The First Hello Project captures the moment that parents meet their babies right after giving birth
After nine long months of waiting, few things are as sweet as the moment parents finally meet their child.
One of the photographers, River Bennett, says she and her co-photographer, Bel Pangburn, came up with the idea after Bennett was asked to shoot a birth through her personal photography business.
“Immediately after I left the hospital I rang Bel on a high,” Bennett, 35, tells PEOPLE. “We kept saying how incredible it was to document that for someone. We loved how it released the husband to be present for his wife and not be caught up in taking pictures and also how incredible it was to capture a once in a lifetime opportunity when a parent meets their child for the first time.”
After a few days of brainstorming, Bennett and Pangburn, 30, came up with a name for the project, and it took off from there.
“Together we have had the privilege to document some of the most incredible moments of raw emotion in birthing suites and homes around the world,” Bennett says. “We love what we get to do and more than anything we love that we get to celebrate life.”
The two women are parents themselves – Bennett has three boys and Pangburn is a mom to a 2-year-old daughter – so they understand how much those images can mean to new moms and dads.
“Becoming a parent is one of the most beautiful and life changing moments in someone’s life,” Bennett says. “Having it documented in beautiful imagery means they can remember and treasure it forever.”
The photographers now hope to take the project on the road and go international.
We have a big vision for this project,” Bennett says. “Capturing a parent say their First Hello to their child is incredibly powerful, moving and a huge honor. We would love to continue to document this in different countries and cultures and capture what makes childbirth unique to them.”
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Bennett says they’re thrilled that each photo brings a little more happiness into the world.
“We believe photography can unlock the human heart, we as creatives need to be brave enough to step into those intimate spaces that some may shy away from and capture it,” she says. “The world needs images that will set hearts on fire more than ever and what better way than to celebrate life!”