Tyrese Gibson and His Wife Bare (Nearly) All in Sweet and Sexy Maternity Shoot

The photos taken at the Gibsons' Georgia estate, and shared exclusively with PEOPLE, capture the domestic side of Samantha and Tyrese's life together

Fast & Furious star Tyrese Gibson and his wife, Samantha Lee Gibson, had been talking about a possible maternity photo shoot to celebrate their first child together, but Samantha woke up on July 1 with no idea that her husband had actually put one together — a surprise she discovered when a photo crew showed up that day for the shoot.

While she admits that she was “incredibly nervous” at first to be 30 weeks pregnant and stepping in front of a camera, Samantha soon overcame her shock and “stepped into her power,” according to Tyrese.

The resulting maternity photos by Derek Blanks, taken at the Gibsons’ Georgia estate and shared exclusively with PEOPLE, capture the domestic side of Samantha and Tyrese’s life together with his 11-year-old daughter Shayla.

The shoot also put Samantha’s baby bump front and center — including in several shots where she stripped down to almost nothing. At one point in the shoot she posed in a bathtub, which was inspired by a similar photo she and Tyrese had seen elsewhere.

“To go almost completely bare in a lot of photos was an extremely, extremely challenging experience,” Samantha, a social worker, tells PEOPLE.

“But on the bright side,” she adds, “I was really happy because pregnancy is a process. Your body is changing, and to be able to accept that change publicly and really just put it out there like that confidently — I tried to trick myself into thinking I was doing something for women all over the world.”

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Derek Blanks Photography
Derek Blanks Photography
Derek Blanks Photography
Derek Blanks Photography

Tyrese, 39, says his goal was always that Samantha be the focus of the shoot. “I actually purposely stayed out of a lot of photos,” he says. “I told her this is a moment that I really wanted to capture with her and her daughter,” baby Soraya, who is due at the end of September.

Samantha calls the experience bittersweet. “Normally I would work really hard to not have a belly,” she says, “so it’s been quite an experience seeing my belly and our baby grow. It’s like having front row seats to watching a miracle occur in my body.”

Samantha plans to give birth in Georgia and that’s where Soraya will be primarily raised, in the same house where Samantha and Tyrese secretly wed in February 2017.

Derek Blanks Photography
Derek Blanks Photography

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Samantha learned she was pregnant with their daughter in late January, not long after they began trying to conceive, she said in April. Minutes after her positive first test — and before she could even plan out a surprise for her husband — Tyrese arrived home, and they celebrated together.

“It was me screaming and just being overly excited and just fired up about the news,” Tyrese said.

Friends and family were equally enthusiastic. Samantha and Tyrese spread the news with help from a faux movie trailer, which Tyrese narrated, that transitioned partway through into footage from Samantha’s ultrasound.

“There was no greater reaction than her mom’s reaction,” Tyrese said of his wife. “Samantha is her only daughter, and this has been prayers for years and years, for her to get married and find the right one and start a family.”

Derek Blanks Photography
Derek Blanks Photography
Derek Blanks Photography

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Talking about the maternity shoot now, the new parents are equally effusive about the upcoming addition to their family.

The couple tells PEOPLE the pregnancy is “truly an answered prayer” and a “beautiful gift that we do not and will not ever take for granted.”

“We can not put into words how much we appreciate the outpouring of love and support from our family, friends and loved ones,” they said in a statement. “We are beyond excited to welcome Soraya Gibson home!”

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