birth photography :: why bother?

When I tell someone I've just met that I am, among other things, a birth photographer, I am met with a wide assortment of incredulous facial expressions, from thinly veiled repulsion to shocked intrigue. Often, it's misunderstood that I arrive at the birth place right AFTER the birth to take the very freshest newborn photos. "No," I must clarify, "I'm actually present whilst the baby is being born!" To this, my new conversational partner replies with a change of subject or honestly exclaims, "Does anybody WANT that?!"


Birth IS a very private affair, and one that needs to be protected and preserved, unhindered and undisturbed. Therefore, it can seem a little counter-intuitive to consider inviting someone and her camera(s) into that space to make photographs. I get it. In fact, I've even wrestled with that, wondering if I ought to stop offering the service, for I very much have no desire at all to be a part of making a laboring woman feel watched, pressured, or disturbed. 

But I keep coming back to it, in large part because women keep inviting me to do it, and it's a joyful thing to say yes to. Also, I've come to see that the manner in which it is done is everything. There is a way to carry a camera into a birth space with reverent respect, holy hush, and minimized distraction, leaving birth undisturbed and a woman feeling safe to enter into her primal brain to do the work she must do... and still walk away with a collection of beautiful images. I think I've figured out how to do that, and that feels really good. 


So for YOU, dear mama, why the heck would you even want a selection of photographs showing you laboring, pushing, and receiving a gooey wet newborn into your waiting arms? Won't you look unattractive and strained in those moments? Won't you feel exposed and immodest? And besides, who in the world would you ever even show the photos to? What will you even do with them (cos they surely aren't getting framed and hung over the fireplace)?

  • Because someday you may need/want to pick through those photos, drinking in every nuance and detail as you struggled to recreate the memory in your mind of the day you welcomed your baby. 
  • Because looking at them, you will see yourself in a new light: you'll see the things that rose up in you that day that you never knew where there before. Like the courage, the perseverance, the doubled love, the raw strength in your body. All that, and more. 
  • Because you will be able to see in them how well you were loved. While you were diving deep into yourself, or soaring into unseen realms to do the work of birth, you might not have noticed the people who surrounded you, offering you sips of water, a gentle touch, a reassuring word, or the simply the constancy of their supportive presence. But now that you're back, you can see that love in the photographs. 
  • Because the way your baby looked when he/she came out of your womb and up to your arms will change SO FAST. The misshapen head, the changing skin tones as he/she transitioned to life outside your womb, the balled up fists, and the birthday frosting... it'll be gone in DAYS, and you might not have been able to properly drink it all up with your senses before it vanished. The photos can offer it back to you. 
  • Because whenever you begin to doubt if you're capable of doing hard things, you can see how you did the hardest thing that one time... and came out victorious. You can do hard things. 
  • Because someday your child will ask you about the day they were born, and you will be able to use your words -- and the photographs -- to give them the most vivid, true adventure story in which they were the hero or heroine. They'll look at those photos and see how special they've been to you right from the beginning. They'll ask to look at them over and over again, and every year on their birthday. 
  • Because there is an entire generation of younger women who aren't mothers yet and who probably won't get to witness a birth until it they are the ones giving birth. They're hungry to get a glimpse and a taste of what lies ahead, and your courage in sharing your story and your photos can help normalize and positively reframe the experience of birth for them. It's a great gift you can offer, to whatever extent you feel comfortable or called.

If you've been on the fence about it, delay no longer, sister. 

My birth photography services are available as part of the Sister Birth Services package, or as a stand-alone

birth :: pema elyse hope

Crystal is an integrative women's health specialist, combining yoga therapy, physical therapy, and wellness coaching into beautifully customized one-on-one services for women. I had a couple sessions with her prior to my own last birth, and it was amazingly helpful. I highly recommend her! 

Crystal personally practices everything she teaches others, which is probably why when her doula, Brenda, who knows her well and was pretty confident that heading to the hospital (45 minutes away) where she planned to give birth was the right next move, still had a little trouble guessing how far into her labor she actually was; Crystal is a remarkably quiet and serene laboring mama! So when they arrived at maternity admitting and Crystal was already 10 cm, I had to BOOK IT out the door to meet them in their room, where sweet baby Pema was born gently, quietly, mindfully and almost en caul just MINUTES later! The holy hush that surrounded even those quickly-moving events was otherworldly. Pema was just as quiet as her mama, soaking up her surroundings with wide eyes and a quicky cry for a moment, but then quickly settling into a light sleep on her mama's chest. 

I'm so grateful to have been invited by Crystal and Steve to attend this second birth (you can see Pema's big sister's birth here). You inspire and amaze, Crystal! May your transition into life with two little girls be sweet and rich.

I'm now offering holistic and sisterly birth attendant services in conjunction with birth photography. Head over to to learn more!

life with a newborn :: ethan frost

I have a theory that third babies are magical. It seems like they are almost always easy-going and good sleepers. This is not based in scientific research, just casual observation. But dear little Ethan Frost is confirming my theory, that's for sure. 

It's been such joy to photograph this family across the years, since their eldest was just a baby! After this session, Jason and Andrea were reflecting on what it's been like to have the same photographer document them at several different key points in their life as a family. It was really rewarding to hear them talk about how special it is to look back at their collection of little books (cos all my sessions come with a little photo book!), seeing the similarity in style that comes from having the same photographer over and over again, but being able to see all the subtle changes in their children across the years. Family heirlooms, for sure! 

This time, in addition to a new baby, this family also has a new home and their eldest just started her first year of school. Through it all, their gentle affection and intentionality with one another shines through. Years of small faithfulnesses yield a rich life and healthy, vibrant kiddos. 

birth :: aila jane

Sometimes birth is just so simple, so undisturbed; it works just the way one would hope and expect without any help at all. There's such joy and light-heartedness in those births for me -- and for everyone who is a part of it, surely. Aila's birth was one of those! 

Her mama Andrea expected a longer labor, but it moved quickly. Her midwives and I weren't with her for very long, therefore, before she gave birth efficiently and smoothly while kneeling on the floor of the bedroom, daddy and big brother nearby. The photos of their reactions to her birth and the declaration of "it's a girl!" are some of my favorite to date. 

Enjoy this glimpse into the birth of sweet Aila Jane, the newest ginger in this red-headed family. :)

I'm so happy for these four!

If you are expecting a baby this year and you've ever had even an inkling of wondering about what it might be like to have it photographed, I want to encourage you to pause and really ask yourself whether these moments of hard work, transformation, the moments you meet your baby face-to-face are ones worth investing in capturing. If you have any concerns about the presence of a stranger with a camera (aka a birth photographer!) being disturbing or distracting, let's talk through that concern together. Let yourself truly consider this as an option. I'm so confident you won't regret it, sister. Reach out.