Having a child is one of the biggest milestones in a person’s whole entire life. The process of becoming pregnant and having a child is also a miracle in itself. Carrying a baby for nine months and then giving birth to it is no easy feat, which is why pregnancy and motherhood (and fatherhood) are so beautiful and intimate. This is also why many expecting parents document the birth of their child. Birth photographers all over the world help expecting parents document the biggest moment of their lives, and develop a foundation of trust and intimacy with parents when they do.
The International Association of Professional Birth Photographers (IAPBP) holds a photography competition each year to recognize and celebrate the miracle that is birth, and it has just announced the 2017 winners.
The photos are raw, intimate, and beautiful. Here are just some of the photos in this year’s competition.
The International Association of Professional Birth Photographers is a rapidly growing association.
The organization has over 1,200 members across 42 countries all around the world.
The IAPBP was initially created to help expecting parents search for professional birth photographers and videographers.
The organization helps educate parents and other birth professionals. The IAPBP’s main goal is to help expecting parents as well as photographers understand what the birth process is like and offer support.
The International Association of Professional Birth Photographers hosts the IAPBP Image of the Year Competition every year to show the world the beauty behind giving birth and creating new life.
The IAPBP’s website offers a variety of resources for expecting parents who wish to document the birth of their child. The competition has gained popularity all over the world and has also gained much media attention.
These resources help expecting parents find photographers and even videographers to film or capture the birth of their child.
The website also allows expecting parents to search by city or even by country to find a photographer or videographer.
The organization’s website also allows photographers and videographers to become members and even showcase their portfolio and samples online.
Photographers and videographers who document these births have said that sharing such an intimate experience with parents is spiritually lifting. It also takes a lot of trust.
Lyndsay Stradtner is the founder of the association and is also responsible for organizing the annual birth photo competition. She says that she looks forward to the competition every year.
“My favorite part of running the competition this year was sitting down and looking at all the entries together in one place,” Stradtner said in an interview.
Lyndsay Stradtner herself is also a photographer. She photographs births as well and loves the power behind birth photos. She also loves the intimacy of sharing the moment with expecting parents.
“I see a photo shared here and there all year long, but when presented together, they have even more power in showing how strong women are.” Stradtner says.
The annual photography competition has been held for six years, and involves winners from five different categories.
These categories include overall, labor, delivery, postpartum and birth details. 2017 is the first year for the birth details category. The birth details category is meant to help tell the story of the birth.
“Birth photographers are storytellers and so much of that story is in the details,” Stradtner said in an interview with TODAY Parents.
“We added this category this year because we wanted more of the small, simple, beautiful, moments to be seen by the world.”
2017’s overall first place winner for the entire competition was professional photographer Jaydene Freund. She is a photographer from Vancouver, British Columbia. Freund has been photographing births for over seven years. She says she has photographed over 100 births.
“I’m so honored that I won…with an image that so many women can relate to,” Freund said.
Freund won the competition with an image of a woman being driven to the hospital while in labor. “You labor at home as long as you can, and then you realize it’s time to go to the hospital. That car ride can be intense for both mom and dad.”
Kourtnie Scholz was the winner of the new birth details category. Her stunning image features a mother holding her newborn baby while the placenta and umbilical cord lay on her body.
“This momma went through a lot,” Scholz said.
“That placenta meant more to her than anyone will ever know—seeing her son alert on her body, looking at him broke her to her very core reminding her how beautiful birth is.”
Scholz explains that a big part of helping expectant parents tell their story is being able to build a solid foundation of trust with them. Without that trust, the intimacy isn’t there.
“It’s a calling, and not always easy. But I wouldn’t change it for the world. I love capturing forever moments,” she said.
Birth photography is growing increasingly popular every year, and the IAPBP hopes that this trend continues to grow. The IAPBP continues to provide resources to expecting parents who wish to document their pregnancy and the birth of their child.
For more information or to see a full list of the winners of the 2017 competition, go to birthphotographers.com