More parents using photographer to capture baby’s birth

Amanda and Jarrd Schenk, moments after Chloe was born.
Amanda and Jarrd Schenk, moments after Chloe was born. Victoria Berekmeri

WHEN Amanda Schenk gave birth to her daughter, Chloe, seven months ago, she didn't want to do it alone: she wanted a professional photographer by her side through the whole thing.

"I had a caesarean with my first child and I really wanted to have a natural delivery with my second, and so part of my reason to have a birth photographer was about documenting all the efforts I went through to make that happen," said the wedding celebrant.

"My birth story was really important to me."

One of Victoria Berekmeri’s photos at Chloe’s birth.
One of Victoria Berekmeri’s photos at Chloe’s birth. Victoria Berekmeri

Ms Schenk, 40, is among a growing trend of parents-to-be who are choosing to have the most intimate, but often primal and confronting, moments of their labour and birth recorded by a photographer.

Australia's peak photography body labels birth photographs as the biggest trend to hit the industry over the last five years.

Australian Institute of Professional Photography executive officer, Peter Myers, said birth photography had escalated from almost nowhere to becoming an important part of his industry.

"We started to notice it three or four years ago ... more and more of our members were doing this and asked whether we work with them to make it a genre and put standards in place for people practising it," he said.

"I wouldn't expect to see a public exhibition of this any time soon, but for people who commission it, it holds great value for them.

"It's a very female genre and perhaps as more female photographers become professional, then more are practising this as a genre."

Among them is Victoria Berekmeri, who has photographed more than 100 births since she documented her first in 2012.

"Parents have been taking cameras along to birth for decades," she said.

"The biggest issue with 'happy snaps' is that the images don't generally contain the raw emotional moments that carry the real story and impact."

Ms Berekmeri said professional birth photography required the right combination of character, presence, skill and knowledge - and being available 24 hours a day, sevens days a week.

"Birth photography needs to be seen as a respected offering within the professional photographic industry to ensure clients have access to reputable and accountable service providers," she said.

"Irrespective of a client's experience with labour and birth, the common theme with all of my clients is they are empowered ... and value the psychological journey of birth, not just the physical one."

Chloe, captured with her mother.
Chloe, captured with her mother. Victoria Berekmeri

Ms Schenk said she adored her birth photographs and had a framed photo of her being supported by husband, Jarrad, 38, during a contraction sitting on her bedside table.

She said she would make an album of Chloe's birth and when the time comes for her to become a grandmother, she would pass it on to her daughter.

Topics:  australian institute of professional photography birth birth photographer

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