Photo Credit: Lynsey Stone
Smile! You're about to push out a baby! While it may sound nutty to some, according to The New York Times, more and more couples are hiring professional photographers to capture every grunt and push of labor and delivery. To help meet the demand, there are about 400 photo pros who've joined The International Association of Professional Birth Photographers (IAPBP).
It does seem like a natural progression of our document-every-moment lifestyle. Births are no longer hush-hush affairs. How many millions watched Ricki Lake birth her baby in The Business of Being Born? How many of us have Facebooked updates like, "Ah! My water broke!" "OMG. Is that my mucus plug?" Plus, we photograph everything these days. (I cannot tell you how many times I've seen an Instagram of my friends' meals.) Why shouldn't we photograph the heck out of the awe-inspiring, life-changing day our child is born?
I would have loved to have my births documented in all their sweaty, frantic glory -- in a lovely photo journalism style, of course. According to the Times, most photographers show up when mom is about 6 centimeters dilated to capture the latter stages of labor. And for the record, most couples do not request the crowning photo. Instead, the pro stands close to mama's head and captures what she sees.
My second baby was born at home so I totally could have been able to have the event photographed with no fuss. (Some hospitals out-and-out ban photography while women give birth.) Instead, a split second after my sweet baby emerged, I yelled to my husband "Get the camera!" The result: A blurry photo of me -- sticky and crying -- sitting on the toilet with my brand new baby -- slime and all -- in my arms. I know a lot of people do what I did: Simply hand the non-birthing spouse the camera and hope for the best. But I think it's pretty close to impossible to support your partner, experience the moment and document a birth all at the same time. My husband did a pretty knock-out job with the first two -- not so much the latter. (Though I do cherish that on-the-potty photo.)
If I could roll back time, I'd for-sure get a pro to document that amazing day. (It is pretty pricey, though; Lynsey Stone -- who took the amazing birth photo above -- charges $700 for first-time clients.) Apparently, most of the clients are kind of like me. Lyndsay Stradtner, founder of the IAPBP, told Yahoo! Shine that most parents-to-be hire a photographer because, "they already have one child and 'they don't want to forget again.'" I mean, I dare you -- dare you -- to look at the beautiful photographs from the IAPBP web site and not smile and cry and fantasize about doing it all over again.