As a birth photographer, I'm invited into some of the most special moments a family we'll ever experience...on most days, I still can't believe I'm lucky enough to do what I do. My gratitude is even more immense when dear friends ask me to capture their birth stories. What an honor!
Jennifer Mason and I connected over birth photography almost 3 years ago. At the time, I was living in Colorado Springs, and she was in Denver. We started chatting, and then we started talking, and before long...we were the best of friends. Jennifer is an immensely talented birth photographer, and I'm lucky enough to have her photographing my second birth in August.
Jennifer fell into birth photography like many of us do: after the births of our first children. She wrote about her experience on her website:
I didn’t have a photographer for the birth of my daughter and I thought I was going to be okay with that. I brought my camera in my birthing bag and planned on taking some shots myself. And my husband and doula were asked to take some as well. But it turns out that no-one remembered the camera in the middle of labor. I managed to get a few shots myself, but they were all blurry and totally out of focus. While I thought I’d remember every moment of my child’s birth, I definitely do not. What I do remember is feeling so deeply connected to my husband as he helped me through every contraction, met my every need, and never left my side. I tear up just thinking about it but I have only 1 blurry photo from all of those hours of labor. Then things changed and I had to have a c-section, and I never saw my child being born. Having a photographer to capture those moments would have given me the only opportunity I had to see my child first emerge from my body. I didn’t see her covered in vernix, or her first cry. I only saw her after she was cleaned off and wrapped up, 10 minutes later. Those are memories that I never will get of her and I wish I had a professional photographer there to capture them for me. Fast Forward to 4 years later, I got pregnant with my second child and we planned a homebirth. We hired a homebirth photographer and doula, and an amazing midwife who works with many VBAC mamas. After 38 hours of labor, I had to transfer to Denver Health, and after about 12 more hours with pitocin, I was able to deliver my second daughter, vaginally! It was very triumphant for me, although, I was sad that we had to transfer and my dreams of a waterbirth were gone. But the moment she came out, my husband was able to catch her and she was placed on my chest, was the moment I learned what the best feeling in the world is: warm squishy baby on chest. I dream of that moment, it was so incredible. And I am so grateful that I can capture it for other families.
Jennifer's birth was beautiful...and as I was looking through her gallery this morning, I realized that it is probably one of my favorite births I've ever captured. Part of it rests in the fact that Jenn and I are so close...but objectively her story held so much beauty, so much strength, so much grace. And if you love the henna on her belly, you should explore some of the amazing work by our other dear friend - Amy Haderer, the Mandala Doula.
PS. Jennifer and I launched Birth Becomes Her last year - a site that seeks to offer tangible support to birth photographers and also share beautiful birth stories from around the world. The images below were edited using our birth photography presets.