Sep 30, 2011

Timeless: My Love Language of Birth Photography

by Jessica Strom
I was 16 years old standing outside the delivery room when I heard my oldest niece's first cry. I remember thinking it was the most beautiful sound I had ever heard.  All I wanted to do was hold her close and I was 'just' her new Auntie.  Fast forward 10 years and I am with my mom looking through a window watching my youngest nephew come into the world, not sure if the baby was a boy or girl, but hearing that little cry so loud through the window.  The memory still gives me goose bumps.

I don't remember whose birth photography I saw first but I do remember when I saw it, I was so taken by the love language those photographs were able to speak, and how incredible I thought it would be to have the honor myself, of interpreting a live birth through the lens of my camera. 

I had tried many different areas of photography to see what made my heart leap, but nothing did quite so much as the passion of photographing the grand entrances, of new little beings into the world. Perhaps the drive was fueled by the desire to be a mother myself, something in which my husband and I have been striving for, for many years.  Ultimately, it was driven by the song of my heart to forever document the beginning of not only a new baby's life, but the creation of a new mother, a new father, a new family. Pure innocense, completely fresh, starts the hope of limitless possibilities for the future. The intensity of these emotions, and these new realties are only describable through seeing the outward expressions, that completely over-take those experiencing them.

Giving that birth is such an intimate time, tasteful professional photographs are not only essential in being able to share the experience with others, but also for the family to be able to look back on, and truly cherish the sacred start of their childs life. Besides, how cool will it be for that child, 20-30 years down the road, to be able to compare what they looked like the moment they were born, to the moment their own child is born?  How amazing will it be, a few generations down the line, to have photographs of their great-grandparents and great-great grandparents? These photographs truley stand the test of the time, and as a photographer,  I know that they will be cherished by future generations long after I leave this world, and there is no greater satisfaction to my work than knowing that.

All of the births I have had the honor to photograph, have all been so very different and exciting. As a photographer, the uncertainty and the unknowns in ever changing situations is such a high. There are no dress rehearsals and no second chances. You have to be ready and prepared at all times. You can't pre-plan any particular shots, you truly need to take whatever comes at you, and think fast.

Many births are photographed in dimly lit situations and you have to know your camera so well that when you think of what you want to do, your fingers just know what to do on the camera without stopping to translate in split seconds.This is when your camera is truly an extension of yourself. And of course, it's crucial to have a back up camera in case of a camera malfunction.

The best part to me is showing the parents the birth photographs and experiencing the whole event with them again. while seeing the little details they didn't realize happened, as if looking at themselves through a window. These emotions are so intense that they don't last. Over time they become grey, foggy, almost dream like in that they remember bits and pieces but can't quite put it all together. When I first started on my photography journey, I created a phrase that unknowingly, suits birth photography and all its majestic beauty so perfectly.

"A photograph speaks a language only your heart can ever truly understand."
Birth photography helps parents always remember that 'come what may' in life, they felt more than just happy the day their child was born into this world. That, my friends, is what makes my heart leap with joy.
~Jessica Strom

Jessica Strom is a maternity, birth, and newborn photographer based out of the greater Kansas City Metro

No comments: