Celebrating emotions of childbirth through pictures
This city-based birth photographer, Xciba Angel, talks about her journey of a path less taken, and the process of capturing that perfect shot at the right moment
CHENNAI: Miraculous’ is how Xciba Angel describes encapsulating the very first cry of a newborn, the tears of joy exuding through a mothers eyes, and the joyous delight of a father holding his baby for the first time.
“I was a photojournalist until my father’s death in 2015, which made me take a break from my career. I knew I was not looking back at the same profession again. With my tie-ups with maternity hospitals in the city, I later ventured into birth photography. I always had a fondness for communicating with people and bringing their emotions out in the most real form,” says Xciba in a contented tone.
Remembering her first shoot for a couple, who wanted her to capture their baby’s water birth, Xciba says, “Shooting for a couple who were expecting their first child after more than 10 years, had several intense sentiments, with which I had a chance to capture for them. I wanted to preserve those ecstatic memories for them.”
Her first shoot allowed Xciba to explore and experience the opportunity which birth photography had. But it was the moment when a couple whom she had shot for, who lost their bundle of joy of six months, came back thanking her for capturing those precious moments, which made her realise the true essence of what she was doing. “I will always remember the gratitude they had for me, as the moments I shot for were the only way they would ever see their baby again. They weren’t mere pictures for them, but were blissful moments which brought them to life,” expresses the photographer with gratitude for having those situations come her way.
Patience is the key for birth photography as described by Xciba, who finds every shoot to be equally exigent. Narrating what goes behind getting that perfect shot, the photographer elucidates, “I am permitted inside the labour room, where I don’t let them notice my presence. As a photographer, I am aware of where to move and when to stop while in the labour ward, so that I don’t disturb the doctors, and get the shot right as I cannot ask for a retake. I try to keep the mothers calm by holding their hands as they are screaming with pain, and comforting them, which takes a lot of restraint from my end in order to be able to represent the whole journey through my photographs.”
Birth photographs can look gory if not taken right, which is a constant struggle which Xciba has to ensure. “There are certain angles, which will give me a good shot which I can not show the parents with such blood and rawness, as it can scare them. The picture should be aesthetically pleasing to the eye, emitting the right amount of emotions,” explains the photographer, highlighting the use of 24-105 mm lens to shoot such an environment with low light.
Describing the amalgam of emotions in the room, Xciba tries to click the immense love partners show each other, where the father holds tight to the crying mother and the mother forgets all her pain seeing the little one they have given life to.
“Birth photography is a beautiful journey which any photographer can explore, and is still emerging in India. Parents and families have opened up to the concept which was not the same a few years ago. It is traumatising to be inside the birth room, but what is created out of the process is worth cherishing,” concludes Xciba, expressing her desire to be on the other side, experiencing motherhood.