It’s the early 2000s again. Bennifer is (re)engaged, and Britney Spears is pregnant. That last one Spears announced via an Instagram post on Monday. She said that while she initially believed she was “food pregnant” after a vacation to Hawaii with her fiancé, Sam Ashgari, she later realized she was pregnant-pregnant. “So I got a pregnancy test …,” she wrote, “and uhhhhh well … I am having a baby.”
During her testimony to end her years-long conservatorship in June 2021, Spears said she wanted to have a baby but was forbidden to go off birth control. So personally, I’m thrilled for Britney. May the rest of her life be full only of exactly the good things she wants and demands. But I do have just one question. What is this photo that accompanied the announcement? Where did it come from? Why the teacup and carnations?
So … I asked. It turns out the woman behind the photo, Andrea McClain, an Ohio-based part-time stock photographer, is actually no stranger to getting the Britney Spears Instagram boost. She said Spears has been posting her pictures for years, and she has no idea why. Further reporting—AKA scrolling through the depths of Spears’ very extensive Instagram history—puts the earliest post in April 2018, and I uncovered 14 different photos. Spears appears to be a longtime fan of McClain’s soft and romantic images. Many of these posts were from the #FreeBritney era, meaning they were often parsed by fans for secret clues Spears was asking for help leaving her conservatorship. Many of the pictures include flowers, tea cups, and keys. As one Spears fan wrote in a Christmas-y image of McClain’s that Spears posted in November 2019, “who TF is Andrea McClain tho?” Here’s your answer. Our conversation has been condensed and edited.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Photography for me, for the last few years, has been mostly a hobby. I do try to make a little bit of money off of it. I sell through a stock image company called Arcangel. I’ve had a few book covers, greeting cards, stuff like that. I really enjoy still-lifes. They are my favorites. I used to do weddings—not my favorite. I sell some of my photography in a local store and craft shows. I’d like it to be more, but right now I’m not working. I used to be a preschool teacher. Last year, I lost my husband, so I’ve just been taking time for just me.
How did you discover that Britney Spears had posted your photo?
She’s shared my photos before. The first time was a couple of years back. I can’t say exactly how many she’s shared, but it has been quite a few. On Monday, I got an Etsy message on my email, and it was Entertainment Tonight asking if they could use my photo for a segment. And I thought, “what happened?” I knew to go to my Instagram. “It’s probably Britney again.” My phone was blowing up.
Have you gained a lot of followers since she posted?
I’d say over 2,000.
Is that typical of the response when Spears posts a photo of yours?
Yes, when she posts a photo of mine, my Instagram will blow up.
How did it feel to discover she’d chosen your photo to make such a momentous announcement?
It’s a pretty awesome feeling. Of all the people who are on Instagram, how did she find me? And she likes my photos?
Great question! You have several thousand Instagram followers, but your account is still relatively small. Do you have any idea how she found you?
I really don’t know. I remember the very first time that she shared one of my photos I woke up one morning and I happened to check my phone and I was like, “oh my goodness, I have all these followers. This is not normal.” Typically, I get a few here and there every day. I was like, “Wait a minute. Britney Spears shared my photo.” And I asked myself if it was really her. So I clicked on the photo and looked. My daughter who is younger, she’s 27, was super excited that first time. Well … every time.
What can you tell me about that first photo?
It was some flowers with this white butterfly in the middle of them.
Would you consider yourself a Britney fan?
I do enjoy her music. My daughter is probably a much bigger fan.
Can you tell us anything special about the pregnancy announcement photo?
It’s an older photo. I just got back into taking photos. I had a pretty rough year last year with my husband passing and the year before that was my dad. I kinda put my camera down for a little while. Usually, with still-lifes, I’ll get inspired by something I see. I’ll buy flowers or pick them from my garden and start arranging them. I’ve got lots of props. I know this one has a little teacup from my collection. I was probably just playing around one afternoon in my studio.
And you just thought, “OK, I’ll put this on a stock photo website and Britney Spears will use it to announce a pregnancy.”
Probably a very rare experience to be able to say Britney Spears is your fan and not the other way around.
Mostly I think it’s awesome that she tagged me at all. Some people will take and share your photos and they don’t even bother to tag you as the person who took it.
Does she follow you?
I’m not really sure. I would assume she probably does, but I don’t know. [Editor’s note: Britney Spears does not follow her.]
Do you have any words or wishes for Spears?
I sent a message congratulating her on her news and I thanked her for sharing my photo. I wish her all the best.
Did she respond?