The Magic of Birth Photography

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Pregnancy photoshoots have been popular for a while and they’re wonderful. Professional photographers are able to capture the beauty of being pregnant in a way we could never do ourselves. These shoots make a touching gift for dads-to-be and they can serve as a welcome boost to the flagging body image of a heavily pregnant mum. As pregnancy shoots become more and more creative, we often see the photos pop up on Facebook or framed in a friend’s house. I love them, but then I love anything about babies and bumps. 

But what about birth photography?

a newborn baby and two doctors as captured in a birth photoshoot

Recently, an older and more conservative gentleman in my life questioned the appropriateness of pregnancy photography, particularly the public sharing of what he saw as ‘intimate’ photographs. For a generation of men who went to the pub while their children were born and may have never changed a nappy, it’s a brave new world. Thank you Mark Zuckerberg for bringing bumps out of the closet.

So imagine the smirk that flickered across my face when I read about the momentum of birth photography. Engaging a professional photographer to capture your birth is officially mainstream. Birth photography is coming to a birthing suite, and Facebook news feed, near you. Too much? Never fear, it’s not all strained faces and bloody action shots. Birth photography is emotive and beautiful. Yes, it can be raw and a little confronting but that’s where the true beauty lies. Birth is raw. Birth is sometimes confronting. Birth is beautiful and powerful.

In search of creative maternity photo ideas? Check out The Bump’s 39 Ways to Nail a Stunning Maternity Photo Shoot

a baby's feet captured in a birth photoshoot
Sharing the story

But it’s some people’s worst nightmare – a high-resolution camera in the delivery suite capturing every grimace, every contraction, every moment of your birth. For others, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a keepsake and share their love-fuelled birth story with friends and family.

Some mums are taking creative control and upping the style factor of birthing. Yes, it does sound very Hong Kong. Mums wanting to look picture perfect pre- and post-partum are having their hair and make-up done for the occasion. The maternity store, Mayarya, has started providing a free delivery service to any maternity ward in Hong Kong, allowing the mother-to-be or new mum the ability to receive new nursing tops, nursing pyjamas, or any of its maternity friendly fashion within two hours of ordering.

Other mums are turning the occasion into a creative expression by crafting a birth story package to be viewed by their children in the future. These families style the shoot with a birth story or an element of creative consistency. This creative direction allows mums with an eye for detail to align their birth photos and videos with a chosen theme also used for other elements of their pregnancy story, like baby showers or home decorating.

The trend has taken off in the western world. Australia, Canada, the USA and the UK have already seen a ground swell of support for birth photography. Here in Hong Kong, it’s tough to execute because of tighter restrictions in birthing suites. But don’t be discouraged, there are ways round that. Birth photographer Anna Todd has captured many births and shares, “It’s possible to capture the emotion and beauty of a birth day without being in the delivery suite. Birth day journeys offer lots of poignant and touching moments before and after delivery. Labouring at home, the trip to the hospital, siblings and family meeting the new addition, leaving hospital and the first moments at home can all be a part of the touching, personal story you create.”

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