When I tell someone I’ve just met that I am, among other things, a birth photographer, I am met with a wide assortment of incredulous facial expressions, from the thinly veiled repulsion to the shocked intrigue. Often, it’s misunderstood that I arrive at the birth place right AFTER the birth to take the very freshest newborn photos. “No,” I must clarify, “I’m actually present whilst the baby is being born!” To this, my new conversational partner replies with a change of subject or honestly exclaims, “Does anybody WANT that?!”
Birth IS a very private affair, and one that needs to be protected and preserved, unhindered and undisturbed. Therefore, it can seem a little counter-intuitive to consider inviting someone and her camera(s) into that space to make photographs. I get it. In fact, I’ve even wrestled with that, wondering if I ought to stop offering the service, for I very much have no desire at all to be a part of making a laboring woman feel watched, pressured, or disturbed.
But I keep coming back to it, in large part because women keep inviting me to do it, and it’s a joyful thing to say yes to. Also, I’ve come to see that the manner in which it is done is everything. There is a way to carry a camera into a birth space with reverent respect, holy hush, and minimized distraction, leaving birth undisturbed and a woman feeling safe to enter into her primal brain to do the work she must do… and still walk away with a collection of beautiful images. I think I’ve figured out how to do that, and that feels really good.
So for YOU, dear mama, why the heck would you even want a selection of photographs showing you laboring, pushing, and receiving a gooey wet newborn into your waiting arms? Won’t you look unattractive and strained in those moments? Won’t you feel exposed and immodest? And besides, who in the world would you ever even show the photos to? What will you even do with them (cos they surely aren’t getting framed and hung over the fireplace)?
If you’ve been on the fence about it, delay no longer, sister.
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