PSA: Common Misconceptions about Birth Photography
I feel like this PSA has been coming for awhile, but especially after seeing recent comments online about how birth photography is “gross” or “undignified.”
I won’t go into the details of the comments or where I saw them because it really doesn’t matter - it’s not the first time I’ve seen comments like these, and I’m sure it won’t be the last!
Now I get that birth photography is not for everyone, and that’s ok. There are very few things that are for everyone (and in fact, I can’t even think of anything that is!) but somebody’s decision to document one of the most pivotal moments in their life shouldn’t be met with derision, should it?
This is why I really wanted to clear up some misconceptions about birth photography, not only for those who think it’s “gross” but also for those who may be on the fence about whether they want a photographer at their birth.
Birth photography is not about what’s between your legs.
I can totally see why this would be the first thing to come to someone’s mind when they think of birth photography, but I can assure you I have photographed many births now where there was absolutely no nudity of the birther captured on camera at any time. I repeat, there was no nudity captured on camera at any time. Not only can I position myself to avoid nudity if that’s what you want (or in this case, I guess what you don’t want), but my focus is not on the physiological aspects of birth when I’m photographing, it’s on the emotion and the story of your birth. I’ll happily get those National Geographic shots if that’s what you want, but it’s really not the reason I’m there….I’m really there to document your strength in bringing your child into the world, your partner’s and family’s reaction when they first see your baby, and all those things that make your story unique.
Before attending your birth I make sure that we discuss what you’re comfortable with, and I respect that 100% at all times.
Birth photography shouldn’t be a public spectacle.
Totally agree! Births tend to move more efficiently when the birthing person doesn’t feel like they’re being watched. It’s one reason why I join you when you’re in active labour, and why I make myself like a fly on the wall. I’ve had so many clients now tell me that they didn’t even realize I was photographing during their birth (one of the main reasons I invested in the camera I have, it’s almost completely silent!), and if I’m at a birth as a photographer only I make it my mission to be as inconspicuous as possible, not only to the family, but to the healthcare team as well.
Another thing on this point - your privacy is not something I mess with. Do you know why I don’t have every birth I’ve photographed splashed on social media and this blog? It’s because I don’t have permission by the families. While I’d love to share every birth I attend because they’re all magical, most of the families I’ve worked with have been very private and have wanted their birth story to be kept that way. That’s cool with me - I’m there for you, and at no time should you ever feel pressured or worried that your private photos are going to end up online.
Once I’ve edited all your images, I will upload them to a gallery with a model release. You can choose to sign the model release and specify which images (if any) you’re comfortable with me sharing to tell your story. Or, don’t sign the model release, and your images remain entirely private.
There’s blood and other bodily fluids. Why would I want pictures of that?
Yep, blood and amniotic fluid and other bodily fluids are totally a part of birth. I’m used to it, so it doesn’t faze me, but I understand that it may gross some people out. This is one reason why I tend to deliver all birth photos in both a colour version and black and white - you’d be surprised how a simple change in image colour can drastically change the perception of that same photo. Now you see it, now you don’t!
I have yet to meet someone who regrets having their birth photographed, but I’ve met lots of people who regret not having their birth photographed (and I am totally one of them!). I came across a post in a Facebook Birth Group recently asking about birth photography, and wanted to share some of the positive comments to end this on a high note!