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  • Writer's pictureangelahodgedoula

My Journey to Birth Photography

Updated: Mar 12, 2023

There are so many things I love about birth work. I love helping parents feel informed about their labors; I love making sure they feel emotionally supported; I love offering a hand to hold. And I love observing a new family member being born and capturing all the moments that come with this, large and small. I love paying attention to the physical details in a room. What is the light like? How can I catch the best angle? I need to be on my toes, attuned to the emotion in the room, and make sure my timing is perfect. I want to capture moments these families will treasure, that reflect all the hard work and emotion of bringing a baby into the world.

My path to birth photography has not been linear. I have always been drawn to drawing, painting, and creating. As a teenager, I attended an amazing high school in Columbus, Ohio that had a two year commercial photography program. The program supplied everyone with cameras, film, paper, a studio, and a darkroom -- all for free! I spent half of every school day taking photos or working in the darkroom. I learned so much about the art form and loved every moment. I intended to continue with photography in college, but focused on a music degree instead, which allowed little time for anything else. After college, it was difficult to afford photography equipment, and I meandered through other creative pursuits.

The birth of my children made me aware of a whole world I didn’t know existed before. I could not get enough of learning about the birth process. When possible, I took a doula training, and then a childbirth educator training. I discovered the amazing birth photography website Birth Becomes You, and was completely inspired by the powerful, dramatic images it showcased. Thanks to cell phones, photography has become accessible to many more people; often, my doula clients would hand me their cell phones right after delivery so I could snap a few photos of them with their babies. I loved this, but I yearned for more, to tell the stories of these babies being born, but also make art out of these moments.

I signed up for a Birth Becomes You photography course in the fall of 2020 and anxiously bought a nice new camera. So much has changed in the technology world since my days in the photography program so long ago! Once I worked through my fears of the technical aspects of this art form, I realized that I still could rely on the strong foundation I learned as a teenager. The art form itself is the same, it’s just that the tools are slightly different. In the time since my training, I have worked as a doulatog (doula+photographer) for several births and loved every minute of it. I have also enjoyed taking maternity, family, and newborn photos. I have learned how to edit photos on a computer as opposed to a darkroom. I have learned how to share my images on social media. I am still learning; I love learning! Photography is a lifelong skill that I will work at over and over again.

I am a person who has a lot of eclectic interests. I find myself happiest when I have my hands in many different pots. Doula work satisfies the part of me that wants to nurture, bear witness, comfort, and support. Birth education satisfies a part of me that is driven by information, fascinated by biology, and loves communicating with people. And then there is an artistic side of me that birth photography calls to. To bring my love of birth work and my love of art and imagery together seems like a dream come true -- the third part of a triangle that completes me professionally.

I want birthing people to feel empowered, beautiful, and glorious in their births. If I can capture how I see them in labor and birth -- strong and persistent through joy and hardship – in a visually interesting way, then I will feel successful. I believe birth photography is especially important for people who have experienced prior traumatic births, infertility, or loss, and that it can be powerful and healing. The world needs to see how amazing birthing people are -- not the Hollywood version, but the true version. To me, birth photography is a form of love and a seeking of truth. A memorializing of the first moments of a family. I feel so honored every time I have the opportunity to turn on my camera in the birth space.

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