Birth Photography

Hi everyone:

I did an interview with Maria Fonseca. Not only is she a photographer she is a Birth Photographer! What is that? Read all about it below:


Maria Fonseca

What you have chosen to photograph is so interesting, Maria! I have never heard of birth photography. Could you tell me exactly what it is?
There has been a significant rise in the number of photographers offering services in maternity and newborn. Photographing birth completes the story. Apparently birth photography is being welcomed by many.

I document the birth PROCESS from active labor … through actual birth … through the latching, weighing, measuring and chord cutting … and finally through capturing the couple becoming parents. While mom-to-be works hard bringing her baby “earth side”, I discretely capture this life event. This frees dad-to-be … or any significant other … to support and coach mom-to-be. Dad-to-be is an important part of the birth story and his role has often been minimized. I capture his role of supporting and coaching his partner. As the invisible fly on the wall, I tell the birth story as I see it. I have been hired to capture moments that I think the parents will want to remember.

And how did you get interested in this genre of photography?

As you know, I am a trained medical anthropologist who has always had an interest in birth. Throughout my graduate training, I worked on different health care projects having to do with maternal health. And then my dissertation, which I never completed, was a cross cultural study of childbearing. So there has always been an intense interest in this area.

Furthermore, as you know, I have never given birth myself. I built my family through adoption. So the interest in actual birth has always been a curiosity. I have always wanted to WITNESS a birth! When I worked for an ob-gyn at Boston Medical Center, I requested permission to witness him delivering a baby. It was not granted. Then when I was working for another ob-gyn at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, I again requested permission to witness a birth. Again my request was not granted. By then,my interest in birth was off the charts!! I wanted to see a baby being born with my own eyes.

Have you encountered any obstacles in light of the fact that birth is such a private affair?
Yes. Many hospitals have a policy against photographers in labor and delivery. Many doctors abide by this strict policy but some quietly ignore it and welcome my presence. In advance, the mom-to-be has already informed her birth team that I will be present. Sometimes the team invites me up close and personal while other times I am kept at a distance with a long lens. I have not been allowed in the Operating Room/Surgical Suite for c-sections but I am hearing of more and more photographers who have been granted that access.

Births, of course, can not be orchestrated. I can not suggest the perfect shot. I can not request additional lighting. Flash can never be used. I try to make my presence invisible.

Do you work alone or are you part of a group of photographers?
Up until recently, I was a contractor with another birth photographer’s business. But due to the distance I had to travel to photograph her clients, I have chosen to work alone and offer my services to clients delivering nearer to home. With all the hospitals and medical centers located in the Greater Boston area, I will be busy. In fact, as I write this I am on-call for a birth that will take place at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge.

Though I have yet to document a home birth, that is something I am very interested in.

To contact Maria for more information about Birth Photography you can reach her on her business number: 781-354-6096

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