After giving birth to her first daughter, Emily Barrett loved taking photographs of her to capture those special moments as she grew. Now with two beautiful girls of her own, she is forever in awe of women’s bodies and their ability to grow and birth little humans. Coming across some birth photos online one day, she was brought to tears at the beautiful raw emotions in the images, and it was here that her dream was ignited. She wanted to capture the beauty and power of birth and the miracle of life. She launched Birth Collective to tell the beautiful story of birth through photography, providing families with precious images that they can look back on and treasure forever. Here, Emily talks to The Natural Parent Magazine about the passion behind her business, the challenges she has overcome along the way, and her exciting plans for the future.
The passion: What inspired you to set up your business?
My passion for photography was sparked when I had my first daughter (2017), I absolutely loved capturing moments of her as she grew. My husband had been in the photography industry, which meant we had a camera at home. I got him to teach me everything he knew, and this became a great hobby of mine.
It wasn’t until after I had my second daughter in 2019, when I was scrolling on Instagram and stumbled upon some birth images that brought tears to my eyes – they carried so much emotion in each photograph. A dream started to bloom in my heart. These were the powerful and sacred moments that I REALLY wanted to capture!
The launch: How did you start out in the beginning?
Since 2017, I continued to practise and refine my photography. I then spent a good three months working on a business plan before I launched in 2021. I put my pen to paper and got my thoughts and vision in writing. I spent many hours watching and reading up on Birth Photography and attended friends’ births in preparation for launch. Although, launching a Birth Photography business in the midst of a pandemic has not been easy! CDHB has had a ‘one support person’ policy almost the entire year since starting, so I have only been able to photograph home-births. That being said, it has given me the space and time to work on my maternity and newborn portfolio, which I have thoroughly enjoyed!! Hopefully with restrictions easing, CDHB will allow more support people into the hospitals, which will allow Birth Collective to capture those special moments at home and at the hospital.
The innovation: What was the biggest breakthrough for you with your business?
In my 12 months, the most powerful and helpful tool for me has been the business plan. Having a clear vision (which has room to evolve) and working toward that has been really helpful to know what I’m focusing on. When other opportunities have arisen, the upfront work of the business plan has really helped to keep Birth Collective focused on its core vision, which is capturing the beautiful story of birth. Staying focused has helped people find and choose Birth Collective, and I have been so honoured to capture these beautiful māmā, births (wherereitanga) and pēpē.
Yin and Yang: How do you balance work and family?
Work and family is the real challenge isn’t it! Having two preschoolers at home makes my hours limited to when they’re in kindy. Although this is the beauty of working for yourself: you can have flexible hours, which means when the kids are home I’m very intentional about not working and giving them my attention. In saying this, housework and other household duties have taken a hit, but I guess this is just the reality of life and no matter what you do I think there will always be seasons where different things take a back-seat. I’m learning to let go of the expectations of having a tidy home or clean kitchen all the time, etc., and focusing on a healthy balance of family, work, home life.
I am very thankful my husband is very releasing and encouraging, so when we talked about creating Birth Collective we discussed what it would logistically look like if I am ‘on call’ for a birth etc., and how we would navigate that. We also have very supportive friends who help out when needed.