Birth photography is quite a special niche, that is, if all goes well with a child’s delivery. That wasn’t the case for Heather White, when she lost her child at birth in 2009, despite a healthy pregnancy. “It went from the happiest moment in my life to the absolute worst,” said the Brooklyn-based photographer to Elle.
But seven months later she wound up pregnant again, delivering a healthy daughter in 2010. This inspired her to help women through the toughest moments of their deliveries. “So I became a doula. Learning about birth work really helped me through my trauma, too. And then it became easy to figure out that my artistic calling was to be a birth photographer,” she said to Elle.
For five years now, White has documented 135 births and counting, which she says is far from light work. “From week 37 until week 42 of a woman’s pregnancy, I’m on call,” she said to Elle. “I always have to have my phone attached to me […] and sometimes I have to drop everything and speed to the delivery to make sure I don’t miss a moment; sometimes that’s in the middle of the night. And babies don’t care what weather it is; even if there’s a snowstorm, I have to prepared to run. I always have to have my bags packed and ready, my gear ready, my camera loaded, my batteries charged.”
White’s number one concern is that everyone in the delivery room is comfortable with her being there. Parents usually don’t make a fuss, but the care providers sometimes do. “Some doctors even get intimidated when they see a professional photographer with their equipment in the delivery room, so I have to adapt. Some ask me to make sure I don’t get their faces in the photos, so I have to be aware of my angles,” White said to Elle.
To anyone who might have an “eww”-like knee-jerk reaction to her photography, White explains that a lot of women really want to see “the awesome power of nature and their body. The photos I’m taking are not being their graphic nature — they’re about the celebration of new life coming into the world. I’m documenting the moment that two partners become a family.”
If you would like Heather White to document your life-changing moment, you can get in touch with her via her website. You can also check out more of her work by visting the Brooklyn Birth Arts’ Facebook-page.