For a 4 year old- the wait for a baby sibling must feel like FOREVER! Little Mia was very aware of every passing day while she waited for her mother to give birth. Her baby dolls were mothered into oblivion as she waited for the real thing to arrive. Sometimes patiently, sometimes less so. Mind you, her beautiful mum also had her moments on the patience front. You may remember them rock hopping and exploring in the final days of pregnancy here.
Well birth, as it always does, finally happened, and little Mia got her wish of a new baby sister named Ivy. As she very eloquently and gleefully exclaimed to her dad when she found out it was a girl, “Now there are THREE girls and ONE boy in this house.”
Yes, darling. Yes there are.
Here is a little glimpse into their early days of being a family of four. The constant feedings, the need for double the attention, double the pairs of hands, double the patience…. and the pay off… double the delight.
My love to families in this phase right now! I know a few of my mamas are in the midst of it as i write…
Right here, is everything i love about family adventure sessions.
I tagged along with this scrumptious family on one of their weekend picnics and found myself in a whole world of fun… hide and seek amongst the paperbarks, a barefoot family cricket match, an Oscar-worthy reenactment of The Three Billy Goats Gruff and a stroll to the beach as the sun was setting.
Most of the time, it was as if i wasn’t even there… which is exactly how i like it. That’s when we can capture the beauty of how a family is in their magical day to day…
Who’s up for an autumn adventure with me tagging along in my invisible cloak?
Drop me a line and let’s book it in…
Meet Dan, Mia, Nina, Hugo and Jasper the pooch.
These guys decided to show me around their favourite local park near their home for this Family Adventure session…it quickly became clear they know it inside out. Every tree, every garden bed, every hiding spot- this is their own special stomping ground.
We fought off the chilly, windy morning with hot coffee and games of hide and seek, and Nina the Chief Flower Picker systematically worked her way through every blossoming plant in sight. No blooms were safe- no matter how far out of her reach they were… i suspect they see her coming.
Meet Moosh and Maeve. Two little chicas who adore each other in bonkers quantities.
We had booked this session for a Saturday afternoon in late winter, and we thought we may have to push it out because of the rain. It had been drizzling for a couple of days and the morning was soggy and grey. But we held off, and as the sun passed over the sky, it seemed to collect up the clouds as it went. Come mid afternoon the gentle light was dancing through the streets- in that delicious way that it does when a few grey days have gone before. Somehow sweeter, more golden.
Wispy grass, afternoon light and an abundance of freckles… I dream of afternoons like this.
I would like to introduce to you Nadine, Jonathan, Rocco and Ines.
What do you need to know about this family?
I met Nadine 6 years ago when we were both doulaing in London. My first memory of her is that she had the sparkliest eyes, the reddest lips and the most wicked cackle I’d ever heard. I adored her immediately.
Jonathan, her husband, is an infuriating ace with a ping pong bat. More alarming than that is that he clearly learnt everything he knows on that front from his delightfully well spoken English mother, Rosemary. Andy and I challenged them to doubles, once. Just once.
Jonathan’s negronis are almost as good as his table tennis.
I was Nadine’s doula for the homebirth of Ines 18 months ago. Doulaing the doula- now there’s an honour. An easy honour. I turned up, took some photographs, watched on in awe and helped clean up afterward. Oh, and ate Rosemary’s freshly baked sponge cake at midnight. It was incredible. And well worth leaving a Stephen Merchant show at the Opera House for.
In preparation for his mum’s birth, 6 year old Rocco drew pictures of Nadine giving birth to put up around the birth pool. Written on them was, “You can do it mummy, I know you can” and, “You did it for me, you can do it again.” And you know what? He was right.
When she gave birth to Ines, Nadine managed to pass on the sparkliest eyes in the world. That kid is like kryptonite.
I love these guys to bits.They have one of the happiest households i have ever known.
As you will see from these photographs- we started this session at sunrise at North Bondi, Ines had a refreshingly unexpected dunk in the cool autumn waves (and recovered spectacularly well), we went home for a quick change and then headed into Surry Hills for brunch.
How did it feel being asked to capture their family at this very point in time? Well, hopefully you can see how that felt through these photographs.
Is there anything more scrumptious than a full mop of hair on a newborn baby?
Teeny tiny milk spots?
This delectable newbie got a bit greedy as she passed the Cuteness Collection Point, i feel.
Throughout her mum’s pregnancy, Ziggy was the working title for this little babe who’s gender was a surprise. Ziggy turned out to be a girl, and has been blessed with the name Annabelle. But she’s still Ziggy to everyone… so she gets to keep her moniker.
Ladies and Gentlemen… meet Annabelle Ziggy, with her support cast of a besotted mum and dad, and a DOTING grandma direct from Canada.
If you’ve spent any time sniffing around my blog, there are some gorgeous faces you will recognise here. I love having families come back time and time again for me to document different chapters of their lives.
This is the Isaacs.
I met Emma, Rowan, Milla and Honey a couple of years ago and have had the pleasure of photographing Emma’s Blessingway for her third pregnancy, and the subsequent birth of the beautiful Indie which you can see here.
Emma joined me a few weeks back when i was interviewed on Wake Up on TEN about Birth Photography, (that’s here) and then just last week i spent an afternoon with them, hanging out at home and rock hopping at Maroubra.
The chaos of the Isaacs household is infectious- these spirited, rambunctious girls sweep you up into their world of wild to a point where the reality outside magically vanishes…
This week I was asked to be a guest on the morning television program Wake Up on Ten to discuss the growing trend of birth photography. Thrilled, I agreed. I was asked to bring one of my clients with me so that together, we could give them both sides of the story- in front, and behind the camera.
There has been a lot of media flying around about birth photography over the past couple of weeks in reaction to a story from the UK’s Daily Mail which stated that 1 in 5 pregnant women would consider getting a birth photographer. As often happens with such an article- particularly with something new like this that challenges people’s comfort levels, there has been very strong feedback from the public both in favour, and vehemently against the concept.
In preparing for the show, I wasn’t sure what angle they were going to take with the interview. Would they be in support of this growing genre? Or would they ask the questions that seem to arise time and time again regarding ‘invasion of privacy’, ‘intrusion on the sacred space’, and the predictable ‘that’s the last bloody thing I’d want anywhere near me while I was going through THAT!’
As it turned out the interview was very positive, the gorgeous hosts were on board and the whole segment gave a beautiful spin on birth photography and showed it in all its glory.
But the preparation for this interview made me think. I needed to clarify my line in my own head about why I strongly believe birth photography is a good thing. What is it that draws women to hire me? And what is it that makes people react so negatively to the concept of this?
Here is the thing. There are aspects of birth photography that I know are not always ideal in the birthing space. After 8 years of working as a doula, one of the biggest lessons I have learned is that the less disturbed labour is, the more straightforward birth will be. And by disturbed I refer to, amongst other things- medical interventions, light, language, shifts in location (e.g. travelling to hospital), and being watched. [You can read Sarah Buckley’s insights on “Undisturbed Birth” here.] Inhibition is bound to stall labour. That is because birth takes part in the primal part of our brain- our primal selves and our self-conscious selves are not friends.
Being watched. Isn’t that exactly what photographing someone is doing? Yes.
Yes it is.
Here’s another thing. The other, equally as important thing I have learned about a labouring woman is that the thing she needs most, is support. She needs to feel safe with her caregivers and her support people. She needs to feel loved and protected and free to be whoever she needs to be to bring her baby into the world.
So… in terms of birth photography- how does this all piece together? How and when does a birth photographer not disturb the balance of a woman’s birthing space? I believe this is where it is ALL about the connection between the woman, and the photographer. Is the photographer a person she connects with, feels safe with, and trusts to be in her sacred space? Does the photographer have knowledge of birth physiology and the delicate dance of hormones that allow a woman to birth her baby? Does the birthing woman feel secure in the knowledge that the photographer is there to support her journey and capture her magnificence? And does the photographer have a heightened sensitivity of the woman’s needs- is she responsible for the energy she brings to that space at all times?
When all of these factors are aligned, the relationship can become one of deep support and respect, which can enrich, rather than disrupt, one of life’s most magical journeys.
Beyond the Birth
Why do women choose to have their births photographed? The most common reasons are to have a record of their baby’s first breath, to capture the moments when her and her partner become parents to this little being, the first moments they meet their new love. But when I deliver birth photographs to families- I get the feeling that the meaning of those photographs goes a whole lot deeper than that. A woman who laboured beautifully at home in water and birthed her baby right where she visualised she would will often look at the photographs in awe of what she achieved and say “MY body did that!”; a woman who hoped for a natural birth but made decisions different to what she had planned will often look at her photos and be reminded that she put in an enormous effort before the journey took a different path and realise that it wasn’t all for nothing; and a woman who has her baby by elective caesarean in theatre will be reminded that going into an operating theatre at any time- even when it is by choice- takes a lot of courage and is an overwhelmingly huge experience.
I believe it helps women OWN their births. And heal their births.
And further again I see that it gives women an insight into the incredible amount of love and support that was surrounding them through their birthing process. To be able to witness the look of concern, and utter awe in her older child’s face, when her own face was buried in the side of a birth pool- riding one of her countless contractions, to see her doulas red thumbs, pressed into the small of her back as rocks side to side on the birth ball, to see her partner keeping guard by her bed, not leaving her for a second while she sleeps after the exhausted decision was made to have an epidural. All of these perspectives that she otherwise, would not have seen.
And on a broader scale- when birth photographs are shown to the greater community- I believe that in a small way, we are clawing back the vision of birth that movies and media have mis-portrayed to us over the years. The image of a woman in theatre, dressed in a blue hospital gown, legs in stirrups, screaming at her partner and being rescued of her baby by a masked doctor. You know the ones. That is the image of birth that society is fed, time and time again. And sure, maybe that picture is sometimes a reality, but it doesn’t have to be.
Birth doesn’t have to be scary and bloody and screamy and dangerous.
Birth is beautiful. Birthing women are magnificent. Every single one of them. And the more we start to see of that, the sooner we will start to heal the wounded image that we as a society carry of birth, and will open ourselves to the deep magnificence it has to offer.
And that is why I photograph births.
(Clearly, a five-minute slot on a morning chat show was not the space unleash these thoughts to the world. But if you would like to watch the Wake Up on TEN segment entitled Capturing The First Breath, you can do so here)