Birth photography is an investment. But it is an investment you should make.
Hiring a trained birth photographer will be costly (and trust me, you want someone who is trained and experienced in birth spaces so that your birth isn’t disrupted by that person’s presence). Photography is an expensive profession and being on-call for a birth means that the photographer’s entire life is put on hold. Birth photographers have to charge a lot. A true birth photographer though, is worth their weight in gold.
Even with the calmest, most peaceful, perfect birth experience, a lot of the specifics of the birth story can be lost in the whirlwind that is birth. Labor is frequently intense and details disappear into a blur. Birth photography captures those precious details and allows parents to relive the birth of their child and fill in any missing parts of their story.
Allow me to illustrate using my personal experiences as a birthing person.
I did not have a birth photographer for my first child’s birth. My son surprised us and was born four weeks early. He made his appearance in the middle of moving day. I hadn’t realized I was in labor (just feeling crummy) until my water broke. My son arrived roughly three hours later. Between the early baby, moving day, and fast labor you can imagine that much of the day’s details were left fuzzy.
Moreover, when I arrived at the hospital, I was given a narcotic that made me dizzy so I closed my eyes. My eyes remained closed until after my son was born. In fact, he was placed on my chest and the doctor had to direct me to open my eyes and look at my baby.
I missed the details of the room, the faces of the nurses who cared for me, my husband’s expressions as he bewilderedly tended to me and saw our son for the first time. I missed watching my first born child come into my arms.
Fast forward a couple of years when I was expecting my second child. For her birth, I hired a photographer. Although my daughter’s birth was less chaotic and slower, the labor was intense. Again, my eyes were shut for much of the labor and my mind turned inward, focused on simply surviving. However, her birth story is much more clear and much more beautiful because I have photographs documenting our story.
The photographs fill in the blurry spots, illustrating how my husband supported me in position after position; how the midwife regularly encouraged me to drink, holding the cup and straw for me; my husband’s incredible happiness as he watched our daughter be born—those photographs, they are some of my most treasured possessions. My husband had sunshine and rainbows and stars shining from his eyes and, the day of the birth, I was totally oblivious. I was just happy to be through with labor, exhausted, and ready to rest. But I get to relive the joy and join my husband in his happiness as we go through the pictures of our daughter’s birth.
Birth photography is for every type of birth.
For the births that go as planned and for those that don’t. Birth photography can help parents process disappointment or trauma and can provide them with tangible evidence of the hard work and power they asserted while bringing their child earthside. Birth photography is for cesarean births, documenting moments where the parents may be separated and missing bits of their story, or for providing the birthing parent with perspectives and views that they would have otherwise completely missed while being behind the curtain.
Birth photography is an investment. It is an investment in preserving one of the most pivotal moments of your life.