I'm a doula and birth photographer here in the Pittsburgh area. I meet a lot of different women looking for a variety of different services I offer. I often meet families at our "meet and greets" every month from the doula group I am a part of. I've had the opportunity to meet and serve several families this year, all unique with differing birth philosophies and wishes. Being a doula, it's not uncommon for me to meet with families that are not necessarily looking for a birth photographer. Some expecting moms and dads are not quite sure what to think of birth photography. As a doula I'm able to get a good sense for the culture and receptiveness birth photography currently has in our area. Even talking about birth photography may make some feel uncomfortable, usually when they are not sure what it all entails. There are a plethora of reasons why birth photography may make an expecting mother opt-out rather than running to the front of the line and raising their hands with enthusiasm. I'd like to touch on one possibility I see quite often and particularly why women may be wary of inviting a photographer into the birth space. The reason: not looking or being your best in front of the lens.
You may say, "that's not me! I'm not overly concerned about my looks" but it is a worry and hesitation for many either consciously or not. When we think of hiring a professional photographer for anything we usually imagine hiring someone to take dreamy, gorgeous photos of us and/or our family, the day all meticulously planned out in matching outfits with the perfect family Christmas card poses. "Why would I invest several hundred or thousands of dollars to take pictures of me half or fully naked, my hair in a (not cute) messy bun, and yesterday's makeup down my face?! That seems insane. It's not like I'm going to be posting these all over my Instagram or whipping these photos out anytime to show Grandma over the holidays!"
Something happens in birth that many moms have a hard time seeing beforehand though. I see this especially in first-time mothers who have no birthing experience and do not know what to expect. That is the undone, raw, ragged, hot mess that you are can be some of the most real photos of yourself you may ever have the opportunity to capture. This is real beauty you cannot hide or mask yourself behind. There is nothing more beautiful than looking powerful in birth. There is nothing more beautiful than the intimate connection captured with your partner. There is absolutely nothing more beautiful than the genuine emotional response of seeing and holding your child for the first time. It is a perfectly undone look. A hot beautiful mess.