“Amba” is essentially Sanskrit for “mother.” Yes, I know at first glance, we’re teetering on the edge of cheesy. However, the more I thought about this word, the more obvious it became that there was no other option. Birth is the most human of events, a thread that connects us to each other and tethers us to the beginnings of human history. Everybody who has ever been alive on the is earth has been born.
As an English major, I would also argue that language similarly binds us, as words and speech are vessels that carry our stories long after our own voices dissolve.
So what else could this studio possibly be named besides the word for “mother” in Sanskrit, the “mother of most modern languages”?
Amba also happens to be a Hindu warrior goddess, and I firmly believe any woman who has ever grown and delivered a human life is a f*cking warrior goddess. So that fits.
You might also notice that period on the end…the intentional period…the hard reference to the menstrual cycle period. I believe that compelling birth photography has the power to destigmatize womanhood. There would be no birth without periods and therefore no LIFE without periods. And yet, we hide our tampons and menstrual cups on the way to the bathroom. We discretely entomb our pads in layers of toilet paper, lest anybody be offended by the sight of our blood. But y’all, birth is bloody. It’s hard. You work for it, and it leaves you battered and spent. It’s bloody, it’s beautiful, and it’s life.
amba. imagery is candid, clean, and intentional. It’s equal parts photojournalism and fine art. amba. mamas like photography. They appreciate a single image’s ability to tell a compelling story.
the service area
The studio is located in Oak Cliff, a funky little area of Dallas, Texas, and we service mamas on-location in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. If you’re not quite sure about your area, a quick INQUIRY will do the trick.
Q: Will my birth photos be graphic?
A: They will be as graphic as you want them to be! Some women want to see EVERYTHING and dig into their own placentas, and some would rather pretend that there’s no such thing as a vagina. Most women fall somewhere in the middle, and part of my process includes finding where you are on that scale and delivering the images that will make your heart flutter and not your stomach turn.
Q: How will I know when to call you?
A: I’ll be in touch with your birth team, and we’ll take care of all of that. You just focus on getting that baby out!
Q: What if you miss it?
A: It’s extraordinarily uncommon. I’ve got my ring volume on wake-up-the-neighbors and a lead foot I got straight from my mama! If your little one makes an enthusiastic entrance into the world, start saving for theater classes! And just know this: childbirth doesn’t end with delivery. There are so many wonderful things that happen once the baby’s here, and I’ll still get TONS of images when I arrive. Trust me - somebody who had a 46-hour home birth - fast labor and delivery are a freaking blessing. It will all be part of your birth story!
Q: Do you shoot with a flash?
A. I will shoot with a flash only in the MOST DIRE of circumstances, but my priority is to find alternate sources of light. In my photographer’s go-bag, I have some creative solutions that provide nice, glowy light that won’t compromise the feel of the room or the look of the photos. This is a personal choice on image aesthetic.
Q: What if you get sick?
A: With a little one of my own, I do despise that this is a part of my life now. And if I have something contagious, I’m taking it upon myself to avoid exposing your newborn to it. I have no reason to touch your baby, and I will take all necessary preventative precautions. BUT if I have a fever or am actively vomiting at the time you need me, I will be tapping out! In that case, I have a network of photographers I trust to shoot your birth, and I’ll still edit and oversee the final product.
Q: Do you do albums?
A: Yes, we offer custom-designed, heirloom quality linen albums.
Meet the Photographer
Shannon Menary here. See that little State Fair lemon nugget over there? That’s the whoopsiest of all the whoopsie babies. Shaun and I weren’t going to have children at all, not even a little bit. We spent about a month boohooing about our “loss of freedom” and the fact that we weren't going to be able to travel to Europe as much (major eye roll, I know). Well that little gem of a human is a year old now, and all we can say about that is “WHAT WERE WE THINKING? OF COURSE we had to have this little guy! He’s the love of our lives!”
Sandwiched snugly between those phases of utter devastation and complete elation was a little thing called childbirth. For people who didn’t want children, we certainly went straight for the cake - a natural home birth - and my obsession with childbirth ignited. And when I say “obsession,” I mean that instead of going to sleep at a reasonable hour, I stay up way too late ugly-crying while watching live-streamed births (BirthTube anyone?).
“why birth photography,” you ask? oh, thank you for asking!
My husband was a hunky wedding photographer when we met, and what started as a shameless dive for wedding cake ended up a partnership. For the last five years, he and I have photographed weddings together. We LOVE it, but now that we have a tiny tot, we know we’re going to want our Saturdays back. So we scaled back to only ten weddings per year (down from 25!), and I embarked on a photography project that feeds my heart and soul.
Surprisingly, there’s significant overlap with wedding photography and birth photography. Both are a call to nab those fleeting moments before they get away, often in dark situations. I’ve learned to analyze, adapt, and execute in order to deliver creative, balanced imagery.
if you’re a potterhead, we’ll probably be friends, cool?
What did Shaun and I do the morning after we found out we were pregnant? Booked a trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, of course. We also bought four wands, drank too much Butterbeer, and definitely power walked past a few children to get in line ahead of them on the rides. Sorry! (Not sorry). Children, one day, you’ll have adult-sized legs, and I will only respect you deeply for using them to your advantage in such life-affirming experiences as the rides at Harry Potter World.