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Birth photographers in delivery rooms: The new photography frontier?

Carolyn Morris
Shine On
June 19, 2012

In our era of personal paparazzi, where an event doesn't become complete without the photos posted on Facebook, a new type of photography is breaking ground. Couples are hiring professional photographers to document the birth of their children.

A recent New York Times article delves into the new trend in the United States. But it's not just happening there. The International Association of Professional Birth Photographers' website includes a list of 16 Canadian photographers who will document your birth.

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"When I talk to grandmas about it, or even my parents' generation, they're a little shocked," Chilliwack-based photographer Roxanna Froese tells the Chilliwack Times last year of her move into birth photography. "It seems inappropriate to them, and they don't  understand how that could be something you would want to show people."

But many new mothers do want to share these moments, it seems. And to revisit them.

"I want to see that moment when I'm in labor," one expectant mother tells the New York Times. "That moment when both my husband and I look to see what the sex is? That's something that I want to see happen."

As it turns out, that mother had a Caesarean section, and her photographer could not follow her into the operating room. But they got before and after shots.

Vancouver Island-based birth photographer Kim warns about this eventuality on her website.

"It is unlikely that I will be able to go into the operating room," she writes, "but I will give your support person a camera to use if they wish and will process those images along with everything else."

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In fact, some Canadian and American hospitals will not allow the photographer into the delivery room, but sometimes policy and practice are separate things.

The director of gynecology at a Manhattan hospital tells the New York Times that he has seen women come "with their quote-unquote friend that happens to have two Nikons with high-quality lenses on them."

While the phenomenon isn't as large in Canada as it is across the border — the list of birth photographers includes over 350 American ones — Froese believes it will grow here too.

"Birth photography is going to take off," she says, "with the moms that see birth more as a natural, beautiful thing that should be enjoyed and honoured, more than hidden and not talked about."

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