“My daughter, who is a big fan of her, is like,’Mom, I can’t believe this. Britney Spears shared your photo on her Instagram page,” McClain said.
Since then, the singer has posted at least 14 McClain photos. Most recently, on Monday, she announced to the world that she was expecting a baby with her partner, personal trainer Sam Asghari. Paired with her announcement, there was a still life photo featuring a delicate pink teacup and carnation.
Between the wishes was a fan who was wondering about the choice of photo. For years, Spears followers have analyzed her Instagram pages and have been convinced that she holds her photos, videos, captions, and occasionally her memes with hidden messages.
The scavenger hunt peaked at the height of the #FreeBritney movement. At this time, the star was still under protection for 13 years, following a series of highly announced mental health collapses in 2008. The legal arrangement has been terminated by a judge in Los Angeles. In November, however, fan guessing games often dominated conversations on the singer’s Instagram page, including when Spears shared a photo of McLean.
During her protection period, when Spears said she was forced to maintain an IUD to prevent pregnancy, the singer shared a photo of three flowers, two antique keys, and a white butterfly, McClain. One believer commented, “I feel she is trapped,” and another asked, “Is she in jail?”
Britney Spears praises fans for saving her life after 13 years of adult guardianship: “My voice has been muted.”
Self-taught hobby photographer McLean doesn’t know how Spears discovered her work. She says she won’t be paid for her photos posted by the singer, but her Instagram followers have increased to about 3,000 after Spears’ announcement of her pregnancy.
Based in Mansfield, Ohio, where she was born and raised, McLean is often inspired in nature. For her shoot, she collects fresh cut flowers from her garden and antiques from her personal collection. Then she “plays music and begins to liven up her mood,” she said, adding that her playlist contains an eclectic mix of rock’n’roll and country.
The result is a collection of romantic photographs that McLean said was featured in “Several Book Covers and Greeting Cards.” Her images she sells to a stock photo agency called Arcangel can be purchased online from the Etsy page or at the local Mansfield store.
The often symmetrical composition, which features peony and buttercups as opposed to old keys, cameras and mirrors, evokes a sense of tranquility, but the last few years have not been easy for McLean.
She stopped teaching kindergarten to take care of her father. When he died, McLean’s her husband urged her to stay at her house and work on projects that would bring her joy, such as her photography. She increased her followers on Instagram and started selling prints on Etsy.
However, during the pandemic, her husband also died. Sadly, McLean put her camera down.
“It was a very tough time for me, and I just didn’t feel like being creative,” she said.
But this year, McClain was ready for change.
“I’m proud of what I want to do and finally get back to Britney’s post. Well, that meant a world where so many people could see my work.” She said.
Perhaps no one is as uplifting as his 27-year-old daughter, McLean said. She and Spears share the same name and spelling because of a complete coincidence. Perhaps it was a “magical” omen of an indirect way in which the lives of two women were indirectly intertwined, McLean said.
“When I bought something with a person’s name at those gift shops, my daughter complained that her name wouldn’t be spelled correctly,” she said. “Then when Britney became famous, I bought her like a little necklace and finally got her name right. It was all Britney.”
McClain said he was grateful that the singer acknowledged her work.
“I sent her a message directly through Instagram to congratulate her baby, and I always thank her when she shares one of my photos,” McClain said. “But I have never heard a reply.”