I am absolutely, 100 percent, head over heels, in love with birth photography.
For this, I get to be in the hospital room taking candids for last part of labor, the birth, and the first couple hours of the baby's life.
I enjoy photography in general, but after this session, Eric took one look at me as I stood in the doorway with a giant smile stretching across my face and said dryly, "So, I guess it went well?"
There was no photographer at any of my children's births, so I can't speak on it from that end. I'm sure there's some worry about when to call me to the hospital. Or if I'll make it in time. I hope that's the only hard part. I work to stay out of the way and not interfere. My goal is to capture these amazing moments so my clients can live them fully without worrying about recording it or about me.
As for the Ewwwww! factor people always comment on, it's just not there at all. I'm at the head of the bed during the birth, which I like for more than one reason. Hospital staff appreciate (and usually demand) it, and I'm getting a perspective close to the mother's.
Labor and delivery can turn into a blur. We forget so much. Yet, it's something so important we think about it throughout our lives. It's right up there with marriage as an important life event, yet one we over-photograph (I know I might be alone on this opinion) and the other we under-photograph. Or rather, we have a lack of quality photographs. We all bring our cameras to the lighting nightmare that is most hospital rooms. Most of us have plenty of blurry photos with yellow adults and purple/red babies. We keep them because, even poorly executed, they are still special. With a professional photographer you get a photo that captures not just a memory, but something beautiful in all senses.
I recently spoke to a friend who has had some really horrible birthing experiences. During her first she labored for more than a day and then, when her life was threatened, had a c-section. Birth photography is not for her, she says. She doesn't want to remember! I have no similar experience to speak from, but I'm not convinced she wouldn't marvel at some images from that time. Even with a c-section you can have beautiful photos of before and immediately after. Babies change within hours of birth! Certainly I would never want to stay if someone decided they didn't want me there. And the truth is, you might not know how you'll feel until you're in the experience. That's okay. When babies are involved, flexibility is important. That I do know first hand.
But after 5 paragraphs I still haven't told you what I love most about birth photography. I love that I'm capturing REAL moments. There is little to no posing. It's simply life. Those expressions on their faces? They would have been there, whether I was or not. This mother gets to see the love and support given when she was in labor. These parents get to see the first seconds they touched and held their son for the first time. They have photos of their daughter's first glimpse of her brother and those tender moments with him.
Seeing these can bring back all the miraculousness of that day. The pain, the joy, the love. The puffy scrunched up hilariousness that is a newborn's face. It's beautiful. Maybe more beautiful than the carefully arranged seated pose and skirt and smile that never was our lives to begin with.
This is life in it's purest state, and so it's photography's as well. No props, no trendy outfits, special lighting, or beautiful setting. You get the makeup that sticks on you through labor. Your hair might be mussed. You'll still have extra weight from the pregnancy. The baby might have birth goo all over. I don't care and I don't think you will either.