Meet the Photographer - Hannah Bracher-Smith of Hannah B Photography
Tell us a little about yourself:
I'm Hannah - mama to Alba, wife to Matt, adventurer, runner, kindle reader, extreme birth nerd, (bracket over-user), lukewarm hot chocolate drinker, lasagne maker and natural light photo taker.
I pride myself on my kindness, creativity and patience.
Although I've been down (or thought about) lots of different paths in trying to find what make my heart do flips (acting school, artist, singer, wedding photographer, midwife etc.), I've always come back to photography and birth. I guess it was only logical to combine the two!
For the last couple of years, I had been trying to narrow down my passions and inspirations and ended up at birth and birth/women's rights. Since doing research on work from amazing photographers around the world, reading and connecting with like-minded people, I'm very happy to say my heart is flippedy-flopping.
The journey of birth, the strength and resilience of the human body and the adventure of life as mamas and papas venture into parenthood is something I feel so incredibly passionate about that all I want to do is document it and show the world that birth isn't something to shy away from or fear. It's the incredible creation of one of the most complicated things in the world, it's the story of how we all got here, and yet we don't talk about it (of show pictures of it!) nearly as much as we should do. At the moment it's probably unusual in the UK for photographers to be present at a birth, but I think one day people will look back and marvel at the time when people gave birth to life in a small room with only a couple of people present and no-one even took a picture.
In the near future and through the years to come, I want to document the varying cultures surrounding birth throughout the world and hope to make a book showing that birth is beautiful in many different ways.
How did you start out offering birth photography?
I shot my first birth in 2017, then another at the beginning of this year after reaching out and posting on a local facebook page. Birth photography isn't very well known in the UK so it was something I had to push rather than waiting for it to come my way. It's still fairly new, so I'll keep pushing (pun 100% intended...) by showing the world the beauty in birth as best I can, and I know that all the brilliant and positive work from fellow birth photographers will encourage people in the same way.
How would you describe your creative style?
I'm a documentary photographer using only natural light. Birth is so naturally powerful and striking that the greatest challenge is capturing it in its incredible raw intensity. When I'm editing and working, I won't stop until it feels right emotionally; I put all my passion into my work and hope that it comes across.
Where or from whom do you find your inspiration?
One of my biggest inspirations is my friend, Esther. We met during pregnancy yoga and I'd asked to take her maternity photos for practice; we soon became friends, bonding over crafting and having weak bladder control. Tragically, due to complications in labour, Esther's beautiful daughter, Juno, lasted only two days on this Earth; she has since said that her maternity photographs are so precious and is so grateful to have them. This is one of the main reasons birth and documentary photography is so incredibly important to me - I want to make sure people have the memories they deserve to reflect on in years to come.
I had deleted this section and put it back in a few times, but I'm trying to be more confident and proud of myself so here goes: I also find some of my inspiration from myself. As I mentioned above, I have changed paths a few times and been through many highs and lows but have finally found a career and passion that resonates so loudly with me. I credit my stubborn nature in being resilient enough to keep going until I found the thing that makes my stomach knot with excitement.
I also draw most of my inspiration from women. The power, resilience and strength that women exude every day makes me want to be someone's inspiration by doing the same.
AND Alba, my daughter. Every time she falls down, she gets back up and tries again. She's awesome and doesn't even know it yet - kid, you'll move mountains.
What is your most memorable image and why?
I'm not sure if it's my most memorable image, but it's a favourite recently: Esther and her wonderful rainbow baby, Mila, at 5 days old. Just look how tenderly she's cradling her!
What is your favourite movie of all time?
Harry Potter and The I Can't Choose Just One Because They're All Amazing!
What's your go-to playlist when editing?
Not playlist, but Netflix on the iPad next to the computer. Either Bake Off, Brooklyn 99, White Collar, The Office or Parks and Rec (although this is actually too funny so it's hard to concentrate).
What are you most grateful for?
The opportunity to do what we do; being invited into the birth space is a very sacred honour, and I feel very blessed for it. So thank you, wonderful families. You're helping change the world's view on birth. I'm very grateful for you all.