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Capturing the first breath

2022-02-18  Paheja Siririka

Capturing the first breath

For many mothers giving birth is the greatest experience of their lives, and quite a few nowadays want that moment when their babies enter the world captured and documented for keepsake.

This is where birth photographer Janice Thompson (39) of JT Photography comes into the picture. 

Thompson has been a photographer for 12 years but her passion for birth photography took root some three years ago and since then, she has had the distinct honour and privilege to shoot the birth of several babies.

The visual storyteller told VIBEZ! she developed an interest in birth photography because of the raw unrestrained emotions of the mother, father and baby before, during and after the birthing process, and records that for the family as a memento.

“Everything about birth photography is captured as it happens, no direction or posing needed. Birth photography is very intimate, and parents are assured of the highest level of privacy and no images are shared without permission,” she said. 

Thompson noted that babies are the easiest to handle during a photography session, because she does not have to direct them on what to do.

“I just capture everything as it happens including all the emotions within their first hour or two after their first breath.”

“When it comes to unsettled babies, I don’t deal with them; I stand in the theatre, out of the way of all medical staff and just capture what I see. I have no interaction with the babies and very little with the parents because it’s about documenting the birth,” she explained. The best part about the job for her is when the doctor lifts up the baby to show the parents, which she described as “one of the most sacred moments in life”. 

As a wife and mother of three, Thompson said she understands the importance and essence of the everyday hassles of life, and aspires to make her clients comfortable and help create striking moments. She said clients are different and unique in their own ways and on a professional level, she connects with each client to create a truly authentic, hassle-free experience. 

Thompson is the only licensed South African Birth Photographers Association (SABPA) photographer in Namibia. SABPA was established

in 2013 to grow birth photography as a professional service within the healthcare realm in South Africa – successfully integrating the profession into the healthcare community.  “Since then, it has established strong relationships with birth professionals and hospital groups across the country and even internationally. A first of its kind, it is a trusted organisation and many hospitals only provide access to SABPA photographers for safety, privacy and ethical reasons,” she elaborated.

Thompson indicated they have a code of conduct guiding them on what to do and not to do in theatres, and they are directed in terms of what one may take pictures of and what can be shared. 

She was inspired to do birth photography by American photographer Marysol Blomerus, who was actively involved in the SABPA. 

On how business has been in Namibia, she pointed out that the curiosity and interest of parents to have their babies' births documented is overwhelming.

“It’s a relatively new concept. I am still negotiating with doctors and hospitals for permission to capture births. Medi-Clinic has been so gracious to allow me in their theatres since October 2021.”


2022-02-18  Paheja Siririka

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