Diane was born and raised in Verona, Italy, where, starting at an early age, her studies of ballet, theater, and contemporary dance whet her appetite for visual beauty.
After completing a BA in Film Studies and a Master’s in Digital Imaging in London, Diane moved to Los Angeles. She began working in the visual effects industry as a visual effects compositor on movies such as Sin City, Memoirs of a Geisha, and Marvel superhero films.
After the birth of her second child, She discovered her true passion and started working as a birth doula within the Los Angeles birth community.
Then, she envisioned the possibility of finally putting her visual passion by becoming a professional and certified birth photographer.
Join me as we chat about birth photography, specifically hospital birth photography.
You can find more about Diana here:
Find Diane on IG as DearBirth
Connect w/ Trish:
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Trish: [00:00:00] My name is Trish Ware and I am obsessed with all things pregnancy and birth, and helping you to navigate with the practical and the magical seasons of this journey called motherhood. I'm an all day coffee sip and Mama of seven. I've had the amazing privilege of delivering mini babies in my 15 plus year career as a labor and delivery nurse, and as a mama of seven.
I'm here to help you take the guesswork out of childbirth so you can make the choices that are right for you and your baby. Quick note, this podcast is for educational purposes only and does not replace your medical advice. Check out our full disclaimer at the bottom.
Diana: Of this show notes.
Trish: Hello everyone. I am so excited about today's episode. It's gonna be all about birth photography [00:01:00] and documenting your birth experience, which is so exciting. My guest today is Diane Henick. Hopefully I'm saying that and I'm gonna let her tell you all about herself because she has had a really exciting life and her story is really incredible.
So Diane, welcome.
Diana: Thank you so much, Trish. I'm so excited to be here. I'm Diana. I was born and raised in Italy and I always loved art and movement and dance and photography and visual arts. I decided to move to the UK to complete my university studies, and that's where I actually met my husband.
And then just because the weather was extremely terrible, I decided to come to California. Originally I planned to backpack for a couple of weeks and then ended up staying here. And started working in the visual effects industry which was an amazing experience. [00:02:00] I worked for big companies like Marvel Entertainment, and as soon as my babies.
Started to come along, I realized that I wanted to spend time with them and get to know them and not pay somebody else to do my job. And I had a very transformative experience when my second baby was born at home. He was a V back at home and I got to experience a lot of midwives. And that really changed my life.
And so I decided to become a doula and quit my big industry, film industry. Job. And then I realized the birth photography was becoming a thing, especially in California. And so I decided that I could bring back my passion for the visual arts back into birth and became a birth photographer and a birth videographer.
Trish: I love that so much. So I have so many things I wanna say. Number one, I know we were chatting [00:03:00] before we started recording that my family and I are going to Italy, but I didn't tell you that the reason we're going there is my eight year old. So he's obsessed with Italy. We were doing like family studies and talking about where you're from, who you come from, all of that last year, and we told him that he had.
Italian in him. And I'm telling you when I say Italian, it's like a dot, a tiny bit. And he got obsessed with Italy, ev. And we went to the UK last year. So everywhere we went, if anyone said they were Italian or from Italy, he would literally jaw drop moment, ask them everything he could about them.
And then when we were in Oh goodness. I guess in Scotland we went to see Hadrian's Wall and they were talking about the Romans. And the Romans, and I said, Grayson, like the Romans? They're from Italy. That's Italy. And he [00:04:00] was like, What the Romans ruled the world. And so since then we have been studying Roman history, Italian history, and my eight-year-old chose for our trip this year, and so we're going to Italy and April, and I'm super excited.
So that's just a whole little side bonus for all of you. The other thing is, today when I was prepping for our episode, I told Grayson that you worked with Marvel. Superhero films. And now you're Italian and you worked with Marvel superheroes, so like you're probably his favorite guest I've had on here.
So it's so exciting. So what a lot of changes you've had in your life. It's like almost like these mini movies, like of different places and scenarios. So I love so much that you have this exciting career that you're doing, that a lot of people would. Died to have, but it wasn't your passion.
And [00:05:00] so y Go ahead.
Diana: It wasn't my passion until it was I and I tend to make my decisions about my life based on what my heart tells me to do. And I have the privilege to being able to follow my heart in that sense there have been a lot of struggles, but at the same time, I.
I don't know. I just felt like this passion and I just felt like I, I wanted to follow it. And, working for Marvel and the film industry was extremely it was an amazing experience. Be part of those amazing projects and movies was amazing. We started doing the first Ironman.
It was a very small office, and John Fabre was there and walking, right behind our screens and checking out work. It was amazing. It was and he's such a great guy. But I didn't really think I was doing something good for. Humanity. Not that I'm here to save the world, but I wanted to do something more.
So where I, what I [00:06:00] find myself happy is really in the birth realm and in the birth space. When I see my clients transforming into parents, I just know how it feels and I'm so happy for them, and it just brings me so much joy.
Trish: That could be in its own episode because I think that when we're aligned with our passion and what really speaks to us, then we can create amazing things and not all.
Not all people walk into a birth and see what we see, because I'm the same way. I remember my mother-in-law saying, you are the only weirdo that can watch a birth over and over again and want to do it again. And I'm, I have seven children, by the way, if you don't know that. So one is adopted. There's just something you cannot hardly put to words that happens when a baby is born.
And given to her mother or his mother. There's just something so [00:07:00] incredible, and I love that you're here today because you capture that moment. And not a lot of us, like I have it in my head, thousands of it of them, and like I, I have cried not like boohoo, snotty crying, but tears watching birth so many times.
It never gets old. It's just. It's an actual human coming into the world, and it's like this is their moment. This human, this moment can never be recreated. And I love it so much and this is why I'm so passionate about protecting that moment and why it's her moment and this baby's moment and the partner's moment.
And this is their family's life-changing moment that this person is born and it. Fires me up that so many intrusions happen and we intervene so much unnecessarily. So I'm people say I'm a hippie labor nurse or a crunchy labor nurse. I love home birth. I [00:08:00] love hospital birth too, because home birth's not for everyone.
For some people that would really increase their anxiety. So a hospital birth, you can recreate that, that home like. Feeling and so anyway, I could go on and on about that. But let's talk about birth photography and then I ha if we have time, I have a couple questions for you that just fun questions that I'm sure everyone would love to hear.
Okay, so let's just explain birth photography to those people who are listening because I know for me during the course, now granted I had my first one, I was a teenager and my last one I was an old lady, so it's changed a lot. So tell everyone like, what exactly is birth photography and what do you actually cover?
Is it just during the birth? Do you see them beforehand, after? How does that work?
Diana: So birth photography is, a type of documentary really work. We don't show up and [00:09:00] post mamas in laborers, obviously. Sometimes some clients would like to have a maternity session before the birth. The actual birth, which is a nice way to get to know each other and, so that session can be more cozy or it can still be documentary.
It's really up to them. But yes, generally speaking, we show up when mama goes into labor and the timing really depends on them. So there is obviously a consultation before we talk about light. We talk about not the logistic when we show up and how long we stay and all the questions they might have.
But yes, we show up when they, they, we show up as a doula would say when they start needing. Support when they feel like they need to have a their team there. Where photographers are on call as much as midwives, doulas, or whoever is part of the team. And we stayed throughout the whole [00:10:00] course of labor.
And I personally stay until the whole team stays. So once like for example, at home, af after baby is born, the midwife will do the first newborn check. She will check on mama. And once everybody is ready to go to bed and be tucked in, she leaves. And so I stay and capture those moment, when they wait baby, when they put the first diaper on, when baby maybe start to latch and breastfeed.
So all those moments are captured. And then I leave, I'll go home and start editing. And John, do you have a question?
Trish: I'm just thinking that you probably go home and are exhausted because that's, birth typically left to its own, usually happens during dark hours during the night. So you've got a pretty interesting schedule. Yes.
Diana: It's like being a birth worker, like this is why birth photography. It's not, I come in and [00:11:00] take some photos and then I'm cool. I go home and party. Yeah. It's being birth worker. Yeah. And that's why it's important to know that birth photographers are trained to know about the physiology of birth.
Some of us are also doulas. We've been there before. Some of us are mothers or. You know as well, and we know what it means to give birth. We know that sometimes maybe there is not a doula there, and so we are ready to wear different hats. And be supportive in that sense. It has happened to me so many times that I would show up to a birth, whether it was a home or a hospital, and mama didn't have a, didn't have a doula, and I was happy to help.
If they in on asking for Suge suggestions or support, of course I won't be able to step in and. And happy to support them.
Trish: And I'm sure that honestly, that's probably hard for you not to because you know what she needs to be doing. And so I wanna, I rewind because you said [00:12:00] you talk about lighting and that's something that when I was doing some research for this episode, I was thinking about, because one of my biggest tips to my moms to help their labor progress, which you know as a doula, is to dim the light.
And make it very and so how do you handle that? And I know when I was in labor and I had, all six of them unmedicated in the hospital, but there was a point in labor, not quite transition, but halfway to hell, trans that part that I would get moody. So I'm just wondering.
How do you handle that with lights and flashes and mama's mood?
Diana: So we talk about this, that's part of the consultation. It's really important because some photographers are reattached to flash. And I understand that flash creates a very crisp and almost like studio like, product and that's great.
But I'm more of the philosophy of. [00:13:00] It's a documentary, right? So how you want to reproduce the mood of what mom was experiencing. So if she was in a dark space, having a flash doesn't necessarily reproduce the accuracy of what she went through, right? With that said, We do need a little bit of light because that's, even if we have the best cameras in the world, we still need a little bit of light, but so we need to be flexible.
So sometimes it's a matter of turning on a light in the hallway and then turning immediately off. Sometimes it's a matter of moving one lump shade, and putting something on top to create More like a diffuse lighting. Or some moms love to have twinkle lights or some moms like to have battery operated candles in the hospital at home. And so that's a great option because it creates a nice and beyond and that's enough. I did go to a birth almost a year ago where [00:14:00] mom had lots of support. It was a home birth. And she had her doula, she had two aunts, she had cousins. She had the midwives were there.
I was there. She had two dogs in the room. She had her husband there. And honestly, everybody was so protective of delighting at some point. I was working with a tiny little lampshade, and at some point somebody threw a sweater on it to make it even darker. I remember I had to go to her husband and say, listen I understand that she, we are protecting.
Protecting her, protecting the labor. But she hired me to document her birth, so I need a little bit more light. Of course they weren't izing that I was there to take a picture. And so of course, we played around with a sweater a little bit more. I got a little bit more light and then everything worked out.
But yeah, it can be tricky and that's why you want to be there with the energy in the room [00:15:00] and then, Talk to your clients, talk to your mama's husband, and ask them to work with you. Remind them while they're there.
Trish: I love that you said that they forgot you were there, because that was one of my questions what is your presence in the birth space?
Do you try to remain quiet? Do you just sneak around? What is your presence like?
Diana: Yeah. So it can be an ninja energy in a sense that you're there, but you're not there. And yet you're climbing on furniture. You're climbing on toilet sea to get birth, the best view. I was on another birth where the midwife offered this mama the birth.
Stool to sit on, that cup of moon shaped, which can be really uncomfortable for some, and she did not wanna have anything to do with it. So I end up using it because I was standing on it to take photos. Nice. Being born. So it can be like, like I said, Energy. And energy, which is very quiet and almost like invisible.
Or it can be that they need [00:16:00] your presence and they're talking to you when you maybe handing water out, or maybe you're holding their hands. So you really need to be able to match their energy and meet them where they are.
Trish: That's exactly what I do. Yeah. And how I labor my patients, because some of my patients really want me to be very hands-on.
And then the other ones, they just want me to be their nurse. And so I do the same thing. I match her energy and how much she needs me, I offer. So I like that. So let me ask you this. Do you offer. Both videos and still photography or how does that work and how do you choose, when do you do a video? When do you do a picture?
Diana: Yes, I offer both. And in, it depends on what tools you have in terms of cameras. Some photographers like to have two cameras and they carry both on their shoulders and they using, they use one for photos or one for videos. Some of us have cameras that are able to switch between video and still [00:17:00] images.
If there is a specific moment, they're really attached to for example, the Crown, baby being born. Then you ask them if they have a specific preference and then you just go with that. It's it's really about them. Some cameras are able to extrapolate. Still images from video, but the quality is not as
That's what I was wondering too. So what type of births have you photograph? PH now I'm messing up. What type of births have you photographed? Home births, hospital births. All births.
Diana: All births, even loss. I photographed them all and I feel very privileged to having been able to do oh
Trish: I love that.
I've worked at a couple hospitals that they will provide a birth photographer when they have a loss, and a lot of the moms will at first. Say they don't want those pictures. And so what we've done is we take them and store them, and then a lot of times they come back [00:18:00] for them later on, and it's so precious for them to be able to have those, if that's something that would help their healing process.
So I love that you do that. That's such an amazing service. So what do you do if the unexpected happened? I'm assuming they, they book you, you've got lots of clients or what have you that have different, you vary your due dates. What if your mama goes into preterm labor? So I
Diana: always tell my clients that call the minute they hire me really?
Okay. And obviously it's an investment for me as well to be there. I don't wanna miss my client's birth. I always have a backup in case life happens. But so far it only happened once. We knew that I was gonna be away. I was actually gonna go visit my family in Italy and mom gave birth two days before I was coming back.
So I thought maybe that baby didn't want me there. That was okay. So my backup ended up going and then I ended up adding, [00:19:00] editing the photos and the story
Trish: for that. Okay. So then what about if your patient gets converted to an unexpected cesarean? Do, are you able, or is that dependen on the hospital?
Diana: So in generally speaking I follow them wherever they go. So if they start home, end up going to the hospital, I follow them. And then if they need to go to have a CRE birth, I follow them. Now during the pandemic, that was really hard because I don't know how it was for you guys over there, but here in California the hospital was, were very strict and at some point, It didn't matter if it was a crean birth or not cre birth, we were just not allowed to be in the hospital with our clients.
So that was really hard. And now things have changed. We are back in the hospitals but there are still some restrictions in the or. So if the hospital says we can go in and capture or support our [00:20:00] clients then what I've done in the past is that, for continuity, I try to still create a story for them.
So when they go home from the hospital, I meet with them and I literally turn the camera on and they can narrat rate the story of what happened. And so we see mom, we see baby, and they tell the story and okay. And that kind of completes their
Trish: statement. I wonder because I, I have my birth courses and included in that, they get 30 days in our pregnancy and postpartum support membership, and we spend a lot of time with them.
And on the flip side, spend a lot of time with them. After the baby we meet every other week, we have a hangout. And so a lot of these moms who end up having a cesarean. They're processing some trauma, so I'm guessing you're capturing some of that on camera? Yes. When they're
Diana: sharing, yes. It can be very emotional for them, not just [00:21:00] because they're having cam a camera in front of them, but because maybe it's the first time and they actually get the chance to talk about that.
Trish: about it. And you're unbiased because I know for my girls, a lot of them, no matter what type of birth they've had, if something unexpected occurred or something that they weren't too thrilled with, that left them feeling traumatized. A lot of times family and friends will dismiss that and not really just give them the freedom to bring it up.
So I'm sure that's really freeing for them to be able to share that on camera. And I'm guessing that. After a few months when they go back and watch that, it's pretty, it's probably pretty raw Yes. For them to watch that, so I love that. Okay, so now I have a couple other questions and then a couple fun questions.
So I wanted to ask you, just practically speaking, obviously I'm on social media a lot, but I still have boundaries around my personal life and what I share on social media to a, to an extent. [00:22:00] But do you share all your births on social media or how does that work?
Diana: My clients need to approve for me to share, and once they gimme permission, then I share.
Sometimes they want me to share some of it, not all of it. Sometimes they select some images or some clips of their stories, so it's really up to them that there's a big difference between copyrights and then actual permission to share. Our work. Okay. So here in California, our work is our mental sorry what's the term I'm using here in California?
Our work is our intellectual property, but that doesn't mean that we are authorized to use the work because it's still a representation of our clients.
Trish: Okay. And I think too, like it for some women, like if I had birth photos, I'd be like, show it. I don't mind. But then some women are like, oh [00:23:00] no, I do not want that to be seen.
So I think that's great that you have that discussion with them. And do you feel like more people allow you to share it or don't allow you to
Diana: share it? I really think it's half and half. And I'm also in Los Angeles, so there's a lot of V I P clients who. Then don't wanna share because they may be in front of the camera all the time and they don't wanna share the private life in that sense.
Trish: I love that so much. So that's leading me into the fun question. So I wanna hear like the funniest experience you've had in a birth photography session. Or the like most memorable experiences. What are some of your top memory like experiences that you think back on when you think about this career as a birth photographer?
Diana: Okay, so Juan was, Still fairly early on, I have this couple who had hired me as their doula and as we get closer [00:24:00] to their due date I keep talking about photography. I keep telling them, are you sure you don't want it? You might really like it. I'm not trying to be pushy, but I'm trying to make them understand is their first baby.
And it is the first time with the mic. Okay. Okay. Okay. Yeah, let's do it. Let's do it. So I ended up capturing the birth and we are in the hospital and there is lots of beeps and people talking and the nurses and excitement Baby is born and mama is holding her baby in arms. And then if you could just tune down the sound, you could hear dad in the corner.
Sobbing. Oh, and I, even if I think about it now, I just I feel my heart. You could just tell him like he, he was just no, no restraint. He was just like sobbing it all out. He was so happy and I got to capture that moment. And he is the one who after all, wrote a review for my services and he said [00:25:00] something like, I didn't know I wanted the photos until I saw them, and I knew they really needed.
Trish: that so much. I just, I could just picture that because I've witnessed that moment so many times, and I'll tell you. I and am a sucker for when dad sobs during a birth. I do fine if Grandma sobs, I do fine if mom sobs, but if dad starts sobbing, I don't know why, but there's just something so precious about that, so I love that so much.
Side note, do you think that the, that we could share that or, yeah. Okay. If you find out, cuz I'll put it in the video so we can add that. Yeah. I know.
Diana: I have permission to share that.
Trish: Oh, awesome. So I'm gonna jump back in. So exciting cuz this dad has given us permission to share in this video. So if you're listening to the podcast, head over to YouTube and watch this precious moment that Diana captured.
I love it [00:26:00] so much. Okay. Do you have a funniest moment?
Diana: I guess it was funny for me. In that moment, I don't know if it was really fun for mom, but I showed up to a birth, I was a home birth almost two years ago. And mind you, I got the call in the morning. It's really early, and this mama said, midwife said to go back to sleep.
This was her first baby, so I was like, yep, she's right. That's what we do. And she's tried. I tried for the last three hours, but I really can't sleep. So I'm like
her partner. Is really busy, busying herself to stay busy. Her partner was really worried about her home birth and she was very reluctant. So she's super busy. She's making the bed, she's moving in and out of the room. And this mama.
Trish: Oh I'm a stress organizer slash cleaner, so I get this, I totally [00:27:00] get this, but
Diana: it was so cute because, mama was in full active labor and her partner was like, you'll alright.
Is tickling within myself. And that mom sits on the toilet, she keeps moving and she know, she's kinda roaring. She's doing great. And she keeps saying, oh my God, there is something. There's something right there. I don't know what it is, but it's just it's something right there. And I'm like, it's probably your baby's head.
And sure enough, she starts pushing Baby Go Now is the
Trish: midwife there? Nope. Okay. I've been there, done that with my friend Beth, if you're listening, this sounds familiar.
Diana: Yeah. And I'm like, Text in the midwife, she's pushing and her middle is okay, baby, it'll be fine. And of course she's on her way, but so the whole idea of there's something right there.
I dunno what it baby was fine. Everything was fine. But that's a
Trish: [00:28:00] pretty good moment. And so how did her partner handle this?
Diana: Her partner didn't have, she didn't actually have time to, was she still cleaning? Yes. And she didn't have the time to freak out.
Trish: So this is like a perfect example of parenting in a nutshell.
It doesn't matter what you're doing, be prepared because they do their own thing. That's that
Diana: they do the same thing. And that's lesson number one for
Trish: parenting. Really? I love that so much. Have you photog done the photography for a lot of famous people. We're just like, digging in now.
Diana: Just a couple here and there.
Can't talk about it.
Trish: I know, but we just wanna hear if you have.
Diana: Yes. And they are all lovely people very honored to, be there and witness them coming, becoming parents. Yep. But they're still human.
Trish: I say this all the time, like especially with not [00:29:00] with celebrities, but just with what they do on the West coast compared to the East coast, because birth is just, I love most of my career.
I've worked in California. As a travel, as travel nurse, and I always tell my students if they can do it in California, we can do it here on the East coast because a vagina in California and a uterus and a pelvis is just like one over here. We can do it. We can do that here too. Yes, you can eat. In labor.
Yes, you can wait to go to the hospital. Anyway, that's a whole nother episode in itself. Diana, thank you so much for coming on today. I'm super excited about this episode. So where can my guest find you?
Diana: You can find me on Instagram at Dear Birth. You can find me on my website at www dot dear birth.com.
Trish: so for those of you guys listening, you're in the LA area, correct? Yes. Sorry. No, I was just gonna tell them if they want to hire you, then [00:30:00] you are in the LA area. So super exciting and I am so excited to share some of your Videos and your pictures in this episode. So thank you so much for coming today.
Diana: Thank you so much for having me.
Trish: What an awesome episode. I had so much fun talking to Diana today about hiring and having a birth photographer. Having birth photography done during your birth is such an incredible investment. As always, we will see you again next Friday. Make sure you hit subscribe so you'll be alerted every time we have a new episode.
See you next Friday. Bye for now.