"But... Why would anyone want photos of THAT?"
I've gotten this reaction more times than I can count when I tell people I am a birth photographer. Though birth photography is a growing industry, many people are still unaware, or even shocked, that it exists.
It is common to hire photographers for all sorts of special occasions: weddings, baby showers, birthday parties, etc. We eagerly take snapshots of lost teeth, the first day of school, and family vacations. We don't even think twice about breaking out a camera to captures these moments. But for what is arguably THE MOST special occasion- the birth of a child- professional photographs are often not even a consideration.
Why is this so?
I believe every parent should consider hiring a photographer for the birth of their baby, and here's why.
1. You meet your child for the first time only once.
Your entire pregnancy and labor has been leading up to this moment. The moment you meet your baby for the first time. It is euphoric. And emotional. And magical. But it is also fleeting, and over before you know it.
Above, you can see this mother's love, relief, and happiness as she says hello to her son for the very first time. It was one of the most beautiful moments I have ever had the privilege of seeing.
You meet your baby for the first time one time. Make sure it is documented.
2. A birth photographer can act as your second set of eyes, and show you things you weren't able to see.
Birthing people experience the labor and birth from only one vantage point: their own. Often, they do not see what is going on behind the scenes, in the other room, or sometimes even a few feet away.
In the first photo above, the midwife gently washes baby's hair while her mother is upstairs in the shower. This is an example of a sweet moment mama would have never seen had I not been there with my camera.
The second is from my own birth. My daughter was taken over to the warmer just out of my line of sight. My husband went with her, and the first time he touched her she wrapped her little hand around his finger. I would have had no idea this happened if my birth photographer didn't document it.
A birth photographer will capture details of your child's birthday that you were not able to see for yourself, and make your memories of the event more complete.
3. Photographs can help you process and reflect on the events of your birth.
It is no secret that giving birth is intense. Even the best laid birth plans often go awry, and events can happen out of our control. Sometimes, babies come so quickly it is hard to feel anything but shock. Sometimes, birth can be traumatic. Debriefing and reflecting after giving birth can help us process what happened, and having photographs can help immensely.
In the series above, this mom had a precipitous labor and baby was born before the midwife could get to them. Dad caught the baby right there on the living room floor. You can see the shock on both their faces! Having photos of this intense whirlwind hopefully helped them process the events of the birth and helped them remember it more clearly.
4. As time goes on, you'll remember the big events, but the little details will be lost.
Of course you will remember holding your baby for the first time. But what about the little details that contribute to the bigger story? The smell of the essential oils. The movie playing on the TV in the background. The time on the clock. Your room number. The waves on the contraction monitor. The weather outside. The midwife cracking jokes. Your birth photographer is on the lookout for these little details that are setting the stage for your baby's birth, and will take photos of it all.
The detail shots are some of my favorite photos from my own birth, and I look back at them fondly.
5. The support from your birth partner is beautiful, and something you'll want to remember.
Whether your birth partner is your spouse, doula, mom, or best friend, they are supporting you through the most intense moment of your life. The emotional connection I've witnessed between birth partners is remarkable, and you can quite literally feel the love in the room. Birth partner support is my favorite element to photograph in the birth space because the connection and love is so visceral.
6. Giving birth is HARD. Celebrate that hard work.
Regardless of how her baby came earth side, I've never heard a mother say "whew, that was so easy!"
It doesn't matter if you have a home birth, hospital birth, epidural, unmedicated birth, vaginal birth, C-section.......... It is all HARD WORK. Your body grew a human being and then brought it into the world. Celebrate this difficult feat by having it photographed. You will be able to see with your own two eyes what a badass you are.
7. "I wish I'd hired a birth photographer!"
As I stated above, many people react to my career choice with shock or disbelief. But I have also had countless parents tell me they wish they had a photographer present at their child's birth. As the years go by, their memory of the day has faded. No one was there to document the partner support, or the little details, or their baby's first cry.
Let's just say I've never met anyone who regretted hiring a birth photographer. But I have met many who regretted NOT hiring one!