Birth photography. It’s a big thing these days, but not everyone is sold on the idea.
Basically, it involves a photographer being invited into the inner sanctum to capture the labour and birth of a new baby from the front row. Birth photographers are popping up in major and regional centres all over Australia, while in America, the trend is in full swing. So why do some people opt for it while others totally ignore it? Let’s check out both sides.
Yes To Birth Photography
Supporters of birth photography generally argue that birth photography can be beautiful and tastefully done with the right photographer, and that the memories of labour should be treasured for years into the future. While the photographs might not be widely shared nor printed in large copy, they can be printed in private albums that your family, and your children can view for years to come. Kids are often curious as to their arrival into the world, and birth photography provides a way for them to see just what the process looks like, with them at the centre.
Another argument for birth photography usually revolves around the idea that mums can miss a lot in the middle of labour. Their minds are focused on getting their child out into the world, and as a result, they don’t always get to see the amazing details of their labour. Photos like both parents seeing the baby for the first time, the first hold, baby getting weighed and measured (usually missed by both mum and dad) are worth having someone extra around for.
Yet, one more reason that parents choose birth photography is to free up dads to support their wives in full, instead of having to worry about being there to capture the photographs. When your partner is taking the photos, they won’t be able to be in them, and they will likely not have the photographic eye required to capture the scene in a tasteful way, making a birth photographer the clear choice.
No To Birth Photography
Now let’s have a look at the other side of that coin: the folks who think birth photography is a step too far. I’m one of them, and I want to start with a little story.
I, myself, am a photographer. A few weeks ago, a heavily pregnant woman (who I didn’t know), upon learning my profession, asked me if I did birth photography and whether I’d be interested in photographing her (looming) birth. I paused. This woman, a stranger to me, was essentially asking me if I wanted a front row seat to one of the most private and life-changing events of her life. And for what? These are hardly photos that you share with your friends and family, or hang on the wall of the living room. I politely declined, but she insisted, saying that it was so important that she remember her labour.
I understand that memories are important, but just because memories should be treasured, doesn’t mean that all memories should be captured. People often share memories, and make new ones, and funerals and wakes, but would you invite a photographer to the event to capture everyone in their sombre blacks? The concept that our entire lives need to be captured and shared is pervasive in modern society, but I feel like the buck stops with birth photography.
Some things should be for mums and dads alone to remember, and while some mums do say that their fading memories don’t do justice to the importance of the event, I say that’s just life. Don’t get me wrong, I am absolutely a lover of photography, but I feel that there’s something sacrificed when you invite a stranger into your labouring experience. You have to decide whether those photos are worth that.