I entered this image in a breastfeeding photo competition held during World Breastfeeding Week. The contest was sponsored by Birth Becomes Her, a lovely, supportive network and website for birth photographers. (Here also is their Facebook page to follow for more incredible birth and breastfeeding images from around the world!) Thanks to so many supportive friends and family who voted for it, I made it into the Top 15! From here, it will be judged by a panel of judges who will select the top three winners – the first place winner receiving a free ticket to Birth Becomes Her workshop in Denver for birth photographers. It would be an incredible opportunity to attend and help hone my skills for my clients. I really want to be able to provide them with the most insanely gorgeous images possible from their births and portrait sessions. I have areas I’d like to improve in, and this looks like the perfect workshop for that.
Truth be told, I’ll probably register for the workshop anyway, but since I may be traveling to Cotes-de-fer, Haiti, again at the end of the year, I’d like to save some money and just win a ticket. 😉 I haven’t completely decided whether I should go on that Haiti trip or if my place is here at home to work on fundraising for the Haitian medical staff/medical supplies and prepping the team that does go. But I will keep you all updated for sure.
I’m so thankful for every single person’s vote on this image, no matter what the final results are! And I’m thankful to God for showing me this opportunity that came up and giving me the confidence and motivation to actually submit an art piece to a competition.
The judges will be critiquing on three criteria: Technical, Creative, and Emotional Impact. I selected this image because I thought it fit those criteria the best, out of all the images I have. I am drawn to dynamic images where the subjects are “doing something” – whether that is a curious babe about to yank mom’s hair off, a toddler reaching to caress her mother’s face, or a dad in mid-reach as he is about to hold his brand-spankin-new daughter in his arms. Those types of images give me a wonderful feeling of anticipation as I wonder what is about to happen next!
The point of this competition was to help “normalize breastfeeding,” a term which some of you reading this have probably seen used around more and more. As someone who is pursuing her goal to eventually become an IBCLC (a lactation counselor that can help with complex feeding problems), that is an idea I can definitely get behind. Health is an important topic to me, and so much of good health begins before and at birth. Breastfeeding offers protective benefits to babies’ guts, setting them up for a healthier future and a VASTLY decreased risk of getting seriously ill or dying. This is true of any country, but especially in developing nations like Haiti, Indian, Phillippines, Sudan, etc.
“Fresh baby with little hands already trying to hold his!”
I so very, very much want feeding at the breast to be considered the normal thing for a mother to do in order to feed her baby. I want people to think it’s so normal to breastfeed a baby that the “breast” gets dropped from the “breastfeeding” because it’s not even necessary to clarify what method. I want people to let a mother be when feeding her baby, no matter how she goes about doing that. I want people to stop thinking it’s gross or disgusting. I want people to stop thinking it’s a sexual thing. I want moms to be able to have ACCURATE, UP-TO-DATE, EASY-TO-ACCESS information to help them be successful in any medical issues that may arise during feeding. I want ALL of that to be normal.
One thing I’ve noticed over the years is that you can’t change people’s minds by shocking them. In fact, the goal of changing people’s minds often backfires and they have knee-jerk reactions that are the complete opposite of what well-intentioned folks wanted. But…..if you can drop little bits of information here and there….and you can make yourself willing to talk with them like a calm human being who is not easily offended just because you have differing opinions….you can change minds a lot easier this way. So that is why I selected that first image for the competition. Yes, it shows an inch of skin on the chest, which is probably shocking to some of my friends or family. But it’s not a completely naked image of a woman nursing her baby, and neither are any of the other images in this blog post. Those types of images do have artistic merit in themselves, and if a client wanted them, I would take them for her (I do love breastfeeding portraits that also show mom’s stretch marks or c-section scars!) But when it comes to “normalizing breastfeeding,” I want to do it in a way that doesn’t shock people. An inch of skin, in my opinion, gently walks that line and prods people to think without causing a knee-jerk reaction and increasing negative opinions about breastfeeding.
“My second baby. Image Credit: Jenica Christensen”
I see many people on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to breastfeeding (and the art inspired by it). One end says “Breastfeeding is all-natural and not sexual at all! Whip that boob out in front of people so they can realize this too! BE OFFENDED if someone tells you to cover up!” And the other says, “That is a disgusting bodily fluid just like peeing or pooping! [and/or] That is too sexual and needs to be covered up!” From a Christian worldview, I see in the Bible that God created breasts to have a dual purpose. The smokin’ hot Song of Solomon shows they can be of great enjoyment for a woman’s husband….and then there are so many stories also refer to breasts bringing nourishment
comfort to the little babies that came as a result of that enjoyment. 😉