The real reason I unfollowed you by Belle Verdiglione

 10/10 is World Mental Health Day

I have taken this day to reflect on my own mental 'healthiness' and see what has been going on for me lately. I have pondered on the challenges that I experience being a photographer and in particular the struggles of social media in this context. Anyone who knows me understands that I have a love/hate relationship with social media. On one hand it has let me connect and engage with a massive audience and collaborate, learn, network, grow and be inspired by other creatives and photographers. It has the potential to influence a wide range of people in a very short amount of time. I have seen this firsthand with photos of mine that are currently going viral at the moment. On the other hand, well, I think it can be destructive. So in my reflection and in support of 10/1o, I have decided to share a little bit more of myself...

"Comparison is the thief of joy" - Theodore Roosevelt

Let me start by saying, (today) I feel better. I feel stronger and I want to share with you a part of me that not many people get to meet.

And it's the real reason I unfollowed you.

If you follow me on Instagram you may have noticed that I unfollowed you. I love you, I really do and I admire and respect you as an artist. It's just sometimes I get overwhelmed. I find it hard to breathe. My mind races a million miles an hour and I can't concentrate on any one task. Horrible, dark thoughts wash over me and the part of me that I try so hard to hide comes creeping forward. It might stay for a short time, sometimes longer but when it's there it speaks dirty to me in whispers that repeat over and over and over again in my head;

"you're not good enough"

"no one likes you or your work" 

"you'll never be able to run a successful business"

"just quit".

I'm a positive person. I'm bubbly and I love to giggle. Being around my friends and my family makes me so very happy. But when THAT part of me comes out, I want to curl up in the darkness and dissolve away. Because those whispers are relentless. They come when I least expect them to and get louder and louder until my head feels like it's going to break or that I am going to break.

I love you and I love your work. I admire your artistry and respect your business. But sometimes it's just too much for me and in order for me to silence the noise, I unfollow you so I don't have to see your pretty pictures - so I don't have to compare myself to you. Because you will always win. The darkness has a way of making sure of that.

And so you see a part of me that I want you to see. I talk about how amazing it is to be published or to win awards or to be part of the wonderful Perth photography community. You probably think I'm confident and established and I have a list of incredible achievements. Well, what I don't show you is the part of me that struggles with moving forward. How that one social media post I put up two nights ago, took me an hour to post because I couldn't bear the thought of it not being good enough or liked enough or commented on enough. 

I know that as creatives it's a little trickier to navigate. I think that photographers especially are emotional creatures. When you put your heart and soul into your work, you need it to be magical. You also want others to think your work is magical too. I wish I was as confident as you think I am and sometimes, I am. But if I am struggling and there are days where I do, I may need to unfollow you again. 

With love and warmth, Belle x

If you or anyone you know is dealing with anxiety or depression please reach out to friends, loved ones or support services such as Beyond Blue Support Service
1300 22 4636

Photo by the amazing Ashlee Wells for 4th Trimester Bodies Project

Photo by the amazing Ashlee Wells for 4th Trimester Bodies Project

My photos have just been published in FRANCE! by Belle Verdiglione

Do you speak French? I don't! But I was published in a French magazine called Neuf Mois!! I've had a good friend read over the article and she assures me that it's all positive. 

Have a look (but use google translate with caution!)

Article link: https://www.neufmois.fr/au-fil-de-lactu/cette-maman-photographe-immortalise-moments-incroyables-de-laccouchement

You may have seen some of these photos before, but here are the ones that appear:

My First Family Photography Workshop by Belle Verdiglione

I often get questions from mums, clients and friends about how I capture the photos that I take.

Frances from Perth Postnatal Village and I were talking about this and decided to hold a joint workshop to show mums how to start using their digital cameras on manual and get great shots of their families. It was a really fun morning where we all got to dust off that fancy camera that just sits on your shelf!

Using a digital camera can be overwhelming and the instruction manuals are hundreds of pages long! I got to share my professional secrets to capturing great photos. We had a gorgeous family who modelled for us, and all the mamas got to put into practice what they had learnt including lighting, composition and correct exposure of their images.

I made sure there was time to connect with each mama one-on-one and answer any questions that they had. There was lots of new information to digest! 

All in all though, it was a beautiful day with lots of giggling, snapping pics and snacking on tasty food. 

 

If you're interested in attending a future Family Photography workshop, email admin@belleverdiglionephotography.com.au

MY OWN FAMILY PHOTO SHOOT by Belle Verdiglione

I'm going to start off with a negative. I don't like my wedding photos. They're just not "us". That was 11 years ago when Etsy was only 10 months young and Pinterest wasn't even conceived. We had the most incredible wedding and very true to us however our photos didn't capture our personalities the way I would have hoped. Of course, I'm happy to have them, but I did long to have some new ones that I could plaster all over the walls of our home.

So I enlisted the very cool Adam Levi Browne to make some magic happen!

Adam is a Perth wedding and portraiture photographer who I look up to. I've known him for a while now and he's always been approachable and easy to chat to. His work is insane. I knew that I wanted him to do our family photos and my instincts were right. He was the perfect photographer for us. 

If you want to see more photos from our shoot, check out our awesome photographic slideshow here

I had a little insight into what my families must feel when they receive their little package from moi and I have to say I was super excited to receive our beautiful presentation box - how amazing is this? {excuse the iPhone photos}  

Cheers Adam, we absolutely adore our images and can't thank you enough! Belle x

Melbourne - The Birth Photography Symposium by Belle Verdiglione

I’m so excited to share the news with you that this coming October I will be a part of the very first Birth Photography Symposium in Melbourne! This is an amazing event where budding and experienced photographers from around Australia and New Zealand will come together to learn, discuss and create a plan to bring more light to their ever growing genre of birth photography.

Held at The Larwell Studio, next to the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne, this event includes guest speakers from within the industry as well as other birth professionals and advocates. It's aimed at all who are interested in birth and photography, from enthusiast to professional level photographers.

SPEAKERS

Angela Gallo - Doula & Birth Photographer
Belle Verdiglione - Perth Birth & Motherhood Photographer – AIPP APP
Cassie Emmett - Capturing Life Birth Photography – NZIPP APP
Donna Maree Hedgcock - BlackCherry Photography
Rana Rankin - Breathe Birth Photography – AIPP AAIPP
Victoria Berekmeri - Adelaide Birth Photographer AIPP APP M.Photog

Along with our Photography presenters, we are also inviting wonderful representatives from the Midwifery and Doula community, and past Birth Photography Clients who will share their experience and insight.


Our wonderfully knowledgeable and passionate presenters will speak individually and together as the event meanders through some of the dynamic topics birth photographers encounter. Discussing everything from our roles and responsibilities as birth photographers, through to gaining more acceptances within the community for this genre, everyone will be encouraged to get involved and help build the positive profile of Birth Photography.

The Symposium will cover topics including: 

  • The Landscape of Birth in Australia
  • Public Perception of Birth and Photography
  • Etiquette, Role, Rights & Responsibilities
  • Combining your passions as a Birth Worker and Photography
  • Prepping, Planning, Shooting and Editing
  • Value, Pricing and Products – Panel Discussion
  • Balance and Burnout


A percentage of ticket sales will be donated to the Birthing Kit Foundation Australia, to help provide a clean and safe birthing environment for women in developing countries, to reduce the incidence of infant and maternal morbidity and mortality. You can learn more about the project here: www.bkfa.org.au

 

Meet An incredible family and their newborn baby who cannot have breast milk by Belle Verdiglione

I met Lola & Dylan when Rawiti was 11 days old for his lifestyle newborn photo session. As new parents, they were completely smitten with their little bundle. Lola explained that they had just come home from hospital as Rawiti had been very unwell. Rawiti was suffering from galactosemia, an uncommon genetic condition which meant that he was unable to have breast milk - it was the first time I had heard about the condition. I asked Lola if she could share a little insight into Rawiti's condition to help educate others.

Thank you Lola & Dylan for sharing your special story! I think you are an amazing family!

Lola feeding Rawiti soy formula as he is not able to have breastmilk

Lola feeding Rawiti soy formula as he is not able to have breastmilk

"4 days after Rawiti was born he was diagnosed with galactosemia and was admitted to neonatal ICU. Galactosemia is a  rare genetic condition which affects the body's ability to break down galactose (a sugar found in all milk including breastmilk) into glucose. I was heartbroken when they told me I would no longer be able to breastfeed and had no choice as this was damaging his body.

 

After getting treatment for jaundice, liver damage and blood clotting issues as well as changing to soy formula, he was on the mend and we were able to go back home. Long term he will be dairy free which is completely manageable and we are just happy he is a healthy and thriving baby now" - Lola, mum to Rawiti

Find out more about galactosemia click here 

Newborn birth photographer
Newborn Birth lifestyle perth photographer

My lifestyle newborn photo sessions are usually captured in the comfort of your own home within the first 2 weeks of baby being born. Click here for more information, Belle x

A gentle caesarean by Belle Verdiglione

I got to meet and work with the gorgeous Em from Kisses In Chaos. Her journey, strength and tenacity has  been so inspiring to me. I'd love to share her story with you:

In her words: 

I was only a teenager when I was advised that whenever I decided to start a family, I'd need to give birth via a caesarean. With the health issues I was having this didn't seem a big deal at the time, but later I'd learn about the feeling of disempowerment by having this choice taken away from me. 

After fistula surgery from Crohn's disease, two fistula repairs, a bowel resection and autoimmune arthritis, by the time I was 25 and fell pregnant, each of my 3 specialists advised a c-section delivery.

At 30 weeks pregnant I was upset at the prospect of not having the option of a vaginal delivery but I worked through it. My daughter was delivered at 38 weeks, 5 days and my journey of motherhood began. Whilst I hated the spinal and the inactive role I felt I'd played in bringing my daughter earth side, I was instantly in love with her and the way she'd entered the world was soon forgotten.

Two years later I was pregnant again with another little girl. I was somewhat surprised as her impending birth approached at the emotions I felt just thinking about the upcoming delivery. My (quite rude and rather unsupportive obstetrician) wrote "emotional" on my chart when, through tears, I shared my sadness at having to birth via a caesarean again. Logically I knew it was the best (if not only choice) for my body, but I was still grieving for my inability to birth my babies myself.

Four years on and I was pregnant with another child, this time a son! Determined to be an active participant in the birth of my baby, I tried to make a number of changes. I discussed delayed cord clamping, which my obstetrician refused to do as he said the baby would get too cold. He did say however that he would milk the cord. He also gave permission for my husband to videotape the birth and for me to play music in the operating room. I also asked for no forceps to be used unless absolutely necessary. Like my previous birth we also elected for no Hep B vaccine at birth and for the Vitamin K to be administered orally.

On the day of my son's birth we arrive at the hospital at 6:30am. Starving and extremely thirsty it was over 4 hours before they finally came to take us to theatre. 

Our music started. My husband went past the screen to film the birth but it meant I couldn't even see him, let alone hold his hand. The obstetrician was talking to the other medical staff like I wasn't even there and the anaesthetist started telling me how her son won his soccer game on the weekend.  I closed my eyes and tried to block it all out. The obstetrician told me they were just breaking my waters when the next song began... the song I'd walked down the aisle to when at our wedding. I smiled to myself and opened my eyes. How perfect it was that in just a few short moments our son would be born and to such a special song. My brief moment of joy was soon interrupted when all of a sudden my obstetrician started to swear. "Fuck I hate this song!" he exclaimed, just as he delivered my son’s head…all captured on the video.

Also recorded on the video was the fact that he didn’t milk the cord at all and immediately used forceps, without a second hesitation. It was all autopilot, almost like he had a stopwatch and was trying to beat his own record. I felt like a number, the next object on a conveyer belt, not a person and certainly not a mother. 

After the birth I had a number of issues including chemical burns that tore away the first two layers of skin when my body reacted with the blue and white plastic disposable sheet I'd been laying on, severely cracked nipples from an undiagnosed tongue tie and chest pain from the angle I'd been on, straining to see my son when they examined him in theatre... all in all I was a physical and emotional mess... and I was so devastated and disappointed that my birth experience had been so horrible.

Two years later my husband and I discovered I was pregnant again. Knowing this would be our last baby I also knew this was my final chance to attempt to heal old birth wounds and have a positive birth experience - something I felt I'd always missed out on. 

Em and her family

Em and her family

Given I'd tried a number of things over my previous 3 births that had never resulted in the experience I'd been hoping for, I knew some drastic changes needed to be made. So first things first, I changed obstetricians. 

I was nervous on the day of my appointment, but was quickly reassured after the first meeting. My new obstetrician was supportive, positive and had very calm nature. He was disappointed, but sadly not surprised, to hear of my previous experiences and assured me that he was willing to assist me in creating the kind of birth experience I had always hoped for.

Maternity-459.jpg

Determined to ensure things would be different, I reflected for weeks on my previous births. It was difficult and I had much to work through. I knew I wanted my husband by my side, present, able to simply be with me and marvel at our beautiful baby, but at the same time, I wanted to capture the moments that our (final) baby would enter the world. 

Moments later I was typing "birth photographer" into my search engine. 

After trawling some sites and contacting a few people my instincts told me I'd found the right person to capture our birth journey. I knew Belle Verdiglione would be a perfect fit with our family.

The next roadblock was to get pre- approval to have our birth photographer present in theatre. Belle was amazing and so supportive. I spoke with my obstetrician, the Maternity Ward Manager and the Head of Procedures and Operations. After I was turned down by the hospital (it’s against protocol to have more than one person present in theatre) I decided I would not be easily deterred and so put my request in writing. Belle sent me a 7 page document regarding her role as a birth photographer which I included with my 2 page letter that outlined my "case" and all the reasons I wanted a birth photographer alongside us in the operating room.

I rang Belle on the day I reviewed the news. She was beside herself with excitement for me. They said yes!

Next I knew I wanted to make this birth more natural. The cold room, bright lights and sterile feel of an operating room is hardly conducive to get oxytocin flowing and my previous births all felt so surgical where everything was happening TO me and my baby. 

I wanted, no, I needed to own this birth and make it my own.

I spoke with my obstetrician about my wishes. He respected them all.

I wanted a nurturing and supportive environment. This meant we had a playlist of music and there was limited talking and a gentle ambience. As our baby entered the world no one uttered a single word. In that moment the clock stopped, the world stopped spinning and I held my breath. For the first time, I watched in silence and marveled at this amazing human, this beautiful baby I was birthing right there on the operating table.

I wanted to feel like was giving birth, not having surgery. This meant I watched our baby’s head being delivered. Our obstetrician agreed to deliver our baby’s head, then stand back so our baby could started to breath on it’s own. This essentially meant we could delay the cord clamping without the baby’s body being cold. I can’t even begin to describe what I felt watching our baby lie on my stomach, seemingly asleep! It was the most beautiful, raw, magical and amazing experience I could have ever imagined. And Belle captured it perfectly.

I wanted to own this birth and this long and emotional journey. This meant I wanted to do things differently. For the first time, we opted to not find out the gender of our baby during the pregnancy. It was so special; once the rest of the body was delivered that we were able to discover (Ourselves! As we’d asked for no announcement) that we had a son.

I wanted this birth to feel ‘natural’. This meant my left hand was cannulated (as I’m right handed) and my chest was free of wires. I bought a baby blanket during my pregnancy and slept with it each night. Once our baby was born, he was immediately placed on my chest for skin on skin contact and covered with the blanket that smelt just like me. It also meant he was able to be in contact with my micro biomes, rather than the hospital’s, or the paediatrician who’d normally be holding him and checking him over. 

I wanted my baby to have the benefits of a vaginal birth. This meant that whilst I couldn’t give birth vaginally, we could still have for a gentle delivery with no forceps and delayed cord clamping followed by milking the cord. We also opted to ‘seed’ our baby so he had the opportunity to be exposed to greater levels and various types of beneficial bacteria that would more closely mimic the bacteria of a vaginal born baby. For me, the process of seeding began as a scientific and medical decision, however it was also symbolic and I could feel the wounds healing as I watched my husband gently swab my son’s face.  

I wanted to have some control of my body and what happened to it. This meant that I chose to have my placenta encapsulated. My placenta was dried, ground into a powder and then placed in capsules. As I took the pills each day I felt my hormones balancing and my oxytocin flowing, and slowly, the injuries my spirit had encountered from my previous births began to heal. 

My final pregnancy and the birth of our baby was a journey all of it’s own. The lessons I’ve learnt about myself, motherhood, the obstetric community and the amazing positive birth movement is invaluable. I had to stand up and fight for my rights to birth my baby in a way that felt right for me. I had to fight for my right to own my own body and I had to demand respect for something that should be a given. 

Birth, in itself, is such a raw, honest and emotional journey and I am filled with gratitude that I was finally able to bring a baby earth-side in a way that felt completely ‘right’ for me. My wish for the future is that other women are able to have positive birth experiences, no matter which way their baby enters our world.

~ Em

IAPBP IMAGE OF THE YEAR Competition 2017: An honourable mention! by Belle Verdiglione

I recently entered a photo titled "Gentle Caesarean Birth" into the 2017 competition of the International Association of Professioanl Birth Photographers. It's kind of like the Oscars for birth photographers (and yes a big thing in our world).

Guess What?!

I was one of the few to be awarded an honourable mention! My heart is bursting with pride & gratitude right now!!!

"Gentle Caesarean Birth" The very first photo taken of this little boy, granted an honourable mention! Shared with permission from his incredible family. 

"Gentle Caesarean Birth"
The very first photo taken of this little boy, granted an honourable mention! Shared with permission from his incredible family. 

The story behind this photo is powerful and so moving. The incredible mama has shared some of her birth story with us:

"I wanted to feel like I was giving birth, not having surgery.

This meant I watched our baby’s head being delivered. Our obstetrician agreed to deliver our baby’s head, then stand back so our baby could start to breathe on it’s own...  I can’t even begin to describe what I felt watching our baby lie on my stomach, seemingly asleep! It was the most beautiful, raw, magical and amazing experience I could have ever imagined. And Belle captured it perfectly.

Birth, in itself, is such a raw, honest and emotional journey and I am filled with gratitude that I was finally able to bring a baby earth-side in a way that felt completely ‘right’ for me. My wish for the future is that other women are able to have positive birth experiences, no matter which way their baby enters our world."

There were so many incredible entries this year - 0ver 600 worldwide! It is inspiring to see such good work being done in Professional Birth Photography.  

It's AMAZING to receive this Honourable Mention, especially when all the entries were so mind blowing. It also means Ricki Lake knows my name!

Sending a special and heartfelt THANK YOU to my amazing family, who let me share their son's first picture - it was one of my favourite moments to witness.

As this is the most exciting birth photography competition on a global scale, the media has celebrated with us, have a look:

BabyCenter, Babyology, Capital Bay News, Cosmopolitan, Daily Mail UK, Georgia Newsday,  Good HousekeepingHuffington Post, MogaznewsEmNatural Parent Magazine and News 7 Paper


Congratulations to the 1st Place Winner Jaydene Freund of  Cradled Creations Birth Photography with this stunning image

perth-birth-photographer-belle-verdiglione-cradled-creations-birth-winner

You can view all of the category winners, honorable mentions and entries here  

The AIPP Decathlon by Belle Verdiglione

I recently talked at the AIPP WA Decathlon 2017 about the importance of birth photography! 

For those who don't know, the AIPP are a governing body for photographers and their aim is to champion the profession of photography.

iPhone photo (of course!) taken by an AIPP member

iPhone photo (of course!) taken by an AIPP member

Their 2017 Decathlon event had 10 "champions of photography" speaking for 10 minutes about their chosen genre. I was one of the first ever birth photographers to speak at this event! 

I loved being a representative for birth photography and feel so excited and honoured to be able to talk to a room full of my colleagues.

It was SO incredibly confronting talking to a room full of professional photographers and I had to take a lot of deep breaths to get up there.  But in the end my 10 minutes flew by and I felt like my feet had wings as I walked off the stage.

 Afterwards I had a few congratulations from my fellow photographers and even one from the AIPP National President Vittorio Natoli who told me how much my passion for this genre shone through and if only he was needing my services!!! It was a bit of a celebrity moment for me, I don't even think I answered him back, I was too tongue tied!!!

 

xx Belle


If you're interested in hearing more, have a look through the list of AIPP Events in WA

 

 

PROJECT ONE HEART by Belle Verdiglione

I see so much wrong with the world today and it breaks my heart. I don't want to be another person whinging about the chaos & inequality that I see & hear about. No, I can't ever understand what it may be like to walk a mile in someone else's shoes, BUT....I CAN do something. I can take photos. I can make art. I can use my skills to (hopefully) make a difference. I want to make a difference, to foster an environment of love and joy and connection.

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