A mother of four, photographer, nature lover. Someone trying to make sense of it all, through photos and stories. 

I try to be free in all senses of the word, so I made the leap and now work with what I love doing; taking pictures, storing this life in moments, both for myself and for clients. My heart is in photographing birth and motherhood, but I take on just about any photography job. 
(See my birth photos at www.birth.no and the rest of my work portfolio at www.mariavatne.no.)

I live on a farm in Norway with my man Nik and my children Ronja, Freja, Falk and Ulv, plus a bunch of animals. We grow our own food as far as the seasons allow it, we don't go to kindergarten, the three youngest ones will be homeschooled.

We govern our own lives, we strive for independence, we want to be in this life wild and free and full of love.

On freedom, self employment and birth photography.

As you may have noticed, I have a link up here on the Zoo Payne page that says "Birth photography", and you may have wondered what that's all about. I'll tell you about it now.

The year that passed, a year at home with my lovelies, a year off my regular job (teaching film & photography), was fundamentally life-changing. It was what I'd call a formative year. Something changed, and my view on life will never be the same. You might think I'm talking about the fact that I had Falk that year, that his entrance into our lives changed everything. Of course it did! But that's not what I'm talking about right now.

In short, I went from being an employee and really really happy with that, loving the sense of security it brings, liking the predictability - to wanting to break out, be free and independent and self employed. And that yearning is so strong, I feel I can never go back to the way it was. I can never turn my back on that.

I love my job, don't get me wrong. Of all the jobs in the world, if I have to have one, this is the one I want. (Except maybe for a midwife or a vet, haha!) It is creative, social, challenging, fun, crazy, stimulating - things I definitely want my work to contain. Problem is that I'm not the boss, I'm not the one setting the conditions, I have to follow a set of collective rules and do what the others do. (Geez, I sound so arrogant now, I know!) I went to art school as my education, and when I'd finished my Bachelors degree, I was pregnant with Ronja and felt scared to live the freelance artist life. I wanted security, so given the chance at this job, I took it. I decided to wait with freedom until I had grown up kids and I would be the only one suffering the consequences of a potentially failed freelance career. Also, it scared me. The thought of living month by month, not knowing if or when money would come in, or how much money I'd make, intimidated and stressed me, and the risk seemed to great to be worth it. And up until this past year, I was still settled at that.

Then, I found this woman. Georgia. She lives in Australia, and when I found her blog, something just clicked. That's what I want to do. Birth photography! She has made these amazing little films and such beautiful photos of the journey of birth, and it caught me with such force, it was crazy. I told Mr. Payne, and I think my conviction was so strong and so visible, he instantly agreed, and that was it. It was decided. The process had begun.

So where am I now? Well, firstly, I'm back at work, and it's good. When I'm there, my heart is in it, I still love it, the students and my colleagues are lovely, the days fly by. But in the back of my mind, and in my heart, there's this calling, and I'm still on that road, coming closer to my dream all the time.

I have searched for pregnant women to photograph in birth for free, so that I could be in the situation with as little pressure as possible (I didn't' say without pressure!), and I have found many. Some far away, and sadly impossible to go and photograph now that I'm still at work, but some in my district. As of now, I have four births waiting, and the first one is coming up very soon.

I don't think words can express how privileged I feel that these women want me there in the most intimate of situations. I am so thrilled, so happy, and so touched by it all. The best pictures from these births will (with the consent of the people photographed, of course) be published on my website (not here! on www.birth.no) and some on my Facebookpage www.facebook.com/fodselsfoto (welcome in to click "like" and follow me there!), so that those of you who have no idea what this is about, can see what sort of pictures I'll be taking. 

I think there is a market for this. I think I can do it. And equally important, my husband thinks I can do it. These things, combined with my infatuation with the mystery of birth, gave me the courage to go for it. And yes, I still get scared of the insecurity of it sometimes, but not enough to make me go back. I'm on that road to freedom, and I'm not turning around. 

(If you want to know more, I am happy to answer your questions! Either comment here on this post, or e-mail me through the comment form on the page called "The Paynes" on the top of this page, or contact me through Facebook.) 


Work vs. life.