A Mama's Guide to Choosing a Birth Photographer
While chatting with people throughout my day, I will get pretty much the same looks and responses every time I tell them that I photograph births. Awe. Disbelief. Confusion. Wows. Pretty much any exclamatory response you can imagine, I've heard. Birth Photography is a foreign concept on the Northshore of South Louisiana. It is uncharted waters here. All over the country, Birth Photography is a wonderfully accepted practice. It is a special way to preserve one of the most incredible experiences of a lifetime.
So why have a Birth Photographer?
Let's start with thinking of this in terms a little bit more familiar; a wedding. Would you ask your family or friends to photograph your wedding? I'm sure they could take photos for you, but it probably wouldn't be exactly what you'd want. You'd want a professional. Someone that knows how to photograph weddings beautifully. Someone that knows their craft and equipment. Someone that can capture beautiful images whether it is sunshine or rain outside. You want someone that knows how to confidently photograph your special day because you only have one chance to capture those precious moments.
The same holds true for Birth Photography. I'm sure your spouse or family or friends could take some photos for you, but a Birth Photographer is a professional that knows exactly how to photograph a birth so your family and friends can be there for what matters most; focusing on mom and a sweet life being born. More often than not, a mom likes her spouse/partner and family present and available while her body is doing an amazing work. Those we trust most should be able to focus on being that support and encouragement.
Birth Photographers know how to shoot in tricky lighting and limited space. They know the perfect ways to work quietly and without being seen. They know their equipment and know it well. They know how to serve their clients in a way that no one else can, so that everyone else in the room can focus on being with mom while she's bringing a beautiful little life into the world.
How do I go about choosing a Birth Photographer?
First and foremost, it is important to find someone that specializes in Birth Photography. Every photographer specializes in something; families, weddings, children, landscapes, animals, etc. Making sure that the person you hire specializes in birth is important because like I mentioned earlier, the conditions can prove tricky and being on call is no easy feat. It's a lifestyle commitment.
Secondly, find someone whose style you like. Every artist has their own kind of beautiful to share with the world. Birth Photography is no different. Find someone whose point of view catches your eye. There doesn't have to be rhyme or reason as to why you admire their work. Just go with what speaks to your heart.
Personality is a vital component too. The person you hire to witness such an intimate moment will more than likely become a friend... sometimes even like family. I know with my clients, we form a bond that is so special. Making sure you click with the person you hire is key. Stress or pressure can make birth really tough on mom. Someone that brings your heart peace and comfort is a big deal.
Finally, find someone that fits your budget. This is a tough one. No one likes to talk about it. While it is very important to find someone that is in your budget, it is so incredibly important to not choose someone based on a bargain. The price of Birth Photography is higher than other forms of photography (again much like a wedding). That is for a few different reasons:
Being on call. It's 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. It's dropping whatever you're doing at a moment's notice to rush out the door once the babysitter gets there to photograph a birth. It's 3AM phone calls and 40 hour labors. It's GLORIOUS and so fulfilling, but it is most definitely a commitment.
The hours. Some labors are 3 hours. Some are 40. It's unknown and can be a long time.
It's a lot of photographs. Everyone structures their business differently. So whether a photographer's fee includes images or only covers their services and skill, it's a lot of photographs to take and edit. That means hours of editing time once the birth is over.
When should I hire a Birth Photographer, and is there anything else I should be mindful about?
As soon as you're ready to choose someone, that's when you should reach out and make arrangements. Someone might wait until the first trimester is over while someone else might start looking as soon as they see their first ultrasound. That is a personal decision for the couple to make. Birth photographers are only able to take limited clients a month. The sooner you are ready to hire them, the better your chances to get your first choice.
Some things to keep in mind:
To secure that your date is "on the calendar", make sure you ask what steps need to be taken.
Make sure you include your spouse or partner in the decision. Your spouse/partner might have reservations or be nervous at the idea that a "stranger" might be in the room when your baby is born. Your spouse/partner will be much more comfortable with meeting and helping in the decision making process when hiring a birth photographer.
Be sure to ask what is included in the services. With the way I structure my business, I like to give my clients options and make it a custom experience. I have a Birth Photography fee that covers my services for photographing, being on call, and editing only and then my clients order whichever collection they choose postpartum. However, everyone structures things differently. Make sure you ask for as much detail as what is included in the price you're paying.
Make sure you ask if they have a back-up photographer in place. This is HUGE. You need to know that who you're hiring will be available when the big day comes.
I certainly hope this helps you on your way to figuring out the ins and outs of Birth Photography. It is a calling. It is a joy. It is magnificent. I pray your birth is full of love and wonderful memories. I hope you find the perfect match for capturing every single moment of you bringing a precious life into the world. If you have any questions, I'm happy to answer them for you. Please feel free to contact me. I would truly love to be a part of this journey with you.