I've been staring at a blank page now for much too long. My children have likely destroyed my house while I've done so. I want to put into words why I believe so passionately in birth photography, but it feels too BIG, where do I start?
I remember being introduced to the idea when I was pregnant with my firstborn. I was both intrigued and terrified of the idea. There is so much unknown as you prepare to give birth for the first time. You can read and read, but until you've been there... and so I wondered: Will it feel terrible to have someone see me in my most vulnerable moments? Will I feel even more exposed than I think I already will? What if something goes wrong? In the end, I decided to have a friend who is a photographer be there and I absolutely will never regret it. After Emerson's birth, I couldn't stop looking at the photos. Her fresh little grumpy face, the way my husband absolutely BEAMED looking down at her.
In the end, I never regretted the decision to have a photographer there for a single second. I hear the same thing from all of my clients. I think one of the first things that pops into people's heads when they think about birth photography is a crowning shot. Those moments are a beautiful part of childbirth but most of the time I don't photograph it (only if parents request it) and even if I do, I can promise you it accounts for about 1% of the total images in your gallery. Birth photography is story telling. It is documenting all the moments that you might miss out on while you are focusing all of your energy into bringing your baby earth side. Is birth photography for everyone? No. We all have different comfort level and personalities and this is not only okay, it is beautiful. But if you're a person who feels like you might want to look back someday on images that remind you what it felt like to have that fresh grumpy baby on your chest, let's keep chatting.
I know there are so many uncertainties with birth in general, so I'd love to shed some light on how the process works if you decide to book a birth photographer. Once you get in touch, we spend some time talking, either online or in person. We talk about your past labors if you've had them and about your mother's labors if you know how it went for her. We talk about what you're hoping for from your care provider and what your plans are with that (home birth, hospital, birth center). We talk about your comfort level, are you wanting the whole process documented or mostly images after baby is out? Is there anything you for sure don't want documented, is there anything you absolutely don't want to be missed? I shoot as discreetly as possible, and I never share images without permission. Your privacy is absolutely my priority.
We talk about whether you want to announce that baby is here before I post with your permission, or if you think it would be fun to have me do live updates for family and friends to follow along. There is a wide range of approaches to birth and privacy and I honor wherever you fall on that range. Sometimes, mom is comfortable with the idea but her partner is less so. This is actually a pretty common thing that I hear. The most interesting thing for me has been that after receiving their gallery, daddy's have been the ones most blown away and appreciative of having those images. Mom is focused on baby, partner is focused on mom, and there are tons of little details and moments that escape them both that they are so in love with having after the fact. If you have a partner who isn't so sure, I've got a couple of clients who love to give references especially in this area.
If you decide to book and I can confirm that I have an opening, I block out 4 weeks of on call time for you. I may book other sessions during that time, but I always tell them if I am on call for a birth and you are the priority. I also have a back up photographer who is always on call as well just in case I have an emergency come up. I have clients meet her as well if they'd like to. Then we keep in touch. Becca, my back up, and I both have small children, so the sooner we can know that you think you are in early labor, the quicker we can be prepared to get to you. You won't bug me with texts about contractions that start and then stop. You won't gross me out with details about mucus plugs. I love to hear how your appointments go. Birth is my passion and I've seen and heard it all.
Once it is time for you to head in or have your care provider come to you, I typically wait until you are checked for progress to head to you. I say typically, but with birth, there really is no typically. If you decide you don't want to be checked, I absolutely support that decision and I come whenever you tell me you're ready. If you feel like things are progressing quickly and you don't want to wait, I leave when you leave and meet you there. If you want to document the whole birth and would love to have me capture a few shots of you at home before the real intense stuff happens, I love to pop in and do that. Once I am there, I typically shoot for just a few minutes at a time and then leave you alone unless you want me to stay. I try to give as much privacy as possible while still being sure to tell the whole story. I'm as invisible or present and helpful as you want.
I coordinate whenever possible with your care provider to make sure that I am out of the way when needed, and in the room whenever something important is happening. And then once baby is finally here, I typically stay for about an hour after birth to capture all of those important moments. I can stay a bit longer if big sister is coming to visit or something like that. Then I send you a few sneak previews within a day that you can use to announce with or you can tell me not to post. You are in control.
I say all of that and realize that it was mostly geared towards anticipated vaginal births and I want to pause for a moment to say that all births are beautiful, and I love the chance to document cesarean births as well. Sometimes vaginal births become cesarean births and it is good to talk to your care providers before hand about their policies for having a photographer in the operating room. Professional birth photographers are extremely careful to conduct themselves with utmost care, but across the country it is just starting to be a possibility to be allowed in the OR. My cesarean births have been some of the most incredible and powerful births I have been privileged to witness. If you are having a planned cesarean, talk to your care provider. There are so many precious moments that I love to capture for mothers as they are still being cared for in the OR. I follow the baby and make sure that you don't miss a single thing.
I hope that knowing more about the process and about me helps answer some questions you might have had about birth photography. I'd love to hear from you and talk some more.
You can find more information about my birth packages including pricing over at my Sessions Page.
So much love to you and yours as you navigate this time in your lives.