Birth Photography, to be honest, something that came up on my radar before I was pregnant. I’d seen a bit of it about and just thought to myself how brave the mothers were to let a camera into the hospital and how there would be no way I’d ever want something like that done. After all I, wouldn’t leave the house without a full face of makeup, why would I let someone take a photos of me at my most vulnerable!
Fast forward and here I am with only 3 and half weeks to go before I meet my baby boy and I have completely changed my mind.
I have seen more birth photography now; looked around websites and looked into it more and to be honest it is something that appeals to me. We have photos taken of every other monumental moment in our lives so why not the birth of our babies? In the UK it seems to still be a very new thing with only a handful of photographers specialising in this area. However in the US it seems a lot more popular. There are birth photography specialists who make a good living from doing just that! They are experienced in every sort of birth, from hospital, to home, to water, to C Section and know exactly what to do in every situation. I found this one on the internet which shows a variety of work.
I have to admit that most of the birth photography I have seen here in the UK has been taken by the fathers who are actually photographers themselves, so making the whole process a lot easier! but it is an area that is becoming more popular. You can read an article from UK based Birth Photographer Jade Langton Evans entitled Why hiring a Birth Photographer could be one the most amazing decisions you could make and see for yourself!
The life of a birth photographer though is full of sacrifices, it seems they have to be on call 24/7 for at least 4 week before the due date, they have to be fully ready and happy to drop everything as soon as they get the call, which means a lot of flexibility on their part. Of course no birth is the same, so a lot of time they could be hanging around waiting, while other times the whole birth could whizz by! It is a profession that they devote their lives to.
The more I look at images of babies being born, not just the after glow, but the whole experience from beginning to end, the more I realise it is such a special thing. The pictures tell a moving and emotional story, a story that surely everyone would want captured? But again as I think about it the more obstaclesI come up with.
Now I know a lot of photographers, however because of the profession I am in these are mainly wedding photographers, all of whom are extremely busy in the summer months and as I am having a summer baby I can’t expect any of them to be ‘on call’ waiting for me to give birth. Also do I know any of them well enough to have them with me during the birth? A specialist birth photographer I think would be a different thing as they would be used to doing this day in day out.
The other obstacle I have is that I am (hopefully as long as everything goes well) having a hypnobirth and that means as little disruption and fuss as possible, just me, Nik and a midwife. Having someone there taking photos kind of goes against everything I am striving for with my birthing experience! So yes I guess in an ideal world having the birth photographed would be amazing but the more I look at the practicalities the less it seems feasible.
At the moment my option is to give Nik the camera with a few lessons before hand and hope he can do a good enough job himself. We have asked for a few bits of advice from professionals and fingers crossed he will know what he is doing. After all I have a professional camera, so we are half way there! However in an ideal world with a string of specialist birth photographers at my finger tips I would be booking one up straight away!
In summary I guess what I am trying to say is it’s something I would LOVE to have done, but the practicalities and the logistics of it don’t seem to work out!
So what do you think, is it something you would consider? Did you have your birth professional photographed? Would you recommend it? Or is it something you are considering? What would make you do it and what would make you definitely not do it? I’d love to hear your thoughts. And if you are a birth photographer I’d love to hear from you.
- Photography By: Jade Langton Evans photography www.jadelangtonevans.co.uk and S6 Photography www.s6photography.co.uk
Big Boho Love
I totally dig this post. I wish I had considered birth photography, especially for my home birth, as I (strangely) feel like I missed out on stuff. The mind is good at filtering out the bits it thinks it doesn’t need! 😉 I’m thrilled to have been asked to photograph two births later this year, and have had a lot of interest from a local home birthing group via the NCT. Perhaps having been through a home birth myself, and FULLY understanding that some have need for minimal distraction, gives me a slightly better understanding.
Granted it’s not for everyone (but then, apart from food, air and water, nothing is for everyone..). But, it’s definitely something worth considering. I don’t think I’ll ever have another kiddo, but if I did, I would certainly choose to have the birth photographed. I hope many other moms consider it too!
The one thing I would STRESS is, don’t give Nik or the midwives the task of photographing. It’s important that they be present for you, and not worrying about taking the “right” photos, or being distracted. My mom and my mother in law have over 60 years of midwifery between them, and they’ve seen just about everything. And, having been in attendance of a couple of births as well as my own two, I cannot stress this enough.
Even if it means asking a sister or family friend to lurk quietly, do that instead. But don’t put the task on someone who needs to be at the forefront; they have enough to worry about already.
I can’t wait to see what happens with your final decision! (Apologies for the essay comment!!)
Thansk so much Jay. Great point about Nik being present and not behind the camera, I hadn’t thought about it like that! xxx
I have plenty of lovely photos taken within an hour of Gwenn being born with a pretty decent camera so they lend themselves well to be printed out/blown up etc. Very pleased about that. But, I only have one photo – taken with a mobile phone – of me in labour and even then it was during the very early stages. At the time I didn’t give it a second thought but it is actually a regret (not a huge one, admittedly) that I don’t have more. If I am lucky enough to go through it again, I will (try to) make sure we document it but I’d be happy for my husband to do it, rather than pay a professional.
I had this done for the birth of our second child 8 years ago – the photos are pretty damn amazing! My photographer was also my best friend so it was a no holds barred brief! To be honest I didn’t even notice she was there at any point, such is your focus, particularly in the final stages of labour! Wholeheartedly recommend 🙂
I am about to photograph (fingers crossed with the timings!) my first birth story in 9 years and I can’t wait – just magical 🙂
Such a lovely read. I to have say I too have come full circle with the idea of birth photography for much the same reasoning.
I think birth is generally feared in our current society that we naturally wouldn’t want it to be documented!
However, with people starting to take control of their own birth, understanding their choices and starting to enjoy the prospect of birth it is only natural to want memories of such a wonderful occasion. Much in the way we do for weddings, big birthdays, anniversary parties etc.
As women are starting to step off the hospital conveyerbelt and take control of their own births, (be that at home or in a birthing unit, hospital) then I think we will see a surge in professionals offering this service. Fingers crossed!
Alas, I think we may be to early in this revolution to benifit 😉
Also, Jay, totally agree with the point of handing hubby the camera! That was my plan but now I realise how instrumental he will be in my birthing process I’m wondering how we will document it?!
Many thanks, Liz! My partner tried to take a few photos while I was birthing, but it soon became clear he wanted to be involved, and I *needed* him to be involved. Definitely seek advice about it if you want someone to photograph it, I’m happy to chat and recommend if that’s any help! 🙂
Thank you Kay. I think I’m a lot more relaxed than my hubby about having someone else in the room to photograph this personal moment. I think ladies tend to be a bit more open about it we are us to our bodies being poked and proded by health professionals!
Hi Kelly, This is something I would really like to get into i’ve often talked to my partner Anne about this. In many ways this is even more magical then a wedding its such a breif moment in time and yet its truly life changing. As you said the logistics of being at a birth and doing weddings makes this a tricky job to do. I also feel that being a male photographer might be a barrier. I was obviously armed with my camera when my little boy Arthur was born almost 2 years ago and we often look back at these images and see just how quickly he’s changed. I would love to offer this service to other parents out there so they can look back and have these special memories. Only thing I regret is that if i wasn’t photographing then I would be in the pictures helping Anne along. here’s a link to the images i captured (http://www.dhwphotography.co.uk/2012/06/24/arthur/)
Hi Kelly, I am photographer myself but would never consider having photographer at the birth of my child. But I think it is a very personal decision to make. It is very important to discuss with the photographer the exact type of images you are after but majority of them are done very beautifully and tastefully. My decision to not have a photographer present at the birth was mainly caused by the fact that we are very private people and I didn’t want anyone there but my partner. We had an amazing experience, one we will never forget and captured lots of images from the moment I was well enough to hold a camera 😉 Birth of any child is the most precious and amazing moment, one you will never ever forget regardless if you have photos from it or not ;0) Wish you all the best x