Well, I am finally sitting down to write about my recent submission to the Image of the Year Competition with IAPBP, a professional association I am a proud and grateful member of. This was my first year submitting because, quite simply, 2016 was my first year photographing births. A pretty big deal! Don't get me wrong, though, I had cold feet when it came down to submitting, and for many many days, I couldn't even sift through my work because my insecurities and fears that I'm just not good enough yet, got the best of me, and prevented me from moving forward with my selection process. This is a big part of why I stayed silent about the competition at all, and didn't mention that I'd entered until truly the last minute. I also submitted my images on the final day, and, actually, in the final hours before the deadline. Cut it really close! But that's how it goes. I don't think I am the only one who had jitters. I have always been a perfectionist, and that can make things difficult, when it comes to showing my work off, especially in front of other peers and people I consider to be idols.
My submissions | and their categories.
"Near the Citadel" | Labor
"A Strength Discovered" | Delivery "Honoring the Temple" | Postpartum
"Droplets of Mercy" | Birth Details
However! The point of this competition, with over 600 submissions, and 21 judges and numerous organizations and companies sponsoring the event, is not actually about competing per se. It is a form of activism, if you will. A celebration and advocacy for birth photography in an industry and society at large that still has a long way to go in accepting/embracing birth as a legitimate area of photojournalism and visual artform. I don't want to dig too deeply into the why's and the problems and challenges pertinent to this subject, but I will say... that birth photography is immensely important on a number of levels. It is empowering and educational. It is uplifting and therapeutic to those who have experienced trauma and loss, eye opening to those living settings where education on childbirth and/or pregnancy is limited. It gives hope to those who live in places around the world where womens rights are not fully established yet, or where birth is simply not normalised in any way, shape or form - which is, sadly, more common than you might think.
There is huge demand for it, and that demand isn't fully understood yet. Which is precisely why it is *so* important for organizations like IAPBP to put out these wonderful competitions, to have them cricle the globe and get attention wherever and whenever possible, so that people around the world can get exposed to the idea of birth photography and what birth is all about, and how birth can be such a natural, normal, everyday thing while still possessing a sacredness, an other-worldliness... and awe-inspiring quality that makes you pause and contemplate humanity, and feel grateful for everything you have in your life, and everyone you hold dear.
So here is the full collection of submissions for the 2017 Image of the Year competition. Click here to see it all - starting with the winners in each of the 4 categories: Labor, Delivery, Postpartum and Birth Details, followed by 21 Honorable Mentions and then all the other submissions - all of incredibly.
I was shocked to learn that not only one but two of my submissions received Honorable Mention from the esteemed judges. It was pretty amazing, learning this last week, and put me right on top of a wave I've been riding ever since... I just feel so happy to have been recognized, but also, so happy for the amazing people in my photos... the women, their partners, their stories, getting attention and recognition for the amazingness and uniqueness that was their birth journey. It feels incredible being a storyteller for the people that I meet along the way, and when those stories are celebrated and congratulated in some way, well that's just icing on the cake.
Here are my Honorable Mentions:
"Droplets of Mercy" | Birth Details
"Honoring the Temple" | Postpartum
Several of my friends and colleagues were named winners here, and I am so proud of everyone who was recognized and everyone else who participated with the intention of shining a light on birth photography - something each of us, who entered, hold extremely dear.
I am also going to be smug for a moment and proudly share that I totally called the winner in the "Labor" category as being Katie Mathis - so happy for her and her incredibly deserving image.
Other photographers in the Honorable Mentions category whom I deeply admire and love with all my heart include:
Rebecca Coursey, Hannah Palamara, Cat Fancote, Stephanie Entin, Neely Fox and many others... Please look over the competition and take it all in... it's such an incredible body of work, one which I am so proud and grateful to be a part of.
Since the competition went LIVE last week, it has been circulating the globe which has been really amazing to see!
Some of the publications include:
BabyBlog from the Netherlands
Universo Mama from Italy
The Natural Parent Magazine
The Daily Mail UK
Kids Spot from Australia
This competition has left me rejuvenated and excited to create more memorable documentary art this year, to continue celebrating birth in all its shapes and forms and paces... to continue empowering and supporting women and their partners and families, in their birth choices and life stories, and to continue following this dream of mine to capture the amazing moments in birth and everything surrounding it. Thank you for reading this! I will try to do better at updating my blog moving forward, sharing snippets of my weekly projects, and also some thoughts and feelings along the way.
Contact me, if you are considering birth photography! I would be most excited and pleased to hear from you.