I know I’m biased. As a birth photographer based in Denver, Colorado, I’ve photographed over 150 birth stories. But as a mother, I’ve only given birth twice. On both occasions, we invited birth photographers into our birth space to capture what was undeniably two of the most important and meaningful days in our lives.
Your Birth Can Be A Haze
The day you give birth is the day you fall in love. It’s the day you see the little baby you’ve been thinking of and dreaming of for months, sometimes years. It’s the day that you do something harder than you’ve ever done before. It’s the day you push through fear and doubt to find the greatest light on the other side. It’s also the day where your brain shuts off to let your body do it’s incredible work. For that reason, many parents find that they don’t remember much from their birth days. The haze of labor is often incredibly strong.
You Will Want to Look Back on those Precious Moments
When I gave birth to my first daughter, I found myself in a whirlwind of contractions. Each wave hit strong, and I sunk into a deep and quiet place to work through them. As I turned inward, I didn’t see the support that surrounded me—the touch of my husband, the prayers of my mom and sisters, and the care my nurses and doctor expertly provided. But when I looked through my birth photos, I found all those previously lost moments. And I cried such beautiful tears as I saw just how perfectly and completely my husband had loved me through that day. I’m also struck by my own strength, my own determination. I’m humbled by the gift my body gave us, by it’s strength and secret knowledge.
As a woman who struggled with body image during my teen years and my twenties, my birth photos have healed so many wounds I inflicted on myself. They taught me to love my body in a way that no other therapy session or self-help book could.
Once in a Lifetime Moments
And then, of course, the moment you meet your baby is a high unlike any other. The joy is intense and unexplainable. There aren’t words for that moment…and so pictures can capture what human language fails to do. In both of my birth photos, the moments where we met our daughters are full of emotion that I doubt we’ll ever see again in our lives. Our love for them is so loud in those moments, pulsing with the intense energy that birth brings. We cry, we laugh, we embrace our babies so fully, and then we embrace each other. Those images are my family. They’re the beginning of our story. They’re everything to us.
The Details are Easy to Forget
My birth photographers also captured all the little details that filled up their birth days. Details that might have easily been forgotten as years past, but are now preserved for days when my husband or I need a reminder of the beauty of parenthood. The soft hair on their shoulders, the thickness in their cords, their tiny footprints, their wrinkled noses, their eyes opening for the very first time. Newborn babies change so quickly. Not just in the first few months, but in the first day, the first hours, the first seconds. We look back at their birth photos and marvel at just how much they’ve changed and also how much of their personality we can find on day one.
I love my wedding photos, but I treasure my birth photos. They are real—no posing or artifact. They are passionate—the depth of love for both my children and my husband captured. They are irreplaceable, the best two days of our lives.
Questions to Ask Your Birth Photographer
If I’ve convinced you to hire a birth photographer, I’d love to offer you a few suggestions on how to choose one:
Ask about her experience.
You can be an incredible wedding photographer, but that doesn’t mean you know birth. Lighting can be incredibly challenging, as is working with the unpredictable nature of birth. Hire someone who has photographed several births, in several different environments (homes, hospitals, birth centers). You want to find someone who understands that birth follows very little rules but demands that those who enter the space preserve it’s sacredness and safety.
Make sure she has a back-up.
Birth rarely goes as planned. Find a birth photographer who has an established back-up relationship. In the event your birth goes earlier or later than expected, in the event of sickness or a family emergency, make sure your photographer has a plan in place.
Ask about her equipment.
Entry level-equipment doesn’t do super well in birth.
Ask about her birth and photography philosophy.
A good birth photographer blends into your birth team, allowing your birth to take center stage. They capture what they need to capture while respecting the work of your care providers and the sacredness of your birth day.
Browse through her birth photography portfolio.
Do you like the images they’ve captured? Are you drawn to their style? Do you like how the editing?
Meet her. Spend an hour with her. Grab coffee.
Do you feel comfortable, safe, understood? It’s important to bring the right person into your birth day. If you feel even a little bit uncomfortable, keep on looking.
Realize it’s an investment worth making.
No, hiring an experienced birth photographer isn’t cheap. But remember, your birth photos will be one of the greatest treasures of your life. Your birth photographer will be on-call for you (24/7) for weeks. She’ll leave birthday parties, holidays. She’ll wake up at 3am to sit with your family for hours. She’ll bring thousands of dollars worth of equipment. She’ll move through your birth space with grace and skill. She’ll capture the big moments and the small moments. She’ll edit each of your images carefully. She’ll weave together your story…a story you’ll hold onto for the rest of your life. Hiring an experienced birth photographer is worth it. I promise.