March to Freelensing, a personal project | Hamilton Photographer | Tasha B Photography by Natasha Huisman

Back in March I participated in a project to freelens every day. I’m falling behind with blog posts so figured I’d better get this one up here since it’s already May!!

If you don’t know what freelensing is, it’s a technique where you disconnect your lens and hold it in front of your camera - the focus is very shallow and can be tricky if it’s new to you. For some lenses (like the 35mm) I find it easiest to switch to live view. Freelensing can give a nostalgic dream like blur to images and I always try to take a few shots at client sessions this way if I get the opportunity. This also allows for more light to enter which is why I found myself freelensing at a birth last year when faced with a very low light situation, I think it can be fitting sometimes!

Some days I may have missed or didn’t get anything I liked, other days there were several that turned out, but there are 31 in total here so it counts!!!

Interview with a Doula for World Doula Week | She Shines Doula Services | Tasha B Photography, Southern Ontario Birth Photographer by Natasha Huisman

It’s World Doula Week!!

As a birth photographer I am always looking to find birth education resources to expand my knowledge of the birth experience as a whole. Part of that comes from learning about what other birth workers do. I had the opportunity to meet with local doula Amy from She Shines Doula Services. In a cozy booth at Breezy Corners in Freelton, Ontario we had hot chocolate & coffee and a chat about what a doula does and about her experiences volunteering in Honduras.

IMG_6539.jpg

What [in your words] is a doula?

I would say a doula is a birth coach or advocate. Like a Sherpa or trail guide... you can go down the trail and enjoy yourself but if you want to be fully involved and educated in your travel having a tour guide is a good way to get the full experience.

What made you want to become a doula?

My first birth experience was traumatic. I was young and didn’t know any better - it ended up with me being injured and sick after the birth and I had very little support. For my second baby I had a friend who was a doula who asked if she could be there and we agreed. The difference in experiences was indefinite so I used my time on maternity leave to become a doula.

IMG_6563.jpg

What do you usually bring out to a birth and what are your favourite “tools” & techniques to use?

Hands. I could show up to any birth with all the tools but what I find is best is to use my hands. I have a backpack that I bring with essential oils, for calming back pain and for massage. I bring snacks for both mom and partner. I also bring a Rebozo which is a long piece of woven fabric. It’s wrapped around moms hips and belly and helps with pain management. 

Are there labour positions you find to be most helpful?

Whatever’s most comfy for that person. They might want to be on their back or they might prefer to be up and moving. We go over different positions beforehand in prenatal appointments to prepare so that it’s not awkward in the moment and more natural. It’s important to be educated ahead of time.

What do you love most about being a doula?

I love walking away from a birth and family and hearing about what they loved about their birth experience. If I could give that gift to all my clients that would be great. For them to so feel educated and feel good about the whole experience.

IMG_6536.jpg

What are some challenges you have personally faced or think that doulas face?

I’ve fallen into a niche market where I work with families with disabilities and mental health disorders. Obstetricians sometimes think I am there to disagree with them and to have the mom argue, but I’m there to educate her and have her best interest both mental and physical looked after. Care providers can also assume I’m there to butt heads with them. Sometimes it’s fine and we work well together but sometimes there are a lot of challenges.

IMG_6548.jpg

Have you found hospital staff to be accommodating or rude to you?

There’s always the chance of a difference in opinions of myself and the care provider. There are always going to be disagreements in how things are handled and what the course of action should be. I try not to think of myself as a lesser important piece of the puzzle. Although I’m not a medical person I know the families quite well and know their goals. I just need to remind the care provider of what their goals are. 

Do you find midwives and nurses different than each other to work with?

I have worked with both incredible and not so great for both midwives and nurses - it really just comes down to the person and their level of empathy.

IMG_6564.jpg

What do your clients typically find the most helpful of your postpartum services?

Breastfeeding. I feel when I come into a new families home (meaning a client I did not attend the birth of) this is the most overwhelming issue in motherhood. It’s easy not to realize that there’s a lot you can do before having your baby to prepare, and what resources are available in the community.

How many of the births you’ve attended go pretty much according to plan?

Very few! Very few go the ideal plan route. When we create a birth plan it won’t look rigid. We create together an ideal situation and a back up. Plan A, plan B, plan C, and D. It can be to try pain management in this order... etc, if epidural is the last resort. The last is an emergency plan. For example, what does that look like if it turns into C - who will go with the baby to the NICU - so we can plan ahead of time and not under pressure.

IMG_6562.jpg

How important do you think birth rights, choice & autonomy are and do you think the future of this will have a positive or negative impact on the way we birth? 

I will say I am very pro choice, and as a Christian I would be heart broken to hear of someone’s decision [to choose that] but at the same time I think I’m empathetic enough to hurt for the person who has had to make that decision and wonder what was going on in their life to make that choice and try not to judge that. Ultimately it comes down to it’s their story not mine. I get to go home and not live with those decisions and the consequences. If I can help someone feel supported why wouldn’t I, no matter how difficult the situation was? Because I work with disabilities it comes down to high risks often times. So I can see both sides.

How are some ways we can educate people about the options they have available to them for birth other than the typical package media and our culture delivers? (Hospital, planned c-sec)

The first step is education. Some people are okay with going with the flow, with what their doctor says and that’s fine. We need to talk more about our own birth experiences, good and bad, what we liked and didn’t like, what we expected and didn’t expect. And to be accepting what anyone around you chooses. Making people feel judged will just make them do the opposite. We need to get rid of the culture of judgement.

IMG_6555.jpg

Tell me about your time in Honduras! What are some big differences in the way we birth in our culture here and how they do things?

I was in Honduras for eleven or twelve days in October. It was challenging! I saw a lot of difficult things. The birth experiences are very different from what we deal with here. I worked with Dar A Luz Honduras, a non-profit organization founded by Sylvia Bahr that promotes respect in birth practices. Sylvia is really hands on with the hospitals. She takes volunteer birth workers to be present and be the support person for the women there. Girls and women are in shared labour and delivery rooms which makes bringing in extra support difficult. The shame with that is very hard to deal with and a doula’s presence can change them from feeling very scared to feeling like an actual person who is important and cared about. Most were under the age of 20, one was 15. They need more volunteers to come help and support these girls and women have a better birthing experience.

Is there any specific advice you would give to first time expectant parents who reach out to you?

The first step for setting yourself up for success is to have the right care provider for you whether it be a midwife or OB and really knowing what the difference is. Look into that even before you’re pregnant if you can! So many people do not know the differences. And then obviously hire a doula!

IMG_6570.jpg

Happy World Doula Week!

You can contact Amy here! 

https://sheshines.ca

https://www.facebook.com/Sheshinesdoula/

https://www.instagram.com/sheshinesdoulaservices/


Looking to have your birth experience documented? Please fill out a contact form and we can chat some more! As always home births receive a discount.


Dundas Peak Engagement Session | Hamilton Lifestyle Photographer by Natasha Huisman

When Lara asked me to shoot her engagement session at Dundas Peak this winter I was both exited and nervous!! I love hiking but I am SO afraid of the cold and SO not full of energy to trek up a mountain in the snow!! I have always wanted to shoot there though so I was pumped…

It was totally totally worth it guys. The sun even came out and the view from up there was AMAZEEE. The great thing about visiting Dundas Peak for engagement photos in the winter is you get the place to yourself! Ryan’s got some strong family roots in Dundas and it was where he proposed so it was an even more special spot for them.

I will let the images do the rest of the talking for me so I don’t gush on! (Easter Egg: See if you can spot the heart drawn in the snow that was ALREADY THERE for them! Perfect or what?)

Hamilton Lifestyle Newborn Photographer | Tasha B Photography | Cainsley's Fresh 48 by Natasha Huisman

Hamilton Fresh 48 Photography Session

I had my first ever Fresh 48 session at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton and oh goodness is it ever such a rush to walk through those maternity ward halls with the anticipation of coming face to face with a brand new life!!! Do you know the feeling of getting to visit your new niece or grandkid or maybe you even remember the excitement of coming to see a new sibling?? When I got to document the first hours of this baby girl’s life THAT is how I felt and I super hope I get to do it again real soon.

Mama had to have a c sec due to breech. If you have a c section breastfeeding may take a little longer to establish. In this case mama would nurse for a bit then dad would take a turn with formula while she pumped.

I remember my little bro 16 years ago having this done at first before he was breastfed, and although my mom was (very rudely by nurses) told she wouldn’t be able to breastfeed, with help and perseverance she did. Don’t listen to everything they tell you in hospital, whatever your circumstance you most likely CAN breastfeed. (Tips at the end of this post)

Here are some tips from www.tommys.org for those with c secs:

  • Skin-to-skin contact with your baby in the first 24 hours after birth helps you bond with your baby and can help you start to breastfeed. If you weren’t able to have this contact, for example, if you or your baby were ill, you can still breastfeed. But it may take a bit longer for your baby to latch on and for your milk supply to come in.

  • Feed your baby as often and for as long as they want. This will mean your baby is getting the right amount of milk at the right time, and it will help your body produce enough milk.

  • Don’t be afraid to ask your midwife for help, and have someone pass baby to you so you don’t have to twist in bed

  • Try different feeding positions, to find one that is most comfortable for you

  • If your wound is painful, try putting a pillow over it to protect it.

  • Ask for advice on expressing breastmilk so someone else can feed baby while you rest.

  • Community support groups, such as breastfeeding cafes, can be a good source of support and information once you’re home from hospital – your midwife or health visitor can tell you what is available in your area.

I have a model call on right now for these type of sessions. If you are a Hamilton or Burlington area mama looking to get a Freshie seshie done please read over the FAQ section to see the requirements and fill out the Questionnaire!

5 reasons to have your family photo session done in home | Hamilton Family Lifestyle Photographer by Natasha Huisman

I love shooting outdoors, finding new places to explore and that beautiful golden hour light. But let’s face it, that’s tricky to do in winter! Outdoor sessions can absolutely be done in winter, but it takes a little more planning - layering on top of styling your outfits so you don’t end up with photos of bulky winter coats and snow pants, keeping the little ones warm and happy, hoping there will be snow on the date of the session. (For me it’s keeping the feeling in my fingers while shooting in the cold!) When winter comes my shooting style switches back to embracing the low light indoors, which can be quite beautiful. You may think Fall or Spring is the best time to get your family photos done (there are still challenges - hello rain days??) so here are some reasons you might consider in your own home this winter instead!

IMG_9830.jpg

Reason 1: It’s easy.

No packing snacks, worrying about bringing along extra outfits to change into, no rain day rescheduling. You have everything you need right here, simple!

IMG_9783.jpg

Reason 2: Children & baby’s comfort level.

There is no transitioning from nap time to going out somewhere so they will generally be happier. Sometimes kids can get overstimulated or their change of environment will affect their mood. At home they are in their comfort zone and often times they get excited to show me their favourite toys they have in their room or point out where their pet likes to play etc and these make great captures!

IMG_1344.jpg
IMG_8459.jpg
IMG_9725.jpg

Reason 3: Window light!!!

If you’re worried about your house being dark or messy, taking shots beside a window can result in some really gorgeous images with great light. These ones usually end up being my favourite and I use window light in my own house for pretty indoor pictures.

IMG_8145.jpg
IMG_8084.jpg

Reason 4: Documenting your real life as it is right now.

Tomorrow your house will look different than it did today, different toys will be strewn across the floor, furniture might be in a different place than it was a year ago, and when I look back at my own photos from inside my house I love to see how things change and how each day is new. That in itself needs to be documented! I shoot from a documentary inspired approach so even if your home is what you might consider a mess you may not see it that way in the images when you look back at them in the future. Doing a simple activity such as baking, cuddling up reading your kids books, jumping on the bed?? These are memories I know you will want to remember even more than a styled and posed on location session. There’s a time for those shots and a time for real life memories - don’t let these times be forgotten.

IMG_3697.jpg
IMG_2201.jpg

Reason 5: Intimate, raw, REAL.

Maybe there’s a shot that you’ve always wanted to have captured but having it taken outside or in a studio is not fitting... My toddler loves to join me in the shower and play with her ducky and that is a shot I personally would love to capture for myself to remember but it’s not exactly an easy shot to get outside! In your own home you won’t be worrying about an audience. In your own personal space is where you can feel free to open up and be yourself.

IMG_7860.jpg
IMG_1058.jpg

Some extra tips for in home family sessions:

  • tidy excess clutter (I don’t mean deep clean model home presentation style, just do what I do and literally shove things you don’t want to be distracting in photos into a drawer or corner for now!!)

  • wear neutral clothes, no words or logos unless it makes sense for your photos and is not overly distracting. PJ’s are more than ok too! It’s your home so feel free to wear what’s comfy.

  • have a few simple activities planned. Build lego with your kids, make some hot chocolate or put on some music and dance!

  • be open to having me explore your home to find the best light to use. That could be your bedroom, kitchen, even the bathroom if you have great light in there!

  • have your babes and kiddos fed beforehand so they don’t get hangry like mine tend to do when I bring out the camera!! Haha.

Breastfeeding Session Brampton | Hamilton Baby Photographer by Natasha Huisman

Ok, ok, what can I say about this session? I think it is probably my favourite that I’ve done. Like ever. Breastfeeding is such a beautiful thing and it means a lot to me to promote and encourage it. As I was getting these images together to blog I realized I can’t seem to find a lot that show the complete realness of it, don’t get me wrong there are soooo many gorgeous breastfeeding portraits out there. But I struggled to find many that weren’t shot at certain angles, with posing that still hides certain aspects of how you would normally breastfeed. I guess it shows that even though we’ve come so far with the #normalizebreastfeeding movement it still is not fully seen as normal?! Stop me if I’m wrong.

I remember first becoming a mother and buying one of those nursing covers you put around your neck, I didn’t even think about why I bought it, just maybe because that’s what most moms I saw did? I remember feeling super silly wearing it and felt it drew even more attention to me than if I just went without it. And the flailing arms. The poking my head in awkwardly to see if he was latched on right. Oh my GOSH I just ended up stashing that thing away and said to hell with it who cares they’re just boobs. Because guess what! They’re just boobs, dudes. Life sustaining, magical and yes usually pretty looking but I guess God made them that way because they’re so important or something, idk.

I know not every mother has the privilege of breastfeeding but I fully believe every effort should be made. It’s not just the magical milk, it’s bonding, it’s natural weight loss (not that that’s an issue but hello perfect design), it’s even good for your mental health as your hormones regulate after birth. I’m so grateful I was able to nurse my son until he was 2 and decided he was over it, and my daughter who is 2 and 2 months and still asks for it every morning and night.

I feel so blessed to have the experience of witnessing and capturing this handsome dude’s birth and then to come back again 5 months later to document these special moments with his gorgeous mama. I had to throw in a bunch from his nursery because um it’s beautiful! (My fav part is still the shit show sign you made yourself though, Nicole haha)

So tell me, did you get to breastfeed your babies? If so, for how long? And do you think we still need to work on this normalizing thing or what? Oh and I am also so open for more sessions like this, if you’d like to document and remember these days with your little ones we can arrange it for sure!!

Little Pippa's Family at Devil's Punchbowl | Hamilton Family Photographer by Natasha Huisman

Summer evening sessions. Sigh. Is there anything better than hanging out with your family in the tall grass with the warm sun starting to set and the sound of crickets all around you? Pippa and her family are so sweet, I enjoyed every moment capturing their little summer hang out. This was a couple weeks back now and the crickets and warm sun have gone away - hard to believe it’s Halloween this week, I am still in denial that summer left us!!

If you’re in the Hamilton & Haldimand area and are wanting to get in on some fall family sessions before the winter steals our beautiful evening light hit me up!

Summer's Maternity Session by Natasha Huisman

I had such a great time with this expectant mama and her family - the weather was unpredictable as mid summer can sometimes be for rain but we managed to catch these moments of joy before the storm began! I loved how open they were to what I had planned - no smiles were forced here - they told me this was the first time they’d done an outdoor session, usually they went to studios so you could see how much fun they were having with trying something new!! This sweet girl was convinced she had a little sister in there and hey guess what she ended up being right!!

I’ll let the images tell the rest of their story.

xpeece