Melodies of Life: Celebrating the Sacred First Cry of a Newborn

If you’re thinking about hiring a birth photographer, you might be worried that the photos of one of your most intimate and vulnerable moments will suddenly become public. I can’t speak for all birth photographers (though I’d really hope that most would agree), but I’m here to tell you that, as a professional birth photographer, I never share a single photo without consent.

It’s really important to me that my clients feel one-hundred percent comfortable inviting me into their birth space and trust that the images I create while documenting their birth story will never be shared without permission.

That means that sometimes my website and sociaɩ media galleries aren’t representative of the recent or best work that I’ve been doing. Some of my favorite photos I’ve ever taken will never see the light of day except in my clients’ own homes by them and their families. In fact, a fair amount of my clients request total privacy and don’t want even a single photo from their birth shared, so you’d never even know I was there if you don’t know them personally.

That also means that the photos you do see are always shared with the blessing of my clients.

I’m a really big fan of enthusiastic consent, so I never want anyone to feel pressured into sharing photos that they aren’t completely comfortable with. While my contract includes a model reɩease that specifies what types of photos (what level of nudity or covered-ness) and which media platforms (sociaɩ media, website, promotional print materials like business cards, etc.) a client is comfortable with, I still use that as a general guideline and not the final say.

Because the model reɩease is reviewed before the photos are even taken, it’s important to me that the photos are actually seen before a final decision is made. I mean, how someone’s birth experience goes might have a profound effect on how they feel about how public or private they want their photos to be. So I never share anything that hasn’t been seen and — even if my client has a model reɩease indicating that they’re comfortable with any photo being shared anywhere — I always get a final permission about specific photos (or an entire gallery) before anything goes on my sociaɩ medaor website or anywhere else.

Listen. I think sharing photos of all the different ways that birth can happen and what it can look like is incredibly important. It helps people to know their options. It empowers people to make choices about their own birth that they might not have even known were available to them before seeing imagery that showed them what real, powerful, incredible birth can be (and how VERY different it is from what most of us grew up seeing on movies and tv).

And, of course, I appreciate when my clients really want to be a part of that. Some of my clients tell me that the reason they feel empowered to have a home birth or to labor or birth in different positions or to hire a birth photographer or a doula or a midwife is because of the birth photography that they saw before or during their pregnancy. And now they want to help show other people what their options are, too.

Sometimes people are just so damn proud of their own strength and they want to show the world what that looks like (even if they didn’t feel strong in the moment). I freaking love that.

But as many reasons as there are FOR sharing birth photos, there are just as many and just as personal of reasons NOT to share birth photos. And just because (I believe) there is incredible value in birth imagery being accessible to people who are planning their own births, doesn’t mean that any individual person has to be the one to put it out there.

The bottom line is that, while I love sharing my art (and, by the way, it does help prospective clients to know whether or not to hire me to document their own birth), it’s not my story. And while the world truly needs to see the vast and beautiful variety that exists in the realm of birth options, it’s not the world’s story either.

It’s your birth. It’s your body. It’s your story.

If you are one of those people who can’t wait to share your birth photos, I’m truly grateful. If you are someone who wants to share certain photos, but not others, I completely respect your choices. If you are someone who doesn’t want to share any photos from your birth at all, I will never question your decision.

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