My first birth and how it all started – Read on and I’ll fill you in!
One day five years ago, I discovered that I was going to be made redundant from a job that I’d been doing for a long time. That night, I also stumbled upon a blog post that changed everything!
The blog was about birth photography.
I have no idea to this day why anything birth-related popped into my field of vision that night, but it did and I’ve not looked back since. The blog contained real and raw images of birth. I’d never seen images like this before.
I was in absolute awe of the women and the images themselves.
I have a strong love for documentary photography and this was a genre I had not heard of before, and it really, really appealed to me.
Despite being a photographer from a very young age, the truth is, at that point, I hadn’t taken any photographs whatsoever for the last 13 years. (The reason is a bit of a long-winded story that I’ll share with you another time.) After reading the blog, I rolled over to my husband and I whispered,
“I’m going to be a birth photographer.”
I felt a deep calling and the urge to photograph a birth was a powerful one, and one that I couldn’t ignore.
The next morning, I hopped on Google to do a little research into what birth photography was. I also wanted to find out if it was a thing in the UK, and if so, how many people were offering to photograph births.
It turns out not many people in the UK, at that time, were photographing births.
Next, I had the task of finding someone who would be happy for me to photograph them giving birth. This proved to be extremely difficult.
I really underestimated just how hard finding somebody would be. People weren’t familiar with the concept and ran a mile when I confirmed…
“yes, I’m going to photograph the actual birth part too”
At the time, nobody knew me, I had no portfolio, I had no social media accounts, I had nothing.
I didn’t actually even own a camera.
Eventually, through word of mouth, a family friend introduced me to Ffion. She was due in June that year with her first babe, and was totally happy to be photographed, and I was thrilled.
I went ahead and spent an awful lot of money on a camera and a couple of lenses. We met and we made lots of arrangements beforehand with the hospital and the midwives so that I was able to actually attend her birth.
On the day…
I received a call from her mum, Audrey, to say things were really ramping up and that it was time for me to make my way.
On the car journey there, my heart felt like it was jumping out of my chest and the adrenaline was kicking in.
I remember opening the door and seeing Ffion on the bed, clutching the gas and air. She was being supported by her mum and her partner.
I gently let her know that I’d arrived, she smiled. I then introduced myself to her mum, her partner and the midwives. Then I got my camera out and I started taking photographs.
That’s where it all began.
It also happened to be the first time that I’d seen a baby being born too. I’ll never forget seeing a tiny tuft of hair appearing indicating that babe was close to being born.
I held my camera firmly and kept my position. I looked through my viewfinder and as babe began to crown, I faithfully recorded the moments.
I remember it so vividly.
Two more contractions and baby Zack entered the world.
He was full of vernix and was positively scrumptious. As he was handed to Ffion, that’s when I realized my vision had become a little blurry from the tears that had managed to escape. I remember locking eyes with Audrey. She too had tears streaming down her face.
I’ve never, ever forgotten that moment.
I congratulated Fionn and I told her how incredible she’d been because she was incredible. I continued to capture the events as they naturally unfolded.
When it felt like the right time to leave, I left.
I kissed them all goodbye, and I walked off the ward but didn’t make it very far. There was a bench that invited me to sit down a minute so I could gather myself.
I needed to sit for a moment and process what I had just witnessed and what I’d been part of.
The adrenaline was pumping through my body, it wasn’t like anything I’d experienced before. It’s actually really difficult to explain. Eventually, I made my way to the car and I remember telling myself:
“This is it, Jo. This is what you’re meant to do.”
Later, while editing Ffion’s birth story, I remember thinking how amazing it was going to be for her to have moments like these to look back on. Images that would have the power to transport her back to that day in a heartbeat.
They’d be able to evoke such profound emotion and help her to remember her birth story, five years later and beyond!
I knew that all I wanted to do was to help more women and birthing people acquire moments like this for themselves. If you want this too just click here!
And I guess the rest, is history.
Below are a few unseen images from Ffion’s birth that I’m sharing with you for the 1st time in 5 years. Sometimes it’s good to see how much you’ve grown as a photographer.
I’m forever grateful to Ffion for trusting me when it felt like nobody else did at the time. Many thanks, Ffion!
Finally, I’ll leave you with this…
“Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory” Dr Suess.
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