Birth Photography

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

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.jpg

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,

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,

Nicole

*EDITED TO ADD* 
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. 

Birth, Is Birth, Is Birth | Richmond, Va Birth Photography

love becomes family

Living in a new city, Richmond Va, I'm constantly meeting new people who invariably ask what I do. Because I love my job, I'm always eager to chat, and i'm curious about people's responses. I say, "I'm a photographer; I photograph births." From this I get one of two reactions, "you do WHAT?! That is cool, I can't even imagine! So you are in the room the entire time? Even when baby comes out?! Wow!" or I get a blank stare. This blank stare typically mean they aren't 100% sure what I just said, so I elaborate further by adding, "labor and delivery." After all what you say, "I photograph births" out loud, it sounds like, "I photograph birds." While interesting, that is not what I do!

From that initial interaction the conversation can go many ways based on who I'm speaking with, but there is typically one question that is pretty constant. "What kind of births? Do you prefer the hospital, or home birth?" I used to not like this question, but now I love it!

I have photographed hospital births, both medicated and natural, with an OB, midwife, and doula's present and not present. I have also photographed Birth Center births at free standing clinics as well as attached to a hospital. I have photographed a home birth and been present for a family before and after a cesarean birth (photographers are not always allowed in the operating room). Within these various scenarios I have documented land births as well as water births, with first time parents, 4th time parents, and even a surrogacy! I love each and every birth I have documented for so many different reasons. I have also learned more about birth and about myself as a woman, wife, mother, and artist with each family expansion.

Birth is a process of transformation no matter where or how you choose to bring your child into the world. No matter who assists you in delivery, or the outcomes after birth. It is a moment in time filled with strength, love, anxiety, pain, and joy. 

I write all of this to share that I am a true believer that birth, is birth, is birth. Just as love is love. Love becomes family in the beginning and in the end! 

Home Birth with Daughter Assisting - Richmond Home Birth Photography
Surrogate Birth Story - Richmond Birth Photographer
Family together after a c-section delivery - Richmond Hospital Birth Photographer
Birth Becomes Family - Richmond Birth Photographer

With grit and grace,

First Moments of Fatherhood | Richmond, Va

Dads are most ordinary men turned by love into heroes, adventurers, story-tellers, and singers of song.

-pam brown-

I am obviously not a dad, but I do get to witness men turn into fathers with each birth I document. This post shows off some of the awesome dads I have met this past year.

Watching the transformation of a husband become a dad, no matter how many children they have already, is seriously magical! Every dad is different in how they react to seeing their partner in labor. They all set different limits on where they stand during the delivery of the child, but afterwards; there is always amazement and love. So where you stand at mom's head, watch your child crown or even catch your baby entering the world, you are all strong and incredible fathers!

On the Move | Meet Nicole Series

In any given moment we have two options: to step forward into growth or step back into safety.

Abraham Maslow

Life has been moving so fast lately, and changing at a breakneck speed. I have done less than a stellar job keeping all you lovely supporters of my work in the loop. So hear goes:

Two months ago we received a letter in the mail that was going to change our life and create a sense of adventure we haven't yet quite met as a family. For me, change is exciting, but ever so terrifying! All the suspense, but I promise it is all good news.

My wonderfully handsome and incredibly smart husband got accepted into the Medical Lab Tech program at VCU (Go Rams!), in Richmond, Va. Since receiving his acceptance letter, we have been in a flurry of purging, cleaning, packing, staging, and selling our house. Which also means the adventure continued with more purging and packing, then a long distance search for a place to live in a new city, the actual move, and then the unpacking. Phew!

We are still unpacking, but I wanted to say how grateful we are for all of my family and friends who have been ever present and wonderful helping us each step of the way! We would not have gotten through without our tribe!

What I am most excited about: I will officially be a work from home mommy. This means more time for me, family, and my business!!! I love that I will be able to be more present for my daughter. She already blows my mind; I can't wait to teach her, and her teach me. Seriously stoked! I am also thrilled that I will be able to better support my husband to pursue his dream. Last, this transition also means that I will be a full time small business entrepreneur, birth photographer and identity brand designer. Again stoked! I love serving and empowering children, parents, and parentrepeneurs! My heart is full, thank you.

Richmond Va Birth Photographer