Birth photography is not about babies.

“Childbirth is a time when a woman’s power and strength emerge full force, but it is also a vulnerable time.”
— Annemarie Van Oploo

 

Ask me if I love fresh, perfect, squishy, little, newborn babies. With their perfect innocence and their sparkling new eyes. With that first cry - the sweetest sound - that announces to the world their arrival. Oh, those tiny, little fingers and toes. Or even better - the littlest fingernails you'll ever see. Their warm, soft skin topped off by fuzzy hair that just makes you want to cuddle them right up against your body and hold them tight. Did I mention how sweet and squishy they are?

Oh yeah. I love brand new babies. And those first moments are just magical. They find themselves in this great big world, but they feel safe and warm in their mama's arms. They open their eyes to gaze at their family for the first time, and see mom and dad staring incredulously right back at them. They breathe in the air, and feel it on that perfect, soft skin. Seeking out comfort and nourishment, they find their way to their mother's milk. All is new. All is well. 

So, yes. Babies are precious and wonderful. And you might think that birth is all about babies. It seems to be the part that everyone puts all the emphasis on. And, obviously, the baby is pretty important. But there's so much more, too.

When I'm asked to document a birth for someone - well, first, I'm just so incredibly honored. It is truly a privilege that I will never take for granted. But, for me, as cute and cuddly as new babies are, what really lights my fire is getting to witness the raw, power and vulnerability of a laboring woman. 

Women are just so incredible, and I will never stop being in awe of how they find strength they don't yet know that they possess. Seeing that strength juxtaposed alongside their vulnerability to an unfolding journey is nothing short of magnificent. 

Watching as they find their own rhythm and rituals to accompany each new powerful surge, while simultaneously melting into the embrace of their partner or accepting the support of a caregiver - I see so much beauty.

Documenting the incredible power of women as they transform from woman to mother is my greatest privilege. But then, being able to turn around and show the images I've made to that same woman, and revealing to her just how much beauty and strength lie within her... that is my greatest joy. 

And when those women choose to share that openness, vulnerability, tenacity, and strength with the world, I'm so grateful to play a small part in normalizing birth. I know that when I was pregnant with my first baby, seeing and hearing the stories of women who've come before me gave me courage and understanding. To be able to share what birth can really look like - how much strength and vitality women possess, is exceptionally gratifying.

My hope is that all women will come to know just how powerful they really are - in labor, birth, motherhood, and life. 

Magic in the Mundane

If you ask my oldest daughter what one of her favorite things to do is, she'll unabashadly tell you, "Go to Costco!" It's mostly about the samples for her (I mean, isn't it for everyone?), but we also do the bulk of our grocery shopping there. (No pun intended.) Which means we end up at Costco almost once a week. And we usually go as a family. It's kind of a thing.

On this particular day, neither of my kids had allowed us to brush their hair (common!), and my big girl had chosen to wear pajamas all day. The only thing that was special about this day was that I chose to document it. And I'm so glad I did. This is a moment in our lives that I want to remember. It might seem mundane, but it's surprisingly special. And before too long, Amelie will just be too big to wrangle her long legs into the cart to sit next to her sister, and our life will look a little different. So I'm grateful that I didn't put it off until another day.

This isn't about perfectly matched clothes or cute little pigtails. It's about our real life. And taking the time to notice the magical moments that are hiding among the mundane.

Short films like this are really amazing for telling the story of a typical, routine part of life and making you feel just how important that ordinary stuff of life is. The squeaky little voices that fade into big kid speech, the sweet giggles and inside jokes... It all passes by so quickly. These videos are immediately fun and special - my kids want to watch them over and over again - but, oh my, as the weeks turn into months and years, how those sweet moments captured become the most precious of memories.

When you turn on that video that you haven't seen in a while and you get a glimpse into the version of your family's life from before a certain phase passed by, the intense feelings of nostalgia will remind you not only of how amazing your life was at the time the film was made, but how valuable your current simple moments are, too. Send me a message if you're interested in having me document a little slice of your real life before legs get too long or voices grow deeper. Your everyday moments are worth documenting.