It’s inevitable…. posting images of child birth are going to be revered, judged, reported and then torn down from the online social media world. There is so much to consider as a birth photographer, holding the rights to your images, but not always the right to share the story. There is something outrageously tempting about wanting to spread the visual word, promote informed birth choices, empower and entice others with the reality of birth. Sometimes I do feel it’s becoming more about the photographer than the woman and child in the images. The irony is that my very success stems from an act of censorship gaining large scale social media exposure and bolstering my presence into the public eye.
Every woman has a precious and powerful story to tell and share, if she wants to. These moments are intensely personal, and are taken at a time when a woman and child are at their most vulnerable. As is the balance of life, it’s the decisions which involve risk that bring about the greatest impact on your journey.
As photographers, the risk of censorship (getting banned and ridiculed) seems to bring about some kind of reward, somewhere in the vicinity of industry fame and popularity. So as birth photographs become accepted and birth itself normalised, censorship reduces, and the waves that photographers ride will become smaller and less helpful in thrusting our agenda into the limelight. Some days it feels like the race is on!
If you are a woman, giving permission to share your most private and powerful moments, consider how you and your child might feel reading the good, bad and ugly comments and opinions of strangers. Consider your emotional state and how you will balance and ground yourself if an image of you and your child goes “viral”.
If you are a photographer, read the above comment and put yourself in your client’s shoes. Then make sure your client understands that too. No matter what, this isn’t your story or your birth, it is hers. And it is your job as a birth photographer to hold that birth space, not just as it was happening, but forever more.
Here are a few special moments shared with full and informed permission. Each birth has its own story and celebration. Consider them all with honour and compassion in your heart as you play your part in normalising birth and helping us talk about the lessons we learned and wisdom we have to share as mothers.