Meet Leona

I’m Leona Darnell

Birth Photographer | Doula | Film Maker | Mother | Explorer

When you sit with yourself, quiet and undisturbed, and pick up a photograph of the day you became a mother, running your fingers over the edges of that image, it becomes more than what it physically is. When you sit with your heart and remember the love, of everything that picture means to you, nothing else in the world is more valuable”
birth photographer, leona darnell, breastfeeding her son

My Story (the Reader’s Digest Version)

Being a traveler and explorer by nature, I did not embark on my own path to motherhood until my 40s. After several trials and tribulations, I had my son via IVF in 2013. I never met the “right” partner and remained solo throughout the process.
In the 8th month, I was rushed in for an emergency C-section. I briefly heard my child cry as he was rushed out of the room and into the NICU.  The entire event was a chaotic blur from the moments leading up to delivery, the delivery itself and immediately after.  It was a full 24 hours before I could even set eyes on him or touch him. Later, at home, I reveled in motherhood, but mourned for all that I missed. I wanted those moments back and wished someone had been there to document them for me.
I come from a photographic background and studied at the Academy of Art in San Francisco when image development came from the darkroom and the smell of chemicals filled my senses.
That day in 2013, two worlds collided and after doing my first birth photography session, that was it. Finally, I was grounded. Birth photography made my life complete.

Image of Leona Darnell with her son

Birth Photography

In 2017, I packed my bags and moved here to Los Angeles to bring birth photography to a new audience. 
As a birth photographer, I desire to be the eyes and ears of the mothers and fathers, allowing them to concentrate on the precious gift of their child’s arrival while creatively and respectfully documenting their journey into parenthood and their child’s journey to this world.


With the 2020 shutdown, I used the time to work towards becoming a doula and in 2021 I was a certified birth doula. I wanted to be more than just an extra person at a birth giving pretty pictures. Being a real part of the birth team, understanding what a laboring woman may be feeling at a given time, anticipating when I should sit back or offer a hand instead of pushing the button is so important to me. As I went through the program, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t done this sooner. Combining these two disciplines (birth doula and birth photographer) to create the doulatog has been the best move I could have made.
Image of Los Angeles birth doula, Keona Darnell with her son Luca


1998 graduate of Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo – BS in Psychology

2001-2004 Academy of Art-San Francisco – Photography

2011 Graduate California College – AA in Veterinary Medicine

Doula Education

2021 Certified Birth Doula-Madriella Doula Network

2023 Foundations Course – Birthing From Within (Course)

2023 Building a Coping Mindset – Birthing From Within (Workshop)