What comes to mind when you hear the words birth photography? Do you immediately envision some graphic imagery of a baby crowning? Or perhaps a screaming, delirious mother desperate for relief?
If that’s the case, I don’t blame you for skipping forward to the next interesting article. But, you should know that moment of delivery a very tiny part of the birth stories. Those graphic pictures are sometimes not even allowed to be taken in a hospital setting. There is so much more to it!
I’ve realized that having birth photography would have been even more valuable than my wedding pictures. My first birth included 33 hours of unmedicated labor with 4 hours of pushing followed by a c-section. The ONLY picture of me before my son’s arrival, was me lying on the OR table with an oxygen mask. Where is the proof of the absolutely amazing woman I was through that whole labor? I mean, look at me! Defeated, half dead, I was devastated.
The negatives that overwhelmed my birth experience. I recently attended a traumatic birth like mine. And, I cannot tell you how beautiful and powerful I found that mom! I wish I had been able to see that in myself a decade ago after my first birth. I’m glad I was able to capture that strength in pictures for her. Otherwise, I think she too would be stuck focusing on mistakes and perceived failures when so much of her experience was heroic and empowering. She has told me many times how healing those pictures are for her.
This is the story of one of the most amazing days of your life and you deserve beautiful pictures to illustrate that story. At the very least, see if you can’t borrow a good digital camera and invite a friend or family member to take pictures for you. They probably won’t compare to what I can provide with my deep appreciation and understanding of birth and photography along with high end gear. But, at least you’ll have something to reflect on and cherish. Please don’t just hand a camera to your husband. He is a major part of your story and shouldn’t be stuck behind a camera. He should be at your side and he should be in the pictures. Chances are, he’ll be so wound up in his role as your birth partner that he won’t remember to take pictures anyhow.
Keep in mind the time commitment involved not just with your actual labor, but the time leading up to your labor. Birth photographers have to make a lot of sacrifices to make sure they don’t miss a birth! If you aren’t signing a contract and compensating her for her time, don’t be surprised if your designated photographer has something come up. She might not be able to answer her cell phone when you need he. Child care might fall through. She might get sick and won’t have a back up photographer who you are comfortable with.
Even if she does show up on time, don’t be surprised when your images don’t only lack in quality, but quantity. There are crucial angles that allow you to share your pictures, and those special moments that seem to be over before they have started. It’s a lot to take in especially for someone who has not attended births before.
I had my dream wedding on a hilltop in Santa Barbara and used an excellent photographer. But, if I had to choose between having the amazing professional pictures of myself from the day I looked and felt the most beautiful versus the pictures of the powerful woman I was on my daughters’ birthdays? Bring on the messy hair, sleepy eyes, and swollen belly. I go back to look at those labor and birth pictures far more often. And I’m proud to share them as they better represent the goddess being a mother has made me. So, yeah, I definitely wish I had known about birth photography a little sooner…I would have hired a professional birth photographer in a fetal heartbeat.