Rebecca Block is a professional birth photographer in Springfield and Branson, Missouri. She photographs home births, birth centers, hospital births, and cesarean births. Her portrait work includes maternity, newborn, baby, “Fresh 48” newborns, and family photography. Rebecca is also a trained & experienced doula and lactation consultant serving the Springfield-Branson area and available for travel to other locations.
(I apologize for the lack of photos in this post; my website is having issues uploading them at the moment. But you can check out photos from my last trip to Haiti in Haiti – Part One and Haiti – Part Two. I never quite got around to blogging the other parts I had in mind, so this is what it is for now!)
A few months ago, I made a quiet little change to my portrait business…you may have noticed it if you poked around last fall. All proceeds from portrait sessions will now benefit vocational scholarships for young people through Hope for a Village in southern rural Haiti. (When a scholarship is completed it may be sent towards paying for Haitian doctors and nurses at our community pop-up clinics.) This area was hit by Hurricane Matthew in October 2016, but is an area that I have been to a few years ago and will travel to again in the future.
In Cotes-de-fer, Haiti, young adults make plans for their city. They do things like create their own trash removal system to keep the streets of their town clean. That was the story that partly inspired this change in my business. It was the answer to my asking God, “How can I use my skills to help in a tangible way?” For several months I pondered the idea of doing a family portrait event where the proceeds went to HFAV, but He had something BIGGER in store.
The first scholarship will be to send a local woman to a skilled birth worker training program that’s already in place, Midwives for Haiti. I’ve been told by my friend Missy, the Hope for a Village founder who is originally from Cotes-de-fer, that many of the school teachers in the area are actually trained as nurses! Medical school is paid by the government as long as students agree to live in Haiti (and not leave for other Caribbean islands or the US, taking their medical skills with them). However, there aren’t enough jobs to go around to all the students when they graduate medical school. On my last trip, I met a tiny lay midwife, her sun baked by the sun and her bones tired from traveling many miles to get to all the births in the area. At that time, she said she was the only midwife still working births. It’s possible there was a “lost in translation” moment, but our translator said she was doing 8 births a week. A WEEK!!!
The need for more midwifery skills in the area is great. The options for families were either use the one local midwife, go to the small clinic in town, or go 2 hours to the closest [just okay-quality] hospital. It is 4.5+ hours to the best hospital in the country if you have a major issue. (And even then, it doesn’t mean you’ll get care….AND you’ll have to purchase all your medications and supplies at the random street vendor/pharmacy next door before they’ll treat you…) Recently there was a hospital built by a ministry, which opened at the beginning of December. The cost to deliver a baby is highest at hospitals, followed by a clinic, followed by a community midwife. If you have absolutely no money, you’re looking at giving birth with maybe your mother (if she’s still alive) or your sister. And that poses some major risks if something goes downhill (not to mention some risky old wives’ tales surrounding birth and breastfeeding practices). A trained birth attendant can save lives in this country!!
That’s one less baby without a mama…one less heartache for a family….
I knew with the circles I run in that I would be able to connect her and other interested women with educational opportunities. I just didn’t know what that would look like until now. (On that note, if you are a midwife who would like to come with us on a trip to that area to teach continuing education classes for nurses, PLEASE message me!)
To be honest, I am booked quickly as a doula/birth photographer and my calendar stays as full as I want it at this point. Not to overuse the phrase, but I’m really, truly blessed to be going to births and helping families or documenting their incredible birth stories! I felt like this was the direction God wanted me to take the portrait side of my business for the time being. So what does this look like in a practical sense? After cost of the product and a percentage of basic business expenses, the rest will be sent to Hope for a Village, earmarked for a particular scholarship or medical missions trip (to pay our Haitian doctor & nurse friends for helping at the free clinics we do for the most needy in the area). My model of creating art for your walls stays the same. Just because this is essentially a fundraiser for a non-profit doesn’t mean I’m going to cheapskate what I believe is an important thing – a physical, tangible, high-quality, printed piece of artwork that you will enjoy seeing in your home. It also means that I’m sticking with what I love to shoot: anything babies, maternity, & family. Just because the proceeds are for charity doesn’t mean I’m going to shoot an event or your dogs. Sorry, but it’s true…I used to do little stuff like that & enjoyed it at the time, but I don’t anymore. I really want to focus on creating this type of art involving families. It also means it will remain an investment to hire me. I am making you custom artwork. Yes, my prices may be higher than everyone and their sister’s husband’s cousin’s friend, but they are worth it. The quality products I’ve located through some special companies are amazing and the ART that is on them is created for your family to enjoy for generations.
If you’d like to book your own session, please visit the packages page for more information.
Every year just before Christmas, photographers around the world spend hours editing, ordering, and delivering artwork for their clients. Every year, said photographers rush to send out Christmas cards last-minute because they spend so much time working for other families. That was me too. Until this year!Before
It’s far easier to suggest my clients what combination of pictures would look great in various parts of their houses than it is for me to decide what to put in my own house. Granted, it’s partly due to the massive number of personal pictures I have of my family. We spent 6 months in Mississippi last year so my husband could do a training, and I had a lot of really neat photos from that time. I wanted to showcase them not only to fill a certain space, but to share our memories with each other and the friends that enter our home.After
I ended up with this combination of portraits and plants. Yes, plants! We love nature, and our house is filled with little bits and pieces of the outdoors…a mossy branch from the tall, snowy forests of central Oregon….huge seashells from Sanabel Island, Florida…chunks of buffed, swirly tree roots found in a creek in the Ozarks….coral washed up on a beach in Haiti…grapevine wreaths from our backyard adorned with various decorations depending on the season. So it seemed like a natural progression to add in some interesting plants we discovered in the south….the little details that made our time down there fascinating.
This combination of canvases makes me happy. The corners of the canvases are nice and tight. This was one of the more difficult wall displays I’ve hung (a service that is included for my clients) but I’m really happy with how the edges all lined up after all that careful measuring!
The whole display takes up approximately 32×70 inches on the wall. My living room walls are set up in a funky way and I have a very long wall here. In either corner is a printer cabinet and my desk, so I didn’t actually need the canvases to take up the whole length of the wall because the corners are basically other “areas.” (The wide angle makes the wall look a bit longer than it really is.)
When was the last time you had some custom art made for your home? And if you are a pro photographer….is your own family on your walls?!