Sacramento Birth Photographer

      Azara Images // Professional Birth Photography // Sacramento, California

      Sacred, Honest & Empowering

      Your Birth Day. The day that will change your life, forever.

      The fire & strength that will move through your body as it prepares to birth. The support of your partner as you labor, together. The miracle of new life emerging before your eyes…priceless memories that can never be recreated.

      I’m Cathlene with Azara Images, and I want to be by your side documenting the story of your baby’s first breath. I want to capture the moment you first lock eyes, and feel their touch on your skin. I believe that your birth experience will be one of the most transformational experiences of your life, and I believe that birth images have the ability to empower by allowing you to witness yourself in a time of immense strength.

      For over two decades I’ve been documenting quiet moments of grace and beauty. In that time, I’ve learned to make beautiful images in any condition. From the whispers of an intimate home birth to the collective excitement of a hospital birth, I have refined my ability to be present and calm for my clients during the most important moments of their lives.

      I specialize in putting my clients at ease so I can capture their unique, natural way of being and relating to one another. I am respectful, kind and reverent. At the end of a birth, I’m always told that I was easy and fun to work with, and an integral and loving part of my client’s birth team.

      My style can be described as photojournalistic, genuine & classically beautiful. I am a Sacramento Birth Photographer who offers birth stories, maternity, welcome baby, breastfeeding and lifestyle newborn sessions throughout the greater Sacramento area, the Sierra Foothills and beyond. For more information, check out my FAQ section below, and featured full birth stories on my blog.

      If you have any questions at all, I’d be happy to answer them. I believe it’s important to find a birth photographer you relate to personally, and aesthetically. I invite you to jump on a quick phone or video call with me- to feel into my style of relating, listening & creating. My goal is that you feel relaxed, confident and alive while working with me, and that I deliver a collection of honest, empowering images that celebrate the most important day of your life, your birth day.

      Hey, I'm Cathlene

      A Professional Birth Photographer born & raised in Sacramento. An Iranian American woman, daughter, sister, friend and ally. A storyteller who is passionate about documenting the strength & beauty of every unique birth story.
      Learn more about me


      "Finding Cathlene as my birth photographer is easily one of the top 5 hidden blessings life has granted me thus far. As a birthing woman, it was important to me to not just find someone with a camera in which to entrust the tremendous task of photographing my birth, more than that I needed someone with experience in a birth setting, talent/skill/knowledge of her equipment, intuition as a human to the tender moments, and lastly the fifth element of human compassion and serenity as this person was invited to a sacred place of transition. I had to hope that the person I found would hold that space just as sacred and enter into it with my birth team with grace. You will find all these things in working with Cathlene. She is kind and compassionate but always professional. She set up an interview with my partner and I, then we had a follow-up to ensure she was up to date on every anticipated aspect of the birth so that she could be prepared. Furthermore asking details about our desires and game-planning should things go otherwise. We were fortunate enough to have an out of hospital birth, and my birth team consisted of my midwife, her assistant, my doula and my partner. We were close-knit team working and spending long hours together with every visit so inviting in another person felt possibly intrusive. However between the quick, professional, clear, and heartfelt correspondence alongside the video and phone chats, it was clear that she was meant to be our photographer. It exciting to meet her when we had our 36 week appointment and she came down to attend, smoothing out any potential wrinkles that might reveal themselves, checking out the layout of the birth center, the lighting, the parking. As much as I rely on my intuition and energy people give off, my partner is more strategic (being ex-military) and relies upon concisiveness, clarity, professionalism, and above all else respect. You will get it all with Azara Images. My birth photos were, are, and forever will be something I treasure so deeply it's hard to describe. And not just because it's of my daughters birth, but because they're utterly beautiful as you will see on her site. Beyond that we got the memento box which we encourage all to get, and lastly, above all else, because its clear through correspondence, approach, followup, and delivery that she truly brings talent beyond measure, and heart beyond words. She cares deeply for the birthing process and deeply respects the role she plays in capturing these sacred moments in peoples lives (I'm confident that she brings the same to her wedding shoots). You will not only have zero regrets going with this talented woman, but you will look forward to working with her in the future."

      -Katie Swedo


      "When you’re pregnant you imagine how it’s going to feel to hold that baby in your arms; to feel their tiny breath on your neck; their heartbeat outside of your body; to gaze at their delicate and unique features. Having held their rhythms so close to your own during these months, you feel you will know them instantly the moment they arrive; like greeting a new part of you.  
       But when they come you can’t help but look at them in awe and wonder, realizing you have so much to learn about them. For despite the profound miracle that you were a part of creating them, which makes them—in part—yours, they are also entirely their own. And that is the supreme gift of motherhood/parenthood—to spend an eternity exploring and discovering who that person is. Marigold came into our world only weeks ago, but I have already sensed her power and felt the healing spirit she holds. She is strong. She is a protector. I can’t wait to know her more. But for tonight I’ll kiss her soft head, stroke her tiny cheek, and thank God that I have the honor to raise her. 

      Knowing this would be our last baby made me want to capture the intimate parts of this emotional and physical journey. A friend connected me to Cathlene with Azara Images. She offered not only her highly developed photography talents, but the gifts of her support and presence. She seamlessly became part of our birth story and left us with an incredible series of images I will forever cherish. So- although you may be hesitant to hire a “stranger” to be at your birth, you will not regret having Cathlene there to record these intense and beautiful moments of life. She is professional, yet personal. Her candid style allows her to photograph the intimate spaces without feeling intrusive. She captures the space in between—the tenderness, joy, humor, anticipation, satisfaction, power, excitement, and love that are present as another human is brought into the world. I would highly recommend her for any of your photography needs!"

      -Maren Richards


      "I have been photographed by Cathlene many times. Each time I have come away with a collection of images that capture the very essence of that time in my life, and it is truly wonderful to be able to look back and see these chapters so beautifully framed.
      Something about her as a person cuts right to the core, her gentle intelligence and bold compassion create a space which allows emotions to come to the surface and be photographed. Joy, tenderness, vulnerability, surprise, excitement, satisfaction, humour... and love. All the feelings that come up in these great moments, are right there in every image. Her dedication to her art, her integrity as a person and her natural talents combine to make her both a joy to work with and a consummate professional who will always deliver a beautiful image."

      -Hannah Pearl


      "It was easy to include Cathlene in our protective newborn bubble. She was respectful, reverent, purposeful, sensitive, skillful and clearly inspired by what she does. We were beyond thrilled with the photos she took of us and have heard again and again from friends and family, how touched they were upon seeing them. 
The shots range from playful and simply beautiful, to deeply intimate, and are filled with the range of life, wrapped in grace. She truly captured us, making use of our chemistry as a family, light, the environment and collecting the most creative & ideal frames.
We felt a sense of fun, care, generosity, and security working with her. Her direction felt natural, flowing and easy to take.
Her unwavering, sensitive gaze, creative eye, and gifted perspective produced a collection of photos that our family will treasure for lifetimes to come."

      -Maren Metke


      "Cathlene is a wonderful and kind photographer who listened to what I wanted and respected my values. She became a close friend by my side from the beginning of labor and she made me feel comfortable throughout my whole birth. She captured one of the best moments of our life beautifully, and we love all the pictures."

      -Aisan Hoss


      "I reached out to Cathlene to take photos at my homebirth. We met up and I immediately knew she would be great to work with. She has great warm energy and I felt very comfortable with her which was very important considering what an intimate space I was going to be asking her to come into. I was a little nervous about asking someone to photograph my birth, but she did such a great job! The images are beautiful and I have also been impressed by how great she has been at communicating. I would definitely work with her again for other family photos etc."

      -Jessica McWilliams


       Offering Maternity & Welcome Baby Sessions

      Sacramento Maternity, Newborn & Birth Photographer - Azara Images

      What is a birth story and what is included in your birth story sessions?
      A birth story is the photographic documentation of your active labor, delivery and precious first moments after birth. It is your birth, told as a beautiful story of photographs. I am on call for my birth clients from 38 weeks on. During this time, we meet in person if possible, or schedule a video call to get to know one another and to discuss their birth plans. They keep me updated on changes and progressions as their due date approaches. As soon as labor begins, they call to inform me, and together, we discuss progression signs towards active labor that will inform when it's best for me to arrive to the birth space. I typically will make my way to the birth as soon as the midwife/doctor has checked my client and determined that they are 7 centimeters dilated for first time birthers and 5-6 centimeters dilated for experienced birthers, or a combination of more than one other signs of active labor. Every birthing person is different, so I stay in close communication with my clients throughout their birth experience. I consider myself an integral, loving and humble part of my client's birth team. Upon arrival, I document as much, or as little of the experience as my client requests, paying attention to both the small details and the large picture of the day. I stay and photograph until around 2 hours after baby is born, telling their birth story through honest, artful imagery. They receive a couple of "sneak peak" images within 72 hours after birth to use as welcome baby announcements for their family, friends and social media accounts. The full private online gallery of their edited birth story images will be received no later than 4-6 weeks after their birth. The images will not be watermarked and will come with full personal printing rights.
      Do you have birth photography training?
      Yes. I am a Sacramento Birth Photographer who has trained under the fabulous birth photographers and teachers of the "Birth Becomes Her" network. Monet and Jennifer taught me and my classmates everything they could about their many years of experience as birth photographers. Over the 3 month certification course, we studied how to hold space in the birth room as photographers, the progression of labor, hospital, cesarean & home ettiquete, camera and flash settings, inclusion in the birth space and our business practices, and so much more. The following quote from my class syllabus sums up their teaching style, and what I learned deeply from the course: “Being a great birth photographer is not just about knowing how to use your camera, understanding different lighting situations and capturing monumental moments artistically in a situation that is completely unpredictable. It is recognizing the sacredness of birth, understanding the birth process and being supportive and accepting of each mother’s individual choices. Every birth is unique and special, as that mother will only ever have one experience of bringing that baby into the world, this is why it is so important that we honor and respect her wishes and ensure that our presence is a positive one that she is grateful for”. If you aren’t already familiar with the work of my teachers, please check them out here on instagram.
      Do you work with clients of all gender identities & sexual orientations? Of all races & ethnicities? Of all faiths and religious backgrounds?
      YES! I love and accept the diversity of our world. I welcome clients of all gender identities & sexual orientations. I welcome clients of all races & ethnicities, and I welcome clients of all faiths & religious backgrounds. Also, I am constantly evolving and sometimes unaware that my language is biased. I welcome education on inclusive language and action from my clients & audience.
      Do you photograph hospital births & cesarean births?
      Absolutely. Everyone has the right to choose how they birth their baby. I am supportive and honoring of everyone's individual choices. Birth is a sacred miracle and I love documenting all types of births including: hospital births, cesarean births, vbacs, hbacs, home births, birth center births, surrogate births, unassisted births, trans-gender births, you-dream-it-type-of-births- I would love to be by your side documenting your story.
      Will you ask me to pose or change my position during my birth?
      No, I will not ask you to change your position to get a better picture during your birth. Your birth is your sacred time and it’s completely up to you to decide which positions you want to be in. I may suggest opening a window or turning on a lamp as baby is being born, because the extra light will provide a crisper and more detailed image. My top priority is your comfort and I will balance that priority with your desire to get important images during your birth.
      What is your rate for a birth story?
      Families typically invest around $1675 in their Sacramento area birth story. Every birth package includes an in person or video chat consultation, 24/7 on call support from 38 weeks to delivery, documentation from active labor to around 2 hours after baby is born, a private online gallery of your full birth story (usually between 150-250 hand edited, high resolution digital images) and personal printing rights. I serve Northern California families from the Sierra Foothills and Sacramento Valley to the San Francisco Bay Area, Santa Cruz & beyond. Please get in touch for a custom quote specific to the city you will be birthing in. Maternity Sessions, and Fresh 48/Welcome Baby/Lifestyle newborn sessions that take place in the Sacramento area (typically home or hospital) are $500 stand alone or discounted to $425 if added to a birth package. These sessions include between 70-100 images and 1.5 hours of photographic coverage. Please get in touch for pricing on Golden Hour sessions. I also offer a variety of custom archival prints and albums, from boutique heirlooms to clean, simple and affordable printed products that can be added to create a custom package unique to your family's vision. If you’d like to see an example of a full birth story gallery or get more information on exact pricing for your birth story get in touch with me here. I’d be happy to show you full galleries and personally answer any questions you may have!
      Tell me about the booking process
      When you are ready to book- let me know & I will email you the information I need to create our contract. Once the contract is emailed, I will put a soft hold on your date for 72 hours to give you time to sign. At the time of signing – 50% of your entire birth story cost (travel fees included) is due to secure your date in my calendar. The second half of your balance is due at 38 weeks, when I go on-call for your birth. I accept credit cards for your convenience, and can also set up autopay for weekly/monthly installment payments so that the second half of your balance is paid off slowly over time if that is preferred. Important to note: Getting to know one another & talking about your birth vision together is a very sweet & connecting time - and - I do not hold any dates in my calendar for potential clients until they have signed our contract & paid the non-refundable 50% retainer. This is to guarantee a professional, organized & present experience for all my clients.
      In which cities do you offer birth photography?
      Although I advertise as a Sacramento Birth Photographer, I do offer birth photography within a 4 hour radius of my Northern California home. This includes the Sierra Foothills (Nevada City, Auburn, Placerville, etc, including Redding), the Sacramento Valley (including Roseville, Davis, Modesto, etc.) and the San Francisco Bay Area (including the East Bay, San Ramon, Marin County, Santa Rosa, etc.), Santa Cruz & beyond.
      What if I live in a city far from your home and have a history of fast labor? What if I have a really long birth? Will you stay?
      With enough focused attention on the signs of active labor, I can make it to a birth several hours from my home with a nice cushion of time. I stay in close communication with my client's and their birth team and leave home during active labor or consistent signs that active labor is quickly approaching and birth is quickly around the corner. If, by chance, baby arrives while I am travelling to the birth space; I will begin documenting the birth story as soon as I arrive. I will capture as many details of your birth story as I can, including the energy of relief and excitement, baby’s first moments, tiny details and family members meeting baby for the first time. If you have an extra long birthing process & your doctor or midwife is waiting for you to progress, sleep or rest for an extended period, I may leave for a while, but I will still be on call and keep closely in touch with your birth team. I will return to your birth as soon as you are in active labor to document your story.
      Will my images be in black and white or color? And when will I receive my images?
      The low lighting conditions of some births often translates best to black and white images. For this reason, if your birth takes place in a dimly lit room, it is likely that I will deliver a significant quantity of your images in black and white, which have the added benefit of a more photojournalistic feel. You will receive a couple "sneak peak" images within 72 hours of your birth. Your full gallery will be delivered 4-6 weeks after your birth. These are the longest timeframes you can expect. I always try and deliver sneak peaks and galleries much sooner.
      Do you also offer separate newborn sessions after the baby is born?
      Yes. I love to photograph newborns & new families in a lifestyle/documentary fashion. Check out one of my favorite in home newborn sessions here Fresh 48/Welcome Baby/Lifestyle newborn sessions that take place in the Sacramento area (typically home or hospital) are $500 stand alone or discounted to $425 if added to a birth package. These sessions include between 70-100 images and 1.5 hours of photographic coverage. These sessions will provide you with clean, cuddly newborn photos for your baby announcements or holiday cards!
      This all sounds great, but I'm still on the fence about having a birth photographer in the room during my birth.
      I completely understand. Birth is a very sensitive and unpredictable time in life, and you need to make sure you feel comfortable with who is in the room during your birth. May I suggest meeting in person for a coffee? Or meeting for coffee over a video call? This would give you a chance to meet me, feel my energy, hear my approach to birth photography and share any concerns or questions you may have. After meeting in person (or video call if that’s easier for you), and getting to know me, you may find it easier to make a decision. I am always happy to set up a meeting to introduce myself. My hope is that you feel comfortable, confident and alive while I’m documenting your birth, and that you walk away with images that are meaningful to you.

      Secure Your Due Date

      I'm so happy you're considering a photography package for your upcoming Sacramento birth! Feel free to reach out with any questions.

      (530) 414-3144


      Awards Earned in the 2020 Birth Becomes Her Image Review

      Azara Images // Sacramento Birth Photographer