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Lately I have been having a crisis of sorts. I’m really “over” a lot of what is involved in birth photography. I couldn’t care less about whether someone chooses to have a homebirth or a hospital birth, whether it is natural or medicated, cesarean or vaginal. I think we all know in our heart that the kind of mother you are to your children is much more important than the method of delivery. I am more interested in the emotion of it all, not the birth statistics. I want to give women something they will cherish, I want to enhance their birth experience. That is why I started doing this in the 1st place. Recently though I feel like a lot has gotten in the way of my love for birth photography. I want to be spending my time doing something that matters on a much larger level. I truly feel like I was made for *more* than what I am currently doing, but I haven’t been sure how to get to where I want to be and I have been overwhelmed thinking about it. I kept telling myself “I just have to be inspired, I NEED to be inspired!” But nothing happened. Time creeps by, same shit different day… I bet you all know how it is.
Well finally April brought change. I had a short conversation at a dinner with Christy Martin (an incredibly awesome midwife in my area) about her mission trip to Mali. Then after already having Africa on my mind, a break in births gave me an opportunity to pick up a book and actually read more than just a few pages at a time. The book is called “A Thousand Sisters” and it is about a woman who founded a national organization called Run for Congo Women after learning of the devestating effects of the Rwandan genocide on womens lives. She was then able to travel to Congo to meet the women that her run sponsored. The book led me to an organization called Women for Women International and at that point I pretty much knew what I was going to do. I signed up as a sponsor.
I picked Sudan over the other 7 choices listed because the information I found was astounding. Here are just a couple of facts: 1 in every 6 women die in childbirth and 1 in 6 babies die before their 1st birthday. Can you imagine?! The thing about sponsoring 1 woman though is that it makes you feel terrible because this is only 1 woman out of *millions* in need.
Today I saw an amazing video about a wedding photographer and his efforts in Africa, and again, I knew what I was going to do. I’m not going to try to “make a difference” in this big bad world all by myself, I’m going to get my clients involved. Women with families love other women with families. We all want to feel like we are doing something that matters and that we are a part of something bigger. Everyone who knows me knows that I love introducing my friends/clients to each other and making connections. I think this is the perfect way.
This is what I’m thinking… Starting right now each of my clients will have the option to donate $30 out of their total birth photography fee to a group sponsorship with Women for Women International OR they can decline doing that and have that money go right into my own bank account. The next 11 women whose births are coming up that want to participate will, in essence, be paying for 1 months worth of a WfW participants 1 year sponsorship. When I have completed these 11 births, and therefore have enough money to pay for the entire year all at once, we will all vote on which country we sponsor a woman out of (majority rules) and then once we are matched with someone we will *all* be able to correspond back and forth with her. After the 1st set of 11 interested clients, I will start over with another group of 11 and so on and so forth. I think this will be successful because not only will it bring my clients together for an important cause, but it will be incredibly meaningful to that woman who will truly know that there isn’t just 1 person, but an entire group of people, that genuinely cares about her well-being.
Now, I could have just kept all of this to myself, but I really wanted to share this with other photographers that I know read my blog and follow my Facebook page. I have only been doing birth photography for about 5 years and it is only in the past 3-4 that I have really had a good idea of what the heck I’m doing, but I have probably gotten between 200-300 messages from people telling me that my photography inspires them. It inspires most to start their own birth photography businesses, it inspires others to plan a certain type of birth and it inspires a few to keep trying for that positive pregnancy test after so many negatives. I don’t want to only be found inspirational because of the pictures I take though. I want something more. If I can do this with my limited number of birth photography clients, what can you do? Think about it and get back to me! *I* want to be inspired! As wedding photographer, Benjamin Edwards, says “Life is meant to be relational. Don’t get caught up in thinking that you don’t have what it takes to give back.”