At the beginning of each year, the International Association of Professional Birth Photographers (IAPB) hosts an image competition for their members. Talented photographers from around the world submit powerful images to be presented in an extraordinary gallery that highlights the beauty, vulnerability, strength, emotion, and miracle of childbirth. These images are released to the public (with our client’s permission, of course), and appear before a panel of judges. (You can read more in detail about the competition here). Over the past 8 years, I have had the honor of participating as both a competitor, and (after winning an award) as a judge.
One of my favorite parts of the yearly birth photography competition is how it bonds us together as birth photographers; it feels less like a competition and more like a collaborated effort to share the beauty, and miracle of birth. We spend several weeks sharing our images together, giving and receiving feedback, and helping each other to decide which photos to submit. One of my favorite parts is hearing stories about how different images encourage, and inspire other women to be confident that their bodies are created to give birth.
I believe that what we do is powerful, and even life-changing!
Viewing beautiful, empowering images of birth greatly influenced my own decision to have home (water) births. Birth photography also played a big part in directing me to become a doula! Over the years, multiple clients have told me things like, “Seeing your birth photography encouraged me to no longer be afraid to give birth!” and, “I never thought I would have a home/water birth until I saw your images, and I ended up having the best home birth experience I could have imagined.” The potential to impact another family’s birth experience for the better is a major part of why I do what I do.
I do want to acknowledge that not every birth turns out precisely as planned, and not every birth is a “picture perfect” experience. Birth is unpredictable, raw, and ultimately an act of surrender. And this is my favorite part of capturing birth stories: nothing is posed; what you see is what you get. And my goal as a birth photographer is to capture the story authentically, and to present my clients with beautiful memories that bring them joy, healing, and an enduring reminder that our bodies are fearfully and wonderfully made, and created with extraordinary purpose.
If you are a professional birth photographer, I encourage you to submit your images into the IAPBP competition. This is one of the few times that several major news outlets take an interest in our little world of birth photography. The IAPBP competition is typically shared on platforms like The Today Show, Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, and more. And the more that people see our work, the more that women around the world feel empowered to trust that their bodies are designed to give birth. I believe that as we share our work, we also encourage and hold caregivers to a high standard of care for women in childbirth. Birth photography is not just about us; I believe that our work has the potential to change women’s birth experiences all over the world.
If you are simply an admirer of birth photography, I hope you get a chance to check out our collaboration of beautiful birth galleries this year.
Thank you so much to each of you who have generously invited me to share in your birth journey. Thank you so much to each of my birth photographer colleagues who have inspired, and encouraged me to be where I am today. Thank you to my gracious family – especially my husband who spends endless hours watching our children while I attend births at unexpected times of day and night. And thank you, Liz Cook (owner of the IAPBP) for your devotion to sustaining our birth photography community, and for your contribution to improving birth for women all over the world.
For those interested, submissions to the competition are now open. The IAPBP galleries will be available for viewing toward the end of February. Winners of the competition will be announced on the IAPBP competition page early March 2022!
Below are a few images that I was honored to receive recognition for in previous IAPBP competitions: