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/ Source: TODAY Contributor
By Terri Peters

While the process of labor and delivery can seem to last forever in real time, memories of the experience can begin to fade with the passing of time. To savor the memories of their little one's start in life, some parents are choosing to have their labor and delivery photographed by a professional birth photographer.

Photo by birth photographer Morag Hastings
Photo by birth photographer Morag Hastings, submitted for the International Association of Professional Birth Photographers contest, 2016.Apple Blossom Families / Morag Hastings

Lyndsay Stradtner is the birth photographer behind the International Association of Professional Birth Photographers (IAPBP.) Stradtner says she started the organization as a way to both support other birth photographers, and to help parents-to-be locate birth photographers in their area.

Photo by birth photographer Ashley Derr
Photo by birth photographer Ashley Derr, submitted for the International Association of Professional Birth Photographers contest, 2016.Ashley Derr

As the organization has grown, so has the yearly image contest held by the IAPBP. Now in its fifth year, Stradtner has seen the contest go from around 40 entries to more than 500.

Photo by birth photographer Katie Marcum
Photo by Blue Muse Photography, submitted for the International Association of Professional Birth Photographers contest, 2016.Blue Muse Photography

"There are many challenges unique to birth photography," Stradtner told TODAY Parents. "Being on call, difficult birth experiences...and it's becoming much more mainstream as consumers realize it's not all about the crowning moment, but about the entire birth experience — what the room looks like, who is present, the details, the baby, the siblings, the dad's support and, of course, those precious moments after birth."

Photo by birth photographer Alexandra Kay Bataille
Photo by birth photographer Alexandra Kay Bataille, submitted for the International Association of Professional Birth Photographers contest, 2016.Alexandra Kay Bataille

Stradtner and the contest judges chose an overall contest winner, as well as winners in the categories of labor, delivery and postpartum, in addition to a few honorable mention photographs.

Photo by birth photographer Dianne Hamre
Photo by birth photographer Dianne Hamre, submitted for the International Association of Professional Birth Photographers contest, 2016.Dianne Hamre

Stradtner says while the photos submitted were judged on being technically sound and in focus, her other priority was look for photos that captured not only what the moment looked like, but also what it felt like.

Photo by birth photographer Rana Rankin
Photo by birth photographer Rana Rankin, submitted for the International Association of Professional Birth Photographers contest, 2016.Rana Rankin

"It's important to be able to bring the parents right back to that moment when they view their photographs," said Stradtner. "Those moments are so fleeting and it makes sense that people want to remember and capture those precious moments to hold onto for a lifetime."

Photo by birth photographer Robin Baker
Photo by birth photographer Robin Baker of an unassisted twin water birth with the second baby born "en caul," meaning still inside the amniotic sac, submitted for the International Association of Professional Birth Photographers contest, 2016.Robin Baker

A complete list of winners and entries to the 2016 IAPBP image competition can be found on the organization's website.

Photo by birth photographer Ludy Sigueira
Photo by birth photographer Ludy Sigueira, submitted for the International Association of Professional Birth Photographers contest, 2016.Ludy Sigueira