INDIANAPOLIS - As any parent knows, nine months is a long time to wait. At the end, it’s painful, even.
You just want to meet your baby girl or baby boy. So, it makes sense that many parents like to document their child’s birth with photos.
Many times, the father or birth coach is handed the camera. They’re expected to snap the moment into a memory. However, it’s not easy to be the primary support system and a photographer at the same time.
Just ask Crystal Turner. She is a mother of twins whose husband was in charge of documenting the day.
“I made him quit being my support person when I needed him to be a support person and I made him go grab the camera instead,” Turner said.
The experience was less than desirable. She ended up with a few pictures and, in the end, realized she needed a husband more.
So, Turner offers her expertise to women in Indianapolis who may find themselves in the same situation. Her business is called Indy Birth Photographer.
“That is a big deal of why I want to do this for other people now, is to give them what I wish we could have done,” she said.
In the last several years, she’s transitioned from portrait photography to births exclusively.
“Birth photography isn't for everyone. Some people just are not going to accept it, and that is OK,” she said.
Turner is one of a growing number of women who offer birth photography in Indianapolis. Most of these women are mothers. All of them know the limitations of the job.
“Whether it's a few hours or the next day, luckily I have a good babysitter,” said birth photographer Jessica Vaughn.
Vaughn only takes on a couple births each year because the demands of being on call don’t match up with her responsibilities as a mother.
“It's nice to be able to see them take their first breath and watch the parents, especially first-time moms see their baby for the first time is very, very emotional,” Vaughn said.
More parents are hiring birth photographers in central Indiana, including Phil Lee and Olympia Ming.
Both are medical professionals, so they knew what to expect during delivery. Except, this was the first time they had every played the role of new mom or new dad.
“You wait so long for this day to come and when she's born, it happens so fast and it's amazing at that time,” Olympia explained, “But everything happens so fast and you're pushing, as a woman, you have medications. So everything's a blur. And you know what happens, and just to see it again on a clearer day, it's priceless. It truly is priceless.”
Olympia and Phil received a photo montage from Turner the week after Evelyn was born. The photos and videos brought tears to their eyes and helped fill in the gaps from Evelyn’s birthday.
“Crystal caught that look of Phil's face when he saw his daughter for the first time,” Olympia said, “And it was priceless.”
In fact, that’s the moment that stirs their hearts every time they watch the photo montage.
“It was the first day our daughter came into our life and yeah, we'll never be the same,” said Olympia.
The birth photographer experience was nothing but positive for the family.
“I would highly recommend it to anybody who would ever consider this,” said Phil.
They didn’t give Turner any limitations.
“We wanted everything. This is the birth of our daughter, and it's not roses. I think most women would understand that,” said Olympia.
Parents get the choice to tell photographers how much detail they want shot. The overwhelming answer RTV6 got from the professionals we reached out to: “the mom sets the boundaries.”
Many are choosing to document anything and everything, which photographers believe is absolutely beautiful.
“Once you take away the color, it's more artistic or it shows the emotions. You're more drawn into the picture instead of being distracted by the colors,” said Turner.
Dr. Angela Stevens, a long-time OB/GYN at St. Vincent Women's Hospital, said it's still most common for friends or family to snap their own photos. However, she welcomes professional photographers, too.
“Obviously in emergency situations or stressful situations, we'll have them stay back while things are happening acutely,” Stevens said.
When possible, Turner aims to tell an entire birth story with only photos. The goal in doing so: to be a fly on the wall in the delivery room.
“It never felt like we had a stranger in the room. It never felt like there were cameras flashing everywhere. I never felt violated,” said Olympia.