Would You Hire a Birth Photographer?

Valerie Isakova, Shine Parenting Editor
ParentingJune 18, 2012

A new breed of photographers who specialize in documenting childbirth is becoming popular, according to an article in this weekend's New York Times. There's even an International Association of Professional Birth Photographers (IAPBP) founded in 2010, with over 400 members in places like Texas, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City and New York.

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These women (birth photographers tend to be women) show up at the hospital when the expectant mother is 7 centimeters dilated and snap away, capturing the dad, the family, the doctors and nurses and the laboring mom and finally, the newborn baby. Most stop short if the mom has an unplanned c-section, but not always.

Related: Childbirth now takes longer than it did 50 years ago

My first reaction to the story was that hiring a birth photographer is shallow and high-maintenance, not to mention out of reach financially for most people (one starting price quoted in the article was $700). In my opinion, sure, most birth photos are 'bad' photos in the sense that the mother is not looking her best, the light is yellow, and there's an unattractive hospital bed in the background. But they're the first photos of a new human life, and as such illuminated with spiritual light. What more do you need?

But then I wondered, if it were affordable, would this be so bad? Birth is a huge moment in a family's life, and sometimes the dad, the birth partner or other family members entrusted with taking photos might be distracted or emotional and not focusing on their duties as camera-person. Also, newborn babies are very hard to capture on camera. They look so beautiful in real life, yet so much like raw chicken on film. (Why is that? Would a birth photographer make a difference?)

Lyndsay Stradtner, founder of the IAPBP, explains that most clients chose to hire a photographer because, "they already have one child and 'they don't want to forget again.'" She explains to Yahoo! Shine that as time passes, we tend to forget the details of childbirth, "the birth environment...the mom holding onto dad in pain...the baby placed on mom's chest for the first time...the journey of a birth day...the making of a family." And she points to a birth-photos slideshow on her organization's website to illustrate the point of how beautiful such documentation can be. (Warning: watch it and weep!)

What do you think? Would you like to have a professional document your baby's entry into the world?

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