why I hired a birth photographer: an interview with the lady behind the lens!
As you may know by now, I had a very uncomplicated 7 hour labor and delivery, in the water and with no need for drugs or interventions. It was my dream birth. I had a doula, midwife (with South Community Birth Program), and hired a fantastic birth photographer, Morag Hastings. All sorts of things went through my head after I hired her: what if I had a C-section (baby was breech at this point), what if I didn’t want anyone around me, what if I was really sick, what if I looked like a total weirdo pushing this baby out? None of these things occurred, thankfully, but even if they had, I would have still wanted the day documented. Unlike your wedding, which is creating fake poses and set ups to make things look pretty, your birth is unpredictable, beautiful in a seriously different way, one of a kind and unique, and no matter how prepared you are for it, you just never know what it will be like. The photographer shoots the day much a like a photojournalist does and captures you telling the story of your baby’s arrival.
For me, my birth was amazing. I loved it. I really, truly loved giving birth. And even though I enjoyed it, I didn’t have any idea what I was expressing, what I looked like, what everyone else was doing around me, what time it was…you get the idea. To have a gorgeous album of photos from beginning to end, graphic to family friendly…well, it means the world to me. I love seeing the artsy gorgeous shots that Morag took, as well as the simple ones that documented the spectacular but often overlooked things, like my midwife on her knees beside the tub, the placenta in all it’s glory, the birthing party on their way to the elevator, me labouring in the hallway while waiting for the elevator…the things that give you goosebumps! As a doula and placenta alchemist (what I like to call myself anyway :)), I found the thrill of looking through my birth photos (whenever I wanted!) to be incredible and overwhelming and life giving. For me it was a no brainer. Photograph my baby’s birth? Yes please! For others, it may take a little convincing or time to warm up to the idea. I believe if we normalize birth photography, doulas, midwives, birth itself and even things like placenta encapsulation (which is what I do) the birth and postpartum world will become a safer, more holistic place.
I remember Morag coming over a few weeks after the birth to talk about it and see Florence, and she said I handled it like a warrior woman! What a thrill to my heart. Let’s be honest, some of the face shots of me pushing Florence out, well, they were not pretty. But it’s very neat to have someone witness your birth who is not involved in your life personally, not medically involved and not a doula. She was simply there to capture it all.
Who are you?
I am a Vancouver doula and birth photographer who has found her calling in life. I have 3 wonderful kids (11, 8 and 3) and a husband who supports me in my unpredictable career. I live in East Vancouver and spend most of my days enjoying my youngest baby, editing pictures and waiting for clients to call me in labour. I am so thankful that I have found a job that I love and am proud of.
What is your favorite thing about photographing births?
I just love the response I get from my clients once they’ve seen their pictures. They call or email, full of love and admiration and gratitude that I have captured the essence of their big day. I remember feeling just that way seeing the images from my births. I love that I get to make people feel that way. I make people happy for a living!
The hardest thing about photographing births?
Definitely the lighting. I have to be on my toes and ready for anything. I never know when a doctor or midwife will suddenly add an extra light to the scene. After being up for 48hrs it can be hard to make quick technical decisions. Plus, because of the nature of the setting, I’m often working in extremely low light situations and have to be sensitive with my flash use. But I’ve gained a lot of experience and now it all comes pretty naturally.
Favorite baby names you’ve heard at births?
Hmmm, can I say Makayla, Kerian and Liam? Those might or might not be my kids names 😉 I hear so many, and they’re all so unique, it would be hard to pick just one. I do love it when parents wait to meet their baby before naming them. It’s such a great surprise for everyone. I must say, I am really happy no one has named their baby Morag. It was a bit of a challenging name to grow up with!
What is the demand like for birth photographers?
The demand is growing in the Vancouver area. I, personally, have been working really hard to get the word out. At first, some people think birth photography sounds weird or invasive, but once they see what kind of pictures I take, they totally get it. It is such a life changing event that should be captured. Another service I offer, for people who might not necessarily want their labour or birth photographed, is a first-few-hours session. People can have me come to their home or hospital right after their birth and I can capture all the magical firsts: weigh in, measuring, skin to skin time, first snap as a new family and more. Like they say, word of mouth really is the best advertising, and my clients love my work, so they are really helping to spread the word. Business is good for me. I take up to 3 clients a month and am booking several months in advance!
Check out some of her wonderful work…these are some of my favourites!
If you’re looking for a fantastic birth photographer in Vancouver, BC, please visit Apple Blossom Families!