(Warning: some of the photos have graphic content that some readers may find shocking.)
We love birth photography. It shows us the beginning of a woman's journey to motherhood, yes, but we also get the privilege to see a mother's strength, and it always shines through whatever type of childbirth it is.
The judges of this year's IAPBP competition must have had a very difficult job because there were just a lot of astounding images. The winners were chosen on a point system based on technicality, emotionality, and composition.
Year after year, however, birth photographers seem to manage to outdo themselves. For the first time in the competition's history (it began in 2011), a photographer has won the top award for the second time.
The winner is Marijke Thoen of Marijke Theon Geboortefotografie who won in 2016 for the beautiful water birth image (above). Her 2018 entry, which has taken the grand prize, has a nice surprise. According to IAPBP founder Lyndsay Stradner in a statement, "The beautiful baby in that photo is now a big sister in the winning photo this year."
Yes, the little girl watching her baby brother (above) had her birth immortalized, so to speak, and now her sibling gets the honor as well.
The winning photo entitled "Stunning Siblings First Encounter" was also awarded the First Place Winner and the winner of the Members Choice Best in Delivery category. The same photo, which Thoen described in her post as "a photo social media liked but everybody else loved" was once controversial. Facebook took it down and Instagram removed it from her account three times.
Thoen said in an interview with Yahoo Style U.K. that birth photography around the world has contributed to the change in how women view birth. "And that is what this is all about: showing women how amazingly powerful they (and their bodies) are during the process of labor and birthing and inspiring mothers-to-be to feel empowered instead of scared to deliver their babies," she said.
All photos were used with permission from the International Association of Professional Birth Photographers (IAPBP).