Richmond Birth Photographer

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,

welcome to the world baby m | birth center story | richmond, va

Welcome to the world Moses! Your story is definitely one I will remember. This was a long ride for mom's 4th baby! Motherhood has taught me over and over that I must surrendor my best laid plans in order to make positive progress. This birth story confirmed this sentiment multiple times!

While this was moms' 4th birth, it did not go like any of her previous 3 children. Who all came relatively quick. Birth is amazing, and so is this mama!! While her body was doing a lot of work on the inside, she was super stoic. From my outside perspective, she had gotten to a full 10 cm without contractions. I was amazed to hear of her progress when she was checked because it seemed like things weren't progressing. Even through pushing, crowning, and delivery, mom was quiet. I'm pretty in awe, if you couldn't tell!!

This was also a wonderful example that showed birth sometimes needs a bit of hand holding and a little help from care providers. Mom and dad worked with an amazing birth center, talented midwives, and a wonderful doula. The patience for the process was palpable throughout every conversation! In the end mom did have to have her waters broken, at which point baby arrived just an hour or later.

Back when I first met the family, they were so excited about the pregnancy, and couldn't wait to meet the newest addition to their family. While it was a gender reveal at birth, mom and most family members were convinced she was carrying a little girl! So it was a shock when dad handed baby to mom and said it was a boy, and an even greater shock when they found out he weighed 10lbs 12oz. 

Here is their birth story : you will want to scroll down to the end. Big brother cracks me up with his easy attitude to a new baby brother!

with grit and grace,

Big Announcement | Richmond, Va Birth Photographer | Richmond Virginia Fresh 48 Photographer

A Big Announcement, but not a big surprise. I have decided to hone my business offerings and to publicly share that I will only be offering birth and fresh 48 sessions. This allows me to be present and available to my birth clients as well as my family. I am excited about this new journey, in a new city. If you haven't heard, we have relocated to Richmond, Va as my incredibly smart husband got into VCU (read more about this here). 

Nicoleinbold Richmond, Va Birth Photographer

Two years ago, after the first birthday of my daughter, I realized I wanted to be a birth photographer. I wasn't sure where to start, or what it entailed but I felt, in my core, that supporting parents with visual evidence of their love, support, and connection during the earliest season of parenthood was going to be my jam.
Now I was not a girl who grew up playing with babies, or really playing house, wanting to babysit, or anything super nurturing. Naturally, this realization came as a bit of a shock as it all unraveled and I started sharing my dream with the world. I had been behind the camera for about 8 years at this point, but was never sure quite what to do with this passion and expensive equipment.

My daughter gave me this clarity. My journey to motherhood was intense, with a steep learning curve in the beginning (I'm sure it is like this for everyone). While I did all the research, watched all the videos, and spoke with everyone about labor and delivery. It was my cousin who told me the biggest piece of advice that I now share with everyone I can. She told me, I'm paraphrasing: it was good to have a plan, but things change. Don't worry so much about the labor and delivery because it is the first couple of weeks with your new baby that are truly the hardest part. SHE WAS SO RIGHT. The first few weeks were the hardest for us a family of three, but I am so thankful I had my birth documented to remind me of our birth journey.

I had a generally fast and easy labor (my birth story here). With that said, I was left a bit traumatized. I had my birth photographed and am beyond grateful for this! It has helped me process my birth in a very tangible way. I can see how everything progressed, how supportive my husband was (which can be easy to forget, with a mind of her own toddler running around these days)! I want every parent to have this; this tool, tangible evidence, to celebrate or heal the connection of the birth day of parenthood and their child.

Two years later, I have decided to only offer Birth and Fresh 48 sessions. Nothing excites my spirit more than to watch the literal concept of parenthood unfold in front me. These sessions are close to my heart, this time is beyond precious! Time moves at a break neck speed with your mini human's age counted by hours, days, and weeks. With so many firsts: that cry, the welcoming gaze of recognition, all the tears, emotions, happiness, sadness, and love, I want to be there for your silently cheering you on.

Starting today, I am declaring this my new journey to unfold as it may, in a new city, Richmond, Va. A new day is always a great day, a perfect day, to state the intentions of my heart and to share with others.

With grit and grace,