GUEST POST! Why You Should Hire a Birth Photographer by Katie Dohman

Hey guys! It's Meredith, real quick. HUUUUGE thanks to Katie for writing this amazing post for me! I love her perspective on birth photography and I'm so lucky that she wanted to share it with you all. Enjoy!

Why I’d Hire a Birth Photographer Now (And You Should Learn From This Dummy)

So, when I had my first baby (AKA when I thought I knew it all), my long-suffering, ever-patient, good-hearted doula suggested a birth photographer.

“ARE YOU KIDDING ME?” is maybe the most family-friendly way to relate my response, as I was not interested in anyone seeing my vagina in my most vulnerable state ever, let alone paparazzi!

Patiently she nodded and said, “Well, I’m pretty decent with a camera, I can take a few shots. If you don’t like them, you can always delete them.”

That day, she was busy being a doula. My husband was busy being my support person. Between my doulas and my husband, we did get a few shots. A lot of them were blurry, thanks to the combination of low light and high action. (And, it’s important to note … even if your doula is also a photographer, or your husband or wife or birth partner is a photographer…then they can’t be IN the photos.)

photo courtesy of the author

photo courtesy of the author

There is one photo in particular that gets me every time I see it. It is the first moment, the very second, that the midwife is handing me my firstborn child. It is the moment I survived the hardest physical challenge of my life—and got first prize. I’m cradling Ruby, she is looking into my face, and I am looking up with utter delight and surprise, vibrating at a level of emotion I had never felt before. It is the moment my husband and I became honest-to-god parents and we had a family. (PS: I deleted exactly ZERO images, keeping even the most explicit ones.)


Don’t Be Me: A Cautionary Tale

Now I get it. THAT’S why you get a birth photographer: Between the sleep deprivation in those early days and the birth amnesia … stuff gets blurry.  You’ll want something to remind you of your own personal summit-the-mountain moments.

There is a reason why mothers love to tell their birth stories (other than to sick other people out, or haze new moms). It is one of the craziest experiences of your life. It is also one of the most poignant, and retelling that story helps you hang on to those incredible moments before they scurry to the farther reaches of your mind.

And we commemorate just about everything in our lives but somehow birth – the literal giving of LIFE remains… off limits? I’ve never climbed a mountain and I have no intention of ever running a marathon. But I joke my births were my personal triathlon. Having a photographer at the finish line is just prudent, even brilliant. Not taboo.


Teach Your Baby About the True Meaning of ‘Birth Day’

My husband printed out some of the photos of my daughter’s birthday out and put them in an album for Mother’s Day one year. Ruby, now 4, loves to pull the album out and ask about the day she was born, what we were thinking about, what happened. She loves seeing her tiny baby self, cradled in our arms. It was her special day and she can feel that through those photos, imperfect as they are. I love being able to share OUR special day together, in many respects the day our lives burst into full color, together.


Remind Yourself of Your Own Strength and Love

And then I also realized: When you are in the throes of labor, you want to be surrounded by loving people who recognize what a gigantic moment in your life this is. You want them to hold that ground sacred—as much as I REALLY tried not to use the word sacred in this post. When you are in your tunnel-vision birth-warrior place, you might not remember their encouraging or loving faces, their advice. But photos can call up those moments and let you honor them and feel supported. I find it difficult to congratulate myself on much, but I feel my soul-tank getting filled every time I see their loving faces in photos.


Combat the Popular Narrative

Not everyone has five-star spa-experience births, and I’m not about to say we all do. But there are a lot of negative media- and mother-perpetuated myths about birth. It’s hard, it can be painful, it can be traumatic. But it can also be beautiful, incredible, empowering. I want some of the fear around birth to be squashed. I want more of those stories to be heard and seen. A photographer can help tell that story.


You Won’t Care Who Sees What

Honest and true. You’ve got one job, and that’s to get the baby OUT. A good birth photographer will be in the moment with you but not in your face. I didn’t even hear the clicking of the shutter.

Now I wish I’d had a birth photographer at every birth. And it’s why I had Meredith at my third birth. Because even if I were to have more kids, birth days never get less exciting, surprising, or incredible. Seeing your 9-month work-in-progress for the first time never becomes less stunning. January 20 will always be our special day with our sweet Eero Everhart, the day he came into this world, blinking and mewling, and he will be able to see just how much love and anticipation his daddy and I had for meeting him face-to-face for the first time.

It ends up that only blurry thing is my own vision from the happy tears as I look through the images at this amazing thing we did together.

Thanks again, Katie! You can see more images from Katie's Birth Story Session right here.

BIRTH STORY: Katie + William

Eero Everhart | January 20th | 12:45pm | 9 lbs | 21 inches

The only bad thing about going to India for two weeks almost immediately after this little guy made his arrival was not being able to process these images until I got back into town. I honestly thought about this session at least once a day during my travels and I was so excited to get to work when I got home. I appreciate Katie and Wm's patience with me and I'm so grateful to them for inviting me to witness and document their big day and all the love, strength, and laughter that it was filled with. 

According to his mama, Eero arrived just in time to start a love revolution. As she said, "Let's lead with our hearts, but also with the tenacity of boars. We have a lot of work to do."


BIRTH STORY: Brigid + Patrick

Lily | January 18th | 4:49am | 7lbs 5oz | 20 inches

It was an honor to be invited to document Brigid and Patrick's big day. Their little girl arrived after 30 long hours laboring in the hospital and six days past her due date. Welcome to the world, sweet thing!

Working alongside their doula Sarah of Heartland Birth was a pleasure. Find out more about her here.

I went back to the hospital when the little peanut was around 7 hours old to take a few more photos. 


FIRST GLIMPSE: Justine + Jason (in color!)

Justine, who had her baby on November 22nd, 2016, reached out to me yesterday to see if she could get a few photos from her birth story session processed in color. She's the first of my clients to request this extra service and I gladly got to work. You can see her original birth story over here. And below you can check out a handful of freshly edited images from their session: 


BIRTH STORY: Callie + Glenn

Charlotte | December 14th | 10:01am | 8lbs 11oz | 21.5 inches

It was such a privilege to be invited to document Callie and Glenn's newest baby's birthday. She arrived via c-section 12 long, cold days after her due date and her family was so ready (SO READY) to meet her.

Welcome to the world, sweet girl. 

These photos were taken in partnership with Midwest Doulas. 

minneapolis birth photography - charlotte (4 of 4).jpg

Do you want to learn more? Check out my pricing, my birth story archives, or view my testimonials.

Mere's Gift Guide (again!): 2016

More gifts! Yes! 




Hand dyed, small batch, low impact. Gorgeous.



Elizabeth's pieces are unexpected and beautiful. Her utensil holder makes my tiny kitchen tolerable. ;) You can see more of her work here or IRL at The Grand Hand in St. Paul, Gallery 360 in South Minneapolis, and Northern Clay Center.



You know who's the best? Dessa's the best. You know what everyone loves? Everyone loves Hamilton. Get the best of both worlds here.



I wouldn't mind owning a few of Beth's stars. They'd be perfect tree ornaments! 



I LIVE in these clogs. Easy to slip on, super comfy, and just cute enough that I don't feel schlubby. Mine are black; I would love to own this shiny pair too. 




Ethically made in Cleveland, OH. April's tea towels are some of my go-to gifts. Maybe you know someone who will like them too! 


Go forth and boost your local economy. Again! Click here for the first Mere's Gift Guide.

Mere's Gift Guide: 2016

Local and not-so-local gift guide. These are a few of my favorite things! 



Made by Local Ladies and Gents (Minneapolis/St. Paul) 

Missy Monson

If I didn't already have a few of Missy's paintings and if my art collection wasn't already getting out of hand, I'd be all about adding this Summer Nights print to my walls.




Torey Erin

Torey's work is gorgeous. You can find it at Forage Modern Workshop on Lake Street.





Kiki Koyote

I would love to add these Latitude Earrings to my collection.




Love your neighbors and demonstrate your love with action. Start here.



Her Sail earrings are my favorite. See?



Lauren's handiwork is amazing and I love her Leda Earrings.




Hackwith Design House

I would like to spend half my life in this Knotted Dress...






Winsome Goods

...and the other half in this Knit Dress.








Fringe and Fettle:

Joanna's work is charming. I especially love her ceramic colanders




A Mano:

Louisa's spirit rocks are the perfect little gift for the gal who has everything.


Old Mill Candles:

These smell like heaven and I would like a lifetime supply please. Looks like they are taking a break right now so check back later!


Oh Dier:

William is one of the most skilled craftspeople I know. His serving trays are gorgeous.





Stangler Works:

I use my saltcellar daily.







Organized Period

Shannon's organizing services were a lifesaver when I moved into my new house at the beginning of the year. 


Other Midwest Makers (KCMO)

Convivial Production:

My house is dotted with Chentell's work. I especially like her hexagon dishes.







The Object Enthusiast:

Emily's pieces are lovely. This tray is calling my name.





Sweet Destructor:

I can't stop myself from buying Eve's charming bells.


Happy Habitat:

I have had this blanket for *years* and it's the best. The perfect weight, a great size, and it's made from recycled cotton! 







Bonus! (Toronto and Memphis)


This is the purse I use daily. Fantastic quality, perfect size. 






Go forth and boost your local economy! Vote with your dollars! (See Part 2 of my gift guide here.)

BIRTH STORY: Nora + Mr. <3

Nora, you made it look easy.

I met these guys at the hospital around 3pm on November 5th and at 5:34pm, after lots of laughing and some good pushes, they had a baby. Their little guy weighed 7lbs 1oz at birth and, holy moly, does that kid have a lot of people who love him already. Seeing the joy on Nora's face when she held him for the first time, watching the proud papa gaze at him while the nurses cleaned him off, and witnessing his grandma's visit will stick with me forever. Welcome to the world, buddy. You are so loved. 

minneapolis birth photographer - nora mcinerny purmort (21 of 30).jpg
minneapolis birth photographer - nora mcinerny purmort (28 of 30).jpg

Do you want to learn more? Check out my pricing, my birth story archives, or view my testimonials

BIRTH STORY: Justine + Jason

This fantastic couple welcomed their little guy into the world via c-section at 2:34am on November 22nd, 2016. He weighed a whopping 8lbs 14oz, measured 21 inches long, and has lungs on him like no other. His impressive cries were a welcome sound after Justine's long labor. Welcome to the world, Baby J! 

minneapolis birth photographer
minneapolis birth photographer
minneapolis birth photographer
minneapolis birth photographer - justine and jason (4 of 33).jpg

Do you want to learn more? Check out my pricing, my birth story archives, or view my testimonials.

Gifts for the New Baby in Your Life

'Tis the season...


Beatles shoes! Cute!



One of my favorite buddies is named Wally so of course I had to include this adorable whale.





Babies rule, but they also drool. Bib 'em. 


This versatile stacking block set is great for encouraging fine motor skills.


Introduce baby to music with this charming shaker.


Tactile! Non-toxic! This rattle/teether/toy is the best. 


This handmade, eco-friendly sensory toy sure is cute. 


And of course: Sophie.


If you’re interested, here are some great toy recommendation guidelines from the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

BIRTH STORY: Kate + Reed

This perfect baby girl was born at 8:22pm on November 15th, 2016 after a surprise induction and 17+ hours of labor. She weighed 6lbs 1oz, measured 17.5 inches long, and is already displaying her mama's stubbornness and impressing everyone with her tenacity. Reed was an amazing birth partner to Kate, and Kate was strong and brave throughout her long labor. Welcome to the world, Willa Mae! 

minneapolis birth photographer - kate and reed (5 of 22).jpg

Do you want to learn more? Check out my pricing, my birth story archives, or view my testimonials.

a weekend at lake chetac

some friends and i scheduled a very well-timed trip to cabin country a few months ago. beautiful sights, sounds, and people were so welcome and so needed after the craziness of the election. the seemingly endless supply of whiskey was nice too. we woke up one morning to the sounds of trumpeter swans and i found myself wandering down to the water's edge to sit and watch the two pairs glide around on the water. their grace and beauty (and noisy trumpeting!) were just what this nature loving gal needed. later, i brought out my new tripod and experimented with some long-exposure night images on a *very* wobbly deck. more good things: the fresh air, night sky, and wind in the trees. good conversation, genuine laughter, the roaring fires. oh, and so much cheese in so many forms.

Ten Reasons to Add a Photographer to Your Birth Team: Meredith Westin Photography

1. Quality is important.

iPhone photos are great for your Facebook birth announcement but if you want to ensure you’ll have beautiful images from your middle-of-the-night, hours-long birth, you’ll want to hire a professional. I am experienced at shooting in dim lighting without using a flash, I have a camera and lenses that are designed for low light conditions, and I use professional software to help me process your images.

c section birth photography

2. Documenting the timeline.

I will document each detail of your birth, helping you to remember when and how things happened. This is also really helpful for establishing a timeline when you sit down to write your birth story. 

3. It's a time saver

After you have your baby, the last thing you want to do is sort through images, process them, and figure out what company you want to use to print your photos. Having me on your team means you don’t have to worry about any of this. I will have all of my best images of your birth edited, ready to print, and in your inbox soon after you have your baby. 

twin cities birth photography

4. I'll free up your birth team to help you birth. 

You birth team should be helping you birth. Whether it's rubbing your back, bringing you water, or, when things really start to get going, holding your leg while you push, your birth partner should be focused on you and not fiddling with a camera. Your birth team is also an important part of the birth story and should be included in the images.

twin cities birth photographer

5. Capturing the moments you miss.

I'm able to document the whole story, including things that you may never see without the photos, like big sister excitedly waiting to meet her new sibling or grandma tearing up as she tells your birth story in the waiting room. Or even better, the look on your face the moment you see your baby for the first time or seeing your partner hold your baby in their arms.

6. It happens quickly. 

One minute you’re at 3cm wondering how long it's be until you get to meet your baby and then whoa, your baby is in your arms! Well, maybe it doesn't happen that fast, but it sure feels like it when it’s over. Having photographs of your baby’s face right after birth, her squishy little nose, his little cone head, all those things that change so much in the first few hours after delivery ensures that you will always be able to remember exactly what your kiddo looked like the first time you met.

twin cities birth photography

7. I understand birth.

Birth photographers get birth. I have documented enough births to know the general pace that labor takes, I can prepare for certain photo opportunities that often arise, and I know how to respect the mood and energy of the birth space.

8. A different perspective.

Laboring mothers are very inwardly focused. You have the most important and hardest job, delivering a baby. Having a birth photographer present allows you to see your birth from a completely different perspective.

9. Memories fade.

Especially when you consider all of the hormones, endorphins, and sleep deprivation that are part of a new mother’s experience in the hours and days after birth, so many of the details of your baby’s birth story will fade. By having professional photographs, you’ll be able to look back and remember everything perfectly.

twin cities birth photography

10. It’s about emotion.

My primary focus as your birth photographer is capturing the emotion surrounding birth. The moment you see your partner holding your baby for the first time, the moment your baby is set on your chest, still slick and wet, the moment you find out if it's a boy or a girl... I want you to be able to look at your photos years from now and remember each emotion as if it happened yesterday.

twin cities birth photography

Do you want to learn more? Check out my pricing, my birth story archives, or view my testimonials