For months you’ve felt her inside you. Hiccups that made you smile, kicks that made you wince, somersaults that took your breath away … but every movement bringing her closer to your heart. Soon she will be in your arms and your heart will be hers forever.
The day you welcome your baby into the world is the most important day of her life … and one that will change you forever.
This is what birth photography is all about. It’s about tastefully capturing and eternally preserving the emotions you and your partner experience on this magical day. Your wild ride of excitement, frustration, agony and exhilaration as you labour to bring your child to birth. His excitement as he imagines holding his little one for the first time, pride and respect as he watches the love of his life struggle courageously to deliver her … the crushing helplessness as he realises there is little he can do to ease your burden. And finally, the tears that flow as your heart bursts when you meet for the first time and you see yourself in her eyes.
We all want the best moments in our lives captured, preserved so we can instantly remind ourselves of our happiest times.
Birth photography, while still a relatively new genre, is increasing in popularity for this very reason. Labouring mothers are so focussed on the task at hand that when it’s all over they struggle to remember much about what was going on around them. Those who have employed a birth photographer are often particularly moved to see images of the concern, love and vulnerability shown by their partners as they supported her the best they could. And there is never a dry eye when they see the images of mum, dad and baby together for the first time.
To be sure, birth photography is not for everyone. Delivering a baby is a special, intimate time and many will feel there are already enough medical personnel involved. But swelling numbers of expecting parents are recognising the value of capturing this once-only experience, not only for themselves but also as a treasured keepsake for the little one as she grows.
So what is involved in having a birth photographer attend your birth? There will be variations on how individual photographers run their business but the following is what you could expect:
A pre-birth meeting – This initial meeting allows you to get to know each other a little better. Birth is an extremely intimate time and you need to feel comfortable with whoever is involved in your birth process. Your pre-birth meeting is a good time to see how you feel with your chosen photographer.
You will discuss what your ideal birth plan involves, who your support people are likely to be, what you do and do not want photographed and details of where you will be delivering.
Ongoing contact – In the days leading up to your due date you will need to keep in regular contact with your birth photographer so she is aware of how you are progressing and can organise her other responsibilities to ensure she is available for your birth. Generally this will be by means of a quick sms or email.
Most birth photographers will be on call from around 2 weeks before your due date until the birth of your baby.
Active labour – You should call your photographer when you are in active labour and she will usually attend your birth at this time and stay with you until about an hour after delivery to capture your entire birth story.
The individual personality of your photographer will determine your experience, but generally you would expect her to be quietly supportive, keeping out of the way of any birth professionals and staff and be discreet and intuitive.
Your birth is not a fashion shoot. It’s not about posing you or instructing you in any way. Rather it‘s a "fly on the wall", photojournalistic approach aimed primarily at capturing the loving emotion between two people who have created a life together and are welcoming that new life into the world.
After the birth – Within a few weeks after the birth, your photographer will contact you to arrange a time to show you the digital images, slideshow and/or album, depending what package you have purchased. Some birth photographers will supply two slideshows: one of the entire birth experience for the parents themselves and another condensed version that they may wish to show their family and close friends, but what is supplied will vary considerably from one photographer to the next and should be taken into consideration when choosing your birth photographer.
While birth photography is still in its infancy in Australia it’s growing very rapidly in popularity. To meet this demand increasing numbers of photographers are now offering this service to their clients.
It’s important to research thoroughly your potential photographer. Naturally, price will influence your decision however there are more important factors to consider. Be sure to ask as many questions as you need to feel convinced that this photographer is the right person to capture this life-changing event for your family.
Is her personality a good "fit" for you and your partner? Have you viewed her work? Ask to see some examples of a birth session from start to finish to get an idea of her style. Most birth photographers will have some clients who have given permission to show their images or slideshow.
Something to bear in mind is that your birth photographer specialises in this imagery because she truly loves it. By the time you deliver your precious little one your photographer is not a stranger in the room, she is someone who is invested in your story, your emotion and most likely is joining you in shedding tears of joy.
She is someone you will now call friend.