Photographs Don't Matter

“I don’t understand these people who want Birth Photography. I gave birth and there is nothing about that experience I want to look back at!”

“You take pictures at births?! Like, people have a baby and want you there?! That’s weird.”

“OMG. Who would want pictures of them giving birth?! Hey honey! I’ve got an idea for this year’s holiday card!”

Birth Photography and Newborn Photography for D.C. Parents.

Birth Photography and Newborn Photography for D.C. Parents.

When I hear these phrases - which, I often do - I think to myself, “What a wonderful way to have experienced birth.” Because I am surrounded by parents who have struggled for years to become pregnant in the first place. Parents who have been told they would never have children. Parents who know their child will likely not survive long after birth. Parents who had no idea there was anything about to go horribly, horribly wrong.

I often see, unless you’ve been intimately touched by death, how the assumption of a healthy birth can be taken for granted. Photographs don’t matter.

But for those who have lived, or even had the scare, of a child’s life shortened, I am there. To celebrate with you. To love with you. To breath that sigh of relief with you. And, for some, to cry with you.

I often hear myself say, “Birth Photography isn’t for everyone”. Certainly, this is true. But for the parents it is for, I am proud, honored, and humbled to be at your service.

xo

Teresa

After birth, family bonding. The first family portrait. Birth Photography, D.C.

After birth, family bonding. The first family portrait. Birth Photography, D.C.

Teresa Robertson is a Photography-degree, award-winning, published Photographer specializing in all things women & birth. Maternity, Birth, Newborn, Children, or Family, she proudly serves multiple locations, including D.C., Atlanta, Michigan, Orlando, and Oahu. Her Fine Art series ‘Mele Ma’i: Procreation Chants’ can be found here. For information on Bereavement Photography, please visit Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

Postpartum Depression: Beyond the Newborn Phase

One of the major misconceptions with Postpartum Depression (PPD) is the assumption that it is a short-term struggle. Much like the flu, it hits some harder than others, the time frame that you are ‘out of commission’ can vary, but overall, you bear through the worst of it until it’s finally time to get back to the daily grind.

Except sometimes the worst of it never goes away. Sometimes you never get better. Sometimes it leaves and comes back.

“Something is really wrong with me because you don’t hear people talk about postpartum depression starting and then staying like that.’” Said Chelsea Reiswig in an article posted by The Atlantic, When Postpartum Depression Doesn’t Go Away.

The article continues to discuss the the long term effects that PPD can have on an individual when it goes undiagnosed. Towards the end of the article, Reiswig states, “Now I have accepted this is likely something I will deal with the rest of my life...”.

The day I met Lorena (   Motherhood Unfiltered   ) I knew there was something a little deeper behind that gorgeous smile. D.C., Baltimore, Annapolis, Atlanta, Oahu Photographer.

The day I met Lorena (Motherhood Unfiltered) I knew there was something a little deeper behind that gorgeous smile. D.C., Baltimore, Annapolis, Atlanta, Oahu Photographer.

And if you think it’s hard for the individual themselves to try and grasp what is happening to their emotional, mental, and physical health, it can be just as complicated for professionals. “It is very difficult for a person, even a trained person, to be able to distinguish between regular frustrations, hormonal fluctuations, and a mood disorder,” says Nicole Washington, a Tulsa-based psychiatrist.

I sincerely think this is why the discussion of what happens around birth - before birth, during birth, after birth - needs to be recognized as something that is not shushed and discarded. If we aren’t even near the point of being able to pinpoint and recognize certain challenges, the furthest thing from helping that is throwing up our hands, saying ‘Yep. That sucks.’ and changing the topic.

Laurena talks about her struggles after birth in her article,    The Truth Behind the Photo   . Newborn, Birth, Maternity photography serving the D.C., Atlanta, Annapolis, Baltimore, Oahu areas.

Laurena talks about her struggles after birth in her article, The Truth Behind the Photo. Newborn, Birth, Maternity photography serving the D.C., Atlanta, Annapolis, Baltimore, Oahu areas.

When I recognized that writing about the topic of Postpartum Depression was something that I felt was a necessary, I envisioned it to be a three part series: capturing the perspective of a postpartum mother I knew, sharing a piece of my own experience, and finding one article that may share some insight on this highly complex issue. Having come to what I loosely assumed would be the ‘end’ of this topic, I am reconsidering that my time exploring this is ‘done’.

I am well aware that this is not a topic that is going to be enjoyed by many; however, I am going to take the ‘quality over quantity’ approach with these writings, in the hopes that a few may be encouraged to recognize signs and symptoms within themselves or someone they know.

So, let’s keep the conversation going, so that we may feel joy, share joy, raise joy, and leave a legacy of joy.

Xo

Teresa

Teresa Robertson is a Photography-degree, award-winning, published Photographer specializing in all things women & birth. Maternity, Birth, Newborn, Children, or Family, she proudly serves multiple locations, including D.C., Atlanta, Michigan, Orlando, and Oahu. Her Fine Art series ‘Mele Ma’i: Procreation Chants’ can be found here. For information on Bereavement Photography, please visit Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

Postpartum Depression: Dear Friend

Did you know? 1 in 7 Moms and 1 in 10 Dads suffer from postpartum depression. Reaching out to speak with someone is the best way to help determine what path is best for you. Consider reaching out to Postpartum International Support by calling 1.800.944.4773, texting 503.894.9453 or visiting http://www.postpartum.net/

 

Dear Friend with Postpartum Depression Who Doesn’t Think She Has Postpartum Depression,

I don’t know if you see yourself. But I see you. And I’m scared for you.

Why?

Because I’ve been there. And I almost didn’t make it out alive. I know, I know - this is different for you. It was for me, too. I could get out of bed. I could fake the smile - hell, once in awhile I even had a genuine smile. I changed my cloth diapered baby, cooked dinner from scratch, posted all the pretty pictures on Instagram; if you could see a physical example of a ‘functioning post-birth mother’, I can assure you, I was what you were looking for. I even filled out that 6 week checkup form with flying colors because, I mean...come on.

I made sure no one could see me inside.

Eight weeks postpartum, at the pumpkin patch with my family. The meltdown in the middle of Whole Foods afterwards is memorable.

Eight weeks postpartum, at the pumpkin patch with my family. The meltdown in the middle of Whole Foods afterwards is memorable.

I had been told about the ‘scary, spooky PPD’ stories. What I was feeling wasn’t anything quite like I had heard, so at the time I thought that wasn’t what I was going through. Whatever it was, I was ‘just was in a funk’. Something I needed to adjust my attitude in the bathroom quickly and then continue to take on the day. After all, I was just adjusting. I was just tired. I was just...failing.

I want you to know that Postpartum Depression is SO difficult to see and define, that if you *are* struggling, you will likely not fit nice and neat into a predetermined box. And like an abusive relationship, it will be easy to make excuses, brush off ‘isolated’ incidents, and accept the voice in your head that keeps apologizing, saying ‘It will never be this way again. That was the last time. I promise.’

No, I can’t see your soul. Maybe I’m way off base. But if the fact that I see even a glimmer of me in you scares the hell of me. I don’t want this pain for you and I wish I could do more. A side effect of not getting help when it is needed means that this can have life-long, lasting effects; so, yes, I am coming to you as a person who has never completely healed - and as someone who is begging you to consider a different path.

I  want you to know that I see you, I feel with you, and I. LOVE. YOU. I may not be able to heal you but I still want you to know you can come to me and just be. Not the ‘You’ pre baby, not the ‘You’ you thought you would be post baby - the You that you are right now.

I need you. I need you to be honest with me. I need you to be honest with yourself. With your significant other. Your doctor. With anyone and everyone who will listen. Maybe we won’t all understand and we may make mistakes. I just want you to know it’s all with good intention, with the attempt of showing you how much we love you.

Just please don’t wait.

Three weeks postpartum, first family outing with my newborn, Washington D.C.

Three weeks postpartum, first family outing with my newborn, Washington D.C.

Teresa Robertson is a Photography-degree, award-winning, published Photographer specializing in all things women & birth. Maternity, Birth, Newborn, Children, or Family, she proudly serves multiple locations, including D.C., Atlanta, Michigan, Orlando, and Oahu. Her Fine Art series ‘Mele Ma’i: Procreation Chants’ can be found here. For information on Bereavement Photography, please visit Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

Birth Photography: Is It Right for You? (Part III)

A Three Part Series Part III

To conclude this short series on Birth Photography, I would love to address some of the (many) questions we receive in the industry. If you think I’ve missed one, I would love to know - let’s keep the conversation going!

Birth Photography in Maryland, DC, and Virginia

Birth Photography in Maryland, DC, and Virginia

Birth Photography, Newborn Photography, & Hospital Photography: What’s the Difference?

There are certainly a lot of choices when it comes to Photography, no matter the occasion; to be honest, it can be pretty overwhelming and unless you are ‘in the know’ you may not even be sure what you really want.

To put it simply:

Newborn Photography would be having someone photograph your newborn(s) shortly after birth, usually between 5-10 days old (we will cover why that young in a later post). These session can be in a studio or in your own home, posed or not.

Hospital or ‘Fresh’ Photography generally refers to a Photographer coming to where you have given birth at within 24-48 hours. If you are interested in capturing documentary or ‘lifestyle’ images during these first precious hours, this may be a good choice for you.

Birth Photography often captures the time when active labor starts, through the birth, and a short time after the birth. Contrary to initial thought, it may or may not involve photos of pushing, depending on what each client wants. Strength, love, and bonding tends to be the focus of these photographs.

Doulas, Midwives, and Family during a home birth in Maryland

Doulas, Midwives, and Family during a home birth in Maryland

Why Would Anyone Want Birth Photography?

There are MANY reasons why people choose to hire a Birth Photographer, there are just a few:

  • Some people would rather have a more intimate birth experience without family or friends in the room, while some may want their family and friends to be free to focus their energy on supporting you.

  • Similar to a wedding, this may be a be a special, emotional, or spiritual moment for you and your new family.

  • You would like to make sure, after all of your hard work, that you are able to look back and see what your birth journey really looked like and the beauty of it.

How is Birth Photography beneficial?

Birth Photography can be extremely beneficial, not only as a reminder to yourself how amazing you are but also to remember the positive experience of having given birth.

Birth Photography in Times of Distress

Unfortunately, not every pregnancy will progress the same. If you are experiencing a pregnancy that has complicated circumstances surrounding, please know that you and your baby are just as important. I encourage you to reach out to your birth team as to how Birth Photography may be beneficial to your healing process.

Laboring in Annapolis, Maryland at a Birthing Center

Laboring in Annapolis, Maryland at a Birthing Center

Will having a Birth Photographer make it feel as though my room is too ‘crowded’?

That is something only you can decide but also one of the reasons why I insist on spending a good amount of time getting to know my birth clients before the birth. If I feel that my presence is going to be anything other than subtle, calming, or positive, I may even suggest another Photographer in the industry that would bring a different energy to your environment. At the end of the day, you having a positive, healthy birth is my top priority.

How much does Birth Photography typically cost?

It really depends. Experience, talent, and time are just a few items that go into how Photographers price themselves. I once had a client say to me, ‘It’s like you’re a Wedding Photographer - but on call for weeks at a time.’ Which is so true! Different regions will also present their own range of cost but I would generally expect to pay between $1,200 - $3,000.

* * *

Have more questions? I would love to answer them! Never hesitate to reach out to a Photographer to simply discuss what your options are, how you may be able to work together, and see who may be the best fit for you. There are many of us who truly want to see you well taken care of and have your best interest at heart.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this series and follow along with future posts.

Birth Photography, like the actual maternity and labor, has less to do with one specific moment and more about a story of strength, surrender, and everything in between.

Birth Photography, like the actual maternity and labor, has less to do with one specific moment and more about a story of strength, surrender, and everything in between.

Teresa Robertson is a Photography-degree, award-winning, published Photographer specializing in all things women & birth. Maternity, Birth, Newborn, Children, or Family, she proudly serves multiple locations, including D.C., Atlanta, Michigan, Orlando, and Oahu. Her Fine Art series ‘Mele Ma’i: Procreation Chants’ can be found here. For information on Bereavement Photography, please visit Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

Birth Photography: Is It Right for You? (Part II)

A Three Part Series Part II

Birth Story, Annapolis, Maryland

Birth Story, Annapolis, Maryland

One of the top three questions I receive in regards to Birth Photography (especially from soon to be Dad’s) is, ‘Who in the world would want to see these photos?! I’m certainly not posting these on our Holiday Cards!’

If you promise to keep reading and allow me to explain, I’ll tell you a little secret: Maybe you will post a few photos for family and friends to see.

But let’s back up a bit.

Labor and Delivery can be beautiful. Birth Photography in Maryland

Labor and Delivery can be beautiful. Birth Photography in Maryland

First and foremost, whatever you choose to do with your images is up to you (and no, I will not be posting your intimate moments for the world to see. I can assure you, I would not still be in business if I made a habit out of breaking that kind of trust with my clients). Contrary to school pictures and formal wedding portraits, these moments are a gift to yourself. No one else. This is an opportunity for you to focus on what your body needs to do during labor, your partner to focus on your needs, and for you to look back at it all with a clear mind and a positive outlook of your own, personal miracle.

Whether you have a vaginal, c-section, hospital, vbac, or home birth, your mind is going to be on strength of your body and the health of your newborn baby - it is by no means a selfish or ‘weird’ desire to remember the details surrounding the love you have created.

Now, having said all of this, let me get back to posting your Birth Photography images on your Holiday Cards (yes, we are allowed to have a sense of humor in the Birth World).

When it comes to how you give birth, you have an abundance of choices: Give birth at home or hospital? Medication or no medication? Doula, Midwife, OBGYN? Water, woods, or bed?


That is why it is important to know when hiring a Birth Photographer, you also have many choices.

Family bonding after birth. Birthing Center in Maryland

Family bonding after birth. Birthing Center in Maryland

Do some of my clients want every single detail - and I mean, ALLLLLLLL the details - of their birth story documented? Yes; and they are beautiful. But do I also have clients who simply want the labor and immediate post delivery photographed? Absolutely; and they are beautiful. The bottom line is, everyone’s birth journey is just as important and special.

Because there are so many choices, feelings, and ‘backup plans’ involved in birth, is one of the reasons I spend so much time talking with my clients before hand. We discuss comfort levels, birth plans, expectations, and boundaries. I also make sure your birth team - especially your partner - is supportive of my being there.

Whether you are new to the idea of Birth Photography, considering if it is right for you, or simply curious to know more, I encourage you to reach out to multiple people in the birth world (such as Maryland State Doulas), on your birth team, or myself. In the meantime, please join me on FAQ Fridays where we will be discussing Birth Photography, in addition to newborn, self care, and other life topics surrounding women and motherhood.

Teresa Robertson is a Photography-degree, award-winning, published Photographer specializing in all things women & birth. Maternity, Birth, Newborn, Children, or Family, she proudly serves multiple locations, including D.C., Atlanta, Michigan, Orlando, and Oahu. Her Fine Art series ‘Mele Ma’i: Procreation Chants’ can be found here. For information on Bereavement Photography, please visit Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

Birth Photography: Is It Right for You? (Part I)

Birth Photography: Is It Right for You?

A Three Part Series

Doulas during birth outside of Baltimore, Maryland

Doulas during birth outside of Baltimore, Maryland

PART I

Birth Photography has been creating a lot of buzz lately but did you know it’s actually been around for a number of years?

It was almost a decade ago when I was preparing to give birth to my second child. Another Photographer friend of mine (B. Billick Photography of Kentucky) mentioned the possibility of photographing my daughter’s arrival. I had never heard of the concept before but I knew I was in, always willing to try something new in the name of art.

The concept was fresh to both of us and with her living 6 hours away we weren’t quite sure how to iron out the logistics (my husband was in the Army at the time, deployed through the pregnancy, and we were nowhere near family or friends). I adored my OBGYN at the time and had no qualms bringing it up to him: “Would there be any issue with my friend coming in to photograph the birth?”

It was almost an instant, “Sure.” Then, “Wait...is this a friend you want in the room who will happen to take photos? Or are you actually hiring a Photographer? This definitely isn’t the time for that - you aren’t going to want to document what is going on down there.”

Oh.

Looking back, it’s certainly not as though I think his reaction is odd or inappropriate; I know many people have the same initial thought. Having said that, do I regret not going through with it? 110%

How I birthed my three children is another story for another time (hint: I would do it differently) and what I wouldn’t do to have that moment documented when my daughter and I saw one another for the first time. The expression of joy on my husbands face. How we smiled at one another when it was confirmed that everyone was healthy.

Postpartum and happy. Baltimore, Maryland birth center

Postpartum and happy. Baltimore, Maryland birth center

Just like the birthing process is so much more than pushing, Birth Photography is much more than the initial thought of medical styled pictures being published for the world to see. In this series of posts, we’ll talk though the thought process, appeal, and myths of Birth Photography. Maybe you are simply curious, maybe your spouse isn’t on board just yet, or maybe your a health provider who would like to learn more. No matter who you are, I hope this topic is both informative and thought provoking.

Teresa Robertson is a Photography-degree, award-winning, published Photographer specializing in all things women & birth. Maternity, Birth, Newborn, Children, or Family, she proudly serves multiple locations, including D.C., Atlanta, Michigan, Orlando, and Oahu. Her Fine Art series ‘Mele Ma’i: Procreation Chants’ can be found here. For information on Bereavement Photography, please visit Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep