Hiring a Birth Photographer: Is It Right for You?

Teresa Robertson - Oahu Birth Photographer

Birth Photography has been creating a lot of buzz lately but did you know it’s actually been around for a number of years?

It was almost a decade ago when I was preparing to give birth to my second child. Another Photographer friend of mine (B. Billick Photography of Kentucky) mentioned the possibility of photographing my daughter’s arrival. I had never heard of the concept before but I knew I was in, always willing to try something new in the name of art.

The concept was fresh to both of us and with her living 6 hours away we weren’t quite sure how to iron out the logistics (my husband was in the Army at the time, deployed through the pregnancy, and we were nowhere near family or friends). I adored my OBGYN at the time and had no qualms bringing it up to him: “Would there be any issue with my friend coming in to photograph the birth?”

It was almost an instant, “Sure.” Then, “Wait...is this a friend you want in the room who will happen to take photos? Or are you actually hiring a Photographer? This definitely isn’t the time for that - you aren’t going to want to document what is going on down there.”

Oh.

Looking back, it’s certainly not as though I think his reaction is odd or inappropriate; I know many people have the same initial thought. Having said that, do I regret not going through with it? 110%

How I birthed my three children is another story for another time (hint: I would do it differently) and what I wouldn’t do to have that moment documented when my daughter and I saw one another for the first time. The expression of joy on my husbands face. How we smiled at one another when it was confirmed that everyone was healthy.

Postpartum and happy. Capturing that moment when Mom meets baby for the very first time.

Postpartum and happy. Capturing that moment when Mom meets baby for the very first time.

What Does a Birth Photographer Do?

Just like the birthing process is so much more than pushing, Birth Photography is much more than the initial thought of medical styled pictures being published for the world to see. In this post, we’ll talk though the thought process, appeal, and myths of Birth Photography. Maybe you are simply curious, maybe your spouse isn’t on board just yet, or maybe your a health provider who would like to learn more. No matter who you are, I hope this topic is both informative and thought provoking.

A skilled birth photographer can capture your birth story in ways that you will cherish forever

A skilled birth photographer can capture your birth story in ways that you will cherish forever

Documenting Your Birth story

One of the top three questions I receive in regards to Birth Photography (especially from soon to be Dad’s) is, ‘Who in the world would want to see these photos?! I’m certainly not posting these on our Holiday Cards!’

If you promise to keep reading and allow me to explain, I’ll tell you a little secret: Maybe you will post a few photos for family and friends to see.

But let’s back up a bit.

Labor and Delivery can be beautiful.

Labor and Delivery can be beautiful.

First and foremost, whatever you choose to do with your images is up to you (and no, I will not be posting your intimate moments for the world to see. I can assure you, I would not still be in business if I made a habit out of breaking that kind of trust with my clients). Contrary to school pictures and formal wedding portraits, these moments are a gift to yourself. No one else. This is an opportunity for you to focus on what your body needs to do during labor, your partner to focus on your needs, and for you to look back at it all with a clear mind and a positive outlook of your own, personal miracle.

Whether you have a vaginal, c-section, hospital, vbac, or home birth, your mind is going to be on strength of your body and the health of your newborn baby - it is by no means a selfish or ‘weird’ desire to remember the details surrounding the love you have created.

Now, having said all of this, let me get back to posting your Birth Photography images on your Holiday Cards (yes, we are allowed to have a sense of humor in the Birth World).

When it comes to how you give birth, you have an abundance of choices: Give birth at home or hospital? Medication or no medication? Doula, Midwife, OBGYN? Water, woods, or bed?

That is why it is important to know when hiring a Birth Photographer, you also have many choices.

Family bonding after birth.

Family bonding after birth.

Things to Consider Before Hiring a Birth Photographer

Do some of my clients want every single detail - and I mean, ALLLLLLLL the details - of their birth story documented? Yes; and they are beautiful. But do I also have clients who simply want the labor and immediate post delivery photographed? Absolutely; and they are beautiful. The bottom line is, everyone’s birth journey is just as important and special.

Because there are so many choices, feelings, and ‘backup plans’ involved in birth, is one of the reasons I spend so much time talking with my clients before hand. We discuss comfort levels, birth plans, expectations, and boundaries. I also make sure your birth team - especially your partner - is supportive of my being there.

Whether you are new to the idea of Birth Photography, considering if it is right for you, or simply curious to know more, I encourage you to reach out to multiple people in the birth world, on your birth team, or myself.

I would love to conclude by addressing some of the (many) questions we receive in the industry. If you think I’ve missed one, I would love to know - let’s keep the conversation going!

Precious moments after birth.

Precious moments after birth.

Birth Photography FAQ’s

What is the Difference between Birth Photography, Newborn Photography, & Hospital Photography?

There are certainly a lot of choices when it comes to Photography, no matter the occasion; to be honest, it can be pretty overwhelming and unless you are ‘in the know’ you may not even be sure what you really want.

To put it simply:

  • Newborn Photography would be having someone photograph your newborn(s) shortly after birth, usually between 5-10 days old (we will cover why that young in a later post). These session can be in a studio or in your own home, posed or not.

  • Hospital or ‘Fresh’ Photography generally refers to a Photographer coming to where you have given birth at within 24-48 hours. If you are interested in capturing documentary or ‘lifestyle’ images during these first precious hours, this may be a good choice for you.

  • Birth Photography often captures the time when active labor starts, through the birth, and a short time after the birth. Contrary to initial thought, it may or may not involve photos of pushing, depending on what each client wants. Strength, love, and bonding tends to be the focus of these photographs.

Doulas, Midwives, and Family during a home birth in Maryland

Doulas, Midwives, and Family during a home birth in Maryland

Why Would Anyone Want Birth Photography?

There are MANY reasons why people choose to hire a Birth Photographer, there are just a few:

  • Some people would rather have a more intimate birth experience without family or friends in the room, while some may want their family and friends to be free to focus their energy on supporting you.

  • Similar to a wedding, this may be a be a special, emotional, or spiritual moment for you and your new family.

  • You would like to make sure, after all of your hard work, that you are able to look back and see what your birth journey really looked like and the beauty of it.

How is Birth Photography beneficial?

Birth Photography can be extremely beneficial, not only as a reminder to yourself how amazing you are but also to remember the positive experience of having given birth.

Birth Photography in Times of Distress

Unfortunately, not every pregnancy will progress the same. If you are experiencing a pregnancy that has complicated circumstances surrounding, please know that you and your baby are just as important. I encourage you to reach out to your birth team as to how Birth Photography may be beneficial to your healing process.

Laboring in Annapolis, Maryland at a Birthing Center

Laboring in Annapolis, Maryland at a Birthing Center

Will having a Birth Photographer make it feel as though my room is too ‘crowded’?

That is something only you can decide but also one of the reasons why I insist on spending a good amount of time getting to know my birth clients before the birth. If I feel that my presence is going to be anything other than subtle, calming, or positive, I may even suggest another Photographer in the industry that would bring a different energy to your environment. At the end of the day, you having a positive, healthy birth is my top priority.

How much does Birth Photography typically cost?

It really depends. Experience, talent, and time are just a few items that go into how Photographers price themselves. I once had a client say to me, ‘It’s like you’re a Wedding Photographer - but on call for weeks at a time.’ Which is so true! Different regions will also present their own range of cost but I would generally expect to pay between $1,200 - $3,000.


Have more questions?

I would love to answer them! Never hesitate to reach out to a Photographer to simply discuss what your options are, how you may be able to work together, and see who may be the best fit for you. There are many of us who truly want to see you well taken care of and have your best interest at heart.

Birth Photography, like the actual maternity and labor, has less to do with one specific moment and more about a story of strength, surrender, and everything in between.

Birth Photography, like the actual maternity and labor, has less to do with one specific moment and more about a story of strength, surrender, and everything in between.