Having my birth photographed has gotten me to ask the question, why doesn’t everyone get their birth photographed?
In our culture people spend a lot of money to have beautiful photos taken of their wedding day, which is awesome because this is primarily how I make my living. But arguably besides your wedding day one of the other most important days is when your children are born. Why is it then that people entrust the taking of photos to either the partner or midwife? That would be like asking your celebrant or parents to be your wedding photographer. So here are my theories as to why people don’t get this important event photographed:
1. It hasn’t occurred to them: Really good birth photography that tells as a story is relatively new, it used to be that the only photographers who came into the hospital were the ones who came around to your room after you’d just given birth. They would try and convince you to hand over your baby so that they could place them in one of their ‘Anne Geddes‘ inspired poses and usually they would succeed, who has the energy to argue when you’ve just had a baby come out of you? A lot of people don’t even know that hospitals will allow photographers into the birthing suit. I remember during our birth classes we went around the circle listing off the people who would be attending our birth and the other classes participants all looked a little surprised when I mentioned a photographer would be coming along.
2. Not looking pretty: Let’s face it, people like their wedding photos because they look super attractive. They’ve had professionals do their hair, makeup and usually they’ve been dieting and exercising for at least the last year…who doesn’t want to have photos when they’re at the height of their good lookingness? Birth photos on the other hand are the opposite. Number one you’re fat, well at least you look fat from all the fluids and the baby inside you. Most likely you will be giving birth in the middle of the night so you’re also exhausted, there will be no professionals to do your hair and makeup. To top it all off there is a little person trying to make it’s way out of your body and it will hurt, nobody looks attractive when they’re in pain.
3. Birth photos are gross, wedding photos are beautiful: You may have those friends like I do who like to share their birth photos, the ones that show everything. No thank you. Birth is messy and gross, but it is also amazing and I think you can show the story of what happens without all the details. Annika took some pretty detailed shots of my birth which thankfully she deleted, I remember her telling me afterwards “Oh I got this really cute shot of Walt hanging just beneath your bum cheeks.” I looked at her in shock and asked nervously “Are you sure I’d want to see it?” She stopped to think for a moment “I think so”. When she dropped round the memory card so I could edit the photos the notorious ‘bum face shot’ was missing. I quizzed her on it later and she replied “Oh I looked again, it wasn’t as cute as I thought…you would NOT have wanted to see it”. Thank you Annika. I guess some hippies out there may think I’m cheating and glossing over the gory details and maybe I am. But I’m a believer that you don’t have to show everything to show how amazing birth is.
4. The mystery of birth: Weddings are a spectacle, something beautiful for everyone to admire. Births on the other hand for many years have been something that we hide. It wasn’t long ago that even husbands wouldn’t join their wives in the birthing process. I think many people want to keep birth behind closed doors because it scares them, it’s primal and it shows another side to most women that a lot of people don’t like (including the women themselves). The screams, the sweat, guttural noises that men didn’t even know their wives were capable of making. Some people don’t enjoy the experience, let alone want to remember it.
5. The unexpected: With weddings and births we make plans of how we would like them to go. Weddings pretty much always go to plan, births never do. I’m yet to talk to a woman who’s birth has gone the way they expected. Even if you’re like me and have a relatively straight forward birth, there are always surprises (for me they all happened once Walt exited my body). Woman, especially control freaks, can find it hard to commission someone to take photos of them when they don’t know what is going to happen or how they’re going to respond. It’s daunting, you know there is a baby that has to come out of you, but how exactly is that going to happen?
I’d love to here what other people think on this subject, would you ever get birth photos? Why you would? Why you wouldn’t? It’s something new that I’ve only recently started to think about, mainly because I LOVE my photos more every day, the more I love Walt, the more thankful I am for these images of him coming into the world. I’m also super proud of myself and I like to remember how well I did, birth is hard and I survived it!
Feel free to contact me with any questions about birth photos you may have, Annika is waiting and ready to photograph your birth too if you would like!