Friends, we have a problem. There’s a HUGE lack of diversity in the birth photography community. This lack is both behind the camera and in the clients that are represented in our images. If all of your clients look like you, you’re part of the problem.
What NEEDS to happen is that we need more photographers who identify as people of color to do the research and commit to offering quality birth coverage to their clients. I say do your research, because this field is NOT like all of the other photography niches that anyone can do. It takes a special commitment that not everyone is able to give. We also need current birth photographers of ALL RACES to make a more conscious effort to showcase diverse families. Our job is to document birth and in doing so, we visually bring light to birth options – ones that can even save lives.
Consider this: It’s common knowledge that African American women are dying during pregnancy and childbirth at 3x the rate of white women. Yes, things like poverty and inadequate access to healthcare play a big role, but think about where many of these women seek care during their pregnancy. Community hospitals that may lack quality care that are in neighborhoods disadvantaged by segregation. Imagine these women seeing that they have options outside of just the hospital. Imagine if they saw women who look like them giving birth safely at home or at a birth center in the care of a midwife. Imagine if by seeing those images, that they decide to research different options for their care and learned that midwifery care is not only covered by many insurances but that that care is actually significantly more affordable than the hospital they were considering…just imagine. A world where our little pebble of documenting births can make waves on the mortality rate of mothers across the country or the world. How amazing would that be?
I’m not saying that having babies in hospitals are bad and the solution is home and birth center births. I had all three of mine in a hospital with an epidural. I’m saying that my hope is that women of color know there are options out there, and what better way to bring that awareness than through the imagery of birth.
The big question for birth photographers who don’t identify as people of color, who would like to expand their portfolio, is how? How can you offer a model call to build the diversity in your portfolio without offending the people you are hoping to serve. I would suggest not asking publicly, because there’s a good chance you’d be met with crickets. Consider reaching out to friends and fellow birth workers to see if they have clients who fit what you’re looking for and ask them to pass on your model call info. Ideally. Your “middle man” would be someone who knows your heart and can advocate to the client on your behalf.
So, let’s do this. Let’s do our part to make a conscious change in society through our birth photography.