Birth photography: Capturing the journey of childbirth through the lens
Once considered a behind-closed-doors affair, the powerful and emotional journey of birth is now being shot by professionals. Birth photography has come of age.Updated: Jul 30, 2017 12:10 IST
The days of dads-to-be being confined to the waiting rooms may have been long gone, but partners with an iPhone don’t necessarily click the best shots with those shaky hands. Here’s when a birth photographer comes into the picture, leaving new parents free to live the moment.
Usually seen as just taking pictures of the emerging baby, birth photography has more to it. It is about capturing the raw and real emotions of the event and un-Photoshopped moment as it unfolds — be it a mother’s strained, gasping face or her bulging neck veins. Blurring the lines between public and private domains, this latest trend is turning a traditionally hush-hush event into something to be captured on camera and shared with a wider audience.
“Birth photography is a concept that revolves around capturing the miracle of childbirth in its most gracious form,” professional photographer Urshita Saini, founder of InfLens, says. “People talk about birth being a miracle; all I do is describe it in the form of pictures. Be it the bond that a husband and a wife share during labour, the first time the baby steps into the world, its first expressions, its crying, its laughter, mother and baby’s first look at each other, the father’s expressions when he sees the baby for the first time, the family’s bond after coming of the new member, I capture it all,” she added.
Already a trend in the West, birth photography is gradually gaining popularity in India with parents choosing to show the beauty in birth instead of waiting to photograph a perfectly posed newborn at a studio.
“At times it does happen that people opt out after being interested mainly because they do not see this as a common activity online. I call this the ‘fear of the unknown.’ But we are trying to connect with more people and make them aware, through multiple channels and we have been getting a great response,” she says.
In a country like India, where there are a lot of superstitions around photographing a newborn and a pregnant woman, how far can a concept like this reach? “There are superstitions such as not showing the baby to anyone outside the family for 40 days, not clicking pictures for the first three months... but this is restricted to certain people,” says Saini.
Saini has so far carried out more than 30 birth shoots. Captured mostly in portrait mode, this genre of photography is all about taking shots during the labour hours till the baby is out of the mother’s womb and it takes a lot of effort to get that perfect click.
So, how does birth photography differ from images taken immediately after birth? “Babies change very quickly in the initial hour of their birth. It takes at least 20 minutes for the baby to come out of the labour room/ OT. Till the time the baby comes out of the OT, it would have changed; its face is less swollen, feet is stretched out, the crooked nose is back in shape,” says Saini.
Be it Photoshopping sonograms onto pregnant bellies or clicking a newborn attached to placenta, babies have become the new favourite for photographers and are ruling our lives and the Internet. “It is a novel idea of getting photographs clicked with a Photoshopped sonogram of the baby on the naked belly. And, I feel it relates pretty well to my genre of birth photography as it can be used to portray a ‘before’ and ‘after’ scenario,” says Saini.
For those who are trying to get around the idea of having a complete stranger documenting a private moment, MRI birth videos could be your next best option. “MRI videos are a representation of how the baby was born while the birth photographers capture what happens before and after the birth of the baby. These are memories that parents, as well as the baby when it grows up, would cherish for a lifetime,” explains Saini.
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First Published: Jul 30, 2017 12:05 IST