8 Questions About Birth Photography- Answered
Pregnancy and birth are things I've been fascinated with for probably forever, but it was while I was pregnant with my second baby, Nova, that I felt really called to learning more and becoming connected to those areas of early motherhood in a long term way. I wasn't sure what that meant, until photography fell into my lap and I realized my camera and eye for capturing memories were my connection to both of these things.
I've followed so many birth photographers' social media accounts and always admired this amazing photography niche that so many people don't even know exists, and finally I got the chance to photograph a birth for myself. On my end of the deal, I was able to be part of one of the most special moments in several peoples' lives. It was magical and beautiful and just such an amazing energy- I think I could survive off of that energy. On the family's end of the deal, they had an outsiders perspective of the birth of their baby, and the ability to have images to cherish for a lifetime.
In my opinion, having photos of your child's birth is a way of feeling connected to what took place. Giving birth presents so many complex emotions, many of which gives a mother (and father!) a cloudy memory of what happened. Who was in the room, what baby really looked like in those first moments, and the overall energy of what is going on get lost over time. Having photos to connect you to the beautiful and sometimes obscure moments of birth is something you would never regret.
So, without further ado- some questions and their answers!
What do you take pictures of when photographing a birth?
I like to photograph details that show the where, when and who, as well as capture emotions the same way I would at a party or wedding! There are also important shots to get, which as you can imagine would be when they're first placed onto mom, their first weigh in, dad cutting the cord, dad holding baby for the first time and maybe breastfeeding for the first time. I like photographing special connections between labor coaches as the mother is contracting and leaning on their partner for support. I also like capturing the mundane parts of birthing (although is there such a thing?) like a nurse monitoring contractions or taking a temperature. Every little photo is another page in a unique birth story.
Do you take photos of the blood and guts/"gross" stuff?
So many people wrinkle their nose when I mention birth photography, because they imagine all the not-so photogenic parts of birth that occur. I don't love all that stuff, but I think some of it is cool. If I have an opportunity to photograph your placenta, I might. If the couple expresses to me that they wouldn't mind seeing something a little graphic in their private gallery, I'll include it! I'm not put off by birth, and if I'm allowed to take the photo- I will!
Your photos will mostly be edited in black and white to soften the sometimes harsh scene of a hospital room filled with medical equipment and yellow lighting. I will include color images as well, at my disgression, most of which will be of your newborn.
Most births aren't scheduled- how do you get there in time?
This part is tricky, and the planner in me freaks out a little bit at the thought of scheduling a photo shoot that can literally happen at any moment. I've worked along with clients to let them know what I expect of them so they can help me get there in time. Giving me updates at the last few doctor appointments, keeping me in the loop when they start having contractions, and letting me know when their intuition tells them I should get to the hospital! It's definitely a unique photographer-client relationship that I LOVE, just because birth and pregnancy are just amazing and cool to me.
I feel weird about being so vulnerable with a stranger!
Ok, this isn't a question, but it's worth addressing! There is no doubt that this is one of the most vulnerable times in your life. You're literally hanging all-out and things might happen beyond your control that you think you'll be embarassed about. I'm a mom to two young kids, so both of my births (one c-section and one all-natural VBAC!) are very fresh in my mind. Nothing you do will make me feel uncomfortable, and your choice peak-contraction swear words are safe with me! The bottom line is- your nurses will be strangers, but you trust them because they are there to provide a service you trust, and so would I!
How long will you be at my birth?
I do ask that you keep me updated as soon as you start feeling contractions, and I will usually arrive at the hospital once you are 6 or 7 cm dilated (depending on travel time) to make sure I get the labor photos and am there on time for delivery. I will stay up to two hours after you give birth, and that will be at your disgression at that time. If things aren't progressing, we will discuss our options depending on what is going on.
Are you going to post my images?
Only discrete photos are shared, with your permission, on my social media sites and my blog. I encourage you to give me permission to post the images you're comfortable with, because they give my prospective clients a good idea of why birth photos are something they want! Somewhere along the line, you saw a birth photo that captured your attention and inspired you to have this service for your own birth. I would never use a photo of sensitive nature without your expressed permission.
Can't my partner just take pictures?
They sure can! But hiring a separate person (hello!) to photograph your birth ensures that nothing is missed. Your partner can focus their attention to helping you, your doula can be fully present and ready to help you with whatever you need, and your mom can enjoy this moment with you and her new grand-baby without having her iPhone in front of her face! It ensures all the little moments your best friend might not think of get photographed. The photos I take during your birth are an artform, the depiction of a memory. They deserve to be the best quality and cared for by someone whose passion it is to capture the essence of a memory.
Should I ask my doctor for permission to have you there?
Yes! I will definitely cover this in our conversation, but you need to get permission from your doctor and birth facility in advance! It is also helpful to let me know if there is anything I'm not allowed to photograph. Some have policies that include no photos of delivery (pushing, crowning) and I'd like to be aware of those things so I don't push any buttons. Also consider how many support people you're allowed to have in the room- it may be limited and I would hate to find that out at 7 cm dilated!
I SO regret not hiring a birth photographer to capture either of my childens' births. It's an investment that you might not see the value in until it's too late! If you have any more questions or concerns, I would love to address them personally. Shoot me an email from my contact page and we can talk more!