The second your baby is born, there are so many beautiful moments to capture.
As your kids grow, there's memories to be made and photos to be captured. And no one knows more about those precious first few days with a new baby than a doula!
And this lovely lady happens to be both!
Jessie Fultz is our favorite Asheville birth and family photographer.
We had the opportunity to ask her more about her passion for photography and her thoughts on the intimacy of the family experience.
How did you come to specialize in birth and family photography?
Capturing real emotions and moments is what has always come naturally to me. I've always loved children and babies, so it was only natural that I enjoyed photographing them as well. 10 years ago, I was a toddler teacher at a daycare. I began documenting the babies throughout the day and would print the pictures and hang them at their eye-level. They loved seeing themselves and the parents were thrilled as well.
2 1/2 years ago, I documented my very first birth for one of my closest friends. I had never witnessed a birth, nor had I even given birth myself. I had no idea what to expect, yet when the time came, I just instinctively seemed to know what I needed to do. I had never experienced anything like that in my work before. I called my husband on the way home from the hospital and told him that THIS is what I was meant to do.
If you could photograph any celebrity family, who would you choose? (bonus if you say why!)
Ooh, this is a tough one! There are SO many that would be amazing to work with, but for whatever reason Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell are the first family that popped into my mind. They just seem like all-around good people and super fun! I think they would be such a blast to work with, not to mention, they're adorable!!
What's a common hesitation clients have to hiring a photographer?
When it comes to family photography sessions, the biggest concerns I hear are "My house isn't clean or nice enough." Since I specialize in documentary and lifestyle photography, a lot of my sessions are done in-home. When clients present this concern, I just flat-out tell them, "It's your home. This is where you're raising your family. This is going to be the location of the majority of your children's memories.
This is your life and at least a portion of it should take place in your home! Straighten up the clutter, and be done. No one's homes are perfect, and I'm pretty good at keeping the clutter out of the pictures.
The other concern I get is that people are so used to having to fight with their kids, toddlers especially, to sit still and look at the camera during "picture time".
Well ya know what? Kids are kids.
Toddlers don't have the attention span to sit and smile for the camera for more than 2 seconds. Why not show them just as they are? I promise I will get a minimum of one good "smile and say cheese" picture for you to give to the grandparents.
But I also promise you, that in 25 years, if not now, when your babies are all grown up and all that's left of their childhood are these photos, you will be beyond thrilled to have these memories to look back on. You flip through your album and be swept away in the memories of what they were like when they wouldn't sit still!
How does the hospital staff respond to having a photographer present?
You know, I've really had such great experiences with the hospital staff at all of the local hospitals I've worked at. I think our hospitals here are really awesome about accommodating the needs/wants of the families for the most part. I've truly never had a "bad" experience with any of them.
With that said, I've always believed that, even though I'm there to my job, THEIR job is much more important than mine, so I respect that and I respect their boundaries, while still trying to do my job to the best of my abilities.
I believe that if I am respectful, then I will receive respect in return.
Can you share a favorite memory from working with a family?
I would say one of my very favorite memories from a birth I documented was a first-time mother. She was fairly young, and her baby girl was unexpected, but she knew without a doubt that this baby was also meant to be. When she held her baby girl for the first time she just kept looking at her and saying;
"I'm not ready for this baby girl. I'm your mommy, but I don't know if I can do this. I'm scared. But we will learn this life together, and you will help me learn how to do this."
It was so touching. There was so many emotions in those few seconds. It was incredible to see fear, worry, thankfulness, love, strength, and joy all at the same time. And it still gives me chills just thinking about it!
Can you Tell us About how the Way you practice sets you apart?
I think one of the biggest things that sets me apart from other photographers is that I'm very laid-back in my shooting. It's my intention to make my clients feel 100% comfortable with me and the documentation process so that they can be themselves and their uniqueness can show in the photos. I don't want them trying to be someone else or acting a certain way just because the camera is out.
It's important to me that when they look back on these pictures in 25 years they see themselves for who they truly were at that time, and not some act for the camera.
It's refreshing to find a photographer that is so passionate about the birth process and can flawlessly capture the beauty of a family "in their natural habitat."
Jessie's work has been featured in numerous web articles, websites and nominated for photography contests.
One of her "Day in the Life" sessions was featured on the Fearless and Framed website for photography, displaying even more of her talent capturing emotion in her work.
Jessie had two "finalist" images this year on Shoot and Share and hit the "Top 100" last year.
And you may have seen some of her images in recent features on The Huffington Post! Check out image #27 on "35 Raw Birth Photos of Dads Welcoming Their Babies Into the World" and image #15 on "43 Photos That Show the Incredible Strength It Takes To Give Birth".
Her impressive portfolio only continues to grow, helping new and expectant families in the Asheville area.