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Shining light on life

Roseville photographer captures beauty of pregnancy
By: Lauren Weber The Press-Tribune
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Karen Marie Hourscht knows a lot “bout birthin’ babies.” She’s been a labor and delivery nurse for the past six years. But the Roseville resident also has a passion for photography. Her first professional venture with the lens was while one of her friends was pregnant with her third child. Hourscht snapped some photos and both women were impressed with the results. From there she combined her nursing background and newfound talent and began work as an intern. She learned lighting techniques and Adobe Photoshop tricks, until she eventually started her own company, Belly Beautiful Portraits, about six months ago. With three children of her own, Hourscht knows the ups and downs pregnancy can bring women and focuses her business on maternity, birth and newborn photography. “I know when women get pregnant, you just don’t feel good about yourself,” she said. “My pregnancies were horrible, but to have something that made me feel and look beautiful was important.” For each of her pregnancies, Hourscht has photos to show. And because Hourscht knows the discomfort often associated with pregnancy, she makes the photo sessions as enjoyable as possible. “I try to make it more of a spa experience for them,” she said. Within her Natomas studio, for each photo shoot Hourscht brings in the client’s favorite fresh flowers, plays music and provides lots of ice water and breaks within the 1 1/2 hour session. Hourscht said her studio located inside Pregnancy Journey, a center that includes massage therapy, pregnancy classes and ultrasounds, complements her business. “We’re all there to try to make pregnancy a beautiful thing,” she said. “It all kind of fits together.” For birth photography, Hourscht said she takes photographs during a woman’s labor up until the baby’s first breath and into the first initial hours with the family, taking photos for up to 20 hours. Her black and white shots are then turned into a slide show accompanied with a client’s chosen song. Corrina Felkins of Plumas Lake said she had pregnancy and newborn photos taken because of the lifelong memory they bring. “They last forever,” she said, but she was also attracted to Hourscht’s photographic style. “They’re beautiful, they’re original. It’s something you look at and notice are different,” she said. Hourscht said she strays away from the traditional pregnancy photos people can have taken everywhere. “My style is romantic and a little on the sexy side,” she said. Most of the photos show the woman looking down at their growing belly or with the father of the unborn child. She also does photo touch-ups to make the photos and women as flawless as possible. Nikki Alvarez, a Roseville resident, had pregnancy photos taken with her 4-year-old daughter and husband. “It’s referencing a really unique time,” Alvarez said. “I have really hard pregnancies but I love the idea of pregnancy. “I want something happy to remember it by,” she added. And that’s exactly what Hourscht wants to bring to mothers. With her camera in hand, she catches moments she calls one of the most unique and wonderful times in a woman’s life.