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.
I love the Iron & Wine lyric: “Mother, remember the blink of an eye/when I breathed through your body” – it’s so evocative of the fantastic mammalian moment we call maternity and the importance of photos to store what our memories might not.
My 3 year old asked me recently, “How is there room for the baby in a belly if the mother eats a lot of food?” and I tried to remind her that we just say a baby is in its mama’s belly, but it actually is in the uterus, below the stomach, a completely different pocket of home. I suppose we like the alliterative ring of Baby and Belly, but it is certainly a possibly confusing idea for the literal-minded.
It’s worth celebrating the blink when there are two heartbeats in one body.
I have often said that clichés are only clichés until they happen to you – and then they are the deepest human truth. So it is with that one about the days being long and the years being short and how time passes so quickly and babies grow up so fast. I love photographing that journey because I know how easily we forget the long days.
From before birth to the first birthday, each sweet quarter captured:
I think of that first year like a stream of bubbles – fleeting and luminescent with some kind of magic that draws everyone in wonder:
My own child and her cousins, in the year before her existence and each year since: time, inexorably unspooling.
And the incomplete story of journeys these tiny ones are still on:
Engagement photography on Martha’s Vineyard is one of my favorite occasions – the joy and love and excitement of a new journey is infectious.
I also like the moment of reveal, when my secret presence is disclosed and I can help the happy couple celebrate.
Some occasions take a lot of advance planning (many secret emails, reconnaissance, and satellite photos with instructions about exactly which direction to face) and some just require a moment together at a meaningful spot.
If you’ve been planning to propose to your love and want a photographic record of the moment, get in touch!
I always wanted to be a mom. Even and especially through 4 long years of hope/despair in my attempts to be one. I didn’t always know I wanted to be a photographer, though, and combining my photography and the final moments of other people’s journey to parenthood is something I’ve been increasingly compelled to do. Labor and birth are such dream-states, so profound and monumental – these birth photos are testament to the love and the work that can change the world. I am thrilled and honored to have been present when these kiddos made their entrance and to capture these moments when life was forever-after different for everyone involved.
One birth by cesarean. One birth by cervix. Two awe-inspiring experiences of strength and wonder and the primal power where we all once began.