. I think at this moment there was something even more terrifying on my face, because I had no idea what to do: to run or to explain.”