The Bizarre Reason Cops Busted Up My Maternity Photo Shoot


If you’ve read any of my past pregnancy posts, you know I’m not one to glorify being knocked up. Beleaguered by symptoms, I usually come off more gripey than grateful. But despite the puking, heartburn, shortness of breath, and lately some pretty profound Braxton Hicks contractions (ouch), there is one thing that’s been incredibly special to me about this pregnancy, and that’s sharing it with my 4-year-old daughter. Whenever she throws her arms around my belly and murmurs greetings to “baby sister,” it’s all worth it. 

I wanted to capture one of these sister/future sister embraces in a photo that we could show the girls someday, but my efforts were a huge fail. Imagine a three-headed monster taking a selfie. So I enlisted the help of my friend Genevieve, a fabulous family photographer, to shoot some maternity photos at the state park. We had all the elements: beautiful weather, matching pastel outfits, and and a big pregnant belly. Nice, right?

Amyshoot_image2In fact, everything was going great until a cop busted up my maternity photo shoot.   

Are you wondering what terrible crime we committed? So was I. The first issue was that we had wandered off trail, into the meadow, which apparently is against park rules, despite the fact that we saw no such signs. We would have been happy to get back on trail, but a female police officer stopped us, demanding to examine the images in Genevieve’s camera. “Why?” we wanted to know. “To make sure there are no illicit photos,” said the officer. “What do you mean by illicit?” I asked. “Nudity,” she told us. A million objections rose up in my throat, but the one that came out was, “Excuse me, officer, have you met my 4-year-old daughter?” 

I have nothing against nudity, and I was actually surprised to hear about this whole nudity crackdown in, of all places, Malibu, California, but I deeply resented the implication that we were putting on some kind of soft core show with my kid there. I also wondered what it was about the family in the matching pastel outfits with the extremely pregnant lady that screamed “illicit.” 

While I mumbled unhelpful things like “This is outrageous,” Genevieve reluctantly scrolled through the digital images to prove we’d been taking innocent family photos. That’s when the cop got aggressive, trying to wrench Genevieve’s prized camera from her hands, without warrant or cause, and over objections from all of us. 

“Maybe we should call the police,” I said, starting to suspect we were being robbed by someone impersonating a park ranger. “I am the police,” said the now even more annoyed (and apparently real) officer.  She did call for back-up though. That’s right, we needed TWO cops to make sure we weren’t taking naked photos off trail. 

I decided to pick up my cell phone and start videotaping the whole interaction (a trick I learned watching “The Good Wife”). Apparently that’s legal, and it proved an excellent way to get the first cop to stop saying “nude photos” in front of my kid (who was actually off twirling in the field and didn’t really absorb much of the showdown, I’m happy to say). The second cop assessed pretty quickly that we weren’t a menace to society. He even gave my daughter a sticker. They let us finish our photoshoot, as long as we stayed on the trail.

And before it was over, I got that sister/future sister shot of my dreams:



Photos: Genevieve Elaine Photography