I met Megan about a year ago. I have been amazed by her presence at births and have so enjoyed getting to know her professionally and personally during the past year. So often, people worry that having a birth photographer will make the birth team feel like too many people. But she just knows how to blend into the wall, and at the same time, offer hands of comfort, or hand me something I need, all in the perfect time! I can’t stress enough how much people love having a birth photographer. Before the fact, they think they won’t like it, or they won’t need or want those photos. After the birth, everyone just raves about how wonderful her presence was, and even more so, how much they LOVE and treasure the photos! I think birth photography is something that so many people don’t even consider, and then look back and wish they had done it. You can find out more about Megan’s work at her website. Lately her birth availability has been filling up quickly, so be sure to contact her earlier in pregnancy if possible! Of course she has been known to add births to her schedule extremely last minute as well, so it never hurts to check in with her. And on top of birth photography, she also does newborn sessions, family and child sessions, and head shots! Enjoy getting to know her a bit below.
Husband, Ben, two daughters, one son, one dog and three cats.
Arden Hills, MN
Favorite weekday dinner:
Pasta – my husband makes his own sauce with tomatoes, capers and garlic – yum!
There is such a thing?
Favorite downtime activity:
Reading, knitting & watching reruns of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Kate: When did you know you wanted to be a photographer?
Megan: It took years for me to realize that I could do something artistic as a career. Growing up I always knew I wanted to go to college and major in math. My mother always encouraged me to find an artistic outlet however I assumed the artistic gifts which my Grandfather, Aunt and Mother clearly possessed somehow had skipped over me.
After college I worked as a computer programmer/project manager. When I left that job to stay home with my daughter, all I knew was that a corporate job was not something I wanted to return to.
It was at this time I started taking my long held interest in photography to the next level. During the years that followed I found that I had talent, loved the work and the flexibility of the hours was perfect for a busy mom like me. It started to sink in; perhaps this could be my next career.
It has taken a lot of time and hard work to get to the point where photography is my career; I continue to be amazed that this is my job. It isn’t something I would have ever envisioned when I left college or that corporate job. My mom saw something in me all those years ago that I didn’t see in myself until recently. She would be happy that I finally found my artistic outlet.
Kate: How did you decide to get into birth photography?
Megan: I shot my first birth for a friend back in 2005. It was amazing, exhilarating, humbling and a complete rush. I loved it, however I couldn’t imagine that people would hire me to do it. I knew of no one else doing it professionally and there simply did not seem to be a demand for it, so I didn’t pursue it.
The same friend had another baby in 2008 which I photographed. This time it felt like a calling, something I should pursue but again I wasn’t seeing a demand. Then a friend of a friend hired me for her birth. By the third time I knew that I had to find a way to do this for a living. I searched around until I found photographers like me interested in birth photography.
I have definitely seen the popularity and demand for this type of photography increase over the past two years. Last year I photographed four births. This year I’ll photograph 3 to 4 times that and the inquires continue to come in. I am excited to see what will happen in 2013.
Kate: Tell me a bit about your business.
Megan: I am based out of Arden Hills, however I travel all over the metro for shoots. Along with births, I shoot maternity, newborn, child & family portraits.
Kate: What is the best part of your job?
Megan: Births are simply thrilling to witness and photograph. There is no re-shooting a birth, so there is a pressure to get it right the first time. I thrive on that. The fact that I can produce something meaningful given I have so little control over what is happening, the environment, lighting, etc – there is a challenge that makes this type of photography so interesting to shoot. To be able to be there and create art despite all the unknowns – it is amazing.
Kate: Some people (kids and adults alike) are pretty camera shy? How do you help them be more comfortable so that you can get better photos?
Megan: For kids, I might ask about a pet or a favorite toy. I get them thinking about something other than the camera in my hand. If they are young and can’t talk, I will just sit near them and interact or play with them a bit first. For adults, the same tactic usually works. That, and being really silly. I love making a fool out of myself in front of clients. It breaks the ice.
Kate: I feel like there is a myth that photos taken by a birth photographer will be really private (or “messy”), and the mom won’t want anyone else to see them. I’ve seen that this isn’t the case at all! What sorts of things do you try to capture at a birth?
Megan: One of the most common things I hear as a birth photographer is that my pictures are a lot less graphic than people were expecting. I am not there to document what happens biologically during birth. I am there to capture the story – where it happened, who was there, how things went, how people felt and reacted. The pictures don’t have to be graphic to do this effectively.
My favorite picture to capture is of mom immediately after the birth. Her face says it all – the mix of intense happiness, relief, disbelief, accomplishment, excitement . . . I think you can see a million things. Another favorite thing to capture is the relationship between the partners. Often I see growth and change in how the partner reacts and works with mom to comfort and support her.
Kate: In terms of birth photography, some moms feel like they will feel like there are too many people in the room. What has been your experience with this?
Megan: I have heard this concern, however in my experience when mom is laboring she is not typically noticing who is or is not in the room as long as the birth space is being respected. I try to always make sure that my actions are supportive of the mom’s birth process. I have never had a mom regret the decision of hiring a birth photographer; I have only heard moms regret not hiring one.
Kate: How would you say that you are unique from other photographers and birth photographers in the community?
Megan: I take time to get to know my clients before the birth. Often I meet in person with them twice leading up to the birth, my hope being that by the time I walk into the birthing space, I am not a stranger.
Sometimes when I am hired for a birth, the client just wants someone who is quiet and will be a fly on the wall, interacting very little with the process. Other times I find I have a more active role to play.
I am intuitive. I know when to be invisible and when to step in and offer help – even if it falls outside the realm of photography. Whether it is feeding and taking out the dog at a homebirth, holding a mom’s hand during a really painful contraction or making a food run for those of us not in labor; if I see a need, I offer help. I really love being a photographer and, when appropriate, being a more active member of a birth team.
Kate: Do you have any advice you’d like to share with our pregnant readers?
Megan: It is so important to be well-educated about your choices and how you want your birth to go WHILE ALSO having the flexibility and grace to let things change when they need to.
Kate: Do you have any advice you’d like to share with our post birth, new mom and new dad readers?
Megan: Trust your gut, relax and enjoy!