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The debate: Would you hire a birth photographer?

Two moms face off on the topic of birth photography.

by

Illustration: Miki Sato

“No, I would not hire a birth photographer”
Karen Green, mom of two

The birth of my first daughter was beautiful. It was a home birth overseen by three wonderful midwives, my husband and my two sisters. It was peaceful, calm, even magical. At least, it was calm when I was asleep between contractions. The rest of the time I was sweating, straining, snarling and screaming, “GET IT OUT OF ME!”

I was also yelling at my younger sister, the one who had the camera in her hands, to stay above my waist. I was not interested in any money shots. In fact, I believe my specific words to her were, “No gyno pics! (GET IT OUT OF ME!)”

So I am shocked when I hear that I could have hired a professional birth photographer to capture the magical moment when afterbirth meets floor — I mean, when baby meets world. I’m fairly comfortable with my body, and let’s face it, there’s no such thing as modest in childbirth. But I am not pretty when I give birth, and why would I ever pay somebody to photograph my vagina — or any other part of me — at its most uncomfortable, uncontrolled and unflattering moments?

And just what am I expected to do with these photos? Put them on Facebook? On the wall next to the picture of my deceased grandparents? Or maybe next to the one of Aunt Gladys, who would have balked at the thought of having a picture taken before she’d been to the beauty parlour? She would probably prefer to be framed next to a picture of me showing a little less pubic hair and a little more, I don’t know, pants.

Perhaps I would find a spot that seems more sensible, like next to the other photos of my children. But it’s one thing to embarrass my kid with a gap-toothed picture from her seventh birthday — it’s downright cruel to show her future boyfriend a photo of her head (finally) emerging from my nether regions. And should I also have enlisted a photographer to take pictures at my second daughter’s C-section birth? Where the heck on the wall would I put those photos?

Read more: Vaginal birth after caesarean>

I’m glad I saved my money and didn’t opt to hire a professional. The only words I wanted to hear immediately following birth were, “It’s a girl!” Not, “Say cheese!”

“Yes, I would hire a birth photographer”
Jennifer Gilbert, mom of two

You’re in the throes of labour. The baby is almost here — just a few more pushes! Your partner is doing his best to support you. The doctors, nurses and midwife are focused on a safe delivery. No one thinks to pick up the camera you meticulously packed, along with an extra memory card and batteries. The moment the baby is born, everyone begins to celebrate, and amid all the emotion in the room, your child’s first breath, first cry, first look all go undocumented. If only you had someone whose sole task was taking high-quality pictures.

As a birth photographer, I’ll be the first to admit that this service isn’t for everyone. It’s a very private matter. That said, had I known about it when my children were born, I definitely would have hired someone to photograph my deliveries. My kids are seven and four now, and the memories I have of their births are fuzzy. I wish we’d documented it better.

Professional photographers have an eye for composition.

Read more: Do you get professional pictures taken?>

Depending on your comfort levels, we can capture as little (or as much) of childbirth as you want. We typically meet with expectant parents at least a month before the due date to discuss what you want photographed, what you don’t and how to handle the unexpected, like an unplanned C-section.

If you have experienced labour first-hand, you know it’s a busy and emotional time. You also know that birth isn’t pretty. Many moms cherish their hospital room photos, but know they weren’t at their most photogenic (or at least wish they’d had a hairbrush!). But a professional photographer can find the best angles, lighting and lens for you.

Birth photography isn’t only about mom and baby; you’ll see other family members’ reactions, too. Instead of putting your partner behind the camera, you’ll get to preserve the look of joy on his face the moment he meets your baby.

It’s up to my clients to decide how to share these intimate images. Some moms want an online slide show link, some post them on social media, some frame prints for their home and others put them in baby albums. Either way, they’re yours to keep, forever.

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Discover valuable articles on pregnancy, baby and toddler stages. Plus, track feeds, diapers and naps and find helpful potty training and tooth-brushing tools. Young and older kids alike will love the photo fun stickers and borders to commemorate special moments, too!


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