What the heck is Documentary Photography?

First lets talk about the literal definition of documentary. Whether you use this word as a noun or an adjective, it simply means official pieces of written, printed, or other matter or a factual record or report. This is Google's definition. In my own words documentary, is a real life account of events. No choreography or staging. It is not a fly on the wall approach for me. While I do observe and anticipate what might happen next, my goal is integrate into your family, get close and step back, as any self respecting toddler with the a camera in their hand would do. 

richmond family photographer offers documentary photography to create images of parents and their kids.

While I have studied proper posing and have followed all the rules to learn my craft; rules are meant to be broken right? In a documentary session there are no rules, no posing, no guided interaction, or intervening (unless someone is doing something that may kill or seriously harm them self or another). I am hands off and integrate as another kid in your family.

You read right, I become a kid. I'm on their side, even though you paid for the the session, because it is their trust and unique character and how they interact with you, mom and dad, that we want to capture.

Nicoleinbold, arichmond family photographer offers documentary photography to create images of parents and their kids as seen here in a father and daughter mirror pose during lunch while at Children's Museum of Richmond.

Documentary photography is the observation of real life emotions and connection throughout mundane tasks and adventures alike. After all, it is those everyday moments, the goofy, sticky, tantrum filled moments, that you are going to want to remember so many years in the future. Unscripted moments documented are proof you lived, proof you tried and failed, proof that you existed with your children. Documentary photography is powerful.

Nicoleinbold, a Richmond family photographer travels to West End and Glen Allen to offer documentary photography to create images of parents and their kids as seen here in as this toddler give me the stink eye in her backyard.

Think of it this way, a yearly school photo can't capture you or your children's unapologetically being nor can it depict your authentic family. I don't mean to bash school pictures, they have their purpose; a record of a hair cut and missing teeth, or the phases of puberty. Documentary photography captures their fluid place in this world, as a member of your particular human unit.

That was a lot about kids, but documentary photography is also an account of your parenthood. It is a series of still frames that show your strength, perseverance, and love. We don't often have the opportunity as parents or even adults to see how much we are loved, how beautiful we appear in our surrounds, yes, even if that is a messy kitchen or toy infested living room. Sure we are tired most days, exhausted on others, but our journey with our children and partners is astoundingly profound.

Whether it be your child's unparalleled passion to share their emotions or your unmatched desire to remember the good and the bad I hope you consider a documentary photography session with me or an artist in your area, because your story matters in this crazy adventure called life.

Ashtanga Maternity | Pregnancy Inspiration | Richmond, Va

When I was pregnant over 4 years ago, I did one yoga class. I was living outside of DC, which is to say I lived a fast lane life and had a lot of trouble slowing myself down enough to think about let alone enjoy the art of yoga. I had a preconceived notion that all yoga is slow. Pregnant or not. Yeah - I was wrong in my thought process!

I am so happy to have met and been present for this amazing mama's maternity session. She practices Ashtanga and Rocket Yoga which is a considerably fast paced flow of yoga. This session really drove home for me the principle that pregnancy is a state of health and that pregnant women really can do every, assuming they are healthy. Check it out!

*NOTE* Be sure to clear physical activity with your care provider. This mama is an avid yogi who continued her practice throughout her pregnancy. 

Location: The Yoga Dojo

judgement and winning | image competition results

put yourself out there

There are so many ways to be judged in this world as a person, so why throw yourself into the limelight? As an introvert, putting myself out in the world is super hard. Now take this concept and apply it to an image competition, and I'm just about paralyzed with fear. Does anyone really ever feel like they have taken an award winning image? 

With any art form, you put a part of yourself into every finished piece. Especially the pieces within your portfolio that you share with the world. I know for me these images are of other's experiences, but it is still through my perspective, with my vision and final styling. Naturally, putting this piece of my heart up to be judged is not done lightly. With that said, without judgement or criticism, how am I supposed to grow and learn?

This year I entered 3 images to be viewed and judged in a new birth photography image competition called Elevate. You can click to read the judging process and rubric here. Further, you can see all the amazing finalists on their website.  

As for my images, thank you so much to my wonderful clients who allow me to hold space with them at such an intimate time in their lives and for allowing me to share their birth love stories with you!


Cherished is a frame I adore. Mother's hand gently caressing her new tiny human's cheek, makes you feel the love and awe a parent feels when the finally meet the being they have felt so close for over 9 months. Full Birth Story


Mirrored Creation

Mirrored Creation, again is a frame I love as a member of this families journey to bringing their 4th baby into the world. Mom had felt the tell tale signs of labor early Friday evening. The birth team was on alert and stand by with them in the birthing center from Friday night until Sunday evening. This image was taken in that last tired and delirious hour of wanting to meet their newest family member. I utilized a prism to increase the emotion of the moment and now carry it with me everywhere I go! Full Birth Story

Persistance and Strength

Persistence and Strength is what every mother possesses. I was quite torn as to whether I should submit this image into a competition for it's sheer intimacy of life unfolding. With that said, this frame fully embodies the story of birth in one frame, from my perspective, with a clear focus on mom. I wish, deep down, that every woman could see a similar image of themselves in labor, from an out of body perspective, as she grips on to her lifeline while her world and heart expands to fit another beautiful soul.

with grit and grace,

Every Birth is Beautiful | Nicoleinbold | Richmond

Nicoleinbold believes every birth is beautiful

When you are just one person with a camera, wondering if you are a professional photographer, debating if your images are really any good, living in Richmond, Va, with one computer. Having clients and life to take care of, it is hard to think about what other people are saying or doing all the time. This week however, it became apparent to me that living in my three foot bubble that one person can effect my entire profession and way of life. 

I am sure you have seen the viral text messages and my response earlier this week. After posting and reading other photographer's responses, it hit me, we need to work together! Birth photographers have an amazing behind the scenes community. We lean on each other for help, assist new photographers, provide critical feedback, guidance, and positivity with anything and everything. 

I would not be here today without the support, love, and assistance from some amazing women in the birth photography industry across the world! 

Community is something I crave as an individual, mother, and artist. So when I had this Oprah style Aha! moment, I knew I needed to reach out to other artists in order to articulate a community response. I was overwhelmed by the amount of women who wanted to contribute and share our collective sentiment that every birth is beautiful.  27 artists in fact,  not including myself, from 14 different states and 3 countries, USA, UK, and Canada! Motherhood, parenthood, and life is hard enough without being shamed! I hope when you view this compilation, you see birth love stories worthy of compassion and documentation, especially cesarean births. 

Transcript of letter to all mamas:

"I'm a professional birth photographer.

I believe, we believe, all birth is natural birth, worthy of documentation and pride. I support my family with this knowledge and hold it close. I and my colleagues wake up and leave our families at the sound of a phone call, at any time - day or night, holiday or during dinner, to be with you and tell your unique story with the art we provide.


Because it sets our soul on fire to create and serve others.

You, beautiful woman grew a human! You brought them into this world. That is as natural as it gets! 
I, your name, see the beauty in every birth story I capture whether it be Cesarean, medicated, un-medicated, surrogate, home, hospital, or otherwise. 
As a member of the greater birth photographer community, I'm here to say, we all want what is best for mother, baby, and their loved ones with love and empathy. 

every birth is beautiful

birth is birth is birth"


Leilani Rogers - www.photosbylei.com - Austin, Texas
Neely Ker-Fox - www.KerFox.com -  Columbus, Georgia
Kourtnie Scholz www.KEDocumentary.com - Dallas - Fort Worth, Texas
Monet Nicole Moutrie - www.monetnicole.com - Denver, Colorado
Justine Herrera - www.tulsabirthphotographer.com - Tulsa, Oklahoma
Danielle Stokes Hobbs - www.daniellehobbsphotography.com - Gainesville, Virginia
Natalia Walth - www.NataliaWalth.com - Santa Clarita, California
Kailee Ramirez - www.kaileeriches.com - Nashville, Tennessee
Kim Cameron - www.breatheinphotography.ca - Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Samantha Ryer - www.samantharyerphotography.com - Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Amanda Jo - www.tinybearphotography.com - Parshall, North Dakota
Aimee Durrance - www.AimeeDurrancePhotography.com - Oxford, UK
Hannah Palamara - www.treeoflifedoulaphotography.com - London, UK
Amanda Gipson - www.birthunscripted.com - Dallas - Fort Worth, Texas
Brooke Walsh - www.tcbirthphoto.com - Minneapolis, Minnesota
Jen Olson - www.tcbirthphoto.com - Minneapolis, Minnesota
Jessica Benson - www.jessicabphotography.com - South Jordan, Utah
Amanda McGhee - www.kimberlingrayphotography.com - Virginia Beach, Virginia
Melissa Schreiner - www.melissalynportraits.com - Lakeville, Minnesota
Ashley Marston - www.ashleymarstonbirthphotography.com - Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Ashley Short - www.AshleyShortPhotography.com - Archbold, Ohio
Laura Eckert - www.newcreationphotography.com - Swisher, Iowa
Jennifer Mason - jennifermasonphotography.com - Golden, Colorado
Sophia Costa - thesophiaco.com - Waialua, Hawaii
Morgan Lang - morganlangphotography.com - Kansas City, Kansas
Julie JP Paszczykowski - www.jp-photography.net - Toledo, Ohio
Chinelle Rojas - www.tampabirthphotographer.com - Tampa, Florida

With grit and grace,

Richmond Birth Photographer Nicoleinbold supports the greater birth photographer community

Shaming Birth is Unacceptable

I am unsure where and how the concept of "The Jones" family started, or why we had to begin shaming what others did day to day. Don't get me wrong, if there is harm done, I will shame until I turn as blue as the sky in summer. That said, some where along the vast track of evolution we have taken it upon our individual selves to judge our neighbors, which in today's society our neighbors are everyone. Globalization, the internet, and the gross proliferation of education for the masses has created a vacuum of hatred for anything that is different than what we do in our three foot bubble. 

I am not and will not talk politics here. It's plain not the place. I will however, speak about parenthood and perspective. With the entire world in our field of view, one would think we, as a collective group of people, would gain insight and understanding that we all do things in similar ways, which is not to say exactly the same. 

Virginia Birth Photographer All Birth is Natural Birth

Beyond music being a universal language, birth, the act of labor and delivery, is sacred in all cultures. With birth comes community, love, and a return of our primal roles to care for the littlest beings. Birth is absolutely incredible, growth and change, transition, growth and change set on repeat until the cycle starts over within the same person or moves to the next generation. It is largely a black hole in our history as the birth space has been passed down woman to woman through apprenticeship and maternal care, which then became the teaching and regulation of the medical profession.

We are only now beginning to see the growth of birth culture come back into play as more families have this wondrous event documented to be retold over and over again.  I know everything I have written so far, and probably for the remainder of this post, sounds incredibly pretentious. I sincerely don't mean it that way, but I wanted to write a bit more dry to keep personal accounts to a minimum. I want to speak as clearly as I can when I say this:

all birth is natural birth;
you grew a human and brought them into this world.

Cesarean birth, medicated, un-medicated, surrogate, home, hospital, or otherwise, all birth is natural. Birth is birth is birth. While we are on this topic, fed is best, education is great, whether you kiss boo-boos or put a band-aid on everything, baby wear or push a stroller, co-sleep or crib sleep, there should be no shame. For those of you who have read my blog for a while, you know I dislike the word should. It is a self shaming word wrapped up in one neat and self depreciating syllable. I do not take issue with any decision made in an educated manner as a family unit. Family a term used to describe those you love and trust. I stand for love and informed decisions!

There has been quite a lot of sharing throughout social media recently regarding an unmentioned birth photographer shaming a mother regarding her choice or need for a particular type of birth. Whether this is true or false, I again want to be clear (I can only speak for my business), when I say I fully believe all birth is natural wherever and however you birth as long as it is safe for both mother and child.

with grit and grace,


Ma'am, if at anytime you come forward with more information regarding the allegation of a birth photographer openly shaming any mother for her type of birth, I will be the first to apologize to you for the heartless way this person has treated you and all mothers who knowingly or otherwise face a cesarean birth.

On the other hand, if you knowingly started an alleged false account damning a presumably fictitious birth photographer, to include all the people sharing it, and the media picking it up (media, vet your sources), I do not appreciate the slander you have placed on my business, livelihood, and the profession as a whole. As a fledgling industry focusing on art to serve others, bad press has a catastrophic effect.

I have personally worked hard to build a reputable birth photography community in my area, and am good friends with men and women worldwide who have done the same. We promote ourselves as professional in our craft, respective businesses, and within the birth world. 

Birth photographers across the world live by the sentiment above. We support our families with the knowledge that all birth is natural birth worthy of being documented. Further, we wake up and leave our families at the sound of a phone call, at any time of day or night, to empower women and their families with the art we provide.

Our mission and core values are multifaceted. Whether we are focused on the art, mental health, family health, documenting history, a variation, or combination there in; birth photography is selfless and full of value. We do not discriminate, judge, or push our ideals onto anyone. I implore everyone to think beyond your personal bubbles and realize that our individual words and actions have a ripple effect.