"Why on earth would you want THAT photographed?" or "Why on earth would I want to remember that moment?". Two very common comments I have heard when speaking about my love of birth photography. (I can't imagine what actual birth photographers must hear)
My reaction to these comments are two fold. First of all, birth photography, contrary to what seems to be popular belief, is rarely 'crowning' shots (when the baby emerges from the birthing person's body). These shots are incredible and beautiful, seeing a baby in between two worlds can be breathtaking. But most of the time a birth story, what we call the collection of photographs of a labour and birth, are snapshots in time of intimate and raw moments of love, anguish, joy, excitement, patience and power. They tell a story, one that, as the mother, father, partner or whoever is being photographed, were probably way to busy and focused to take any of it in. And after the dust has settled and baby is sound asleep on your chest, you get to look at these photos and see it all revealed to you, if you're lucky enough through the beautiful eye/lens of a birth photographer.
Or, like me, my mums iphone. How grateful I am to her for not just being there as one of my birth partners but for taking those videos and photos. They captured moments I wasn't aware of, moments I'd probably have forgotten about. Moments that I treasure and can actually look back on. They are the most treasured photographs I have, and the little video montage I made gets me crying every single time. Ada loves looking at them too. How incredible is it to be able to watch yourself being born?! I mean come on.
You just need to type in #birthphotography into Instagram and see what I mean. These photographs are unbelievably beautiful. They manage to capture the most
powerful moment of our lives, being born! I have promised myself that my next labour will be captured by a birth photographer.
And so the other reaction those initial comments create within me is : if you don't want to remember your labour/birth, then there's a reason. And that reason could be because it wasn't a positive experience, even if meeting your baby was. To be honest, the few people I have heard say those two comments have been men, and as men have not been in labour and had the experience of giving birth. But, it's important to acknowledge that still a lot of people see labour & birth as an uncomfortable, painful, distressing and unwanted hurdle to cross. And so why would you want it photographed? This isn't about photography anymore. This is about perception, preparation and experience.
It's about being comfortable with what your body is about to do: labour to give birth. And this will look different for everyone. Our labours and births are unique to each one of us: vaginal, c-sections, in water, active, no drugs, lots of drugs, doula, no partner, 4 partners, children present, at home, in hospital, in the car, lots of snacks, orgasmic... But one thing that empowered, informed and positive labour & birth experiences have in common is that we will want to REMEMBER them. No matter what or how it happened. You won't need photographs to remember but damn will you be happy if you have them.
Birth Becomes You: worldwide hub of birth photography