Birth photography has become more and more popular in recent years (at least it seems that way to me, and I don’t think it’s just because I hang out with so many “birth” people) but I still run into people all the time who find the concept foreign.
When I tell people I’m a birth photographer, I pretty frequently get a surprised, “oh! you mean like newborn? Or… you actually take photos during labor?”
I don’t blame them for that. I used to think it was something only super crunchy moms did too, basically right up until I started doing it. But if you think about it, birth photography isn’t new at all. There’s almost always someone taking photos during labor and delivery… that someone is just usually your partner or parents, or best friend. So it’s not really taking photos that seems foreign, it’s the act of hiring a professional photographer, like you would for a wedding, or a bar mitzvah, or whatever.
Like… why would you want a professional photographer taking pictures of your downstairs business, you know? There’s too many people in the room already! Well… I’m here to make a compelling case for just that. Hear me out.
Reason One: You don’t want to forget the most beautiful moments of your life
One of the primary things we birth photographers are always telling our clients is, holy smokes, girl, you have NO idea how gorgeous you are when you’re in labor. I’m not kidding at all. You might think it’s when you are at your worst… not made up, wearing slouchy sweats or a hospital gown or nothing at all, hair everywhere, sweating, grimacing… and the movies don’t help with this image. I mean this is pretty much what we’re all picturing right?
But the reality is so much different. When you’re in labor, it’s like that’s when all the forces of the universe collide in some magical power ballad crescendo of womanly awesomeness. I realize that’s a dumb turn of phrase, but seriously, every time I look through my photos from a delivery, I’m just thinking “look at her! She’s stunning! She’s a super hero!” It’s like this symphony of love and strength and grit and determination and tenderness and joy all wrapped up in these few hours and it just really, really brings out the beauty in women. And, tragically, you won’t get to see that at all without someone to document it. You may remember the joy of meeting your precious little squishy baby for the first time, but you’ll miss the bigger picture of his or her entrance into the oxygen-breathing world, and trust me on this… you want the big picture.
Reason Two: You Need Your Partner’s Focus
One of the best things about labor and delivery is the love and support from the people surrounding mom, but especially when it’s coming from dad. Whether it’s a terrified first-time dad (or second or third), or one who’s not at his first rodeo, the moments between mom and dad during labor and after the baby’s born are priceless. PRICELESS, I TELL YOU! Sorry for shouting. But seriously, look at these sweet guys. It makes my heart melt all over the place.
But if dad’s taking pictures, then he’s not there doing this…
So, the answer to that is easy. Let me take the pictures, and then you have a treasure trove of irreplaceable memories.
Reason 3: Quality and Experience Matter
Don’t take this personally… I’m not saying your partner or mom or best friend are not a great phonetographer, or even photographer! But the difference between a cell phone photo and a professional photo is night and day. Even when the same person takes them! Check this out… a cell phone photo I snapped real quick to send to grandpa at one of my births, followed by a real photo from the same day.
See what I mean? Birth photographers, by and large, specialize in birth photography. We do newborn, and maternity, and lifestyle sessions, but birth photography is our bread and butter. That means we understand how to make the lighting work in weird, dark rooms, and how to work in harmony with the rest of your birth team, and how to capture your story without being a distraction in it. You need someone who understands what a privilege it is to be invited into your birth space, and has both the heart, and technical experience to really honor that.
Reason 4: It’s Not Just About the Crowning Shot
Remember all that “downstairs business” talk from the intro? Here’s the deal. The crowning shot is beautiful, and it can be a gorgeous, transformative thing to capture on film, but if you’re thinking “yeah, I’m just not that kind of girl,” you’re not alone. In fact, while I have some clients who are all about that (which is awesome!) I have as many if not more who don’t even want that shot.
Birth photography is so much more than that moment. It’s your family around you. It’s the details of your birth space. Your husband squeezing your hand and whispering in your ear. Your kids helping fill the birth pool. Dad anxiously waiting for progress. The support of your birth team. The doctor’s expression. It’s a thousand little moments that make up this incredible story. And like I said before, a lot of these are things you might miss when you’re just focused on getting through it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard moms say “I didn’t even know that happened” while looking through photos. And that’s why I’m here. So you’ll know it happened, and you’ll be able to re-live all the good stuff.
Reason 5: It’s Your Baby’s Life Story!
I honestly hadn’t thought about this as much until a few months ago, but your little one is going to grow up, and when he or she does, you’ll still have this documentary… this photographic tribute of your love for them. And that’s so meaningful! They’ll be able to look through these images later and know just how much they were celebrated.
Plus (and if you have multiple kids you know this already) your baby changes so unbelievably fast. I mean like… when I come back for a followup session three days later, the baby already looks different. Those first few formative hours are hours you’ll never get back. I am friends with a lot of my clients, some in person and some just on Facebook, but it’s incredible to watch these little humans grow and their personalities begin to shine through, and compare their photos a few months after they’re born to the ones I took on day one. These little fellas transform in the blink of an eye!
I assume by this point you’re pretty much sold on the idea, and now you’re just letting me ramble on about what I love to do. But if you’ve got friends who are still like “birth photography? But… why?” do us all a solid and forward this to them. They’ll thank you!