Written by Liane Bourke - Melbourne based birth and lifestyle photographer.
I like to joke that I would love to have Hermione’s Time-Turner and travel in to the future to visit my birth photography clients as little old ladies.
We’d sit there drinking tea (or gin) and flick through their birth albums, remembering all the fun and frenzy of birth and early-motherhood, reflecting on how they felt in that time of their life.
Why did I choose a career in birth photography? Well, it all comes down to capturing a tiny (but important) moment in the super-fast passage of time.
One day – and I swear, if this hasn’t happened to you already, it WILL - you will be out somewhere and your little one will be playing, having a tantrum or generally being darling-and-cute, and someone will lean towards you and say “they grow up so fast!” Sometimes, it’s someone your mother or grandmother’s age, but sometimes it’s people your own age. Sometimes – particularly mid-tantrum (yours, or theirs) you don’t reeeeaaaally want to hear it!
So why do they say this? Because it’s SO.TRUE.
One of my inspirations for a career in birth photography? Surprisingly - my mum! Although not well known for her trend setting ways, when it comes to birth photography she was ahead of her time. She had photos taken 21 years ago when my sister Jessie was born.
Birth photography was certainly not a ‘thing’ back then. In those days, my mum said that the man from the local paper came and took a picture of your newborn in hospital, but he CERTAINLY didn’t capture your birth!
She asked my Nanna Kaye to take the photos for her:
These photos weren’t for anyone else to see; they were just for me. My Nanna took the photos, took the film out of the camera and handed it to my mum and neither actually saw the pictures.
I asked her why those photos are so important to her:
Memories of my births are of course etched in my heart, but it’s lovely to have the pictorial record too. A picture paints a thousand words and for me, a picture can prompt as many memories.
I asked her what she sees when she looks at the photos:
I see a very young person, even though I was 40 when I had Jessie!
It’s interesting to look back - I can see what I went through. As a midwife it was also interesting to see the technical side/stages of labour. When you’re labouring you really are in a different space. It’s a bit like your wedding photos - the photos bring back memories but you see from another perspective.
And it’s lovely to see those first snuggle pictures and meeting the older siblings - they were pretty special photos, pretty special memories.
Why did she want the photos?
Having been a midwife and seeing how much babies change within that first week after delivery, the process itself and the photos straight after birth were something I wanted to capture so that I could remember.
Photographs capture moments in time but more than that they cement memories for future recall.
So why did I choose a career in birth photography? Because it’s an epic, emotional and pivotal time in somebody’s life. And despite ALL of this, memories can STILL fade – and what an honour it is to capture them.
But I’ll leave you with this wisdom from my mum:
I was never in photos, I hated being in photos – but these photos - they aren’t about you as such, they’re about the moment. Birth isn’t glamorous but birth is so romantic because it’s all about the universal connection. With birth photography, we can look at those photos and feel the connection.
If you want to see some gorgeous birth images I'd encourage you to have a look at the Australian College of Midwives 2017 Birth Photography awards.
ABOUT LIANE BOURKE PHOTOGRAPHY
Birth and Lifestyle Photography. Based in Melbourne.
Biz owner: Liane Bourke
Coffee order: Almond Magic
Fav cafe: Ooh such a tough choice! Depends on where I am, in Yarraville it’s Butcher 128 or if I’m in South Melbourne the Magic on Ferrars.
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