The Birth Photography Decision
Birth photography…it’s something that means a great deal to me, something I’m very passionate about. I’ve been taking pictures for a long time but nothing compares to capturing the moments of new life entering the world. I think what I enjoy most is that the photos taken create a wordless story of one of life’s greatest transformations. On one hand, you have people becoming parents (even if it’s not the first time), and on the other, you have a new person crossing the threshold from womb to world. And somewhere in the middle, there are likely care providers and loved ones who are a part of the story as well.
As a birth photographer, my main objective in the birth space is to simply blend in and become a part of the environment. More than just an observer, I’m thoughtfully documenting moments that will never repeat themselves. In my mind are the wishes of the woman in labor and her desires for what she wants to be photographed (and what she does not). In the mix of it all, I’m also looking for the little things that often go unnoticed or might be forgotten, like the look on someone’s face or hands lovingly connected. Birth can be intense, so it’s no big surprise that some things just aren’t remembered (even though they may have been very meaningful in the moment).
Is Birth Photography for You?
As awesome as I think birth photography is (I could look at birth pics all day!), I am reminded at times that it is not necessarily for everyone. When people ask what I do and I tell them, the responses vary greatly. Some people think it’s great and that it must be an exciting job (which it is), and others are like “People really want that?”. And I get it. It’s not for everyone and I’m sure there are a variety of reasons as to why that is.
For one thing, the birth space is without question sacred space. The idea of people being present who won’t be actively involved in the birth itself might feel like an intrusion. In fact, a lot of women feel that way. They know themselves, and they know that having an outsider in their birth space may cause them to feel uneasy and have a negative impact on their birth experience. That’s huge! Other women (like me), might really like the idea of birth photography but aren’t comfortable with the idea of seeing themselves in pictures. In all honesty, we’re self concious. A lot of women are concerned about pictures being taken “down there”. Others are concerned about the faces they will make or that the pictures will be unflattering. No matter how beautiful a woman looks in labor (and they ALL look beautiful), so many of us are critical of ourselves and struggle to see what others do. I think this hinderance is one of the biggest things I keep in mind when photographing every birth…that no woman likes to look at bad pictures of herself. So I always keep that thought in the forefront of my mind. I have to ask myself, will this woman feel good about the way I’ve photographed her?
And then there are some women that just don’t get it. It’s not their thing and it just doesn’t interest them. And then the fact that it costs money? It just doesn’t make sense to them. And guess what? That makes sense to me, too. Ultimately, women know themselves best. For women who like birth photography, though, and have either had it done or would like it done, they have their reasons as well. Whether they are just very fond of having pictures taken during life’s biggest moments, want to re-live the experience, view the experience from another perspective, or share with their families and friends, birth photography is meaningful and has a purpose.
Things to Consider
Is birth photography right for you? Here are a few points to keep in mind:
• Do you regret not having photographs taken at a prior birth?
• Did you have photographs taken at a prior birth and know you’ll want them again?
• Do you think you’ll feel comfortable knowing someone is taking pictures of you?
• Are you a sentimental person?
• Do you feel like you’ll regret not having pictures taken?
• Do you feel like it will be meaningful to your child to see pictures of their birth later on?
• Is your partner supportive?
If you answered yes to these questions, then it’s a pretty good sign that birth photography is probably right for you.
Now, those are just a few questions to ask yourself if you are considering birth photography. Even for women who know they will want it, there are still other points that deserve to be considered as well.
Additional Things to Think About
• Birth is unpredictable. In the instance that the birth experience is traumatic, photographs may serve as a trigger if viewed too soon or without the safety of support.
• Are you self conscious? Will seeing yourself in pictures while laboring and giving birth possibly bring you down? Be honest with yourself.
• Before viewing photos of the birth, allow yourself time to digest and create your own memories of the experience. The photos are meant as a keepsake. They are not intended to define the experience.
• Just how important is it for you to have photographs taken? Many women have friends and relatives that would be happy to do the photos for free. However, if you are particular about quality, you may want to consider a birth photographer even though there will be a cost involved.
• Sometimes things happen during childbirth that women consider embarrassing (like having a bowel movement or making faces). If you want birth photography, be firm in your desires with the person taking the photos.
• Do you really want pictures taken, or do you feel pressure from your partner, relatives, or others to do it? Since you are the one giving birth, you are entitled to have the final say on the matter.
Ultimately, the choice to have photographs taken during labor and birth is a deeply personal one. There is no right or wrong answer. Deep inside, women know themselves best. Just like pregnancy and childbirth, it’s important for women to be honest with themselves and follow their instincts.
Give us Your Feedback!
Did you have photographs taken during one of your births? Is it something you’d recommend or do again? Why or why not?
Or, did you forego having photographs taken? If so, was it intentional or just something you hadn’t thought about? Do you have any regrets?
For more information about birth photography and the other services we offer, please contact us. We’d love to hear from you!