reflecting a bit on photography in the birth space.....
There is a part of me that always knew I was meant to work with women.
And in particular, working with woman in their birth space. And for many, many years I dodged inquires from close friends (who knew me) about me becoming a doula, or a midwife; however, when I found out about birth photography, I knew THIS was something I needed to be a part of. My artist's heart and scientist's mind seemed to insist upon it...to me, this was the perfect melding of the art and science of Birth.
It took a long time for me to be brave enough though –to become a birth photographer, to know my camera well enough, to know myself well enough– before I thought I could enter a woman's birth space. And when I did, I was so lucky. The laboring woman who's birth I first attended was surrounded by a team of midwives and doulas who helped usher a sweet baby earth side, late in the night, in the dark and quiet of a birth center.
As much as I was hooked, and in awe, and in love with birth from that moment forward; I also knew I needed to know MORE about birth. What was I allowed to do? To say? To act? To be?
Even though I had brought three boys into the world, and had acted as an ad-hoc doula to my friends for years, I really had not immersed myself in the birth world before that moment. And it wasn't until some time later, that I really began to understand how my camera and my physical role as a DOULA impacted a laboring women's birth space as well. I remember telling some of my friends (who at the time were becoming midwives) that I really, really, really wanted to write a blog post about what it meant to have an undisturbed birth and how our cameras could impact a mother's ability to give birth. I certainly didn't have any desire to put my camera away, but I had reached a place where I began to understand BIRTH –and to know when my presence at a birth is hindering the delicate balance of hormones versus helping it.
I told my friends that I wanted others to know that it wasn't as simple as picking up a DSLR, turning it on and start taking photographs of a birth. It was SO much more. SO much more.
So here I am. Three years have passed since I had that conversation with my friends and I hope that I am actually doing SO much more than a simple blog post. I am actually teaching and mentoring. And I love it! I spoke this past spring at The Family Narrative and am beyond honored to teach at Click Away in 2018. I really hope I am helping people, potential birth photographers, young and old understand birth.
And as I wrap up my second round of teaching my Birth Unveiled class with Illuminate Classes, one of my students wrote THIS to me in an email, "When I signed up for this class I was excited about the technical side. I wanted to know how to shoot in low light, any WB tips, where to stand etc. Although you offered these in your class, they were not the items that I took away as the most important. You have helped me evolve in the respectful sense, the way that you prompted us to think about holding space and the role that we have in the birth was life changing for me. And I think it is the reason I am so fascinated with birth photography. You helped me see how important it is that we handle it correctly. I am inspired. Your class has helped me see exactly why I love birth so much and it has inspired me to go after it even more." And all I can think is wow! Yes! Welcome to birth! And I feel genuine love, not just for my students, but a love for all the women who will be moved and changed by them.
And all of this is really to say, I don't believe we have to be perfect when we enter a laboring mother's birth space, but we have to be open –open just enough to quietly sit beside her during her own experience –open enough to be a witness to that moment in time when she navigated the wilderness of birth.