Why a Birth Photographer? In the age of budget DSLRs, filters, and insta-everything, why would you want to pay to hire a birth photographer? The latest trend in photography, professional birth photos are on the rise, and businesses once specializing in cute kiddos and family photographs are now moving into the delivery rooms, homes, and birth centers.
Birth evokes such images, mostly drawing from Hollywood blockbusters and dramatic soap opera birthing scenes. It was only in the early 1970’s that men were even allowed into delivery rooms, creating this elusive place where women disappeared, shrieked and writhed in pain, and tiny babies emerged. Even today, modern birth can be painted as something to fear. Women gather in social circles, telling “top-that” horror stories. It’s not often that beautiful birthing stories are broadcast, and certainly not images. Professional birth photographers allow for those stories to be heard.
Birth and labor are unpredictable and can be tricky to capture. Lighting may be dim and planning what's going to happen can be difficult. You should be able to depend on your birth partner to be there for YOU and your needs, not to be taking those once in a lifetime shots. Being in the moment means being IN the moment - not worrying about camera settings, not worrying about where to stand or if the lighting is right. Laboring moms should be able to depend on their birth partner to be there for her needs, not trying capture once in a lifetime shots or worry about camera settings and lighting. If a birth partner is taking photos or video, they can’t be present in the moment and they can’t be a good support. More importantly, they can’t be in the pictures! A birth photographer can change that.
There are so many emotions and sensations to be felt during the birth process. It is so easy to not be fully in the moment, to remember how it felt, but not to remember the images.
Colette Hoekstra with Coco Photography (www.thefirstmoments.com) a member of the International Association of Birth Photographers and Professional Photographers of America, is a Portland, OR based birth photographer.
Q: Why would I want a stranger in my delivery? That’s personal!
I meet with all my clients before the birth (around 34 weeks.) We’ll go over the details of the birth plan as well as my approach for shooting the delivery. I get to know my clients pretty well before I show up for labor. I actually encourage you to interview other birth photographers to find a birth photographer that’s a good fit for you. It’s all about having a great experience! During labor, it’s my goal to be a “fly on the wall” and be as least distracting to the delivery experience as possible. Oftentimes, I’m able to be the eyes for a mother during labor and capture the things she never even knew happened.
Q: What about modesty? Where do you stand?
A: Together, we discuss preferences and what you do (or do NOT) want photographed. There’s definitely a misperception that “crowning” shots are the only frames I’m shooting. It’s all about telling a story, and a majority the time, that’s from the mother’s viewpoint, so behind the birth partner’s shoulder is often a great place for a birth photographer to achieve great images. Either way, you dictate what you want to see.
Q: But is it expensive?
A: Currently, birth photography is still less expensive on average than wedding photography. Given the fact that a birth photographer will go on call 24/7 at 38 weeks and be available to shoot for 8-10 hours during the birth, plus I will have many, many hours of editing after the birth. A birth photographer sacrifices holidays, nights, weekends and time with family, friends and hobbies. I don’t do this to get rich. I do it because I love it!
Q: What about the Internet?
A: A good birth photographer would never share images online without my client’s explicit permission! Trust is so important in the birth photographer/client relationship and it’s why choosing the right person can be critical. It’s also why having the right tools like password protected galleries and other privacy measures in place. Again I’ll tell you to interview your list of birth photographers wisely!
Q: What do you tell someone that is on the fence about having photos taken?
A: Browse some images from birth photographers across the country, and take the time to meet with a local birth photographer in person. Go over any questions or concerns you may have with them, and in the end go with your gut. Birth photography is not for everyone, but how cool would it be to have photos from when YOU were born?