Local Mom Spotlight: Michelle Lynn — Birth Photographer
I love newborns. Their smell, the softness of their skin and hair, their wrinkly little bodies. I even love their little cries. Anytime I hear a new squish cry in Target, my heart flutters and let out an “Aw!” I can’t help it. It’s involuntary. And almost always followed up by my “need” to have another baby.
But since we have a two year old and a four month old, and my husband turns pale and gets a terrified look on his face anytime I mention another. For now, I’ll settle instead for looking at pictures of newborns on Facebook.
Enter Michelle of Michelle Lynn Hampton Roads Birth Photographer & Birth Services.
I have had a few friends use Michelle and I’ve become hooked on staring at her lovely birth pictures.
And with birth photography gaining in popularity, I was incredibly excited to pick Michelle’s brain on what it’s like to provide not only birth photography, but doula and placenta pill encapsulation services for Hampton Roads moms!
Meet the Mom
1.) How did you get into photography?
When I was growing up, my father was a hobby photographer. He always practiced and used me as his subject. When I was 13, he gave me my first camera and I loved taking selfies and editing them in Photoshop. I want to say when I was 14 I got an award for an image I submitted into a photography contest. I took photography classes (film photography) throughout high school, and after school was done, I didn’t do much with my photography. I had never in a million years thought that I would end up doing birth photography! It was not until I started as work as a doula that I knew I had to do birth photography.
2.) How long have you been a birth photographer?
I have been a birth photographer for five years.
3.) Have you always been interested in birth photography or did it happen by chance?
Birth photography started for me at my very first doula birth. I was sitting next to the mom during her labor and I kept saying to myself, “This would be an awesome image,” every time I saw something that sparked my eye. When it came time for delivery I used my phone to snap images of the baby being born and I knew right then and there that I had to shoot birth. Every birth since I have taken some sort of images for the family.
4.) At what point in labor do you go to the hospital?
Deciding to go to the birth is not a one size fits all situation. Each mom has had different labor experiences. I usually go over past labor history with my families and then make a plan from there. Usually I tell moms I will come when they have hit 5-6 centimeters dilated and have an active labor pattern (4-1-1 method – contractions 4 minutes apart lasting for 1 whole min or close and that goes on for at least a whole hour or longer). If a mom has a history of rapid labor, then I will drop everything I am doing and go to the birth as soon as they let me know they are in labor.
5.) What is the longest you’ve waited at a hospital for a birth?
The longest that I have ever been at a birth was 38 hours. In that time I took a trip home for two hours and took a nap in my car for one hour. The rest of the time I was by the mom’s side documenting and helping out as a doula.
6.) Was it a natural transition for you from birth photography into placenta encapsulation?
I have actually been encapsulating placentas for five years now. I started shortly after I became a doula and have encapsulated a little over 200 placentas now in the last 5 years and will continue to encapsulate. Being a doula, birth photographer and placenta encapsulation specialist just fit perfectly in my life.
7.) What is the best part of capturing little ones entering into the world?
The best part of documenting babies coming earth side is hearing the mom, or dad, call out “My baby!” or something similar when they first see their baby. Capturing that moment in a still image makes me cry every time. There is something so magical watching two people meet their baby that they created together for the first time. You could cut the emotions with a knife in the room. I always feel like in that moment the mom and partner are in their own little world. To be able to show those moments to the family is just the icing on the cake.
8.) How many births have you attended?
I have attended 99 births to date! I will be attending birth 100 any day now.
9.) Are hospitals open to having birth photographers?
I have been welcomed into every hospital in Hampton Roads and each time they have been really receptive to having me there documenting. Once the hospital staff knows who I am and they know that I am a professional, they are more than welcoming when they see me return for another birth. There are still some hospitals in our area that are not thrilled with the thought of having a birth photographer in the room, but this is due to lack of knowledge from non-professionals not following the rules for photographing in the birth room. I really try to help the local community photographers learn their way around the birth room so we can build a solid and outstanding rapport with the doctors and hospitals in the area.
10.) How many births do you book per month?
I usually book between 3-4 families a month for birth. My goal is to be able to book 6 clients per month each month but I am still working on building the demand for birth photography here in Hampton Roads.
On Being a Mom:
11.) As a mom, who or what inspires you?
As a mom, my children inspire me. I know that is cliché to say, but watching their wonder of the world every day inspires me to do the same. We tend to lose our wonder as we age, and being able to see the wonder of the world through their eyes is the highlight of my life. I try to take a step back each day and make sure to really take things in and see what they see.
12.) Favorite kids snack you secretly enjoy?
Pirates Booty! My kids always get so mad when I polish off their bag. It’s just that good.
13.) What is your favorite show to binge watch?
Grey’s Anatomy! I think I have watched all of the seasons at least four times now. I usually put it on when I am editing pictures as background sound. I love any medical drama!
14.) When you’re not photographing births, how do you relax?
I relax by gardening or working on stuff around our house. We are urban homesteaders, so there is always something that needs to be done.
15.) What advice do you have for expectant mothers?
I have way too much advice for expectant mothers! If I had to choose one thing it would be to really educate yourself on the birthing process and how to make your delivery go smoother. There are some amazing birthing classes in the area that really help moms navigate the sometimes daunting road during labor. If more moms educated themselves about their bodies and how it works, we would be having better birth outcomes. When moms know better, they are able to advocate for themselves and find the care that they need for their journey.
**Photos taken by Chelsea Lyn Photography.