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This year's birth photo contest winners show powerful emotions

These winning images provide a beautiful glimpse into parenthood.
/ Source: TODAY

From the relief of welcoming a healthy baby to the complex feelings in the hours after delivery, the 2021 winners of this birth photography contest capture it all.

The International Association of Professional Birth Photographers (IAPBP) announced the winning pics this week, with a stunning collection of emotional images.

"This contest represents the resistance birth photographers have to overcome unforeseen challenges," said Liz Cook, director of the IAPBP. Many birth photographers lost work in 2020 because of COVID-19 restrictions. "We are proud to present to you a breathtaking body of work that shares life's most powerful moments from 2020."

Among those powerful moments is the "Member's Choice" and "Best in Delivery" winner, an image of a mom clutching her newborn taken by Brazil-based birth photographer Anne Lucy Silva Barbosa.

Winner, Member's Choice and Best in Delivery: "The Greatest Love In The World" from Anne Lucy Silva Barbosa of Anne Lucy Fotografia.Anne Lucy Fotografia

"I chose this photo because of the beauty of the emotion that the mother shows, and all that it meant for her to have her child in her arms after hours and hours of labor," Silva Barbosa told TODAY Parents. "Photographing births is always a box of surprises — we never know what the outcome of each story will be. It is very gratifying when it ends in such a beautiful and exciting way."

Another touching image, which won first place in the competition overall, was submitted by Ashley Marston, a birth photographer in Canada, and shows a dad's first moments with his newborn and his other children.

Winner, First Place and Best in Postpartum: "Daddy's Girls" from Ashley Marston of Ashley Marston Photography.

"I have been photographing this beautiful family for seven years," Marston explained. "Last year they welcomed one more beautiful baby ... she was born at home, surrounded by her sisters, as her mother joyfully brought her into the world. This particular image was the last one I took before I let this family of six to settle in together just as the sun was beginning to rise"

Lisa Phillips, a Virginia birth photographer, says her honorable-mention-winning image of a new mom holding her baby has a special meaning for her.

Honorable Mention: "Examining Every Detail" from Lisa Phillips of Lisa Phillips Photography.Lisa Phillips Photography

"This was a birth-center-turned-hospital transfer and this mama told me from the beginning that if it ever came down to it, she'd want me to be her support person," said Phillips, explaining that, because of COVID restrictions, hospitals in Virginia only allow one support person at a birth. "I was amazed by her strength and grace to navigate this and this image just reminded me it's the little things that matter — we should count our blessings and remember every detail."

Below are more winners from IAPBP's 2021 competition.

Winner, Best in Delivery: "Grace" from Danny Merz of Danny Merz Geburtsreportage.Danny Merz Geburtsreportage

"This picture was taken just a few minutes after the baby boy was born at home during a stormy and rainy night in March," said Danny Merz, a photographer in Germany. "There was this peaceful quiet moment full of magic, relief and grace — one of those moments when time seems nonexistent."

Honorable Mention: "Welcome Little Woman" from Kate Kennedy of Kate Kennedy Birth Photography.Kate Kennedy Birth Photography

This powerful image, submitted by Australian photographer Kate Kennedy, won an honorable mention.

Winner, Best in Fresh 48: "Nursing a Newborn" from Carey Lippert of Carey Lauren Photos and Film.Carey Lauren Photos and Film

"I chose the photo because I felt like it shows so much beauty in the darkness of those early newborn days," Carey Lippert, an Arizona-based birth photographer told TODAY Parents. "This particular mama was facing some of the struggles that come with nursing a newborn ... I saw such determination in her, despite the pain of getting through those initial difficulties, and I just felt like it was a wonderful way of letting her see the beauty in it."