I am lucky enough that most weekends I am asked to capture moments in peoples lives that they want to treasure for years to come. For the record, this is where I am most comfortable. Capturing the emotion all the tears, smiles and cheers is almost second nature. Despite this, just over a year ago, the thought of Birth Photography or calling myself a birth photographer during the most emotional evening of my own life was the last thing on my mind. Let me explain.
Last January my daughter, Martha, was born. It was a cold and crisp January day and the usual “here she comes!” jitters were in the air. Nothing out of the ordinary for any expectant parents. The delivery progressed and, before I knew it, I was a passenger standing in the corner of the room – doctors checking Helen, midwives taking her temperature, people I didn’t know were fussing over her and my unborn child. It was all very exciting and equally terrifying at the same time. At that moment, I didn’t care about anything other than the health of Helen and Martha. My heart was in my mouth and although I kept it together (**just**), I can promise you the last thing I wanted to do was take photos.
It would be more important to hold Helen’s hand over changing the ISO and aperture of a camera and checking where the light looks good. There’s a time and place and I promise you, in the delivery room after 24 hours of labour isn’t either the time nor the place.
As a photographer, I truly believe that moments like this should be remembered and cherished – it’s why I drive up and down the country every weekend to shoot weddings for my couples; I get so much energy and such a buzz from creating images from such emotionally-charged moments.
The Birth Experience – Birth Photography
Being a proud husband and father, I’d talk about delivery photography for pregnant, pre-delivery mothers-to-be and their partners to whoever would listen and in March I was lucky enough to shoot a birth in London. The memories came back almost immediately: the smell of the hospital corridors, the technical vocabulary the midwives would use, the all-important focus on the spaces between contractions. It felt just like it had a year earlier but this time I was able to pick up a camera – I was able to look at the experience as a photographer, just as I would at a wedding or family celebration.
My biggest concern was making sure I remained unobtrusive – I wanted the events to unfold without me being seen or heard or causing any fuss. The dad-to-be informed me of the time and the ward, and I managed to slip in unnoticed. I took my positioning in a corner by a wide window overlooking East London’s parks, lurching towers and the financial district, and watched the events unfold. My mindset was to document and capture – and that’s what I spent ten hours doing. I’d shoot over the occasional smile and thumbs up to the excited dad (I eventually learnt that mum was almost completely unaware of my presence) – watching everything unfurl was still so spectacular, just as it had been 14 months prior.
But what about the ‘messy part’? It’s no secret that very often everything is on show when giving birth, but honestly, I was so preoccupied with documenting the delivery and doing justice on the photographs that none of the things you’d expect to be on show were seen by my camera. We’d spoken about this number of times – on the phone, Skype and via text and we were all confident that this was something we could do tastefully and without any problems.
Some of the photos will explain this – I wanted to creatively capture the day, producing something that mum and dad would be proud to send to their friends and family just as I had been.
Birth Photography – A Family Experience To Be Remembered
I’m so proud of the resulting photos. It was so moving watching everything happen again and I was so honoured to watch two people become first-time parents. I can’t wait to watch baby Zara grow and go on a personal journey with this young family. It’s something so special and sacred and it gives me the greatest of pleasures being able to document everything so that the family, their friends and relatives can relive these precious moments over and over again.
Birth photography is a growing movement in the UK as more and more people are starting to understand that the journey to parenthood is one of the most sacred, powerful and life-changing events a couple will experience. There’s so much beauty and realness in the photos and it’s something a family will never regret. I want to get to know you, your story, and reflect the beauty of bringing a new life into the world.
I would LOVE to capture more stories like this, if this is something you are slightly interested please get in touch.
Thanks for watching, Ash
Click here to view the full gallery.