IAPBP is consciously and consistently looking for ways to diversify and expand our annual image competition and membership.
We honor birth, both the living and the ones birthed in loss. We honor all of the professions revolving around that arena; from doulas and midwives to mothers and fathers and siblings, to obstetrician gynecologists, and anesthesiologists and nurses and the professionals like you and me – photographers.
We knew we needed to expand horizontally by adding in another layer to our photography competition, but we wanted more.
We wanted depth.
Out of our desire for depth, a deep seeded yearning to ensure we were representing and recognizing all births was in fact, birthed. Babies born sleeping matter. Babies born 9 weeks gestationally, matter. Babies born 19 weeks gestationally, matter. Their births are significant and though incredibly challenging, often unplanned for, and tragic, they are milestone markers for many families and deserve the recognition of the deep impact these babies will forever have.
The Hardship and Loss Category came to fruition and was added to our competition.
Photographing births in general is an honor and privilege. To be invited and trusted within a space like this says a lot about not only your work, but also your character and integrity (both reflected within your work). Being invited into a space where death is birthed, or where babies take their first and final breaths, is completely different. These moments are a different kind of vulnerability; the gutteral noises leaving mothers aren’t made to help her in birthing her sweet baby alone. They’re also made in an attempt to heal the deep grief that rests within her lungs and takes the air she breathes.
As you can see within the photographs featured here in this blog, beauty can indeed come from ashes. These families have these beautiful pieces to look back on in memory and recognition of their children. For these families, the photographs of their beloved babes are the only items they have in which to both honor their children and heal from the trauma of birthing their children too soon. Because of these photographs, a child’s legacy lives on.
In order to capture these births and the loss they represent authentically; we must understand what we’re documenting.
Miscarriage is when a baby dies within her mother’s womb before 20 weeks of pregnancy. This happens within 10-15% of pregnancies. A stillbirth is the loss of a baby born before or after their due dates; typically, 20 weeks gestationally and beyond. Stillbirths affect 1 in 160 pregnancies. This is not an exhaustive list of the ways families lose their precious babies (there are chemical pregnancies and ectopic pregnancies; there is infant loss, childbirth loss and more) but it is simply a small list to start with. We wanted to make sure we recognized that.
Just as in a typical labor and delivery of a living child, second chances are non-existent for photographers wanting to capture the integrity and legacy found within the experience and lives caught within the web of pregnancy, stillbirth, and infant loss.
For tips on photographing loss, see our blog here.
IAPBP seeks to empower all birth photographers and birthing families in an attempt to capture life’s most beautiful moments. As a birth photographer, you can become a member of our community here.
Feature Image: Lauren + Douglas