When I finish editing the last photos of a birth, upload the files and send them off to my clients, I always take a deep breath. I know my clients are going to open their files with great excitement and anticipation and possibly a few tears. I get to give this new family a huge gift, and they don’t even know how special it will be to them until they open it. The files will walk them through the journey of the day they became parents and a family.
Not only is it amazing to document the day your child was born with your baby’s first breath, your first reaction to your baby’s tiny face, dad’s face when he touches sweet little toes for the first time, but you are also documenting the story of how you became parents. This is one of the most healing things for my clients because the day goes by with a blur, then it is gone in an instant with only memories to hold on to. You know you just climbed Mount Everest and back in a day. Having crisp documentation of the climb allows you to venture back to your accomplishment any time you feel the need and remind you of the little moments that might seem trivial but are such amazing memories, like the first time you breastfed your new baby or the first time he or she gazed into dad’s eyes.
Why would you need to hire a professional birth photographer?
Well the truth is you don’t. You don’t need to document any of your life events with a professional photographer. Some people have wedding photographers and some don’t. Lucky you now have the option to hire a professional birth photographer if you want one, and it’s an amazing option to have! Hopefully you will have a few in your city or town to choose from. If you want someone to document your birthing day or even just the moments after your baby arrives you now can hire someone who specializes in documenting the unique story that is birth.
Here are some of the reasons to hire a professional birth photographer:
- Most the people in the room will be so flushed with excitement and adrenaline it might be hard for them to remember to pick up the camera or to focus and compose a nice picture, even if they are good with cameras. Have they watched a baby enter the world through a body before? Will they be able to focus on the moment and get a good shot? Most people are so overwhelmed by the experience they forget how to do anything, unless they are a professional birth photographer who has attended lots of births.
- Can you trust your partner or the designated birth photographer to take a good picture of you when you haven’t slept for days and you just did the biggest work-out of your life? Yes, you will have powerful endorphins on board, but the photographer has to know how to use them to their advantage. Not to mention fancy tricks to hide wild nipples and other naked body parts. I love the photos I have of giving birth to my children, but I would not show many people because I look like a truck ran over me! In contrast, my clients have many, many photo’s of themselves enjoying their baby where they look amazing; photos they WANT to share with friends and family to commemorate the birth of their child. (I even hear birth workers talk about how I make them look good in photos. I think sometimes my camera is magic, but it could also be the photographer.)
- The lighting during birth is not optimal for phone pictures or pictures taken with a basic point-and-shoot camera. With these, most images will come out dark and blurry. Even if you have a nice DSLR camera, the chances are that the person using it won’t know how to use the right settings in order to get a beautiful, clear shot of the moment. You definitely don’t want a direct flash when you are in labour or your baby has just entered the world!
This is our family photo from my daughters birth in 2001. (That blur is my husband.)
- You want your partner share in the experience with you instead of being distracted with trying to document the process. I belong to a group of professional birth photographers we collaborated on this slideshow showing partners being supportive called ‘Hold Her Hand, Not the Camera‘. It is worth watching but grab a tissue. During the birth of my first child, I had my husband on video duty because I wanted to see my daughter entering the world. Instead the camera was bumped and what we got was a lovely video of the roof! He felt bad. I assured him it was not his fault and told him he better be ready to have an extra person at our next birth because I was going to have someone whose only job would be to document. I did, and it worked out perfectly. Plus, my husband was in all of the photo’s instead of being the one behind the camera.
- A common pitfall of relying on someone who isn’t familiar with birth is their tendency to be so amazed with the process of birth that they photograph a lot of close-ups of the birth itself, forgetting all about the people who are in the room (including the mother and father!). So when you open your files, all you see is a close-up of your bulging vagina or your naked bum flopped over the couch instead of your partners reaction to your new baby. Trust me! Many, many women have told me about the birth photos their moms took. A professional birth photographer should know which angles work and which ones don’t! I have been photographing births for a long time now, allowing me to know what women want to see, and it is NOT a close up of their naked bum! As your baby’s little head is coming out, I know I need to stay steady and calm and I know exactly how to shoot to get that moment. Getting the very first moment when your baby is brought to your chest is not an easy feat with all the towels and arms in the way and often in very low light. A professional birth photographer should be able to wait for the moment and shoot it just in time to capture your face between arms swinging, baby crying and tears flowing.
- Having a professional photographer means you don’t have to delete all the blurry, out of focus double/quadruple chin photos from your computer. You get one package full of nicely exposed beautiful shots that tells the story of your birth.
- If you are worried about not usually liking your picture being taken or feeling like you need to pose during your birth, don’t worry, you won’t! A professional birth photographer should be there to document what is happening in the room, not to have you pose or do things that are not natural. If you have a skilled professional birth photographer, you won’t even notice her taking your picture while you are in the throes of labour or enjoying your new baby. You will probably be shocked at all the amazing pictures you receive since you’ll have barely noticed them being taken. I have many, many parents accounts for this, especially from the dads. I often hear them say, “Wow… I wouldn’t have gotten one shot until the baby was at least an hour old!”
- You do not have to share your birth images with anyone. Just because you want to document this very private event it doesn’t mean you need to share it with the world. These images are just for you. Most of my clients are so thrilled with how beautiful they look and the special moments that were captured that they want to share the images. Sometimes clients share their birth story publicly, sometimes they just want to show pictures of their baby to friends and family. It is always up to my clients to choose how much, if any, they want to share.
- Your baby will look amazing. I have been a professional birth photographer in Vancouver, BC for over three years and have shot over 100 births. I can tell you getting a nice, crisp shot of a brand new baby looking right into my camera or snuggled close to mom is not an easy thing. Once I get the shot, I know I have just given my client the biggest gift ever. Now they can share with all their friends and family a photo of their new baby looking clear and beautiful and true to life. Friends and family who you don’t want to visit right away or who live too far to visit at all can soak up and enjoy your new little person like they are in the room with you. Not to mention you can enjoy the beauty of your freshly born person in the years to come without wishing your husband hadn’t cut off her left eye in the photo or got your nipple clear as day in the background. Within a few days your baby will already look so different, but you will have the lasting memory of those first moments forever in your photos.
- You will get to look back on the day you became a parent and be reminded of the amazing adventure you went on to bring your child into the world. Trust me these images will be special to you for years to come, no matter how much time passes.
When I started documenting births three years ago, some of my clients were unsure about having me photograph their births. People would suggest I stick to maternity or newborn photography because “who would want that photographed?!” I can tell you LOTS of people “want that”, and lots of people are getting their births documented with beautiful artistic images that tell the story of the day their baby was born. Each one of them would not change having a professional birth photographer, because after the birth is over the pictures and your memory of that amazing experience is all you have left! I take a long inhale and I am grateful for all my clients that tested it out and discovered what an amazing gift birth photography is. Feel free to check out my packages.
I thought I’d share this comment I received this morning from a mom who hired me to document her birth:
“I’m sitting here scrolling through them, drenched in happy tears. There are moments that I cannot remember…like can you believe I forgot that she started breastfeeding in the operating room! There are just no words to express the happiness and awe I feel looking through these photos and somehow being transported back to that day…that day that O. was born, the day I became a mother, the day we became a family. THANK you from the bottom of my heart for being there, holding the space, offering your strong doula hands and your wise words of advice and comfort, and for your incredible gift of being able to capture the moments so beautifully. You are a true gem and we are so honored and blessed to have had you join us on the most important day of our lives and to prepare and empower us before hand for the birth of our wee O. Thank you, dear doula sister. You will forever hold a special place in our hearts.” Mother and Doula E.
Feel free to email me firstname.lastname@example.org to meet for tea to discuss your options.
Morag Hastings – Apple Blossom Families.com