Why birth photography?




I hear it a lot. Birth photography images circulate around social media and many people react, "WHY?!" WHY are you broadcasting something so private? WHY did you pay a stranger to come watch you give birth? WHY would you want photos of THAT?! Why hire a birth photographer? Ohhhhhh boy. So many important conversations to be had on this topic. My simple answer, to those questions: why not? But that doesn't usually go anywhere fast. So let's tear this apart one question at a time. Why are you broadcasting something so private? For starters, many people love and invest in birth photography but choose to keep their images private. So you don't have to broadcast them. But for the ones that do feel called to share their images from birth, it often comes back to art making a statement. Our country's current climate around birth is really disordered, unfortunate, and downright dangerous. Birth is painted by society as something to be feared. Birth is misunderstood. And birth is unnecessarily dangerous in the United States. The more women share photos of their births, the more other women can see the many forms birth can take - from minimal intervention to maximum medicalization. More importantly, we can find beauty in all forms of birth. We teach the women of tomorrow that they have voices that can be heard. That their birth experience is important. And it does matter. So we broadcast birth photography as an attempt to normalize and destigmatize birth.


Okay. Can't you just share your birth story. Why do we need visuals? No one wants to see "that". Why would you want to see "that". By "that" I'm referring to crowning photos. Not everyone wants photos of crowning. Some do. It's an amazing phenomenon and amazing to capture. It's either your cup of tea, or not. No need to shame others for where they stand.... But it's sooooo important to realize that's not all birth photography is about. Not at all. Birth photography is about documenting labor, birth, and immediate postpartum. The journey that a woman embarks to bring her baby earthside, often with her partner by her side. To see the connections growing between these families is amazing. But here is the truly amazing part. When you are in labor you are vaguely aware of what is going on. But have you heard of "birth amnesia"? After labor, typically there are many details that mothers do not recall and events they aren't even aware occurred. For instance, when I had my VBAC with my son, I remember thinking my husband was nowhere to be found as I labored. Lo and behold, the photographs show he was by my side lovingly supporting me through my 36 hour labor. And what about your reaction to seeing your baby for the first time? It's a well known fact that mothers are rarely IN pictures. They tend to be the ones taking the photos but when we are looking back through memories, we rarely SEE moms. You deserve to not just remember how it felt to meet your little one for the first time, but to see the photos and see the love and shock and relief in your eyes. To see your partner's smile of wonder and awe. You deserve to have those moments etched in stone. Furthermore, having photos to look through after a particularly challenging birth can help a mother process the birth and heal. To see where she was strong, her partner was tender, and that her birth was still filled with so much love can be very comforting to some families.



Alright.. I get it. Photos are important. But anyone can take photos for me... Why should I hire a professional photographer? It's true. I won't argue with you. You have a cell phone. We all do. You can have all those moments captured without paying a penny. So why invest in a professional photographer? Guests are limited anyway and I'm not sure I want anyone besides my spouse... Hmmm...... The average birthing room has the following people when the baby is born: Mother, Her Partner, The OB or Midwife, and 1-3+ nurses. Maybe there's a sibling, friend or parent/grandparent, and maybe a Doula. Who is taking the photos? Most likely not mom. And probably not the partner. If either of them are the photographer, then they're not in the photos. Pointless. Doctor/Midwife? Yeah... they're hands will probably be a little busy... same for the nurses. That extra support person? Maybe. They can probably hold a phone or camera and snap some photos of the important moments. But do they know how to handle lighting changes? Can the gear they're using handle low light and still produce a crisp, beautiful image? Do they know how to capture creative shots that turn "gory birth" moments into tasteful art? Are they familiar with the birth process to be able to anticipate the moments?