Birth photography is relatively new and growing in popularity. When I tell people what I do for a living, there is often some confusion followed by lots of questions. Because birth photography is not as "standard" as say, wedding photography, you may not really know what to expect. This is especially true if you are having your first child and have not yet gone through the experience of childbirth. Here are a few tips if you are hiring a birth photographer for the first time.
1. Meet your birth photographer in person before hiring them, or at least before your birth. When people reach out to me to book birth photography, I am always willing to meet in person. I cannot stress how important it is to get a feel for the personality of someone who is going to be with you throughout one of the most intense, life-changing events of your life. I have been at births for 15+ hours. I have spent hours chatting with a mom who's laying in bed with an epidural while her husband sleeps. I have held cool rags on the forehead of a laboring mom when an extra pair of hands was needed. It is SO important that you establish a relationship with your photographer prior to them walking in the room in the midst of your labor. If for some reason you should have a clash of personalities, it will affect your mood and mental state and can actually inhibit the progress of your labor. When you meet your photographer in person, you can get a feel for their vibe and see if they're a good fit.
2. Keep your photographer updated as much as possible before and during labor. Seriously, no birth photographer in the history of ever has complained about someone updating them too much before a birth. I will usually start heading to a birth when the mom is 5-6 cm dilated, but I like to get so many updates before that point so that I am able to leave at a moments notice. Check in after your midwife/doctor's appointments to let me know how they went. Let me know if you start having any contractions, even if it turns out to be false labor. Let me know if your water breaks. Let me know how far apart your contractions are. I don't want to be harassing you and asking for updates every hour while you're in early labor. But seriously, I want you to text me as much as possible so I can get a feel for how you're progressing and whether I can sleep for a few more hours or if I should be brushing my teeth and getting ready to go.
3. Wear something that you feel comfortable in. Most moms who deliver at the hospital will opt to wear hospital gowns. If you'd like to wear something different. check the policy of your hospital. (For those local to Charlotte, the CMC hospital gowns look nice in photos, but the Novant ones are not quite as cute). If you're delivering at home or a birth center, you obviously have more options. I have seen people wear nightgowns, robes, sports bras, fancy bras, and bathing suits. If you search "birth photography" on Pinterest, you'll find lots of ideas of different things that you could wear. I would recommend having different options on hand and going with what will be the most comfortable for you. The last thing you want to be worrying about while in labor is your itchy bra strap.
4. Don't worry about the pictures, just focus on your birth. Usually when I enter the birthing space, there's a little adjustment period to the clicking camera. You tense up because you know that you're being photographed and suddenly feel awkward and don't know what to do. Don't worry, it's normal! What's most important is that you just relax and don't even think about the photos. Don't feel like you need to position yourself a certain way, or do anything special for the camera. Beautiful photos just happen organically.
5. That being said, if there's a particular shot you want, just ask. A lot of people like to do "before and after" photos with the belly and then the baby, or want a classic cheesing family photo after the baby is born. If you want any particular photos, just ask your photographer and I'm sure they'll be happy to comply. Don't feel too awkward to ask and then regret not having the photo later!
6. Tell your family members that you've paid good money for a photographer, so you'd appreciate them not getting in the way to take their phone-quality pics. I know, I know, grandma is excited and she wants to get some close up photos of the baby being born and weighed and measured so that she can post them on Facebook. The problem is that there is often limited space and sometimes the enthusiastic phone photographer is getting the best angle on the photos. I usually like to discuss this issue with my clients before birth, so they have time to explain to their friends and family that they'd like for them to enjoy the moment and let the photographer worry about getting the pictures. I don't want to be pushing said grandma out of the way, because I know she is just super excited!
7. Don't worry about me! Seriously, moms are the sweetest. Like, literally every mom that I've ever photographed has been super concerned about whether I need something to eat or drink or if I need to lay down and rest if I've been there for a while. Excuse me, you are in labor! Maybe it's because I'm in the South and I've got all these hospitable Southern ladies, but you do not need to worry about me. Birth workers know how to take care of themselves and will take breaks to eat/drink/rest when necessary.
8. Don't feel awkward about asking your photographer to stop taking pictures if you're having a hard time. I try to make it really clear when I meet with a client that it is actually impossible to offend me while you are in labor, and I'm sure most birth photographers would agree. We understand that you are going through what is quite possibly the most difficult thing that you will ever experience. Do not in any way feel like you can't be open and honest about what you want or don't want us to do. If you are just feeling miserable and don't want a camera on you, say so! We totally understand.
Do you have any tips you'd like to add to the list?? Message me and let me know!