Imagine being there at a stranger's birth. Your job is to document. To stand back and capture all those special moments when there is such incredible energy in the room demands a special kind of attention. Megan Crown found out she was the perfect fit for this extraordinary job.
1) How did you become interested in birth photography? Was there a catalyst to shooting births? I shot my first birth for a friend ten years ago. It was amazing, exhilarating, humbling and a complete rush. I loved it; however, I couldn't imagine that people would hire me to do it.
The same friend had another baby in 2008, and I was asked to photograph again. This time it felt like a calling—something I should pursue. But I was pregnant at the time, so I knew my passion for birth photography needed to wait.
By the time I shot my third birth, I knew I needed to make this my main focus. I connected with other birth photographers and got rolling. I have definitely seen the popularity and demand for this type of photography increase over the past several years.
2) What has been the most challenging part of shooting births?
Being on call, long hours, poor lighting conditions—hard to choose just one, but it is worth it.
3) Although all sessions must be memorable, has there been a particular session that was exceptionally memorable?
It's hard to narrow to one!
There was the mom having her fifth and final child who baked an apple pie at the start of her labor. After baby was born, all the kids, mom and dad, and the birth team sat in the bedroom and ate a piece of pie in honor of her son's birth.
There was the home birth of twins, which was amazing because it is rare to see homebirths with multiples in Minnesota, where additional care providers are required.
There was the birth with repeat clients having a rainbow baby (birth of a child after a loss). The year prior, I photographed their first—who only lived 48 hours due to an inoperable heart condition.
At one birth, dad cooked a huge meal afterward, including grilled steaks. We all feasted.
There are many, many good memories over the years!
4) How many children do you have, and were their births documented?
I have three children. Sadly, their births were not documented by a professional. We have a couple snapshots that either my husband or a nurse captured for me. There is one picture in particular that I can see would have been an amazing shot but the nurse who didn't know our camera accidentally focused on the couch across the room and we are all blurry.
5) What advice do you give the mother and father during their birthing session?
Nothing. I really want to capture them and the event as it happens without interference from me. Sometimes if I can see distress on a partner's face, I might offer a word of encouragement or explanation to help ease anxiety. Otherwise, I am a silent observer until after the baby is born.
6) Do you document more at-home births or hospital births, and how does that affect your session?
About 50% of my clients have home births and the other half have hospital or birth center births. The challenges are generally the same regardless of location. Lighting can be tricky. Space can be cramped. However for me, home births are more comfortable—especially if the birth is long. There is usually a couch or an extra bed for catching a nap. Plus the food is usually better!
7) How many births have your photographed to date?
I have photographed 58 births.
8) What is the most rewarding part of shooting births?
I love providing parents with a one-of-a-kind product they can treasure for the rest of their lives. They are so grateful, it makes the job very rewarding.
9) What advice do you give mothers who are considering having their birth documented and how far in advance should they book you?
Birth photography is not for everyone, however if you are thinking about having it done, definitely do it. I have yet to meet the person who has regretted having it done; only the ones who have regretted not having it done.
Most moms contact me during the second trimester, though I encourage moms to contact me at any time to see if I have availability.