A beautiful homebirth waterbirth in Atlanta, told through photography and videography.
We do our best to tell the story of our client’s births in a way that is both beautiful and honest. We know what an incredible privilege and responsibility it is to be invited into their lives to document one of the most anticipated moments of their lives. So, when we start thinking about sharing their very personal images with the world, great care is taken with the words we chose to accompany them.
There are times when our own words just can’t do justice to what the family was going through and feeling and so we turn to them. The following is from Michelle, one of the strongest mamas we have ever had the pleasure of knowing.
“I've been thinking a lot recently about how to make this post, or rather to make it at all. After getting Sophia's birth story video yesterday, I decided to move forward. All of us encounter ups and downs in life. We celebrate the exciting and happy things that come our way and mourn our tragedies and losses. Sometimes we share those with others, sometimes we keep them privately to ourselves.
As many of you know, Zach and I, we had a pretty heavy loss last year. Half way through our pregnancy, we lost a baby girl. We had already shared this pregnancy publicly, which resulted in a publicly shared loss. To be honest, it was a blessing. Communicating individually to people who I didn't know well and asked me how the baby was, became much more difficult. To add in those that asked when I was due when I looked very pregnant but carried no child, was hard as well.
We thank God every day that we are fortunate and blessed with now not one baby boy (well big boy if you ask him) but a baby girl as well. Admittedly, what I didn't expect was the profound mix of emotions upon Sophia's birth. I was so excited and in love and yet equally struck again with grief over the loss of a baby girl that was due the same time as this one a year before. By no planning on our part, their due dates were days apart (although Sophia decided to come a month early).
Early in the pregnancy, I talked to Zach about documenting Sophia's birth as I wanted to remember her coming into the world forever. We wanted to share this with you to come full circle in our journey. We are so grateful to our friends, family, doctors, and nurses who have supported us along the way.” - Michelle
Here is the birth story of the beautiful Sophia James.
This birth story unfolded a little differently than this family expected for their their child. Labor unfolded so rapidly they were unable to get to the hospital in time and dad caught their third child, a son, as mom delivered at home, on the kitchen floor! The beautiful teamwork of this pair, plus the incredible footage caught by their nest camera and the audio retrieved from the 911 call, make this birth story truly unique. Shout out to calm, collected neighbor Todd who came to watch the kids so they could leave for the hospital--and ended up assisting a childs birth! Also to the amazing first responders that were so kind and caring, and who stayed with the family until they were all tucked in up in their postpartum room at the hospital.
Special thanks to this family for allowing their story to be shared!
While still relatively new, birth photography has grown in popularity over the last few years and because of that there are several articles explaining why you should hire a birth photographer. They highlight the love that is experienced between mother and their partner, the support that is crucial to bringing life into this world, capturing the moment that you see your baby for the first time and so many other beautiful reasons. All of which are absolutely valid and are, in fact, part of the reason that we love what we do. But in order to truly understand why we do what we do and why it can be so important to document the whole process for some mothers, you have to understand, appreciate and respect birth itself.
One of my favorite books, The Red Tent by Anita Diamant (if you haven’t read it you MUST!) has a line that reads, “Why did I not know that (child) birth is the pinnacle where women discover the courage to become mothers?...Until you are the woman on the bricks, you have no idea how death stands in the corner, ready to play his part. Until you are the woman on the bricks, you do not know the power that rises from other women.”
To some, that might sound a little scary and dark but for those who truly work to understand birth and are ready to support women through the most vulnerable, transformative experience of their lives, we know it is just another layer to the process of bring a child into this world.
There is a moment in every labor, regardless of how your baby is born, when no one breathes and time stands still. When a woman has to come out of her own body, she leaves herself and this world to meet her baby and bring them back with her.
This is what that moment looked like for me during the birth of our second son, Lowry. I was lucky enough to have our very own Claire there with me to document my VBAC and while these photos are so incredibly personal for me and my family, I felt an urge to share them with this post. To share that we know what that moment looks and feels like and how important it is to share what birth can and should be.
In that moment, if you feel loved, safe, supported, heard, and empowered you carry those feelings with you into your first few days, weeks, months of motherhood. If you are able to trust in your providers, your support system and your body during labor and delivery then you can carry that same trust into your instincts as a mother and begin your journey with confidence in your abilities and the wisdom to know when to ask for help.
So, why hire a birth photographer?
To document the story of your family, the day when you had to fight through two worlds to give your child their first breath, to help process the intense emotions that inevitably come with becoming a mother (even if it's for the second, third or fourth time), to improve the birth culture in our country and help other women see what birth can be, to show the next generation what they are capable of and what true love looks like from the very beginning.
As a collective, if we can help women understand how their birth has impacted them, allow them to see how incredible their bodies are, improve their journey into motherhood, and help them believe in themselves and what they are capable of, then we have done exactly what we set out to do.
Welcome to The Collective everyone. We are here and ready to get to work.
That seems a little ridiculous to write but it feels like we have been waiting forever and working so hard to get to this point where we can actually say it. So, one more time…
The Collective may be new to the Atlanta birth scene, but I can assure you, the women behind it are anything but. We have all be active birth workers and advocates for birthing rights for years now (21 total between us) as well as friends, colleagues and neighbors. (We all live within 2 streets of one another in Kirkwood and wouldn't have it any other way!)
We met because of our passion for birth and came together, initially to back each other up for clients and ultimately to form this collective and build a supportive community for ourselves, our clients and our city. Our goal is to help guide and document your birth story honestly and beautifully and to show how powerful it can be when women feel supported during childbirth.
To continue on with our introduction, here's a little more about each of our kick ass members!
Chanda was born and raised in Lake Claire. She has been photographing people since she was 5, and started her own photography business in 2009. She now lives in Kirkwood with her husband, Stephen, two sons, Che (11) and Isaiah (5), and their sweet pup, Stella Batman.
"The birth of my first son was so incredible and empowering, and I felt like that was a huge secret that it could be that way. I had learned about Doulas in a college class, and years later I realized that I could help women have amazing birth experiences as a doula. At my first birth, I was in awe of the beauty of birth--the intimacy, vulnerability and strength, which also seemed like a secret that nobody was talking about. That's when I decided to photograph the births I was supporting."
Claire is originally from Buffalo, New York but has been in the south for a while now. She fell in love with photography in high school when she chose it as one of her elective classes. It was a high school love that stuck. She and her boyfriend, Bryan, live in Kirkwood with their fur babies, Linus the pup and Fatz the cat.
"A couple of years in to my portrait photography business I came across work from a birth photographer who's images I thought were incredible. I was so intrigued I decided I needed to photograph a birth myself, and was quickly hooked up with a friend's sister who was expecting soon. That was pretty much it, I was hooked following that birth! My journey to supporting woman as a doula was a natural progression from there, especially as a nurturer by nature. Attending so many births as a photographer really informed me of the childbirth process and after some time, having seen the same situations over and over again in the delivery room I found that I could use my knowledge and experience to serve families in an additional way."
Brittany was born in Houston, Texas and raised pretty much all over the place. She settled in Atlanta back in 2008 and hasn't looked back. She was a latecomer to photography, starting in 2011 when she received her first DSLR camera as a gift for Christmas. She too, lives in Kirkwood with her husband, Chris, their two sons, Coulter (3) and Lowry (18 months) and their 2 very big and hairy dogs, Fen and Odie.
"As someone who typically shot anything and everything that came across my plate, not wanting to pass on any opportunity to grow as a photographer, it took the birth of my first son for me to realize what I truly wanted to focus on. The photos from his birth were so incredible, I was in awe of the entire process and I knew that I had to be a part of it in every way I could. So after photographing births for a few years and wanting to do more, I made the decision to begin working towards my doula certification, something I had been wanting to do ever since experiencing the incredible love and support of my own doulas during my births."
This Collective is something we have wanted for a long time, a place to come together, work together and help support women and families in Atlanta while they are building their families. We are just getting started and are so happy you've decided to join us on our journey.
To stay in the loop on everything we are doing like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram @TheBirthStoryCollective