Moving on…

Huge life update ahead.

10 years ago I had a list of photographers sitting on my desk. I regularly referred to it because after I shot my first birth I started getting requests to travel. I had 3 children at that time, Jude was just a baby so traveling with the unpredictability of birth was not an option.   I used that list to refer clients. Can you imagine writing out every birth photographer you know and having it be less than 10?! As I photographed more births, I received requests from photographers drawn to birth for me to mentor them. Later that year I started a mentoring program called The Birth Experience. It was a small group of photographers around the world. These days mentoring looks much different than it did back then! That list on my desk continued to grow and by the time it got to 22 photographers the mentoring group started to talk about how we needed something bigger.  There weren’t many who publicly took on birth. Did people do it and not share, YES. But the mindset of it being a private event was very different even just a short time ago. This industry is still in its infancy. We are still fighting battles to be recognized, to see birth and women as strong, to promote birth choice and fight birth trauma and violence. Birth photographers have a unique situation on their hands. They have the ability to tell a story, as most photographers do, but they also have the ability to empower, show what options, informed consent and birth choices look like. There are battles on when and how much a woman’s body while birthing should be seen. Those first moments outside the womb are precious and it’s a huge honor and responsibility to document it. 10 years later that little list on my desk is now an International Association with over 1100 members in over 50 counties.

That boggles my mind every single day. We started small. We had growing pains. We wanted to quit more than once. We fought really hard in those early years for birth to be seen. I’m sure that’s hard to relate to now, because we’ve come so far in this regard. Birth is not only seen daily, its showcased, honored and adored. My first interview with The New York Times was a huge breakthrough for the industry, yet they didn’t share even one single image. Not one. We continued on. We started with a small image completion for members. Our first one included 40ish entries and was little more than a blog post with no media coverage. We grew. A lot. Both in membership and visibility. Over the years our image completion grew to hundreds of entries reaching 1-2 million people per year!  Media coverage included People Magazine, The Today Show, Vogue, Yahoo News, The Huffington Post, national news media outlets and so many others. I say this not to brag, but to say that we had A LOT of doors slammed in our faces. I was told over and over and over again “PEOPLE DO NOT WANT TO SEE THAT!”  Slammed door. Not a handful of times, many, many times, for YEARS. I had to fight so hard just to get people to listen, much less see what we were trying so hard to put out there.  Most new birth photographers cannot imagine what the industry was like then. It was so very different. And I’m so glad it has changed so much. One of my favorite stories of birth photography came after the 2016 Image Competition. Krista Evans received an email from the Middle East. It stated that a group of women had gathered together in a closet to view the competition. To marvel and cry and speak for the very first time about their own experiences. In a closet. Bonding.  Together.  That story will stay with me forever.  I still can’t believe I had even a small part in that.  I’m not sure how I got to be the lucky one to lay the foundation that is IAPBP.  It didn’t always feel lucky, it felt hard and challenging and there were times I cried and wanted to give up.  There is a lot of blood, sweat and tears in that foundation, not only from myself, but from many of our founding members.  I’m so glad we didn’t give up.  I have my husband to thank for that, always encouraging me in the background. And ultimately keeping things afloat when I could not.

As many of you know in 2016 Jason and I went through 3 difficult pregnancy losses.  Then, in 2017 my family went through a serious birth trauma.  I’m going to be completely honest here, as difficult as birth trauma is, it was exaggerated by my role in the birth industry.  I felt like we were on display, like we were supposed to “get it right” and when we did not, our failure was before a large audience.  I’m probably not describing it well, it just felt like a lot of pressure that I put on myself.  It’s something a lot of birth workers feel when it comes to their own births.  After the trauma it was difficult for me to constantly be exposed to birth images, birth stories, birth was *everywhere* in my daily life and online because birth was my job.  Exposure therapy to the max.  But I wasn’t ready for that, not even close.  It wasn’t healthy for me.

We had an emergency home birth transfer that ended in a traumatic caesarean section.  My body broke through anesthesia and I felt part of my surgery.  Even two years later, the sounds of surgery and my own screams still haunt me.  Zachary was born grey, without a heartbeat.  Thankfully, he was revived.  Moments later I took a turn for the worse.  We both survived.  Recovery was brutal.  I was very quickly diagnosed with PPD, PPA and compound PTSD. We haven’t shared our full birth story.  It’s been two years but it hasn’t felt right yet.  Maybe there will come a time it will feel right.  I hope so.   After 2 years most people think I should have just moved on by now.  I’ve heard that pretty often actually, “just move on” and “but you have a healthy baby”.  In some ways we did move on.  We sold our home because it was too difficult for me to live in after the trauma.  My therapist was supportive, “do it”, she said!  “We don’t expect women who have been through body violating experiences and traumas to return to the scene, we generally encourage them to move.”  My body trauma was certainly different than a rape but the therapy models and practices for rape and birth trauma are very, very, similar.  If our home was too difficult, we could move.  And we did.  We moved out temporarily before selling it all to RV around the US full time.  Nothing like a little bit of change right?  I started to talk to my therapist about selling IAPBP because it was triggering me every single day.  She asked me to hold off awhile until we finished EMDR therapy, because things might get easier.  Many of my triggers did get easier.  It took a year but I was able to drive again and able to be near water again.  EMDR helped me immensely.  So I agreed to hold off.  Jason agreed.  Mostly because we were also changing literally every single other thing about our lives.  I was mostly walking away from shooting in Austin and my business of 13 years to hit the road.  We sold our house and 90% of our things, so yeah, lots of change.  But there was also talk of finding a way for birth work to be healthy for me.  I mean, it makes sense, a lot of birth workers come from a place of trauma, they find solace in working with and supporting mothers as a doula, midwife, photographer, etc.  I personally know many people who have found healing this way.  And that’s wonderful for them.  I was pretty jealous of them.  People would say to me “You can be an advocate!” or “You understand now so you can use your platform to help others!”  or “Turn this in to something good!”  It may sound awful, but I didn’t want that.  Those things felt hard and I wasn’t anywhere near healthy enough to share my trauma.  I didn’t need to turn it in to something else.  I selfishly didn’t want an inspirational spin because it wasn’t going to help me be ok.  For some people, it helps and that’s so great.  I was suffering too deeply to wrap my head around that.  I just needed to sit in the pain long enough to be ready to heal.  And I needed to not involve my work in that.  It took me a long time to understand that those feelings were ok and I shouldn’t feel guilty about that.  I needed to do everything I could to survive PPD and be ok again.  PTSD doesn’t allow your brain to “move on”.  It tells you that you are in a perpetual state of danger, constant adrenaline spikes.  I never felt safe, I couldn’t talk myself in to it because it wasn’t a choice.  I knew immediately after Zachary’s birth that being in the birth space as a photographer would never be healthy for me again.  My feelings about that haven’t changed in the last two years.  I feel angry about it sometimes.  That the thing I loved so much was taken from me by our very own birth and trauma.  Angry and sad that I will never experience witnessing another birth like I did with so many clients.  I loved it.  I was good at it.  It’s definitely been a mourning process to let go of that part of my life and job.  Then thinking about walking away from a business and industry that helped define me professionally and personally for 10 years, that was also a difficult decision.  One we didn’t take lightly.  We tossed it around for a long time.  Jason took over 99% of the daily operations of IAPBP after the trauma.  That helped a lot.  But when image competition came back around in 2018, it was clear it was just too difficult for me.  And as willing and supportive as Jason has been, running a birth photography association was never his dream.  He’s stepped up so many times, in so many ways.  He was willing to do all of the work and all of the things for the association, but he wasn’t willing to let me suffer any more than I already had.  IAPBP is what it is today because of him.  But I can’t ask him to spend his days doing anything if he doesn’t really love it.  Simplifying our lives, selling our home, seeking a life with joy through our travels has taught me that. 

So, we decided to sell.

On June 6, 2019 Jason and I sold our business, the International Association of Professional Birth Photographers to Liz Cook.  Liz is an incredible person.  She’s kind, she’s committed, she has a passion for birth and motherhood.  She’s a veteran birth photographer and educator.  She was actually one of our first 20 founding members.  She knows and loves the birth industry and as soon as I saw her proposal, I felt instantly at peace.  I know she is the right person to jump in and take IAPBP to the next level.  There are so many hopes, dreams and plans we had for the association and I am so excited to see Liz move forward with them, plus many of her own.  We are here to support her through the transition and beyond.  We will be the 2 people in the back row wildly cheering the loudest when IAPBP has a success.  It’s such a big part of our family and who we are, it’s hard to move on.  But it’s time.  As we signed the contracts, Jason sat and held my hand.  He said “It’s time to move on.” and for the very first time in over two years, that phrase wasn’t triggering, it was healing.  And there was a feeling of peace within me that this was the right decision.

If you’ve made it through this entire post, thank you for giving me the time and space to share about our life and moving on.  If you are a member of IAPBP, thank you for sticking with us, through thick and thin, through all the growing pains and offering your support along the way. I’ve met so many incredible people I hold so dear, members, judges, members of the media.  The birth industry will always be a special part of our life and story.  I feel immensely blessed to have been a part of the International Association of Professional Birth Photographers. 

There’s more…

So now what?!  We just sold our only source of income.  Yeah, that’s pretty terrifying.  When we started traveling full-time I left a very busy, financially thriving, photography business in Austin.  Four months after launching out of Texas Jason was laid off as a part of a reorganization with a company he’d been with for 10 years. Losing 2 income sources in the first year of nomading around the country was a huge adjustment.  This last year has been hard.  We knew we wanted and needed a change.  We are SO excited to finally share this with you, we’ve been working on it behind the scenes for a long time!  We spent a lot of time thinking about the life we want, if we want to continue to travel or stop and put down some roots.  But mostly, we wanted our future to involve something that Jason would really enjoy doing.  He deserves that.

And that brings us to our next big announcement, we are starting a new business!  We’d like to introduce you to Seriously SEO

Jason jumped in and started educating himself and taking courses many months ago.  He’s worked so hard on his education to get this off the ground, I am so proud of him!  It’s been a lot of work but it’s also been a pretty easy transition with his software development experience.  Plus all of his experience working on birthphotographers.com and Life in Motion Photography through the years, he has such a good handle on not only the technical aspects but also on what people need out of SEO.  We are so excited to launch Seriously SEO, an agency that caters to small businesses.  We will be sharing more about our services soon.  If you know anyone who could benefit from search engine optimization we would love it if you would share Seriously SEO with them. Please come like us on social media!  We will be sharing a lot of SEO tips in the coming days, as well as specials discounts for SEO services!

Seriously SEO on social media:

Facebook  |  Instagram  |  Pinterest  |  Youtube  | Twitter

We have been preparing for this, planning, working, studying behind the scenes for such a long time.  It feels good to be excited for our future and our new business.

So, that’s it, huge life update all in one super long post!

With love and gratitude,

Lyndsay

the birth experience, a guide for the birth photographer | austin birth photographer

THE BIRTH EXPERIENCE – MEMBERSHIP IS OPEN AS OF TODAY.

I am jump up and down excited that it is finally time!  It has been over a year in the making and I can’t wait to get started!!

birthexperience logo

Each membership includes:

You get everything I do, every last step, written out in The Guide.  The Birth Experience Guide is a 35 page document that I spent over a year writing.  It’s packed full of information and images covering topics such as scheduling, pricing, technical aspects, client communication, lighting, equipment, the birth support team, special considerations, emergency situations, the big moment, the baby,  my step by step workflow, presentation, marketing ideas & more!  You’ll also receive a copy of the birth contract I use.

I wanted this program to be more than a guide.  I wanted to offer continued learning.  And a way for birth photographers to connect and learn and share.  Each membership gives you full access to ask me birth related questions until February 1, 2011 on the forum.  Anything that comes up, anything you can think of, I’m all ears, there to help.  I will be on the forum DAILY.  I have committed myself to spending no less than 5 hours per week on the forum answering questions and participating, but it will likely be much more than that.

Additionally, each member will be listed in the Member Directory to aid expecting parents in finding a birth photographer in their area.  I love this part because I get so many emails from expecting parents across the country asking if I know anyone in their area who does birth photography.  Now I can say YES, here is a list!

Who will find this mentoring program the most beneficial?  This program has something for everyone.  The Guide is geared towards those just starting their birth photography business or those who are looking to streamline the process.  Experienced birth photographers will find the forum to be a wonderful resource for networking, support, obtaining marketing ideas and continued learning amongst some of the best birth photographers around.

Please note that only those outside of a 60 mile radius of Austin and the surrounding areas are eligible.  We already have members from across the US, in Canada & Austrailia!

Want to find out more? Look here: Member BenefitsFrequently Asked QuestionsApply for Membership

I would also like to thank my wonderful, supportive and incredibly helpful Charter Members.  They have provided their insight, advice and experiences and I am so thankful for each of them!

  • Emily Weaver Brown in Seattle.  Emily has a lot of experience with birth centers and natural child birth.  She is also very, very knowledgeable on the process and stages of birth.
  • Jodie Allen of Fresh Art Photography in St. Louis.  Jodie  has experience in several areas of birth photography, including being inside the OR for c-sections.  She also has extensive experience in working with organizations that offer newborn bereavement photography services to families.  Jodie brings compassion, knowledge and a side of “tell it like it is” to the table!
  • Lynsey Stone out of Dallas.  Lynsey devotes her entire business to photographing births.  Having photographed over 90 birth experiences, her experience is unparalleled in the industry.

Thank you ladies for all your help over the last few weeks!  You girls rock!!

ETA: The first 20 spots filled up fast this morning after I emailed out the info to those on the waiting list.  I decided to take on 20 to start just to be sure I didn’t get overwhelmed with the process of getting everyone set up.  Good news is that everything is running smoothly with the first group and I am going to keep membership open.  I will process applications as quickly as I can as they come in, please bear with me.  Thanks!

2010-01-30T23:05:19-05:00January 30th, 2010|Announcements, Austin Photographer|

oh what a difference a year makes | austin birthday photographer

I simply can’t believe Miss Ava is one already….where has the time gone?  If you look up at the scrolling header on my blog you’ll see her all squished up as a newborn.  ((Note to self:  update blog header, it’s been awhile!)).  Anyway, she’s no longer a squishy little newborn, she’s a bright, happy, beautiful, walking!!!, one year old.

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Her newborn session was such a breeze, I thought for sure she’d give me a run for my money today.  But nope, total rock star!  As soon as they plopped her down she spotted my camera and threw me a bunch of big old smiles.  I wanted to bring her home with me!!

Tiffany & David, I just loved seeing you guys again and marvel over what a beautiful todller Ava has grown in to!!  Oh what a difference a year makes =)

2009-11-09T17:30:25-05:00November 9th, 2009|Austin Photographer|

the birth experience | austin birth photographer

I am so proud to finally announce my new birth photography website!  I’ve had it ready for awhile, so I’m not really sure why I’ve been sitting on it.  Nervous about it I suppose.  Nonetheless, here it is.  I am so excited to finally have an entire website dedicated to birth photography.  And, if you take a close look, you’ll see that starting this summer, I will be doing a limited amount of mentoring for professional photographers interested in birth photography.  More info coming on that soon, but if you think you might want to be put on the waiting list, drop me an email at lstradtner@mac.com.  ETA:  mentoring is available only to professional photographers who work/live 2 or more hours outside of the Austin area.

And a huge thank you to my wonderful clients for all of your kind words shared on the new site, as well as for allowing me to share your birth stories, you guys are the best and I have been so blessed by each and every one of you!

the new life | austin birth photographer

Have I told y’all lately that I am l living my dream?  I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to do what I love.  It never fails, I get the phone call that it is time to go and I just feel so excited…..then driving to the birth I get overcome with hope and know that the next few hours will be amazing.  It’s so cool to get to experience these moments with families, to be that little fly on the wall, to get to see all the little details of the day unfold.  Each one is different, unique and special in their own way.  And even though I’m usually pretty tired on the way home, I’m still on cloud nine, with my mind reeling over the events of the day, the new family, the new roles, the new life.  There is nothing like it….

this totally steals my heart….big brother peeking through the nursery glass at his new baby sister…..

and I can’t get over all her hair….and the little leg chubbies!

Congratulations C Family!  It was so great to meet all of you and and capture your beautiful baby girl come in to this world surrounded by so much family, humor and love!  I’ll be in touch soon with many, many, many more!!

lyndsay stradtner | birth photographer | www.lifeinmotionphotography.com

2009-03-22T19:48:34-05:00March 22nd, 2009|Uncategorized|