why would i want to hire a professional birth photographer?
If photographic documentation of your birthing experience isn't important to you and you'd frankly just rather not ever see pictures of yourself in sweating in labor, or of your baby covered in vernix and blood fresh from the womb, then having a birth photographer probably won't make sense for you and that is completely okay (in that case, you may consider a fresh48 session instead).
But in my opinion, here is the top reasons to consider hiring a professional who can be counted on to consistently get GOOD photos of your birth:
First, you will be able to see what I get to see: how strong and capable and downright amazing you are when you are bringing a baby into the world. This is one of the finest moments of your entire life, one of the more life-altering events you'll ever experience-(right up there with your wedding day. I want you to be able to see and remember your capability - revealed when you gave birth - at those moments when you doubt yourself.
Those photos will make you feel all sorts of things every time you look at them; You'll be bowled over with love and awe over this incredible human being. You'll also have help remembering what went on in your labor and birth and then be better able to write about or process it.
10 REASONS TO HIRE A PROFESSIONAL BIRTH PHOTOGRAPHER
"I was just planning to have my husband/partner take photos on his camera phone. why can't he (or my doula or midwife or nurse) take pictures?"
You partner's job is to be with you, holding your hand, supporting you through contractions, moping your forehead with a cool cloth, and otherwise being just 100% present to the miracle unfolding right in front of you. Though he may be able to remember to photo-document a few parts of the birth process, it just divides his attention a bit to have to do that. And chances are that he really won't even think to take many photos at all, because that's not nearly as interesting to him as are you and the work you are doing in that moment.
Your doula or a nurse might be willing to snap a few shots, too, but it will never be and should never be their first priority, as they cannot aid you in the moments when you need them most if they are also trying to take a picture! and you never know whether that midwife or nurse will know how to operate your camera or compose an image that can even begin to communicate the weight and value of the birth experience.
Conversely, an experienced birth photographer specializes in telling that story through pictures and has no other job to do that would distract her from it. Unlike your average doula or nurse or husband, I have camera equipment and professional training that enable to me to shoot even in tricky environments and lighting situations.
There are wonderful doulas out there who are also great photographers and attempt to do both jobs in a sort of 2-for-1 deal. some of them may do that really well, but when I have tried to imagine doing both, I just can't. I think it takes two different brain modes to do the two separate jobs. I couldn't let you lean on me through a difficult contraction AND take a beautiful image of you leaning on your doula (myself) during a difficult contraction. Seems like the moments you most need your doula are the same moments you'd also most want a great photograph.
I'd like to see more of your work than what I see on your website. Why don't you blog/post/show more birth photography?
Birth photography is one of the most intimate forms of photography I can imagine. And because I respect that deeply, I'm always a bit limited in how much I post in such public spaces as facebook or on my website (you'll read more about that later in this FAQ section). However, I do have permission from some past clients to show their entire birth story to potential clients through a more private avenue. If you are considering birth photography for yourself, but first want to see a examples of an entire set or two of birth photography images, please ask!
What is it like to have you in the room/at my house during my birth?
My clients tell me that I'm unobtrusive and peaceful. That's exactly what I hope for. Birth photography is not one of those times when i'm trying to charm anyone with sparkling personality or witty remarks. I aim to come into your birth space with incredible respect for the emotional/spiritual/psychological space you're in, so I come in and out very quietly, and let you set the tone for how much or little you want to interact with me. How exactly I interact with YOU will be in response to the relationship we've built and the degree of understanding I have about your hopes and expectations for your birth and of me.
One thing that I think is important here is that I'm really fundamentally very comfortable with birth and all the mess that it entails. There is almost nothing that can gross me out or scare me when it comes to women in labor and babies being born. I just really trust that women can birth well if given half a chance, which means that I don't tend to carry a lot of nervous tension into the birth space, nervous tension which a laboring woman might pick up and on and be negatively effected by.
what do you believe about birth?
I believe that women are designed perfectly to grow and deliver babies. I love to be around women during pregnancy and in labor and especially in that joyful and sacred moment when she lays her eyes on her baby and brings him/her to her chest for the very first time.
Will i meet you before you come to my birth?
I sure hope so! :) this is always my preference and goal. I want to sit down over a hot beverage with you and your partner and get comfortable with one another. Or perhaps we can do a maternity photo session first, too, which is also a great space to get comfortable not only with each other but also with my camera aimed at you. That said, there have been occasions where a face-to-face meet-up didn't happen ahead of time and in both of those cases, that has also worked out just fine.
How to do you schedule births to ensure you make it?
I attend maximum 2 births a month. For each birth i schedule, I am on call around the clock for 14 days (7 days before EDD through 7 days after). During the on-call period, I make no commitments that i cannot cancel, I stay within the near vicinity, I keep my cell phone on me all the time with your number programmed into my favorites so that your call will come through even if my phone is in "do not disturb mode." and i have my camera bag packed and ready to go at all times, so that I can drop everything else to make a quick departure when I get your call.
At what point would you want me to call you to come to my home or the hospital?
I ask couples to contact me at least three times. first, at the very beginning stages of labor or suspected labor. This call (or text) would be just to say, "hey, seems like things are gearing up over here and i'm pretty sure today's going to be the day." This early heads-up allows me to start arranging child care, etc. you can also keep me updated through your early labor so we can start to guess at a time frame together.
You contact me a second time when you've made the decision to head to the hospital or call in your midwife.
You would contact me third time when you're in active labor, defined as any of the following: 5-7 cm dilated, the emotional signpost of seriousness (e.g., you're really down to business and super focused), your contractions are getting closer and closer together, and your midwife/OB verifies that you're entering the home stretch.
How long do you stick around after the birth?
Just about as long as it takes for you to have your first skin-to-skin moments, initiation of breastfeeding, and the babies measurements taken. this varies a bit, but is 1-2 hours on average.
Often families are interested in having me document the moments when siblings or other family members first meet the new baby. If this happens within those first 2 hours following the birth, I'm happy to include it. If it needs to happen at another time, we should schedule a Fresh48 for a little while later.
What if you miss it?
Though it's rare that i miss one, birth is by it's very nature highly unpredictable and if for some reason I did miss your birth, you would be able to reallocate your payments toward a combination of other photography services, like fresh48, newborn, a family portrait session.
If your labor and birth go so fast that I cannot make it in time, that will always be a unique aspect of your child's birth story. Imagine telling him or her later, "you were so eager to join us that you came so fast the birth photographer couldn't even get there in time!" that's pretty special in it's own way, and typically means you had a smooth, complication-free birth!
How do payments work?
A $200 deposit is required to officially book me for your EDD. The balance to be paid no later than 1 week after your baby's birth. All payments can be made by personal check or Pay Pal.
Will my photos be private or will you post some online?
Birth photography is very personal and intimate. Of course It's important to my business than I am able to build my online portfolio so that potential clients can see my work. However, that will never happen at the expense of your comfort or privacy. You will always have the right to refuse a model release, or even to personally select the photos that you do/do not want shown. If you don't specify, I will typically post 3-5 photos to my facebook business page and/or blog within about a week of your birth, and only after I see that you've publicly announced it yourself. The photos i select are always the most modest, general ones I can find in the collection of shots i've taken. Until we've had a chance to talk together, I don't want to post any more explicit or more revealing ones unless you're definitely comfortable with it.
That said, I do ask my clients to consider being open to the possibility of me showing her entire birth story to a potential future client who wants to see examples of my work (e.g., a birth from beginning to end with all the stuff in between). In this case, the photos would be shown to that individual privately. I also have clients who are wiling to work together with me in the selection of 20-60 images that can be posted in a blog post, which I deeply appreciate. Every time a woman bravely allows me to share her birth story, she is part of the beautiful process of unveiling birth and breaking down all the nasty images our culture has for birth thanks to terrible media portrayal!
Will my photos be black and white or color?
You will get most of them in beautiful film-toned black-and-white; you will also get some in color. Generally, the tricky lighting of birth situations are best served by black and white editing, and when the color isn't present it seems to allow greater focus on the emotion and essence of what's going on in the photos. But sometimes there are some shots that are just lovely in color and so i'll offer you color versions of those ones.
How many images will i receive?
That depends a lot on how long I was there and how fast your labor was. But I can guarantee you'll have 150+ images at minimum.
When will I get my images and how?
Within a day I do my best to email you 5-10 shots in case you want to use them in email/online birth announcements right away. I'll also post a sneak peak to facebook/blog within 5 days (if you've signed a model release). The entire set will be available to you in a private online album within 3 weeks, after all the sorting and editing is complete. once they are all up in that online album, you'll be able to download them to your hard drive to use as you see fit, or order great professional-grade prints straight from the site, which then get mailed to your home in a matter of days.