birth photography

Birth Photography: A Father's Perspective

dad encouraging mom through birth contraction

You might remember Bruce from my last blog post—he and his wife Alyssa had a touching story that’s worth the read if you haven’t read it already! He’s a wonderful husband and father, and was an amazing birth partner for his wife on the night of their son Killian’s birth. When I met Bruce he was so honest and open and kind. I knew if I was ever going to get a husband’s honest perspective on birth photography, I would have my best shot with Bruce! So after a few weeks had gone by after the birth of Killian, I reached out to Bruce to see if he would be willing to answer a few questions for me. He of course said yes, as I knew he would (even with his hands full with a new baby!). Here is Bruce’s perspective and words of advice for all you dads who may be on the fence about birth photography.

Who had the idea to hire a birth photographer, you or your wife? If it was your wife, what did you think when she first mentioned it to you? It was Alyssa’s idea, and I was all for it! She had shown me other photos from couples who had them professionally done, and I thought they were very well done and in good taste.

Did you have any reservations prior to the birth about having a birth photographer there? If so, what were they? I didn’t have any reservations at all, but then again, I’m a very open person.

Now that you have been through it and have your birth story gallery, what is your perspective on birth photography? Would you do it again? My perspective on birth photography is nothing but positive. I felt like you were extremely professional, gave us plenty of space, and were still able to capture once-in-a-lifetime moments that we will cherish forever. I would absolutely do it again (although I’m pretty sure we are probably done for good, haha!) without question. We had some moments on film because of her mom, but I feel the photos really brought out the true essence of the moment. Huge fan of the black and white photos, and the overall angles and editing were brilliant.

dad holding helping mom through birth contraction
dad emotional as wife labors during birth

What advice would you give to other dads who might be on the fence about birth photography? My advice to other dads would be this: This is literally a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and if you have the chance to capture it on film, to look back and cherish it for years to come, why wouldn’t you? The photographs we have of that night contain every single emotion on the spectrum, from unexplainable pain to unbridled joy, and I love them all. (Also, maybe get in a few extra sets of sit-ups before the due date 😉.)

dad emotional at the birth of his son

A Story of Gratitude & Redemption - Alyssa's Birth Story

Killian's birth was an emotional one! More emotional than any birth I have had the pleasure of documenting! It all began when I met Bruce, Alyssa, and Vallory during our initial consultation and heard their back story. They were so excited for this baby and to have their story captured for a number of reasons. First, Bruce told me that due to some unfortunate circumstances, he wasn't at Vallory's birth and was so excited to be at this one and to be able to support Alyssa. Second, they were excited to have Vallory (age 6) at the birth to witness her sibling being brought into the world. Third, there was some postpartum trauma, which added another level to the emotion of the night!

You can read Alyssa's birth story in her own words below.

Killian's Birth Story
7 lbs, 15 oz
Saturday, April 20th 2019 @1:50am

Labor
Labor began on a rainy evening on Good Friday. I had gone in to have my membranes swept earlier that day. Afterwards, we went to Discovery Place in Charlotte, and were watching a movie in the IMAX Theatre when I began to have early labor signs and downloaded a contraction app to help me track them. We tried to figure out if we should stay in Charlotte or go home to Indian Trail- we called my midwife and she said to go home and rest. It felt ominous outside to me as we headed home while my contractions got more intense and real. My mind started going more inward to sustain the process and I knew it wouldn't be long because Vallory came fast! We were home for maybe 2 hours and I knew it was time to go to Baby + Co! Bruce started to get more excited/nervous and we were all nervously laughing because we knew it was going to be a LONG night. Little did we know how long it would be with my postpartum complications!

Delivery
Both of my births were unmedicated, but my first birth with Vallory was in a hospital setting, so I was excited to be in a beautiful birth center. The different setting really made a big difference in how our delivery felt. My midwife was so supportive and calm. I also loved that we chose to have Vallory there, as her presence was sweet and kept a light energy in the room that I needed. And seeing her expressions as her brother was being born was priceless. What I remember most when I think back to my birth is Bruce being my strength when I felt I had run out. I remember gripping him and feeling at the end of myself, but him being there for me gave me a feeling of joy and hope and excitement for this new chapter together. It really helped me push through (no pun intended)! Killian was born at 1:50am Saturday morning. All I could think about wow beautiful he was! He felt so warm and sweet. I was admittedly anxious and wanted to make sure he was okay, but he looked right at us when he emerged from the water like he was so happy to meet us. <3

Postpartum
After Killian was born, I had a bad hemorrhage due to placenta accreta and required a blood transfusion. That was definitely not in our plan. The trauma was difficult to work through, so I felt worn out all the time, breastfeeding was/is a challenge and painful...basically everything was harder this second time around. But this baby was our redemption child for our marriage. I think it almost makes sense as we have struggled so much to become a family again, that this process wouldn’t be easy either- but just as worth it. It almost took my life and surviving it has left me which such an extra layer of gratitude for my life and my family. I’m so, so happy to be here and experience life with the people I love, as well as be able to care for my new baby, because at one point my mind wondered who would take care of him if I was gone. But he's here, we are all healthy and happy, and my family is complete!

Thomas Fresh 48 & Lifestyle Newborn Session | Charlotte Birth Photographer

One of the perks of my job is that I get to watch my client’s families grow. I met Amy, Scott and Emma last fall when they hired me to do a family session. When I found out Amy was pregnant, I suggested we schedule the session as far out as we could so that we could do a combo family/maternity session. It would also give us time to let the foliage peak. I loved this session because I felt like I got to really capture the essence of this family — close knit, laid back, and fun!

I was pleasantly surprised (and honored!) when Amy reached out close to her due date to ask if I would do a Fresh 48 and Lifestyle Newborn session for them. That’s where I met brand new little miss Sadie and this new close knit family of FOUR! I can’t wait to work with this family in the future so I can see them grow some more!

I don't like the photos from my birth | Charlotte Birth Photographer

I wish…I had known about birth photography four years ago when my last child was born.

I wish…someone had warned me that between all the nerves, excitement, pain, exhaustion, and exuberant joy, that the entire experience would become a blur.

I wish…someone had told me that I probably wouldn't remember my daughter's first cry or the first time I held her.

I wish…someone had mentioned that I definitely wouldn't remember the expression on my husband's face when he saw her for the first time.


Oh my sweet hubs. He tried! But I mean, c’mon! I have one image of her while she was in that other room, and this is it.

I can kind of still remember the pain...I'm not even gonna lie! But I don't know how I looked as I powered through each contraction. I don't remember what I did to prepare myself for the next one. Was I standing or laying down? Did I grab onto something or squeeze my husband's hand? Did I internalize the pain or make that primal moan that birthing mothers sometimes make?

I don't remember any of the conversation or funny moments I had with my husband that day. I don't remember the look on his face while I was pushing or when she came out. I have NO idea what I looked like when that 9lb 6oz baby came out after 18 hours of labor (but who's counting) and an hour of pushing. Did we laugh? Did we both cry? No clue. Was I exhausted or elated? Probably both?

This is the one image my husband took of me holding my baby girl. I wish there were more. :(

I don't remember my daughter's first cry. I don't really remember the first time I held her. And afterwards, while I was getting cleaned up, my husband followed the nurses into another room where my daughter was weighed, measured, had foot prints taken, etc. I missed all of it and he wasn't thinking to take pictures.

I don't remember my midwife's name or any of the nurses...or nursing students for that matter (it was a full house in our room that day, that much I remember!).

I don't know who visited us first, what their expressions were like when they walked in and saw her or when they held her for the first time. And...I don't remember the look on my older daughter's face when she saw her baby sister for the first time. This one breaks my heart the most.

I don't have photos that captured any of those moments, and those memories aren't coming back. Every once in a while, I'll tell my daughters what I do remember of their birth stories, and doing that keeps those memories somewhat fresh. But I desperately wish I knew what a birth photographer was back then and had hired her to capture those moments. I would have wanted her there to tell the story of the day my life changed forever. The day I became a mom.

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How do you want to remember your birth story? With blurry, grainy, low resolution images that your spouse took on their phone when he remembered to amid all the chaos of the day? Or with professional, stunning, hand-edited images that you can print in album to have and hold forever? Don’t make the same mistake I did. Hire a birth photographer and invest in your family’s memories.

A few spots remain in my birth story model call. Click the button below and apply today!

2018 Shoot & Share Contest | Charlotte Family Photographer

For the past two years, I've entered a photo contest hosted by Shoot & Share. The Shoot & Share Photo Contest markets itself as the world’s only free and fair photo contest. Anyone can enter their photos into the contest (even you!), and anyone can vote on them (even you)! Each person can enter up to 50 photos, in 25 different categories. What I love about this competition is that it's completely anonymous, so you're voting solely on the merit of the photo itself and not who took it. No popularity contest here! When you go to vote, you are shown four random pictures, and you pick your favorite of the four. You can do this over and over again (and with 412,379 submissions this year, there was no shortage of photos to vote on). All in all, over 75 million votes were placed!

For me, the fun part was comparing my progress year over year: 

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Not bad, right!? And I was a finalist this year too! So let me show you some of my photos that placed this year in the top 20% or above: 

I love this mother/son moment between baby Magnus and his mama, Lisa

Same ridiculously attractive family, just pre-Magnus! This was an outdoor winter cake smash that was made all the more special because daddy had finally returned from Afghanistan after several months away. 

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This is my sweet niece, Avery. I was babysitting her one weekend so her mommies could have a date night, and I squeezed in a photoshoot...because what else would we do!?

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This one holds a special place in my heart because it's my daughter and my best friend's daughter. We've been besties for 25 years, and in this photo I see the start of the next generation of BFFs.

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I'll be honest-- I love me a good sunset shoot. But in New England, in the winter, the sun sets ridiculously early and things can get DREARY. So you have to get creative. So on one particularly dreary day, I did a cereal milk bath shoot with my girls. So fun!

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And as luck would have it, her sister was a finalist!!  Love my girls. 

Thank you to all my clients who allowed me to capture such beautiful moments. I can't wait to see what the rest of this year holds! Here's a video if you want to see all the photos I submitted: