Friday, March 01, 2013

Birth photography: yes or no?

Because this baby might be our last, I wanted to do something really special for the birth. I've done a belly cast, I've had a henna belly painting, I've made birth quilts. I've never had a doula--but then again, I never wanted one because I like being left alone during labor.

One thing I've never done is hire a professional photographer to capture the birth. For my first two births, I probably wouldn't have been comfortable having a photographer in the room. I needed complete privacy, and inviting a midwife for Dio's birth took a lot of trust and faith. But I've labored and birthed enough now to know my personal boundaries. This time, I really want someone there to capture the labor and birth. I treasure the snapshots that Eric or the midwife took, and my only regret is not having more of them. 

So I am thrilled to be working with Stephanie of Velvet Lotus Photography for this upcoming birth! She was looking for someone planning a home and/or water birth to round out her birth portfolio. I volunteered and am very excited that she took me on. We've corresponded about my style of birthing. She has also looked at all my birth stories and videos.

Velvet Lotus Photography

I'm extra motivated to get her (and the midwife, of course) here on time! It's just so hard to know when to call. I will definitely try to err on the early side.

Kristen at Birthing Beautiful Ideas just asked why would anyone want a photographer at their birth? What do you think about birth photography? What makes a good (or not so good) birth photographer?

My midwife gave the following list when I asked her:

Good birth photographers:
  • are a quiet, almost invisible presence in the room
  • focus on the woman and her family, rather than interacting too much with the staff
  • don't attempt to "stage" or direct scenes, but rather capture the birth as it unfolds organically
  • aren't overly chatty


  1. I didn't have a photographer for my first two, but I really want one for this third baby. (My doula with my first did take some photos which are very special to me, although personal and I don't really share with anyone. ) I think that the actual birth isn't quite as important to me as capturing us as a family in the first few hours - those are such precious memories, and I really regret that I have such minimal photos from my last baby.

    = )

  2. Well, you know how I feed. YES on the birth photography. I capture so many moments that will never be relived. Your midwives list is perfect- The for things she listed are EXACTLY what I strive for when I photograph a birth. I spend a lot of time sitting in a corner by myself, trying to disappear :)

  3. The pictures and videos I have of Sofia's birth are among my most prized possessions. If I have more children, I will absolutely have my brother come back and take pictures and videos!

    Now, I don't know how I'd feel about a stranger taking pictures though. It's such an intimate moment that I don't think I'd feel as comfortable if it weren't a family member.

  4. Yes! I am due around the beginning of May with my second and have been thinking about this a lot. I'm trying to plan the right number of people to be at the birth so I can have support and photography without feeling crowded and on display. I think I have it worked out but it's always so hard to say who is really going to be there in the end.

  5. oh i think this is fabulous. i didn't have (or want) a photographer with my first, but my second labor was with two midwives, one of which loved photography and offered to take photos is she wasn't needed in assisting my labor. to have photos of the process and especially the moment i met my daughter is so priceless to me. congratulations!

  6. For my last two I had my cousin, who is a photojournalist, come to take pictures of the births. It was actually really nice. She is single, so it kinda freaked her out the first time, but she actually really enjoyed being there (or so she said) for the second time around. I didn't feel like paying someone a bunch of money for photos when I won't be framing them and hanging them on the wall, and she really wanted the experience. Plus she's really good.

  7. I attended my friend's birth as a doula and amateur photographer! I only had my canon rebel, but I was so happy with the way the photos turned out!

    I'd love to have something this special for my next birth - if there is another birth in our future! Only time will tell. :)

  8. I have mixed feelings about it. I really love seeing pictures of other people's births; I find photos and videos of natural labors very beautiful and inspiring. But I don't like the way pictures make me forget and make me start to picture/remember/conceptualize things as an observer and an outsider. It's like I start to trust the pictures account of things more than I do my own experience. Plus, I just can't help but feel like some part of me wouldn't be able to ignore the camera in labor. I think it's hard to be natural with a camera going...I dunno. But I'm glad some people do birth photography, because I think positive birth imagery can be life-changing. I hope you have a great experience with your photographer, and I hope you share some of the images! I bet they'll be gorgeous!

  9. Our doula photographed the birth of both our daughters and I'm so glad she did. I don't share most of the photos with others, but they are of great value to me. With the first, who I delivered vaginally, it's so neat to have pictures of her crowning and then photos of my husband I meeting her for the first time.

    My second was born via emergency c-section due to undiagnosed vasa previa (so lucky she arrived safely!) and the photos are wonderful because our doula was allowed to take shots from the OR viewing room and I have images of the delivery that I never would have otherwise seen due to the curtain they put up for the surgery.

    I also really love having photos of both girls latching for the first time shortly after their births. I think you will be really glad you decided to do it!

  10. I had a friend do it with my very nice camera. It was the best decision I've made! I CHERISH those pictures! We did not get a professional because we didn't have the funds, but my friend did a beautiful job! I plan on getting a professional for our next birth, because my husband will be done with his training and be a real orthopedic surgeon so we will have the funds!

  11. As I mentioned on my blog, I'm so excited that you'll be doing this (and hopefully sharing them here!). My birth photos truly are some of my most treasured possessions.

    I want to add too that I think your midwife's list of the characteristics for a good birth photographer are *spot on*. In many ways, I think that that ability to remain an almost invisible presence in the room is what helps a great birth photographer to capture some of the extraordinary images that they do.

  12. I am so grateful to have hired someone to capture the birth with my 2nd. We forgot our camera with our 1st and only having a couple grainy phone picture's. I compare it to my wedding day in that I forget all the details but then I see the picture's and remember!

  13. YES!!! Money well spent. My doula was also my birth photographer and she was wonderful through out the whole process. If it wasn't for her I would not have any pictures whatesoever bc DH is not a camera person. And also when you're going through labour you are in somewhat of a trance or from concentrating so hard on labour and birthing your baby that you don't really have the time to observe what is happening. With the picutres I got to see it again and relive my experience. There were so many things I forgot or was not aware was going on. Any way I highly recommend Morag.


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