Meet Tiffany! Interview with T. Marie Photography, Wichita Birth Photographer
Tiffany Schmidt from T. Marie Photography, a birth photographer in the Wichita, Kansas area is a star when it comes to blending professionalism as a service provider with the true, heartfelt personal connection you feel when you make a new friend. I loved being able to hang out with her and pick her brain a little bit so I could introduce her to you!
What first sparked your interest in professional birth photography?
“Just seeing some professional birth shots first hand got me started - another photographer from back home showed me some and I thought it was a really beautiful thing. I just decided I needed to try it so I shot a birth for a friend and fell in love with it. From there I realized that was what I wanted to do.”
A baby's first moments earthside, captured by T. Marie Photography.
How did you prepare yourself, both mentally and in your craft, to become a birth photographer?
“I read a lot of blogs and articles, watched documentaries, talked with midwives and other birth professionals to learn as much as I could about birth. My OB was really supportive. I honestly learned the most by just attending births and getting real-life, hands-on experience. I am a completely self-taught photographer - I've always had a camera in my hands and it's what I love, so I study a lot of books and websites to get the answers I needed to improve my skills. I prefer to find inspiration on my own rather than looking at another photographer's work or Pinterest, but those can be tools to help spark creative ideas. I like to be simple and zoom in on emotions rather than relying on props.”
Everyone in the room shares in the joy of birth.
Birth is an intimate, emotionally charged event that is often considered to be private by many families in our culture. In what ways can professional birth photography actually enhance this experience for the family?
T.S.: “First, just showing how beautiful and natural birth is. We might have a lot of preconceived thoughts from watching scary births on TV with all the extreme situations and screaming. Really just capturing the emotions in the room, like dad's expression, that you might otherwise not have noticed can enhance and expand the precious story of your birth that you later can put words to. I have also seen it provide healing for women if their birth plan didn't go the way they hoped - they can still see that their birth was beautiful and the life they brought into the world was so special, even if it wasn't in the way they expected. For example, when the birth assistant was weighing the baby, the mom didn't get to see the dad's reaction from her perspective at that time so I got to capture that moment for her.”
The midwife examines the new baby.
How do families usually react when they see their finished photos for the first time?
“I've never had a poor reaction! Usually its lots of tears and thanksgiving. I've never had anyone say they regret hiring me, and if anything they assure me that they will hire me for their future births. Even months later I still get messages and texts saying “thank you for these images, I just relived my birth.” To me that's amazing, how powerful images can be.”
The powerful emotions of a new mother.
How do you envision birth photography contributing to a healthier and more empowered birth culture in our area?
“This kind of goes back to showing that birth is normal and not gross. It's beautiful and empowering and can help show women that they have choices that maybe they were previously unaware of. I think birth is more than just about the mom as well, its about families truly embracing the whole process. There are lots of options out there for women and that's what birth photography can show so wonderfully.”
Precious skin to skin time.
What is one of the most special moments you have experienced in your career so far that really made you stop and think “yep, this is what I'm supposed to be doing with my life!”
T.S.: “With every birth I've photographed, I've walked away with something special and memorable. I tear up every time. After several hospital birth shoots I had an amazing experience photographing an empowering homebirth. The feeling was 1000% different: the freedom you have in your own home, the options you have and the knowledge midwives have is amazing. I never had that experience, so discovering that a woman could have so much control over her birth experience was pretty amazing.”
The midwife weighs the new baby.
What are the top 3 most frequently asked questions about your birth photography services?
- “Are you going to look down there?” Most people are thinking it, even if they don't say it! I start off with “I'm not going to look down there, unless requested.” Dads especially are wondering if I'm going to see all of their wives, but no.
- “Why?” Sometimes when I tell someone I'm a birth photographer they make a face. I make a joke - “it's not about vaginas!” I tell why I'm a birth photographer and what the purpose is.
- People are concerned about cost and if I have a payment plan. I do – you can even spread it out over the whole nine months.
When I asked Tiffany if there was anything else she would like to share with all of you, her eyes lit up and as the words flowed from her I could tell how passionate she is about what she does.
“If anyone is apprehensive about hiring a birth photographer, if you just looked at one session by a professional you would see the importance of it. I love the rush I get when called to a birth and the spontaneity – I love having my life turned upside down to capture something so beautiful and rewarding. 100% support from your family is the most important thing to have if you want to be a birth photographer. It's like being a firefighter - you have to be able to drop everything and go when you get the call.
As a birth photographer it's important to respect the mom first and always in her wishes. She doesn't need people bossing her around. Also to respect any staff – it's never about you as a birth photographer, I'm there providing a service and literally everyone's needs come before mine. If there's trash on the floor I'll be the one to pick it up, if someone needs a cup of coffee I'll go fetch it. Sometimes I go a long time without eating or sleeping and that's okay. As birth photographers we should be respectful of others and put ourselves last. I always ask permission of doctors and midwives before photographing them and never post any information or photos on social media without express permission of the parents.”
As mentioned, birth is an intimate time. That's why it's important to get to know all of your options in the area and learn how they work! Thanks, Tiffany, for helping me kick off the first in a series of posts in which we'll get to know various pregnancy, birth and parenting professionals available to serve Wichita families through this special season of their lives.
to view more of her professional birth and family photography!
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