The Healing Power of Birth Photography
The healing power of birth photography
Written by Los Angeles Birth Photographer – Diana Hinek
When I had my first baby, ten years ago, it seemed there was very little I could do to celebrate her birth besides loving her. I was slowing weaning off the visual effects industry; after spending almost ten years among artists who were ( and still are) mostly nerds and most of all men.
The fact that I also grew up in Italy didnʼt really facilitate my chances of creating a tribe of women around me in preparation for my birth. I didnʼt know many other moms and Facebook groups and get together were only starting.
Those first days post-partum felt lonely, segregated, confusing yet I thought them normal because I didnʼt know any better. When my first son was born three years later, I discovered the world of midwifery practice.
I fell in love with each and one of the midwives who supported me during my HBAC ( home birth after cesarean) and slowly realized that there was a whole world of like-minded mothers who wanted the power, recognition, and support of their natural birth choices.
I felt deep into that world and trained to become a doula and decided to use my visual art background to document birth stories; to tell the joy of other families welcoming their babies.
My biggest life lesson came when my third baby was born. Thinking another home birth would be just a walk in the park, I was crushed when I ended up in the OR and under the hands of the most despicable OB in Los Angeles.
My physical recovery from my cesarean birth was smooth and uneventful, my emotional one not so much.
All of a sudden I realized I did not belong anywhere anymore. Not a VBAC mama, not a hospital mama, not a home birth mama. Who was I? There were no celebrations, no social acknowledgments of the reality that often ( a lot actually) birth does not go as expected.
It took me months of internal work to feel hopeful again and to be able to look at my son without feeling I had somehow screwed him for life with the ‘wrong startʼ.
But as he grew more beautiful every day, he proved to be the healthiest, happiest and funniest among my three children. So who was I to believe? The stats and detrimental articles about cesarean birth or the reality of seeing my baby growing spectacularly well?
During those months, I still attended births once I had the tools to shield myself from potential triggers and leave my own experience outside other mothers birth space.
All equality shared, celebrated, revered. I realized photographers could see the real beauty of birth despite its shape and form. All it matters is the light, the space, the emotions and feelings of the moment. Birth photography is not even about the vagina shot!!
Itʼs about telling a story, capturing as best as possible, taking in consideration the physics but also the soul opening experience that is happing right in front of the camera and trying to match it with visual storytelling.
Birth photography is about creating a chance for a family to remember forever that moment, to pass it on and preserve it endlessly, when in fact, the moment of birth is so fleeting and hard to remember just for the simple mechanism of hormone changes.
It is also an opportunity to heal; whether mom had different expectations for her journey or the birth shaped differently, sometimes tragically.
Photographing that moment makes it available, confirms its existence and therefore makes it real and tangible. It offers the freedom to extend ourselves through a lifetime and beyond, it creates and narrates the culture of birth, with its imperfections, learning curve but also its magnificence in the simple recognition of the miracle of life.
This article was written by – Diana Hinek