The miracle of birth is a powerful yet shocking event. What we see on TV and in the movies is a sanitized version of reality which is both beautiful and emotionally raw.
The winners of the 2020 International Birth Photography Image Competition have been announced and we bring you the most powerful images that show just how strong moms are. Be warned, dear Readers, the images below are NSFW, very graphic, and should be viewed at your own discretion.
Best In Birth Details: “Baby Noah Empelicado", Jana Brasil
Honorable Mention: "Reactions", Paulina Splechta
The annual photography contest by the International Association of Professional Birth Photographers (IABPB) celebrates the beauty of giving birth and the skill of birth photographers around the globe in 5 categories: labor, delivery, postpartum, birth details, and fresh 48. The largest birth association worldwide encompasses over 1.1k members in 52 countries.
The association’s annual photography awards recognizes its members and their best work on an international platform. The competition has grown in scope each year. Highly anticipated, the best photos quickly go viral each year when the winners are announced. Images are judged on a variety of criteria and the first place winner will be featured throughout the year.
Birth photos are a highly specialized field and the choice to have the experience documented is an intensely personal decision. It involves the birth process, environment, the parents, and those in attendance. According to the IABPB, birth photography encompasses the tears of joy, the wonder of bringing a new life into the world and celebrates family. The photographers who specialize in the field use their art to tell the story of birth.
Honorable Mention: “Paradise Found”, Rebecca Coursey-Rugh
Honorable Mention: "Silence", Evelien Koote
Best In Fresh 48: "Denial", Natalie Weber
In a previous interview with Bored Panda, one of the finalists of the 2018 IBPIC, Tammy Karin of Little Leapling Photography, said that the competition is very important in how it affects photography as an art form.
“This annual contest is a huge part of not just bringing awareness to a genre of photography. It plays a major role in this growing movement toward empowering women, improving our birth options, as well as inspiring us to dig deeper and fight for the types of births that are safest and best suited for our families and us,” Karin told Bored Panda.
Honorable Mention: "In Between", Daniela Justus
Honorable Mention: “In It Together”, Lori Martinez
Members' Choice First Place: “Ring Of Fire”, Katie Torres
“Labor is an incredibly difficult genre and most of us photographers get burned out from all of the on-call time. Few realize the level of commitment needed to not just show up at the right time, but to insert ourselves into the typically intimate environment without having any negative impact on the mother's progress. It's not just about standing in the right place at the right time; we must truly understand and respect the birth process,” she explained the complexity of the task.
According to Karin, honest and beautiful photos depicting childbirth are still considered taboo, even though the genre is growing. “I know most people in our culture are still not comfortable with it. But birth photographers are not just going for shock and awe when they share detailed images of a baby emerging. I'd love to join that push for normalizing the sharing of those kinds of powerful captures. In general, our culture tends to sexualize everything and inject fear into the birth process.”