The birth of your baby is one of the most monumental and intimate experiences of your life. So why would you decide to invite a photographer to document you at your most vulnerable?
When I tell people that I am a birth photographer, more often that not, I am met with a dubious look. Normally, the first question being, "do you take photos of 'down there'?". People are curious as to why anyone would want the 'blood and gore' of a birth photographed.
Birth is beautiful, it is one of the most natural processes for a women's body to go through. And I can honestly say that it has to be one of the most amazing experiences of my life, watching a strong, courageous mama birth her beautiful baby. It is an absolute privilege that I'll never take for granted.
Although I do appreciate that it isn't to everyones taste, it is so much more than the 'blood and gore'. It's about recording the emotions, the support from your birthing partner, the calm moments, the intensity of each contraction, the look of pure unconditional love as you hold your baby in your arms for the very first time.
I asked two of my dear clients, Debbie and Sarah, to share their reasons for hiring a birth photographer and their experience of having me present to document their births...
What made you decide to hire a birth photographer?
Debbie: I knew this would be my one and only time that I gave birth and the most important day of my life. I didn't want to miss any of it and didn't want my partner to be pressured taking photos the minute she arrived and not enjoy the moment.
Sarah: After giving birth to my daughter two years ago, I felt I missed out on the perfect photos every parents wants to capture the birth of their babies. So when I realised I was having twins, I didn't want to miss out on anything this time round. With all three of my children being IVF, they are all miracles and I wanted to capture every step of their arrival.
Did you have any reservations about having a photographer present at your birth?
Debbie: Yes, I was worried about other people's reactions and that it seemed a bit pretentious having a photographer. Also that I would feel self conscious having a stranger see me in ways even people closest to me would have never seen me and also that they would get in the way of the nurses doing their job.
Sarah: No not at all. Danni was recommended by my sister who had previously had some awesome family photos taken.
What were you most hoping to capture during your birth?
Debbie: The parts that I was unable to see myself as I would be 'in the moment'. The very first minutes baby arrived and our reactions, which would have been missed if my partner took the pictures.
Sarah: Everything! Photos tell a thousand stories and keep a million memories.
What was your favourite moment that was captured?
Debbie: My face the minute baby was born. I also loved the clock that captured the exact time she arrived and the interactions between myself and my partner.
Sarah: I really love the photos of Matt and I just before heading into theatre, they really capture the bond between us. Also the photos of the babies latching on for the first time.
What was your reaction when you first saw your pictures?
Debbie: Blown away is the only way to describe it.
Sarah: Beyond happy! It actually made me cry because although it was me who went through it, to go back over the photos and see it all from another perspective was just amazing.
Were you glad that you did it?
Debbie: I am so glad, even the day before I was having doubts but it was single handedly one of the best things I've ever done. She captured things we never would've got to see. It also helped piece together everything, as at the time was just a blur. We discovered things about the birth we never would've known without the photos.
Sarah: Absolutely and I would highly recommend it to anyone.
Anything else you think would be helpful to people who are considering hiring a birth photographer?
Debbie: At times I was having doubts about feeling self conscious with people being in the room who I have never met. But to be honest, when you're 'in the moment' you won't even care.
Sarah: Ensure that your midwife/hospital are fully aware of your wishes to have a photographer at your birth. I found from my experience that having a photographer at my birth was a relatively new concept and it took some time to get acceptances from all parties, especially as mine was a c-section. Unfortunately Danni wasn't allowed into theatre as I was classed as high risk but the hospital were totally happy for photographs immediately before and after.
What would you say to others who are on the fence about hiring a birth photographer?
Debbie: This is one of the most important days of your life that you will never get back. Having it documented will help you relive that moment forever
Sarah: Do it! It's the most magical time in your life and to be able to look back over photos again and again is the best feeling ever. We sat down and went through all that was important and I wanted to capture and that's exactly what I got. I couldn't have asked for better photos of my twins arrival.
Are you interested in having your birth story documented?
You can find out more about Birth Documentary Sessions here. Please get in touch if you would like to discuss things further, I'm always happy to meet for coffee and cake!