Chemainus birth photographer Ashley Marston has won first place in the International Association of Professional Birth Photographers (IAPBP) annual photo competition.
Marston’s photo titled ‘Daddy’s Girls’ features Ladysmith’s Justin Webber with his daughters Avery, Evelyn, Olivia, and newborn baby girl, Junia, shortly after she was birthed by her mother Nikki.
“Ashley has been taking pictures of our family since 2014,” Nikki said. “It’s been amazing. Ashley has been there to photograph the birth of three of my kids. It’s been really cool that she’s gotten to watch my family grow over the years.”
Junia was birthed at home in May 2020. She had been lying breech until 39 weeks, and the Webbers thought they would have to give birth by c-section. COVID-19 protocols would have only allowed one visitor in the hospital, which would have forced them to cancel their plans with Marston, and left them scrambling to organize child care.
“But at the last second Junia turned around, and everything was good to go. We actually called Ashley at about midnight after an hour of labour,” Nikki said.
The now internationally recognized photo was taken around 3 a.m. that night in their Ladysmith home.
“Nikki gave birth beautifully and joyfully to this baby in the birthing pool in her living room with all of her girls and her husband surrounding her. It was incredible,” Marston said.
“Just before I left the dad crawled into bed and put the baby on his chest, the girls crowded around, and I snuck in for one last shot. That was it. I left as the sun was coming up.”
Marston has been working as a birth photographer in the Cowichan Valley since 2014. She has worked with families from North Nanaimo to Victoria, but does most of her work in Cowichan. Her birth photography previously earned accolades from National Geographic 2018.
Two other photos from Marston were recognized in the IAPBP competition. Her photos ‘Home Birth in a Pandemic’ and ‘When Time Stands Still’ were given honourable mentions. ‘Daddy’s Girls’ was also picked as the Member’s Choice in the Postpartum category.
For the Webber family, the international recognition has put a spring in their step, but what matters most to them is the precious memory that Marston captured.
“When I look at the picture I’m reminded of the togetherness that we’ve experienced together during the pandemic, and I really hope that other people can see this picture and be reminded of the good things that have happened for them during this time,” Nikki said.
For more of Ashley Marston’s work visit: www.ashleymarstonbirthphotography.com