“There is only one sun. We can’t all claim to only have one way to use the light, but we can REDEFINE how we choose to express it. “
Why are you passionate about this topic?
I’m passionate about birth photography because I am passionate about birth and women. I grew up in Poland and birth was seen as a normal part of life, something you will one day experience in order to become a mom. I didn’t grow up with much fear about it. I’ve had two different birth experiences myself, one hospital and one home birth. Each was a journey in self discovery and a transition to becoming a mother. I want birth to be seen as something normal and also magnificent. I hope that through my photographs women can see themselves as capable, powerful, beautiful and loved.
When did you first learn this technique? Or, when did you first realize you liked this topic?
I photographed my first birth in 2009 for a mom whose previous baby passed away at 20 weeks. She was pregnant with her rainbow baby and knew this birth would be emotional. She wanted to document the experience and the joy she would feel holding her baby for the first time, knowing he is safe.
It was pretty intense, my son was one at the time, so I was somewhat familiar with birth but I don’t think anything really prepares you for someone else’s experience. I was very nervous and tried to stay out of the way, the light kept changing quickly, and there was so much emotion in the room it was almost palpable. I vividly remember the parents joy when their son was born, the room was so bright and full of life and hope.
On the way home, I felt like I was floating, it was absolutely surreal to be part of such an amazing experience. To document a family’s journey from tragedy to immeasurable bliss. I knew that I wanted to keep documenting these amazing stories for families as well as the incredible strength and innate wisdom that women possess.
What are the tips you would share with anyone trying to achieve this technique?
For anyone who in interested in birth photography, I would suggest that they try it out first. It is definitely a lifestyle so you have to be comfortable leaving with short notice and not being able to make plans or travel far away from home at certain times. You also have to be comfortable with the realities of birth, bodily fluids, loud sounds, high emotions. Eventually though you do get used to it. The first time everything is so new and then becomes completely normal.
Know your camera and light. Most births happen in the middle of the night and sometimes there is little time to prepare for changing or challenging light. At the beginning I was very nervous that I would miss certain moments but at this point I have learned what different situations call for and can even tell when a mom is in transition by the changes in temperature and energy of the room .
When at a birth I think it’s most important to stay out of the way and take on a fly on the wall mentality. I work very hard to know “my place” especially in hospital setting where there are more rules and regulations to follow and the idea of birth photography is still new. It’s definitely great to know when to put your camera down and become invisible for a while.
Know the good angles. This is so important with birth photography. It is completely documentary so there is no posing or moving people around and many times mom might not be in the most flattering position, so as a photographer you do what you have to to make mom look (and later feel) gorgeous.
Birth Photography is about storytelling. Because mom and dad are so immersed in the experience they want an outside perspective to document the story of their child’s birth, as it unfolds for them. No matter the story I feel it’s most important to document the interactions of the main characters (mom and dad – and later baby)
I feel like birth photography is equal parts photography and birth work. I absolutely love what I do and being present for a family who is welcoming a new member, witnessing a family’s love and a mother’s triumph as she births her baby is both humbling and absolutely exhilarating.
I am immensely thankful for all the families that invite me to tell the story of their new family.
About the photographer:
Maggie is a Chicago based birth and newborn photographer. She has been happily photographing births and tiny new humans for the past 6 years. She is inspired by authenticity, women, motherhood, struggle, surrender, strength and fascinated by the capabilities of our minds, life and our innate human ability to COEXIST. When not working she hangs out with her two fun and crazy boys (Gavin 5 and Nolan 7) and her indoor farmer fiancee Nick and keeps her mind squeaky clean and happy at Glenview Meditation. To learn more about Maggie and her photography or to book your own session,visit her website.