The internet is bustling with individuals who would love to throw the first stone. Or the second stone, or the last stone for that matter. As long as they're able to find something to pick at, and receive a modicum of validation, their appetite for criticism is satiated and their bellies are bloated with pride. While the reception towards birth photography has been overwhelmingly positive, encouraging, and delighted, more than a few times I have found people willing to poo all over my clients' decision to hire a birth photographer (internet people, mind you... not REAL people, not face-to-face people). One snide comment I've read is, "Wow, we really have to document everything these days, don't we? Can anyone say 'narcissism'?!"
Let's take a look at the Why behind the decision to hire a birth photographer. Parents want to have those moments documented that they'd otherwise forget, or the moments they won't even notice, like the look on dad's face when he sees his baby for the first time. Moms miss that one a ton, because they're busy doing the coolest thing they've really ever accomplished EVER (in my humble opinion).
Parents hire me when dad is deployed and wouldn't otherwise get to experience the birth. Parents hire me because they want to be better able to process, heal, and OWN their experience. Parents hire me because their babies are at risk, and they might only have a few moments together. Parents hire me because they are in awe of birth and in awe of the great transformation their unique bodies are able to make. Parents hire me because they want a more intimate birth experience, and want to be able to share their experience with family without having them in the room. Parents hire me because they want their baby, when she's all grown up, to be able to share her story with her own children. (Don't tell me you didn't LOVE looking through your baby book, as an adult or as a kid.)
I'll tell you what IS NOT a reason parents hire me: Narcissism. Parents don't pay me thousands of dollars to document their journey to parenthood... this whole new life... because they are wild narcissists. Their images are something that breech this time, this generation, and this single experience. It may not be the decision you would make, but it's not because you're less frivolous or more modest or have more sound judgement. My guess is that you simply perceive birth in a different light than they do.
You know what I think we're doing by documenting and honoring our birth stories? I think we're raising a generation of children who have a profound respect for women, for birth, and for motherhood. I think we're raising children who won't view women's bodies as sexual objects. I think we're showing our children that BREASTS serve a purpose, and they're not solely for ogling.
I think we're showing men how instrumental they are in the birthing process. I think we're empowering families as a whole by sharing our stories. I think we're showing women that birth belongs to them. That the beginning of life is not inherently an emergency. That they have options. That they can eat during labor, dance during labor, ROAR during labor, get an epidural and feel proud of it, squat, kneel, shower, walk, do head stands, soak in the tub, push on the toilet, have a baby in a car, have a baby in the backyard, have a baby in the ocean surrounded by dolphins, FOLLOW their impulses, listen to their intuition, rock out to Beyoncé during the most intense part of labor, tell the doctor, "No, that's not okay with me.", celebrate their cesarean birth, celebrate their natural birth as an "obese" woman, and answer to NO ONE.
Time for more iced coffee.
Birth Photography :: The Epitome of Narcissism?