I always knew that I was born at home and that there was documentation of the event, but I was in my mid-20s before I felt ready to watch the video – soundless, grainy and dark – and I wished that I had watched it sooner. Getting to see myself in those earliest moments of my own life was so incredibly surreal and marvelous. Only recently did my mother bring over the still photos of that day (which I didn’t even know existed) and the profound opportunity of being able to stare at that slick and stunned being, my brand new self, connects me to my own history in a way that only photographs can do.
I have seen the early post-birth photos of myself many times. I used to pore over the family photo albums and I see now how the osmosis of memory works, how those images seeped in to me, building my sense of self and place in the family and the world. A tiny version of myself, both like and unlike me, looks back at me from my own story.
Seeing the way that my parents are staring at me — the intensity of wonder and the deep awe of new acquaintance, the peaceful joy — is a moment I love to capture for other families.
When soon-to-be-new-parents ask me about why they need birth photography, I can only tell the story of our stories, how a newborn baby almost immediately loses their chubby squint. How birth is both an exit and an entrance of no other sort and nature has done a phenomenal job of making sure that we continue the species by letting us forget the primal dream of labor after it’s done, and so only photographs will remain to remind you of how hard you worked to birth that baby, how delicate the first breath is.
Choosing a photographer to be there for your labor and your child’s birth is for all of you – past, present, and future selves. Let your story start from the beginning.