Here's a funny little fact about me: I have precisely zero children of my own.
I've amply saturated my life with babies, birth, and pregnancy, but I have yet to experience what it's like to carry a child in my womb for 40ish weeks. I have yet to enjoy the radiating warmth that comes from simply touching my plump belly and imagining what life will look like. I have yet to learn the less glamorous aspects of childbearing. I have yet find myself challenged at my physical and mental capacity. To be stuck between the rock and hard place, perhaps questioning my ability to continue, just before reaching down to embrace my squishy, bluish, squealing infant, this person that is somehow mine and me and us through and through. I have yet to see my husband's reaction as he realizes that he's become a father... which is totally everything he desires right now. I have yet to spend my nights and days continuing to nourish this tiny person, learning patience and resiliency as we fumble through breastfeeding challenges. I wonder what it'll be like to find strangers casting judgmental stares in my direction as I feed my hungry baby at the table rather than on the toilet. I wonder what it'll be like to watch my child learn something new every single day, and to see the world anew through my child's eyes.
Some birth photographers have argued that it isn't possible to be an empathetic presence and a truly successful birth photographer without having experienced pregnancy and birth first-hand. Mind you, these are people I have a high regard and respect for. My intent here is simply to offer a differing perspective. My hope is that I can serve as proof that such mindsets are inaccurate and lacking in empathy and understanding themselves.
How on earth does a childless woman become a birth photographer? Perhaps the assumption is that one day I woke up, saw a birthy pic on the internet, extended my arms out in front of me like a zombie, drooled a little, and said, "BIRTH. COOL. I WANT." And BAM, I became a birth photographer.
The story behind how I became a birth photographer is a very personal one. It's a twisty, turny path I was led down unknowingly, it's a defining story of difficulty and growth and hope. It's a story I'd be happy to share with you over coffee sometime.
Another little fact about me: I feel more than most people feel. The emotions of others seem to imprint themselves on me, and rather than becoming overwhelmed by them, I become expressive with them. My sensitivity and empathy, along with heightened intuition, are things that cannot be taught. I'm proud to consider them gifts, and I'm happy to own them, particularly in the birthing space. It's these things that I hope define me and that make me a better birth attendant. It's these things that I hope my viewers can perceive through my work.
This isn't to say that becoming a mother won't change me through and through, from who I am at my core, to what I produce in my work. And I admit, I come from a place of experience and knowledge in the birthing space, but of naïveté for all that it means to become a mother. You could say that I myself am a child, understanding new aspects of motherhood every day, deepening my well of empathy with every client, and looking into each new day like a wide-eyed child.
My hope is that the intense awe (and "awe" is just the perfect word) I feel for every birthing mother is translated with clarity and done justice through my photography. Because she inspires me, I am compelled to tell her story with elegance and truth and beauty, precisely as I perceive it. No birth is "just another birth", "we've all been there, done that". Because I haven't been there! I haven't done that! She's amazing, she's a warrior goddess! She's an inspiration! And this amazing event I've come to witness is something I have yet to completely fathom. And if that's not BEAUTIFUL, I don't know what is.
Let me pause to say that the ingredients that facilitate me as a birth photographer are not the ingredients for a standard birth photographer recipe. We are all creatives, shaped by the events of our lives, inspired by different sources, and driven by different passions.
Ultimately, what you see in a photographer's work is their translation of an event... their telling of a story. I hope when you see my work, you feel the awe I felt for that mother as she birthed her child. I hope you're not blinded by my inadequacy as a childless photographer. I hope you see that rather than impairing my work, my unique perspective emboldens and inspires my work.
That's all for now.
Me and my newest little nephew!