The NY Times–a little late to the game–has identified the birth photography trend. Apparently, this is breaking news, yet I’ve seen pictures posted on Facebook of almost every little family I know expanding. No blood. No vaginas. No nudity. In actuality, I think the only news worthy part is that “birth photography” has become yet another thing for vendors to capitalize on as expectant parents are already stone-faced looking through the endless aisles of a certain baby super store.
Over two years ago, our good friend and wedding photographer Sandra Reed climbed out of bed at 3 a.m. with a sinus infection to capture the birth of our son. There were 12 people in the room and when I look at the pictures, all I see is me and my husband in awe of the tiny person that made us a family. I wouldn’t recommend spending thousands of dollars or getting yourself all worked up over the timing, but if you have a good friend or family member that has a nice camera, inviting them along might be worth it.
Here’s a slideshow of my photographs set to music, and then be sure to scroll down for some tips to consider when planning your birth photography.
A few things to consider:
Find someone who you connect with and will respect your family’s privacy. Birth is a very intimate process and you want someone who is able to blend into the background while capturing the moments you want to remember. I honestly can hardly remember Sandra being there except for after my son was born, she told me I made pushing a baby out look easy (self esteem boosters are always welcome, too!)
Communicate what you want to be captured. Birth often involves vomiting, yelling, and perhaps scary or unpredictable moments. Make sure your photographer knows what you want to remember and has the good sense to edit out the rest (or leave entirely if there is an emergent situation).
Find someone who is familiar shooting in low light and from a respectable distance. Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to deliver in broad daylight, but I know very few people that actually have. You don’t want a flash in your face and I’m sure your doctor and new baby don’t, either.
Know the hospital policy on photography. The hospital where I am going to deliver this time allows pictures and video to be taken “only from the head of the bed” and advises that any staff or doctors present are to be asked before being photographed.
Don’t stress over it. When you are giving birth the last thing you need to be worried about is micromanaging which photographs are being taken. I can’t imagine turning away from my new family for even a second to say, “Did you get this?” Or “Hey honey can you admire our new baby from a different angle, this is my good side and you’re blocking it.” Don’t worry about your hair, makeup, or unflattering hospital gown. Be in the moment, focus on what is important, and the pictures will reflect what is true and real.
I love to look back and remember how wonderful my husband was during my birth. He was a rock, holding me, encouraging me, and breathing with me. I can see how determined I was to bring our son into the world, and was reminded through the pictures of the joking, smiles, and laughter that were shared in between painful contractions. When they placed my son on my chest, my husband and I stared at him for hours in amazement. You can see that, too. I have a beautiful photograph of the exact moment that I became a mother and it’s one of the most priceless things I’ve ever been given.