The following blog was written by our super talented friend, local mama, birth photographer, postpartum doula, and writer – Anne Schmidt. Yes, she’s a super woman! Thank you, Anne, for sharing the truth behind your passion for birth photography.
Birth Photography: So Much More Than Capturing Moments
You’ve heard the term a million times. “Capturing the moment.” It’s almost ubiquitous in my field now with every photographer using the line to market what they do. I’m certainly not exempt from that in my career. When it comes to birth photography, though, capturing the moment just isn’t enough for me.
Even as I write this I’m reminded of how new this photography niche is and that people often need explanation when I tell them what I do for a living. I am writing this sitting in a coffee shop in Katy and these two lovely ladies are sitting next to me on the opposite side of the couch and one of them asks me if I’m working. I tell her that I’m writing a blog post on birth photography and her eyes light up, part shock, part curiosity. We chat and I tell them what I do. They are fascinated by it, but also amazed that people would want that, reflecting on their own birthing days in the 90s. And we chat about how times have changed in the birth world and that women are becoming more open to the idea of documenting this experience. By the end of our chat they are hooked and want to share my info with young people they know. I’m left smiling knowing that I have introduced them to something they had never heard of and open their minds to a new idea.
It’s this eagerness to educate that drives me in this work. And even more than that, it’s the desire to tell women’s stories. For me, birth photography is so much more than taking pictures, preserving memories or freezing a moment in time. It’s about preserving and sharing our history, woman’s history. You could say that my desire to do this work and see this genre expand is much more political than it is photographic in nature.
For thousands of years it was women that preserved the histories of our culture. Before there were written history books, there were spoken word orations, passed down from generation to generation, through speak and through song, and mostly by women. It was women that passed down the traditions of our world customs and trained the next generation of children in the furthering of their culture. But slowly, and deliberately, women’s voices and our contributions to society were one by one being excluded from that history. Think back to almost every elementary school history lesson and chances are the subjects of that history were majority men. Founder Fathers, inventors, scientists, medicine, explorers…almost every field of study that I can think of growing up was taught to me through the lens of a man. Lewis and Clark may have forged their way through the forests of the northwest but it was woman, Sacagawea, that made the journey passable for them. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin may have stepped foot on the moon, but it was Margaret Hamilton’s computer code that got them there. And these examples go on and on.
These facts and these incredible stories were not taught to me when I was young person. I had to learn them long into adulthood. Now that I am a mother of two girls, it is even more important that I make sure they know the value of their sex’s contribution to our world. Young women and girls today are tired of being silenced. They are tired of having their opinions and their actual experiences dismissed. Look no further than the spotlight that’s been on sexual assault in this country to see that women are sick and tired of not being heard, not being taken seriously, and feeling like their very real experiences simply do not matter. Yes, the time is truly up, and enough is enough.
So when I take out my camera to document a woman in labor, every image I compose, every push of the shutter, is done for a very deliberate reason. My client’s are showing the world that birth is normal, that our bodies can do great things and that they are not meant to be hidden away. By showing the power of birth we show the power of women. Your strength and your story will not go untold any longer.
Anne Schmidt is a wedding, portrait, and birth photographer in Katy, Texas. She lives in Cinco Ranch with her husband and two daughters.