Birth-plan

Photographers Unite To Support Families Recovering From Infant Loss

Fourteen top Queensland portrait photographers have joined forces in a unique charity drive to educate expectant parents and support families who’ve suffered the loss of a pregnancy or baby.

Earthside Collective sees in-demand photographers, normally in competition with each other, “give back” to deserving families via charity Gift Sessions – maternity, newborn and lifestyle portrait photography sittings.

RELATED: Is Miscarriage The Last Taboo?

The gift sessions will be donated to 26 families per year who have overcome the loss of a pregnancy or baby or experienced premature birth, who are now celebrating the safe arrival of a “rainbow baby”. The term “rainbow baby” refers to a baby born to parents who previously suffered a miscarriage or stillbirth.

Brisbane’s Tanya Love of Tanya Love Portrait (pictured below, at work) – one of the founding members of Earthside Collective – said the community had embraced the charity concept following the recent launch of www.earthsidecollective.com.au.

“We had a simple idea and we never dreamed that it could be so great!” Ms Love says. “It has taken many months to get off the ground, but we certainly launched with a bang. The reactions and support from people have been amazing.

“Many of us have worked with families through the organisation, Heartfelt, seeing their sorrow and grief as they struggle through the loss of a baby. Some of us have lost babies of our own. We wanted to offer a service to those families who find themselves welcoming a child after a previous loss.

“We know that while exciting, subsequent pregnancies and births can be fraught with anxiety and fear and we decided that offering gift sessions is a way that we can not only celebrate with the family, but also support them in such an emotional journey.”

birth photography, birth plan, Tanya Love

The Earthside Collective website also provides resources for expectant parents when planning how to document the impending birth of their child through photography. Each of the 14 participating photographers’ profiles is showcased, as are the services, products and support offered by the group. Guest blog posts from birth-related industry professionals such as doulas, midwives, infant chiropractors and more will also play a pivotal role in building the resource.

Having met through their joint love of volunteer charity work, the photographers are continuing their ethos of “giving back” via Earthside Collective. Brisbane newborn photographer Luisa Dunn says she relishes being a part of the charity campaign. “For me, giving back is about the heart and soul of the person who is only complete when they are paying it forward,” Ms Dunn says. “Given our skills as family photographers, we felt that offering gifted sessions was the perfect way to help families and fulfill a need in the community.”

For more information, contact Tanya Love on 0458 006 740, visit www.earthsidecollective.com.au, or email admin@earthsidecollective.com.au.

birth photography, birth plan, Tanya Love

December 23, 2014

Brisbane Birth Photographer Captures Miracle Of Life

It’s hard to imagine a more meaningful, special and intimate moment in a woman’s life than when she gives birth – and a Brisbane photographer is capturing it all on film, at the forefront of the emerging genre of birth photography.

Tanya Love, 38, whose business Tanya Love Portrait is based in north-west Brisbane, has been a photographer for almost 15 years, specialising in wedding and “creative conceptual family portraiture” before she turned her had to children and birth photography.

RELATED: Water Birth: Pros And Cons

Tanya (pictured below) cut her teeth as a photographer when, as a young mum, she lived in isolation in Mt Isa where her first husband worked in the mines. After opening a small modelling/promotions agency, Tanya found it difficult to find reputable photographers to do model lookbooks, so bought herself a film SLR and the rest – as they say – is history.

“Before long, people were asking if they could pay me to photograph them and it went from there,” Tanya says. “I have always had a personality that gets bored very easily and over the years have found that I go from hobby-to-hobby and job-to-job quite quickly. When I picked up a camera, I noticed that not only did I not get bored over time, my passion grew as much as my skills did.”

birth photography, birth plan, Tanya Love

Fast forward to Brisbane, 2005, where Tanya and her second husband and her three kids settled, where she worked as a full-time wedding photographer for two years. Two more babies followed – Tanya’s kids are aged 16, 15, 12, 8, 6 – and she found it increasingly difficult to devote all her weekends to wedding work, so she “retired” from photography.

After a stint in retail, Tanya returned to her great love – professional photography – with renewed passion and motivation, and a new focus – children and birth photography. She did her first paid birth photography assignment in 2011. And while her clients range in age, all share a common desire to capture beautiful shots of their births, be they at home or at a hospital.

“I still do the odd wedding, but births and children are where my heart lies,” Tanya says. “Birth photography is a total adrenalin rush for me! Even after all of these years, the miracle that is birth is never lost on me. It is such an honour to be invited into a labouring mumma-to-be’s birthing space, and to know that they trust me enough to capture such an intimate and life-changing moment for their family.

“I still view every birth that I am at with childlike wonder and awe. The strength of a woman’s mind and body can never be underestimated. The hard work that we all put in to bring our babies into our arms is something that I will never understand or tire of seeing. It is an absolutely amazing thing to bear witness to.

“When a wonderful birthing environment is created and the mother-to-be feels completely supported and loved, she can overcome obstacles never thought possible!  To witness this, to capture it, and to share in those first intimate moments when a family meets their little one for the first time, well, it leaves me on cloud nine every single time.”

birth photography, birth, Tanya Love
As to downsides to the job, Tanya’s says she loathes the requisite hours in front of a computer. “I think there is a common misconception that photographers spend most of their time schmoozing with celebrities and running around having fun at exotic locations,” she says, with a laugh. “The truth is that for every hour we spend shooting, we spend five or six in front of the computer. It can be very emotionally draining, especially for a creative.”

And as for the unpredictability of working with children and babies, Tanya says this can wreak havoc on her home life. “I block out an ‘on call’ period that is one month in total (two weeks prior to and following the EDD,” she says.

“This can be quite limiting with regards to family holidays and travel for interstate jobs. It can be a bit complicated to juggle my kids around a labouring mum too at times, because as you can imagine, when I get that call, I literally have to drop whatever I am doing and get there as fast as possible.

“And of course there’s the light. As photographers, we are forever chasing light, and in most birthing spaces, there is a great lack of it! This can make for some incredibly difficult shooting conditions, but I have been known to become very resourceful too.”

Tanya’s proudest moments are when she gets the shot. “There are so many ‘not to be missed’ moments when photographing a birth, and obviously, there is no chance for a reshoot,” she says. “Generally, shooting conditions can be very difficult with low light, fast movements and the need to be discrete, so it really does get the blood pumping.

“It is a job which involves a deep level of intimacy, trust and respect and one that I never take lightly.  As soon as I enter the birthing space, I take special care to notice the kind of space that the mother-to-be has created for herself and to adopt an approach that will accommodate this. The ability to have empathy, and great communication skills are of paramount importance to ensure that I don’t miss any signals that could create a situation that is uncomfortable for the mother to be or that would impede the ability of her caregivers to provide the support that she needs.”

birth photography, birth plan, Tanya Love

Tanya fondly recalls seeing many a dad faint, gag and run out of the room, but she has no problem with the “business end” at all.

“You have to be a master multi-tasker!” she says, “always observing for the slightest change in the labouring mother, watching body language, listening for changes in breathing and vocalisations. And you’re always anticipating where the staff/midwives will be moving to next so as not to be in their way, constantly changing lighting conditions as the mother to be changes her position and moves to different places in the room, or in her home if it is a homebirth.

“I have often found myself standing up on furniture or crammed into tight little corners to avoid being in the way.  A birth/labour can change so quickly and be so unpredictable that you must always be on your toes, with the correct lens and equipment at the ready in case you have to change your set-up in a millisecond.

“I think it is important for every birth photographer to have had the experience of giving birth themselves as it really helps them to empathise with the mother and to understand the entire process as well.”

Tanya’s inspired by “amazingly talented artists” in her emerging photography genre and her amazing subjects, of course. “A client of mine once said to me: ‘Tan, seeing the world through your eyes makes it truly beautiful place’.  I think of that often and hope that I am always able to elicit this kind of reaction from my images,” she says.

“I know that this sounds cliché, but humanity inspires me: the love of a child, the look of wonder in their eyes as they peer down my lens; the bond between a couple when they welcome their child earth side; hands touching, eyes meeting; the love of a grandmother seeing her grandbaby for the first time; the gentle touch as a toddler holds their new baby brother or sister. “Oh, and colour – colour inspires me more than anything. I just adore colour, and have a real affinity for colour psychology, but that’s a whole other story.”

For more information on Tanya Love Portrait, visit www.tanyalove.com.au.

birth photography, birth plan, Tanya Love

December 22, 2014

Do You Really Need A Birth Plan?

The word ‘plan’ usually freaks me out. Surely I didn’t escape the corporate world to have a baby just to be told that I need to write a birth plan! And how exactly was I supposed to write it when I’d never given birth before and I had no idea what to expect? Yet, after three births I can see that a birth plan has its place and is not just an attempt to control what you can’t control.

Your support people know how to support you

Sometimes when we’re overcome with pain, we don’t make the best decisions in the moment. With a plan our support people can try to steer us in the direction we’d rather be going, but are too scared to.

After reading a few stories about epidurals gone wrong, I had developed almost irrational fear of epidurals and I wanted to avoid it during labour at all cost. Yet, in the middle of it, I found myself screaming for epidural and I was very persistent. If my partner and the midwives hadn’t known how strongly I felt about it, they would have given in. As it was, they kept on offering alternatives and I got through it. The birth left me feeling elated for weeks. I’m not sure I’d have felt the same way if I had had the epidural.

The plan helps deal with your fears

If you have any fears concerning the birth of your baby (who doesn’t?), the birth plan can help you address those fears, so that you can be prepared. Most likely what you fear will never happen, but having a strategy in pace to manage it gives you a peace of mind.

The birth of my second child was very quick and they say every subsequent labour gets even shorter. So before I was due to give birth for the third time I was afraid that I won’t make it to the birth centre and I’d have to give birth alone at home. What if it happened during the day when my husband was at work? What if the baby came out with the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck and I wouldn’t be able to undo it on my own?

I talked to my midwife about my concerns and I half expected her to laugh them off. Instead, she walked me through a process of giving birth at home on my own and encouraged me to have a list of people to call at a short notice who’d be available during the day. I wrote everything in my plan and even though I didn’t end up needing it, it made me feel a whole lot better.

Allow for flexibility

While the birth plan has been helpful for me, I know women who felt disappointed with their birth experience because it didn’t go to plan. It’s important to use your birth plan as a tool and not a standard to measure yourself against. The birth of your child may end up being completely different from what you imagined. Allow yourself the flexibility to change your plan and do what needs to be done. The birth of a baby is a miracle, no matter what. Let it feel like a miracle.

Image by PublicDomainPictures via Pixabay.com

By Tatiana Apostolova

August 12, 2014