you know that rush of energy + giddiness you feel when you have a great idea or set an exciting goal / when you make a big decision, and when you start planning a new chapter in your life? I felt that in a major way when I was re-addressing my small business goals after giving birth to Madelynn (at a birth center, in the water) and realized I HAD to start photographing other women's birth stories, it was what I was being called to do. that spark set my heart on fire while documenting my first birth story, and I have fallen deeper and deeper in-love with this genre of photography with every birth since.
I love the quiet, the peace surrounding a woman in labor. I love the strength + the beauty magnified in her as she feels more alive than she ever has, more powerful + more determined. I love the tenderness of those around her, the encouragement they offer her, the admiration they feel for her. I love the details that make every birth story completely unique -- the people, the room, the light, the music, the pace, the mood, the tools of comfort + methods of laboring -- they're always different, always tailored to that mama, to that baby, to that birth. and I get to witness all of this. I get to witness every touch, every sound, every movement, every prayer. I get to capture these moments + emotions that take place on this incredible day. the birthday of her child. the day she accomplishes something spectacular, something worthy of praise! I'm there for the slow, and the calm; I'm there as the intensity in the room builds, and there during the climax. for the hard work + the relief, for baby's first breath + first sight of it's mama. I get to experience a couple meeting their newborn for the first time, after waiting + praying + anticipating for so long. I freeze the tears, the joy, and the wonder. all the brand-new / teeny-tiny features that begin to change as soon as they hit air. I save this day for them, forever. that is my responsibility, that is my role at the birth. I get to do that and call it a job. it's a love, a passion, and a calling for me, and I am in awe every single time. I breathe heavy with the laboring mama, I wince at her pain + beam with her pride. I cry before the baby cries. I am fully there + fully enveloped, and can't believe that's my real life.
all that being said, I have struggled with where to go from here. I felt called to begin pursing birth photography and was overwhelmed with the support and with the immediate interest in my services. I booked as many births as I wanted to last year, and I learned how to live on-call and how to balance my time as a mother, a wife + a birth professional. I poured so much of myself into this pursuit, not really knowing where it would take me or where it would leave my business. I have recently partnered with another birth photographer to form Denton Birth Photography (we'd love for you to "like" us) and will now be able to better serve all those in my life that I owe my time + devotion to, while doing even more of what I love. what I have had a hard time figuring out is what to do about the "other" photography services I've always offered. the engagements + bridal portraits + weddings, the family sessions, the "before + after" birth (maternity + newborn) sessions. do I have time to do it all? do I even want to? do I love birth photography enough that I'm willing to give-up and pass on all other jobs? I've thought + prayed hard about this, and I've bounced ideas off of my husband and several good friends and I feel like I have come to a realization about what I love to photograph and why.
photographing a birth is, obviously, unlike photographing anything else. there's high emotion + sometimes face-paced action, and a need to go-with-the-flow, all similar to shooting a wedding. but nothing is planned. there is no timeline, no "must-have" photo list. no crowds of people or poses or expectations of anything specific, anything other than beautiful images of the event. it's just life, happening. and me taking pictures of it. I figured out which aspects of a wedding I adore, and which ones I do my best at, but can't say I'm as comfortable with. I realized that, apart from witnessing the miracle of childbirth, what I love about the actual photography aspect of birth, is that I am just documenting a story as it plays out before me. I have the freedom to watch, and to move, but no pressure to plan or to perfect. what I love most about capturing a couple's wedding day is the moments you didn't talk about in a consultation, the ones you can't count-on or re-do or fake. essentially, I am not a poser. my strength is not setting-up a shot, but capturing one that happened without my input. one taken from my perspective, outside of the action. this is the photography that drives me, that makes me creative and brings me joy. so this is the photography I will offer from now on. life, as it's happening. I bring to you my "real-life" sessions.
what does that mean? will I still be available to photograph your wedding, your family, your senior photos? yes, kind of. I will still shoot a wedding as a professional wedding photographer should, but possibly in a different way than the "typical" one would. I will focus on the day as a story, on every single detail that you put so much time + heart into. close-ups of happy tears, and the way the groom touches his bride without even thinking about it, without knowing it will be captured. I will still do bride + groom portraits, of course. those photos are important and they're usually the ones that will get blown-up and hung. but, aren't the most meaningful photos the one that land in albums instead of above your fireplace? aren't those the one's that will be passed down to your children, and their children, and flipped-through fondly by family members that lived too late to meet you? those are the ones I am passionate about delivering to you. not the one's that cause people to talk about your hair/make-up or stunning dress. not the one's that show the way you touched each other that day after I told you how to stand and where to look. the ones of the way you kissed in those few moments alone before entering the reception, and of him squeezing your hand to reassure you that you'd survive your maid-of-honor's toast. the one's of your daddy crying and hugging you tight the first time he sees you in that white dress, and then one last time before giving you to your groom. that's a really long-winded (go figure) way of saying I will still be shooting weddings and I will be pouring 100% of myself into documenting your day, but with a new vision + a newfound passion.
my "real-life" sessions will be documenting just that -- life, happening. if you want family photos, I will come to your home and capture moments + details of a "day in the life" of your family, whatever that looks like. your hectic morning routine, snagging as many kisses from your kiddos as possible while getting them dressed, packing their lunches, serving their favorite breakfast + loading them onto the school bus. a lazy Sunday at home while you read books, play outside and gently guide your littles into learning about the world around them. a day at the zoo, introducing new animals to your wide-eyed toddler and spilling ice cream on the sidewalk. an extended family gathering, potluck dinner + wine-induced dance party. I want to give you images that look like your family because they are of your family, doing what your family does. IF I'm able to get a perfectly-posed, everyone's-eyes-open-and-looking-straight-at-my-camera, everyone smiling (even your newborn, who just had gas, but I'm that good + caught it) (even your toddler who was bribed with ice cream to do so) (even your husband who loathes having his photo taken, but dressed-up in a matching polo + put on his game face because he's a generous man) (even your teen who only stopped rolling their eyes for the exact instant that the stars aligned and everyone else was also experiencing their single second of cooperation during the who ordeal) shot, will that photo look nice? sure. will you be happy with it? considering it was a once-in-a-lifetime moment of pure magical timing, I hope so! but, will it give you a window into what that season of life really looked like for you? probably not. you'd miss the way your toddler smiles when he is experiencing real joy, like while actually eating that ice cream you promised him. you'd miss the adorable way your newborn used to stick their tongue out and go cross-eyed. you'd miss the kiss on your husband's cheek thanking him for being such a good sport. I've always made it a point to capture those moments as well, but when I feel extreme pressure to walk away with that "perfect" shot that you all dressed-up and piled everyone in the car to drive to an empty field for, I get caught-up in the things that don't actually matter for an incredible image and might miss the stunning moments of your family interacting in a real, genuine way. I lose creativity and vision. I stress myself out and don't love what I do. none of that makes for a rewarding business or a happy client. they may think that the whole thing was worth it for that one second that I nailed-it, that one photo that they'll enlarge and get printed on cards and use as their Facebook cover photo. however, I believe that somewhere down the road they'll look at all the other digital images I delivered to them that they never did anything with, and cherish those even more.
I won't be stopping at birth, wedding + families, either. I want to photograph whatever you do; a hobby, your job that you love, an important event, a "day in your life." I just want to be and document without much doing, without interfering. I want to give you images that represent your real life, that truly capture who you are and what you love. this will give me the opportunity to refine my style, stretch my creativity, and be able to completely honestly say I am providing you with my best work and giving your shoot my 100+%!
sorry, I know that got long, thanks for sticking with me! what do y'all think? does that sound like something you'd be interested in? after briefly mentioning my idea to do "real life" sessions on my Instagram, I received feedback from a few people saying they've offered this type of shoot to clients or did something like this with their family photographer. I knew it wouldn't be a novel idea, but hadn't really seen it done or advertised before, and thought it may not be something people immediately think to ask for when looking into getting family photos taken! so, if you like this idea please comment/share/show your support!