The minutes before becoming a father look different for everyone.
It might include racing to the change room to jump into a pair of scrubs and head to the operating room, holding a leg or a hand, sitting in the birth pool while rubbing your shoulders, perhaps even preparing to catch baby!
If your partner is doing any of the above listed, it’s impossible to also be capturing the moment – nor should these moments be experienced behind a viewfinder.
Partners can be feeling excited, anxious, or overwhelmed, and not just during delivery but while labour is happening too.
There’s also vulnerability – the person they love is going through something that they don’t have control over, and likely in a setting that is foreign to them along with unfamiliar language being used. Partners will be protective of who comes into the birth space during this time, and so they should be.
This is what one dad had to say about himself and his wife hiring me for the birth of their third son at Victoria General Hospital. I have no doubt that a lot of men will relate to this honest and real account of how men can experience birth!
“In the hospital I’m standing. Waiting. I’m tired, but I can never say I’m tired. At worst the most I can say is “I’m fine” and at best I can expect is I won’t even be asked how I am feeling, because laying in the hospital bed is a woman who is pushing a human being out of her body. This scene often feels like an emotional remix of Alien, Love Actually and the Exorcist; you have the person you care about the most in the world giving birth to the person who is going to change your life forever, again, causing a flood of mixed emotions ranging from awe, fear, panic, love, joy, happiness, and confusion all while she’s yelling, grunting, and bleeding.
Why would I NOT want this moment documented?
How could I have forgotten the camera! Thankfully, my wife had the foresight to hire a photographer. While she’s doing all the important things like breathing, living, pushing, I’m standing next to her like a lump of over-eager yet concerned appendage. The photographer, Erin, is barely noticeable even when standing on chairs to safely get a better angle, making each shot tasteful and accurate to what’s happening.
This is very different from making a gourmet meal and posting the pictures online. This isn’t a situation where you should be hiding behind a cameraphone. This is a situation where documenting your life with pictures keeps you from actually living it.
Looking at my son, seeing him for the first time unencumbered by some digital veil, knowing that the only thing I had to do was just be there, was calming. I can honestly still remember every single moment of the birth. I was fully present.
A week later Erin had shared the pictures: she’d got gorgeous shots, taken pictures that I would never have been able to take, and augmented my reality of what happened.
In the Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Sean Penn’s character Sean O’Connell is taking a picture of a snow leopard. “When are you going to take it?,” Mitty asks O’Connell. “Sometimes I don’t,” he replies. “If I like a moment, for me, personally, I don’t like to have the distraction of the camera. I just want to stay in it.” I had the added bonus of experiencing the moment, and having a picture to archive this, whether digital or physical, to point back to the very real experience we had is amazing. And it was all thanks to our birthing photographer Erin Topelko.”
- Judas (birth photography client, Dad)
Another new father had this to share about his experience having me photograph the birth of his daughter:
During the following birth of my daughter Avalon, I found having a birth photographer was able to give me insight into birth not once, but twice at the other end of the lens. I got to enjoy and spend time with my partner from labor to pushing, without the feeling that I had to take over the camera to capture the experience and miss out on the emotional event. Given the photos I received from this beautiful moment of birth… it captures the rawest feelings of labor. I would never take back the decision that we went with a photographer to capture this magic adventure.
- Eric (Birth photography client, Father of Avalon)
In less often cases, perhaps your partner/dad can’t be there. Victoria, BC is home to many wonderful military families, some of whom have had their families grow while a parent is deployed. For that new parent, a birth photographer being present can mean that they can still have memories of the day that their child came into the world that includes all the beautiful details and emotion.
Between processing what is happening physically, emotionally and being a support, there is a ton going on for partners! When you can lift the responsibility of photography off a long list, dads can be a part of their child’s birth that doesn’t involve the barrier of a camera. It allows partners to be fully present to support mom, connected emotionally to you and baby, and it includes them in the birth story. This is the birth of their child too, they should be able to enjoy it and be able to participate without restriction.
When I attend a birth we will have already had the chance to meet twice and thoroughly go over any birth plans and/or preferences for how you would like your birth story documented. With a bachelor degree in Child and Youth Care, attending many births as a support person, documenting births as a photographer and having given birth myself, I come with respect for your choices and birth space.
Being an experienced and professional photographer in the birth field also ensures that I can capture your story while working in a sensitive environment and utilize flattering angles, available lighting and the unique ability to anticipate labour and delivery as it unfolds (emotions, details & personal moments of connection) – capturing beautiful and intimate art – all while maintaining a ‘fly on the wall’ way of being.
Thinking about having a birth photographer for your next baby or have more questions? Let’s have tea and chat, just click the |Contact Me| button!