For nearly everyone involved, the miracle of birth is undoubtedly a life-changing event. But along with being life-changing, childbirth also contains moments of raw emotion, community, surreal beauty, and powerful resilience. It's these moments that birth photographers set out to capture for families. And unlike the often sanitized versions of childbirth depicted in television shows and movies, the winning set of images from The International Association of Professional Birth Photographers' (IAPBP) annual birth photography competition capture childbirth's real-life magic.
"We are especially excited about this year's winners because they truly represent the passion and skill required to capture moments like these in an unpredictable and uncontrollable environment such as the birthing space," IAPBP Director Liz Cook tells Romper. "We believe competitions such as ours are important to help spread the beauty of birth, but also to set a new standard each year for excellence in the birth photography industry."
While often emotional and beautiful, birth photography can sometimes be raw and graphic. Readers who are squeamish or uninterested in seeing nudity, blood, or other bodily fluids should consider this to be their warning. Otherwise, you'll find this year's crop of IAPBP winning images — which range from overall champs to members' choice winners to honorable mentions — to be a stunning collection of birth stories from around the world.
While some images capture the moment of arrival, others capture the euphoric exhaustion that follows or the strength and power that proceeds. Other images capture quite, tender moments between child and parent, sibling and newborn, mother and father. And according to Cook, it takes a special kind of photographer to capture such emotionally-charged moments.
"Our artists are knowledgeable, talented, and quick thinking," Cook tells Romper. "They are able to be present for events like these because they spend time building relationships with their clients, becoming a safe person in the birth environment while simultaneously using their photographic talents to preserve memories for families all around the world."
Browse through the 2020 Birth Photography Image Competition winners below: