Cape Town Birth Photographer »

You might not want to watch without a tissue near by. Don’t say I didn’t warn you! A bit of back story: Mom battled many rounds of pre-term labour and lives with multiple sclerosis. When Aiden’s birth day came, there were complications with her blood pressure and his heart rate so she needed an emergency c-section. Although I made it to the hospital within 35 min of getting the call, by the time I arrived, she was already in theater and I wasn’t allowed in. But I gained access to recovery and put in some of their personal phone photos of their time in theater. Even though the actual moment of birth wasn’t captured, birth photography is about telling the story of the arrival of your child’s life. I was able to still tell his story and capture their day.

The pride and joy of this whole family over meeting Aiden left me so emotional. To start off life that loved by so many people, everyone so overjoyed that you are finally here, its just emotional. Also notice how many times this mom is touched, kissed, and shown affection. She wasn’t overlooked either! 

C-Section births can be beautiful as well. For this mom she describes it as perfect. Speaking of that, go read her blog post on her pregnancy and the birth through her eyes. Its a riveting read. His birth story was also featured in Your Pregnancy magazine.

Then when you are done, see Aiden’s dedication ceremony & celebration.

Mom, who is also a professional photographer herself, had this to say about hiring me:

Michelle Lategan

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I am always asking myself at a birth: What are the parents seeing/experiencing? And also, what are they NOT seeing or experiencing? I’m not just looking for “the moment” of arrival but for all the little details that form the story.

In this image: Wrinkle toes from labouring in the tub. I never ask a mom to pose or like in this image “put your toes out” while she is in labour. She needs me to be the fly on the wall and capture moments without her noticing. Mom’s often tell me at our pre-birth consultation that they want to be sure I get all the details. Seeing details in other birth stories really caught their attention. Not to worry, I’ve got that covered.

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Let’s take a look at what goes into capturing a family’s birth story, and 3 ways in which it is different than a wedding or other photography:

#1: Being On-Call 24/7

People often ask me how does this work since I don’t know when a baby will arrive. Its simple. I’m on-call for your birth about 2 weeks before your due date until you have your baby. This could end up being about a full month on-call. Even for scheduled c-sections because half of mine end up with spontaneous labour beforehand anyways. On-call means I live with petrol in my car, childcare on standby, both my phones always on, gear packed, batteries charged, contingency plans made constantly all so I am ready to go at any point NIGHT or DAY that you call. 2 am? I jump out of bed and go. In the middle of dinner time? Christmas morning? True story. That happened once! It is stressful of course so I do limit the amount of births I take. If only babies came according to a schedule, but they don’t. I don’t charge per hour or per day as I think that adds stress to a mother. This is a luxury service of having a personal photographer not to be bothered with hourly billing at your most vulnerable. I factor living on-call into all my packages so that I’m ready to be at your birth when your CHILD decides its best to arrive.

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#2: Being Discreet

First of all, a woman has to feel comfortable with me in the room. Its a sacred day in her life. We usually establish this at her pre-booking consultation, just to see if the chemistry is right for me to be on her birth team. Then I aim to be a professional, **quiet**, unobtrusive, fly on the wall presence at her birth unless she engages me. I be what she needs me to be, and that varies for every woman. Many parents tell me “where were you most of the time? I barely saw you.” or “when did you take that photo?” This is because I tend to be behind her, behind a curtain, step out of the room alot, or sitting quietly. I shoot through things often (like this photo), allowing them to frame the moment. I wear quiet shoes or just socks. My hope is that this translates into two things 1) She and her partner can be fully immersed in the emotions of the day and 2) The photos capture emotion that isn’t posed, faked, or feels “watched”. More from this birth here

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#3: Tricky Light

Photography is all about light. Birth photography is alot like going rouge as a photographer, simply because often you have little to NO light to work with. Its tough. Whether in a home or hospital, day or night, light can be limited or mixed. Light is changing as the duration of the birth continues. Light can change on you from in the moment (someone turns on/off a light, position of delivery changes, you are moved rooms, people in the room move around). I work with pro gear and quality lenses. I keep my aperture low and my ISO high. I have practiced extensively with exposing properly in next-to-nothing light. I believe someone’s once-in-a-life-birth is NOT the time to practice. Night births are going to look “grainer” than day births. I have just made my peace with it. I think that adds to the authenticity of what that birth was like. Do I use flash? Rarely. If I do: 1) I only use a bounce flash speed light, not a camera pop up. 2) I have discussed this beforehand with the mother 3) Sparingly, often just for the faster paced moment of birth. 4) If I even get the hint that its distracting, I stop. 5) Never in an operating room or NICU. Here’s an example of a birth that starts late a night until early morning. See how the light changes.
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A beautiful peaceful birth story for these parents whose marriage is an inspiration. Notice how much affection this dad gives all three of his ladies. They didn’t know the gender until the birth, it was a great surprise moment that you really see on the video. We start out at grandma’s house as they drop of their daughter and wait for the right time to head to the hospital all the way to big sister meeting new baby.

Parker-Grace’s parents chose hypnobirthing techniques as taught by Beautifully Born for their birth preferences. Their midwife, Ciska Van Staten form the Birth Options Midwifery team was incredible. At one point you can see the delight in her eyes when she and mom are taking in Parker-Grace’s face. She was truly was in wonder of who this child was and not treating her like a job she does every day. That kind of care and attention is indescribable for a mother.

Parker-Grace’s parents hired me last minute before their due date. I normally book far in advance, but you never know, sometimes a mom delivers early or I have a open spot. So do contact me even if its last minute.

It was a record windy day in Cape Town for their mini-maternity shoot. But their daughter was such a delight and so cooperative none the less. I was in awe of this little girl. The crazy wind was worth the last images of them being just three. Mini-maternity sessions are offered complimentary with all my birth packages. Its 30 minutes, one location, one outfit and 15 gorgeous images for you to treasure long after you are done being pregnant.

When you are done, be sure to see their day-in-the-life session a few months later. Then head over to mom’s blog (The Milk Memoirs) which is a great resource for breastfeeding support and keeping it real motherhood. She even has helped us find great new kid-friendly spots in Cape Town. I am subscribed and love it.

Ok, now Enjoy their story… As always shared with total family permission.

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I’d like to introduce you to a new session I am offering: Day-In-The-Life Sessions.

You. Your baby. Your home. Your family. What life looked like with them at that point in your history together. It can just be mommy & me or your spouse and other children are absolutely welcome too. Parker-Grace’s parents had the whole family there including their dog.

I’ve had so many clients ask me “What about on-going baby and child photos?” I haven’t wanted to become an everything-photographer but I sure do come to love my clients and enjoy seeing their children grow. Watching a baby being born really endears you to that child and their family.

So, I’ve discovered my answer to that while remaining true to my style/speciality and why people hire me. These sessions are relaxed, they are seeing normal life, playing, nursing, getting dressed, etc. Documentary style. We’ll do a couple posed portraits of your child. Then the rest are me following along as you do what you normally do with your child. I will be guiding you towards the right light and positions for beautiful photos. I’ll spend about two hours in your home getting images not only of your child but YOU interacting with them. If you are a proud parent like me, you know your phone is full of their photos but rarely are we IN them except for some selfies. Here’s an opportunity to do that without making it a formal photo shoot.

These sessions are offered exclusively to my clients. The reason being, I want to save time for my primary passion: births. And I think they work so well because we already have a relationship. Its much more relaxed that way. Clients are welcome to book these once off or do them at whatever intervals they would like (big milestones, Holidays or annually). I look forward to watching your families grow.

Here is the beautiful Parker-Grace with her family. I especially love that her parent’s did this for her, as a second child. I am sure that will mean alot to her when she is older. Thank you to this warm family for allowing me in their homes on a Sunday just as nap time was ending.

Oh and if you missed it be sure to see her birth story here. Then head over to mom’s blog (The Milk Memoirs) which is a great resource for breastfeeding support and keeping it real motherhood. She even has helped us find great new kid-friendly spots in Cape Town. I am subscribed and love it.

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