Birth photographers share the emotions of labor

Lifelong west siders Melanie Pace and Kelly Smith may have grown up in the same neighborhood, but the two photographers met online. After realizing they lived only about a mile apart, the two met in person, and found themselves chatting about natural lifestyles, yoga, raising kids and their work.

They didn’t decide to open Beautiful Beginnings Birth Photography on a whim. Rather, after photographing the births of friends and family members, they started receiving requests from friends of friends. The business idea suggested itself, and with the help of referrals from a local OB/GYN office, the Bowen Center, they now accept up to five clients at a time.

Women typically contact Pace and Smith when they’re between six and nine months pregnant. After an in-person meeting, they’ll update the duo on their progress, typically texting when they go into labor. “We typically go to the hospital when she’s pretty well-established in labor, and is about 6 centimeters dilated,” Smith says.

And if the phrase “birth photography” conjures nudity or gore, consider that almost all of the photographs are modest enough to share with children. “It’s more about the emotion and the experience,” Smith says. Sample photographs on the Beautiful Beginnings website depict moms stretching, hugging friends, squeezing a spouse’s hand and, of course, snuggling newborns.

Melanie agree. “People think birth is bloody and icky and painful, and to some moms it might work that way, but if you understand how your body works and that it was designed to do this, it’s beautiful.”

Beautiful Beginnings charges by the session, which typically lasts about six hours. 

By Robin Donovan
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