FAQ for Birth Photography/Videography
How did you get into birth photography?
It wasn't something I went looking for. Having the birth of my daughter photographed was something that happened because it was a package deal with the doula I wanted to work with. As a photographer, I thought, "hey, why not?!" I'm ever so glad that i stumbled upon this option, because those images are ones I'll cherish forever. They have been helpful for me to view as I processed my birth experience and wrote my birth story, which was so transformative. I am looking forward to showing them to my daughter one day. and so when i got pregnant a second time (and third and fourth!), I knew I wanted those births photographed, too.
After my daughter's birth i had the opportunity to photograph births for a few other families. My firsts. They are unforgettable. I found that I really really loved doing it. I loved it more than i expected that I would. And from then on, I've known that this is one of the primary forms of photography I want to practice. It's such a gift to be able to offer a woman a pictorial documentation of the experience that will transform her and grow her heart more than almost anything else in her life.
Why would i want to hire a professional birth photographer/videographer?
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 -- and how much did you pay to have that photographed?!). 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 God gave you on that day. 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.
Lastly, if you hire this particular birth photographer, you're also hiring a prayer warrior. i'm almost always praying for my clients under my breath while i work.
I was just planning to have my husband/partner take photos and video on his/her camera phone. Why can't they (or my mom 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 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 nurse (or your mom) 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.
It's also an issue of image quality! Unlike your average doula or nurse or husband or mother, I have invested in and maintain camera bodies/lenses and professional training that enable to me to create beautiful images even in very tricky environments and lighting situations... WITHOUT having to use a pesky flash.
If you DO want a doula who is also qualified to take amazing professional photos, I do that too!
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 have to be honoring of that in how much I post in such public spaces as Facebook or on my website, though most of the brave mamas I work with have permissioned me to share quite a lot! 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 and supportive. That's exactly what i hope for. Your birth 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 (you!) 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. If you were to look up and seek out my face during the most intense part of your labor, you'd see me smile confidently back at you, with the sympathy of a fellow birthing mama who knows that you are going to be just fine. In fact, you're going to be remarkable.
Some families also hire me to be more hands-on and actively supportive as a birth attendant. To learn more about this option, have a look a the Support + Story Duo services.
What do you believe about birth?
Read more about my birth philosophy and experience with birth here.
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 pregnancy 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 when for various reasons a face-to-face meet-up didn't happen ahead of time and in those cases, that has also worked out just fine.
How to do you schedule births to ensure you make it?
Currently, I attend only 2-3 births per month as a photographer and/or birth attendant or doula. For each birth I schedule, I am on call around the clock from 2 weeks before EDD until you give birth. 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 on emergency override 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 give me as much of a heads up as possible when they are reasonably sure they're in labor. I aim to time things so that I'm arriving at about the same time you're approaching transition. Birth is inherently unpredictable, however, so we'll just do the best we can by erring on the side of LOTS of communication.
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 about 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, later time, we should schedule a Fresh48 to capture that amazingness.
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, life-with-a-newborn, milk time, or family photojournalism session. I'll make sure that you get some sort of meaningful photography out of the whole deal.
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!
In rare cases where I know in advance that a scheduling conflict may increase the possibility that I'd miss a birth, I arrange for a back-up photographer to be on call also, so that one way or another your birth will be photographed.
How do payments work?
I'm always happy to break payments into 2 or 3 installments. In every case, a $300 deposit is required to officially book me for your EDD. I require that the entire balance is paid by 38 weeks in your pregnancy so that all of those details are wrapped up nice and tidy before you give birth. one less thing to worry about afterwards! All payments can be made through the online invoices I provide.
Do you ever offer specials/discounts?
My birth photography and videography rates are on the low to mid range for the industry. I want to keep this service available as a real option to real women, and so I'm trying to keep them down there, but this means that no, I do not run specials/discount packages on these services.
For more about why birth photography/videography costs as much as it does, this is a good read (though the photographer who authored this charges quite a bit more than I do). You can also read more about the reasoning behind my own pricing by reading this blog entry.
I am also open to bartering as a form of payment in some cases. Contact me about this if you want to see about arranging a barter that works for both of us. I also offer discounts for those paying for home birth out-of-pocket. Please inquire if this applies to your situation. Sometimes an extended repayment plan may be workable.
If you're also hoping to hire a doula, you can save money by asking me to play both of those roles. The bundling together of my birth photography services and my birth attendant services ends up costing less than hiring two separate professionals. Visit Sister Birth to find out more about this option.
Will my photos/video 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 instagram 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/film be black and white or color?
You will get most of them in beautiful film-toned black-and-white and you may also get some in color. Generally, the tricky lighting of nighttime 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 -- or entire daytime births! -- that are just lovely in color and so I'll offer you color versions in those cases.
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 between 100 images at minimum.
For videography, you'll get an HD film 8-10 minutes in length. You may also get 15-20 stills.
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/Instagram within 5 days (if you've signed a model release). The entire set will be available to you in a private online album within 1 month, 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. Your album will arrive at your door within 2 months of your baby's birth.
For birth films, you'll have a Vimeo link sent to you within 2 months of your baby's birth.
I still have questions.
Great, reach out!