birth photographer

BELLY BIRTH OF BABY M - Michiana / Indiana / Michigan Birth Photographer

When you have five babies due within a ten week span, and they all decide to come in ten DAYS, its always an exciting time! Baby M was originally due in mid-August, but after his pregnancy caused some complications (and scares), for mom, it was time to schedule a c-section. While this didn't fit into the parents' original natural birth plan, it was what everyone involved felt was necessary and best all around and it was just as beautiful if things had gone as planned (but lets be real here, do babies EVER follow the plan?!). 

Meeting these two sweet parents was such a joy. At their consult, it was clear that they were prepared and thrilled to be welcoming another baby to their family of three and from what they said, big sister was more than ready to take on the new role, too. 

After it was decided that a belly birth was best, we changed up our plans and I experienced the most laid back, on-schedule delivery of my photography career. We met at the hospital bright (well actually dark) and early at 5am for check-in and surgery prep. After hanging out with their amazing and hilarious nurses for a couple of hours, mom was wheeled off to surgery right on time at 7am and baby was born at 7:33am happy and healthy despite being nearly 3.5 weeks early. Everyone was nestled in the recovery room and I'm not sure I've ever seen two parents more in love with their new baby. Mom just kept repeating, "I can't believe how cute he is! I can't believe how much I love him already!" and Dad's teary eyes in the delivery room and inability to look away from baby's face made it pretty clear how he felt about his new son. 

Thank you, V family, for including me in this amazing birth story!

BELLY BIRTH OF BABY Z - South Bend, Indiana Birth Photographer

I first met this sweet set of parents shortly (and I mean VERY shortly) after they found out they were pregnant. They were clearly very excited and wanted to make sure they documented every moment they could of their newest addition. As we talked, they revealed that about a year prior, they had lost a full term baby girl shortly after birth. After going through this tragedy as well as a c-section, they had high hopes for this birth to be both healing and wonderful. I was so humbled to be chosen to be a part of this amazing story.

Fast forward eight months and I got the text: "I'm 90% sure my water broke!" Game time! She was one of the statistically few mommas whose water breaks before contractions even started. After I met them at the hospital, these two did all the right things and worked hard alongside their doula to get baby to drop down and get labor to progress, but baby and mother nature had other plans and after nearly 24 hours of labor, the decision for a c-section was made. While it wasn't what they had hoped for, they handled everything with positivity and a smile. 

After what was probably the fastest c-section I've experienced, a healthy 9lb1oz baby boy arrived safely into the world! Seeing these two parents welcome their new son and compare him to pictures of their daughter was absolutely beautiful. I am always so excited and humbled to be included in this intimate and private time as families grow, but this story was especially beautiful and I am so beyond honored to have been there to capture it!

Doula services provided by Doulas of Michiana. 

Granger Birth Photographer / Granger Birth Photography - A Letter to the First Time Mom

I'm not usually one to make generalizations, but now that I am firmly grounded in the "birth world," I am noticing a pattern: most of my inquiries come from second (or more) time moms. And sadly, there's a phrase that I keep hearing from many of them: "My biggest regret for my first birth was not having a birth photographer." This makes me so sad...and also hits home. 

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I was certain that I wanted it to be a sacred, private experience between my husband and I. I didn't want any unnecessary bodies in the room that I did not need and that included a photographer. "Why," I wondered, "Would I need pictures of a moment I will surely remember for a lifetime?" It is with this in mind that I write this note:

Dear First Time Mom,

Congratulations, first and foremost, for putting yourself on the back burner and nurturing this tiny life growing inside you. You are already demonstrating how selfless and strong you are. 

As you continue through this journey towards delivery day, please consider documenting your baby's birth. I know that this already feels like an overwhelmingly epic event and that you are certain you will remember every precious second of it. But please, think carefully. Remember that birth can be chaotic and unpredictable and often, in these types of situations, our brains fail to remember important details. Details like how amazing your support system was and how strongly they stood by your side and helped guide you through the chaos. Details like your amazing medical staff who you will hardly notice in the moment, but who later, you will appreciate more than just about anyone. Details like your baby's first breath and moment meeting you: mom.

Consider your limited perspective. Your sole concentration will be to get through labor and to get your loving hands on that baby. You will be the very first person to look into baby's face, and that you won't ever forget. But what was Dad's reaction when baby was born? Was your manly-man partner overcome with emotion and tears? Was your partner smiling from ear to ear at the site of their new baby? What was your reaction? Did you cry with pure exhausted joy? Did you laugh out loud in elation? These are perspectives that you simply don't have in the delivery room but that you CAN have when you hire a birth photographer.

And moving beyond ourselves and thinking about our future child. How amazing would it be to sit down with your now mature son or daughter and be able to show them their journey into this world. To show them all of the joy they brought with their arrival. To show them how loved they were from their very first breath. Isn't that a gift you want to be able to give?

So, from one once birth-photography-hesitant-first-time-mom to another, step outside your comfort zone. See the value in this amazing experience and the importance of documenting it. Give the biggest moment of your life the chance to be preserved and revisited. 

Sincerely,

A converted birth photographer

Birth Photography in South Bend - Why You Should ALWAYS Interview Your Birth Photographer

The birth space is a truly personal space; one that is often only shared with loved ones and medical professionals. Therefore, making the decision to invite a birth photographer into this space is a huge step to take. You scour the web for birth photographers in your area; you study their work and decide what style you are drawn to. You reach out for package inquiries and share email correspondence back and forth. Now what? Do you take that leap and invite this person into your birth story? 

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Here are 3 reasons your next step should be interviewing your birth photographer:

1). First impressions matter.

Apply the old saying, "Don't judge a book by it's cover." In this case, an online portfolio and emails are the cover. Do yourself a favor and read a little further! No matter how great someone seems behind a keyboard and computer screen, sometimes you just do or don't "click" with a person. I have yet to do a birth session without meeting with the client at least once before the actual delivery and, speaking from experience, I can truthfully say that every client I have had the pleasure of working with, I clicked with the moment we met. If we hadn't, it would have been in both of our best interests to say a simple, "Thanks, but no thanks." Your birth space is sacred and making sure you are comfortable with everyone in the room is so important!

2). You see their passion.

Birth photography is something that takes passion and commitment. When you meet with someone who is a birth professional (doulas, midwives, OB's, nurses, etc), you can tell right away that these people genuinely love birth and the birthing experience. It resonates from their voices and stories; they don't hide it and are unashamedly excited about it. No matter how eloquent you are at writing, you just can't convey that through text. If you meet with your birth photographer and don't feel their passion, this may not be the right photographer for you. 

Just look at this lovely doula, Rachel, of  Enlightened Labors . Tell me that her face doesn't say it all about her passion for birth. Here's what Rachel had to say about being a part of the same birth team: "As a birth doula, presence in the birth space is so very important. I had the pleasure of working with Cara professionally and she brought a calm and uplifting air in to the client's birth. Not only are her images stunning (and I mean STUNNING) but she added great energy to the space. I can't wait to work with Cara again and will recommend her to all my clients!

Just look at this lovely doula, Rachel, of Enlightened Labors. Tell me that her face doesn't say it all about her passion for birth. Here's what Rachel had to say about being a part of the same birth team: "As a birth doula, presence in the birth space is so very important. I had the pleasure of working with Cara professionally and she brought a calm and uplifting air in to the client's birth. Not only are her images stunning (and I mean STUNNING) but she added great energy to the space. I can't wait to work with Cara again and will recommend her to all my clients!

3). The conversation is revealing.

No matter how many emails I share with folks who inquire with BBP, its just not the same as face-to-face conversation. So many times, when we are conversing, we end up going completely off topic somehow...and that's great! I very clearly remember meeting with my August birth client (I only take on one birth a month so that I can give that mom-to-be my full attention and time) and suddenly glancing at my phone only to see it had been almost an hour and we were laughing and sharing funny aspects of being the mom of sassy toddler girls. Was it relevant to the consultation? Nope. Did it assure both of us that this was a good fit? Absolutely. 

So once you have decided that you do indeed want to invest in birth photography (and you totally should because, well, just look at these beautiful moments below), take that extra time to meet with a few of us. See beyond the price differences and choose the person whose work you love and whose personality you love even more.

South Bend + Michiana Birth Photographer - Birth Photography Can Be PG

It's funny because when it comes to birth photography, people seem to be totally for it or absolutely weirded out by it. Most of the folks I meet who do the "You're a WHAT photographer?!" double take think of all of the raw and unfiltered moments of birth and wonder why anyone would want that documented. And I get it! I really do. (But trust me when I say that even the raw unfiltered stuff can be documented tastefully and beautifully.) However, I'm not here to change anyone's mind or opinion, but I would like to explain how birth photography can be completely PG. Nothing "raw'. Nothing "embarrassing". Nothing you wouldn't want your kids to see. 

Birth photography doesn't have to be "shocking."

Mainstream media has taught us to believe that birth is traumatic and "gross." However, your photos will reflect differently. There are so many moments during labor, delivery and postpartum that are soft, calm and beautiful. A mother laying eyes on her baby for the first time is breath taking; a moment that you can't get back. It's also a moment that we, as mothers, can't see for ourselves. Having photos to look back on and see the joy and relief and pride on our own faces as we meet our children is priceless.

BBP's packages are totally customized long before the delivery.

I realize that birth photography is a big investment, both monetarily and in trust, which is why I want you to feel comfortable and in control every step of the way. At our first consultation, I will answer any questions you have before booking a session and make sure that I am someone you feel comfortable with including in your birth story. Then, at the beginning of your third trimester, we can meet in person, talk on the phone or communicate via email (your discretion) to customize your session. You dictate what moments you want documented and which you don't. For example, one previous birth client wanted minimal labor photos, no delivery images and mainly wanted immediate bonding moments, dad's reaction to seeing baby and all of the little details like weight, footprints and first latch. It was a PG session through and through and the images were refined and beautiful. But don't take my word for it...

"She [Cara] photographed our second son's birth ... and we are completely in love with the photos. She was professional and courteous and like a "fly on the wall" during labor and delivery -- I didn't even know she was there! She asked plenty of questions about what type of photos we wanted to have as a result of her photographing his birth and just made sure she knew what we were looking for."

This is your baby's first milestone. It deserves to be documented.

We document our children's first steps, first words, first everything. Yet somehow, we often don't document their first moments on earth. Babies are born perfect and beautiful and they also change day to day. By waiting to document your baby until the traditional newborn sessions lets days slip by that are filled with changes! Make sure you don't miss your baby's true newborn moments.

Niles Michigan Birth Photographer - Baby C's Birth Story

When I first met Momma T, I was so excited for two reasons: 1) she was a super awesome human and 2) she was having a home birth! For some reason, in our area, birth photography largely happens in the hospital (which is kind of backwards from many other areas). So when I found out I was going to be shooting a home birth, I was incredibly excited! As I got to know this sweet family, it became obvious that this was going to be an amazing birth.

The family of four was team green, meaning they didn't know what gender baby #3 would be. Big sister was pretty set on having a little sister but little brother...well, I don't think he cared much. When I arrived, it seemed that everyone felt confident that we would be welcoming a girl into the world soon. I was so impressed with mom's concentration and calm throughout her long early labor and I loved watching her breathe through contractions as her kids played around her, like nothing exciting was even going on. These thoughtful parents also gave their oldest daughter a camera for her to document the birth from her perspective (can I admit that I geeked out over this a little?). Once early labor passed into active and transition, stuff got real pretty quickly. Once mom got into the birth pool, it was just a matter of time! Momma T's doula and midwife was so supportive and amazing and helped talk her through her sunny-side-up baby who took a little extra effort to bring into the world.

And guess what? It was a BOY! Just scroll through this beautiful gallery below and see if you can pick out which image showcases mom finding out she was holding her new son. I am so grateful for this family inviting me into their home and into this intimate and emotional experience as they welcomed a baby boy, also their rainbow baby, into this world. What an incredible moment!

Brycen's Birth Story in South Bend Indiana

The thing I love most about births is how unique each story is. Every baby is made differently, loved differently and born differently. No two stories are ever the same and there is so much beauty in that alone. Baby Brycen's birth story is filled with so much love and faith, there is no doubt that this beautiful boy is going to have an amazing childhood.

When I first met Brycen's momma, she shared their journey to becoming parents with me. She described how much they wanted their babies and prayed for them and through God's power and the miracles that modern medicine provides, they were able to have two successful pregnancies. Despite these challenges to bring their boys into the world, this mom was so positive about the experience and willing to share in order to help and support others. It was really very humbling to hear.

Once we had everything in place and were chatting about when to go on-call, we decided to start on-call a little early because her first son came at 38 weeks and was a fairly quick delivery for a first time mom. Better safe than sorry. Fast forward to 41 weeks and one failed induction later and we were both anxiously awaiting this little guy's arrival! During one of our many check-ins during those last weeks, we established a nice little saying: "Babies always come when they're supposed to, but never when they're expected to!" 

Finally, the second induction day came and Baby Brycen entered the world at 5:09pm and weighed in at 9.3lbs. He was perfect and handsome and the love that filled that room was undeniable. My heart can hardly handle this gig, guys. Congrats to this beautiful family and thank you for including me in your journey. 

Baby Lindsay's Fusion Film - Goshen Birth and Newborn Photographer / Goshen Birth and Newborn Photography

Sweet baby Lindsay Cole. Even her name radiates warmth and beauty. She surprised us all (none more than her mom and dad of course) by arriving over five weeks early. While she has faced some health challenges in this first chapter of her life, her strength and resilience continue to shine through. And that is to say nothing of her parents who might just be the most genuinely loving people I have had the pleasure of meeting. Despite set backs and unexpected turns, they persevere with smiles and affection for their new daughter. I was so happy that we were able to squeeze in a low-key Fresh 48 session while baby was feeling up to it; I hope that this video will bring a smile on the tough days and will be cherished in the years to come. While Baby Lindsay continues to grow stronger, my prayers stay with her, her parents and her sisters. 

South Bend Birth Photographer / South Bend Birth Photography - Baby A's Birth Story

I am always, and I mean always, astounded at the strength and determination of women giving birth. The absolute strength and determination; the vulnerability and surrender. It's so incredibly humbling to be included in these moments for these mothers.

This particular mom had a birth plan in mind and I was impressed from day one at how determined she was to accomplish it. Thankfully, the stars all aligned and allowed for that to happen! After nine hours of labor, this woman became a mom at 10:26am, welcoming her very first daughter into this world with exhausted grace and excitement. Watching her push through all of the struggles of an all natural childbirth was so amazing! What strength that took.

With a room full of support from her midwife, doula, nurse, mom, sister and partner (it was crowded in there, yes), there was absolutely no way that this mom-to-be could fail. Her support system wouldn't let her! To see a mom surrounded by so much love and support from those around her was something truly unique and beautiful; not to mention that she was bringing a baby girl into this world surrounded by so much love. 

I am so excited to share these amazing birth photos with you and to help tell the story of Baby A's birth...

Indiana + Michigan Birth Photographer / Birth Photography - Why a Documentary Photographer is Your Best Option for a Birth Photographer

If you have made the decision to have a birth photographer but are struggling to decide which one to book, here is something to consider: obviously, I would hope you would choose me to be included in your amazing birth journey, but I also know there are other great options out there! But there is one statement I'd like to make and explain: documentary photographers are your best option when booking a birth photographer. Here's why...

1). Documentary photographers are experts at the unexpected. 

Think about it: while most other photographers work in ideal settings (see reason 3) and are used to giving closely followed directions for poses, documentary photographers are always photographing in uncertain, unpredictable situations. We don't pose our clients and so we are well trained and practiced at catching moments as they happen, yet still make sure our composition and ascetics are spot on. We are used to dealing with moments that happen quickly so the unpredictability of birth is not surprising or out of our comfort zone. It's just part of the job! 

Take these pictures for example. You can image that these kiddos didn't just meander into the room calmly to meet their new sibling but despite the chaos and movement, I was able to capture each kiddo's reaction to first seeing their new baby sister.

2). We can find beauty in the most complicated moments. 

As documentary photographers, it is our job to capture and showcase moments and emotion in a beautiful way. Birth photography allows us to do this. Moments can be fleeting and in birth, can change quickly. Documentary photographers are able to predict what might come next and best position themselves to tell your birth story and present you with images that show all of the emotions and relationships and interactions that happen during labor and delivery. 

This momma powered through an intense induction by breathing through the surges and relying on her amazing support team. Just look at the calm all over mom's face and the steady reliability of her midwife and husband. 

This momma powered through an intense induction by breathing through the surges and relying on her amazing support team. Just look at the calm all over mom's face and the steady reliability of her midwife and husband. 

If this doesn't tell their story, I don't know what would. 

If this doesn't tell their story, I don't know what would. 

Mom's reaction to first seeing the result of her hard and long labor is always a fleeting moment but one of the most honest and beauitful moments. 

Mom's reaction to first seeing the result of her hard and long labor is always a fleeting moment but one of the most honest and beauitful moments. 

3). Documentary photographers can work in any lighting situation. 

Most photographers work with ideal lighting situations, whether it's artificial light in a portrait studio or a carefully placed family in a lifestyle session. Documentary photographers come into clients homes unsure of the available light (if any) and work around the challenges. Lack of natural light, artificial light, low light; we've seen it all and know how to work around it and still produce beautiful images. So the challenging lighting that can be present in hospitals and birth centers and even home births isn't a challenge we are unfamiliar with and thrown off by. It is a challenge we will meet head on and confidently. 

The only light in this room was the overhead light above the bed and yet this is still one of my favorite images! Just look at those highlights and shadows that capture that perfect dimpled chin.

The only light in this room was the overhead light above the bed and yet this is still one of my favorite images! Just look at those highlights and shadows that capture that perfect dimpled chin.

Lets face it, babies never come when it's light outside! Working around hospital lights is challenging, but the result can be amazing. 

Lets face it, babies never come when it's light outside! Working around hospital lights is challenging, but the result can be amazing. 

No flash? No windows? No problem. 

No flash? No windows? No problem. 

4). Documentary photographers know how to blend into the environment. 

We don't do posing and we strive to capture real, honest moments and to do that, we have to learn how to be present but also non-disruptive to the environment. This is so important in birth! You don't want a photographer who is unsure where they belong in the dynamic or who is a little too involved. Having someone who knows just how present to be is important and reassuring to everyone involved in the birth. 

I could go on and on, but these are my four top reasons for truly believing that documentary togs are your best option when booking a birth photographer. 

South Bend Birth Photography / Plymouth Birth Photography: Interesting Facts About BBP's Birth Services

BBP Serves other areas!

These areas are included for no extra travel costs: Fort Wayne, Valparaiso, Nappanee, Osceola, Rochester, Plymouth, Culver, Argos, Knox in Indiana and Niles, Buchanon, Stevensville and Edwardsburg in Michigan. 

BBP's birth photography is not rooted to just the local area! There are babies being born all over Indiana and Michigan and I'd love to be a part of them, no matter the distance. If your location is approximately 90 miles or less from South Bend, Indiana, I am willing to travel for your baby's birth day at no extra charge! But that doesn't mean that I can't be your birth photographer if you're further than 90 miles; it just means there will be an additional travel charge. I'm even willing to fly or stay in a hotel so really, the options are unlimited.

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"Birth" is a term I use loosely.

Let me clarify: I am a birth photographer. However, that doesn't limit itself to strictly traditional births. I can capture natural or cesarean births, hospital or home births, obviously. But I also think there are other amazing subcategories of birth like:

Adoption Photography

So what if you aren't physically giving birth to your new baby?! You are still becoming a parent and expanding your family and to me, that is as "birthy" as can be. Adoption sessions can cover the birth of the baby if the adoption is organized prior to baby's arrival, it can be the meeting of the baby and parents or it can be the courthouse ceremony that officially places baby in the parents' legal custody. What a beautiful story to tell!

Surrogacy Photography 

Some people are just not built to carry a baby themselves and that can result in one of the most beautiful gifts one woman can give to another: surrogacy. BBP would love the chance to capture this entire journey of surrogacy from start to finish. 

Fertility Photography 

When a baby is wanted so badly but takes some extra effort to make it's appearance, there is often an epic fertility journey. This journey is often so emotional and beautiful, especially when the end result is a long awaited baby (or babies). Just check out this amazing journey as documented by Sarah Krieg.  

BBP offers not only birth photography, but birth video!

Fusion films and video are one of my favorite things to offer! By capturing short clips of video and sewing them together into one beautiful feature, your baby's birth story is told so much more completely.

You can save money on BBP's packages

I realize that birth photography is a big investment both in trust and finances. However, as a way to help you save some money in the process, you can get 15% off by signing a model release (and no, I will not post any nude or "extreme" images from your gallery. In fact, if I even question your comfort with using an image in my portfolio for modesty reasons, I will ask your permission beforehand, even with a signed model release). You can also save 5% by signing your contract and paying your retainer within three days of our initial consultation.

Every birth package is totally customizable

I want you to walk away loving your images. It doesn't matter if I have a preference of composition or moments; if you want something specific, I will do my best to deliver it. You have an infinite amount of possibilities when designing your package, which is why we have an initial consultation to go through the basics and then a second, more in-depth consultation close to your due date. This is one of the biggest moments of your life and your photos should reflect exactly what you want.

For this momma, breastfeeding was one thing she wanted to capture. By customizing your packages, you're able to specify what moments mean the most to you. This is a forever favorite image of mine!

For this momma, breastfeeding was one thing she wanted to capture. By customizing your packages, you're able to specify what moments mean the most to you. This is a forever favorite image of mine!

I hope this gives some of you readers some good foundation to work off of when you think of a birth photographer. Please contact me to set up your first consultation! I can't wait to work together. 

 

Michiana Birth Photography / Michiana Birth Photographer - Why Birth Photography?

"Why birth photography?"

It's a common question I hear, often with different inflections behind it, depending on the source. I usually give a short, simple answer and move on but this last time someone asked me, it really started to stir in my mind. Why do I concentrate on birth photography? What are my reasons? I've written many blog posts about why YOU should choose birth photography (like all of these), but I've never spelled out exactly why I do it. So, here it goes...

Its Beautiful

I think this is the most obvious answer but rightly so. Birth. Is. Beautiful. There is absolutely nothing in this world more amazing than watching parents meet their new creation. It is so insanely humbling to watch a baby placed in their parent's arms and know that this baby is a direct result of love. Whether it is the first baby or the eighth, a long awaited result of a plan or complete surprise, this baby is here because their parents loved each other. I mean, wow. It's the most beautiful love story ever told.

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It Needs to be Normalized

Now don't overthink this one: I'm not a super crunchy granola momtog (nothing against those folks, I'm just not one of them). However, it boggles my brain how something so normal as birth can be considered so tabu. I mean, we were all born. Most of us give birth. It happens daily. Its literally the creation of a person. How is this not considered the most normal thing in the world?! Birth photography allows me to play a small role in nudging birth in the right direction, into the normal zone.

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I Meet Amazing People

I am a people person. Before I was a photographer, I was a high school teacher. In college I worked in retail sales. In high school I taught horseback riding lessons. I love people and I love meeting new people and honestly, some of the most amazing people I have had the privilege of meeting were a direct result of a birth. The parents I have met make me want to be a better mom myself. They are always so loving and open and fun to be around. The birth team members are also some truly wonderful people who put their own needs and ideas aside to give mom the attention she deserves. What a blessing it is, having a job that brings so many lovely people into my life!

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Its Intense and Fun

I love the feeling of excitement. I am that person who shows their excitement, sometimes even too much so. This means anything that can give me that "can't wait" feeling, I'm hooked. The entire labor, delivery and bonding experience is just flat out thrilling! Pretty much nothing can compare to watching a new life join the world, take his/her first breath, finally meet the mom and dad they've been listening to for the past nine months. It gives me all of the feels and makes my heart so happy.

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I'm Selfishly Intrigued

My own birth was not what I had planned (read about it here) and I honestly feel like I somehow missed some of it, even though I was there. Being at other women's births gives me a peak into what I missed! In some ways, I missed out on a vaginal birth so watching other mom's deliver this way allows me to see what its all about. Watching another mom's c-section (something I'm yet to do but hoping to experience) will undoubtedly be equally as amazing because I will see exactly what I went through from an entirely new perspective. 

Those are my reasons for wanting to being a birth photographer. I'm sure I could list about 15 more but for your sanity, I will keep it brief. If you are considering birth photography, please don't hesitate to contact me. We can chat (totally noncommittally) about your birth journey and if that includes birth photos.