A day full of emotions, sometimes stress, adrenaline and unprecedented love. The question is, how do you make sure this memory is not lost? Do you hire a birth photographer, or do you (or your birth team) take these photos yourself?
Birth photographer or not?
Whether you take the photos yourself or have a birth photographer do it for you, the photos will be treasured either way. If you like the idea of a birth photographer but still have doubts, ask yourself the following:
- What do I want to remember from this day?
- Do I value the quality of these photos?
- Would I want to cherish this memory in every detail or are a few fragments enough for me?
- How would I feel about seeing myself back in an unprecedented situation – do I expect to look back with admiration or is this a memory I would prefer to forget?
There is no right or wrong answer. Birth photography is not for everyone, and these questions may make you aware of whether a birth photographer is right for you.
The most common reason why (expectant) parents book me as a birth photographer is because they know that they are most likely going to experience childbirth as an intoxication and find this unfortunate or because they were not left with good photos from the first birth. To the latter group, I asked if I could share their photos with and without a birth photographer. After all, they have experienced both, and so you can clearly see the difference between these two choices and weigh what is important to you.
The difference between having or not having a birth photographer
Poor lighting conditions
If you are not a photographer, you often shoot on automatic mode. In poor lighting conditions, this can cause blurred photos or your camera will automatically turn on the flash. This can be perceived as distracting during delivery, but it also flashes away the atmosphere of the room AND it doesn’t seem very pleasant for a newborn. Flashing with a compact camera is generally not particularly flattering either. – There are birthphotographers who do flash (not me), but have mastered this technique well so that you are minimized. – A professional birth photographer works with the best cameras (at least 2 just in case!) and bright lenses so she can still take good pictures in low light.
The role of the partner is crucial because you want his/her support continuously when you need it. This day is often overwhelming and exciting for the partner as well. Do you want him/her to be able to be there for you completely, without worrying about the photos? Then a birth photographer can take on this task. This way, your partner can be totally absorbed in the first meeting with your baby instead of witnessing those precious moments from behind a camera. The first reaction of both of you will be captured, but also the moments how your partner was there for you unconditionally and you were working as a real team. You will not consciously experience all of this during labor.
The right time
The power of photography depends on what you focus on. As a photographer, you wait for the right moment before taking a picture, while someone else who is doing it in between jobs takes a quick snapshot. This can make just the difference between a loving photo or one that evokes few feelings. Also, a birth photographer knows where and when to stand, to portray the birth in a stylish and discreet way so that these photos do not scare you away. The focus may vary from birth photographer to birth photographer. Therefore, look carefully to see if the moments the photographer has in her portfolio appeal to you.
Snapshots or complete birth story
Perhaps a few snippets will be enough for you once the baby is born. Then it will suffice if you take the pictures yourself (quality aside). But if it is important to you that the overall story is not lost, then a birth photographer is the way to go! I personally attend from active contractions until 2 hours after birth, regardless of how long the labor takes.
The moment of birth, the addressing, your first reaction to the baby – chances are those will be missed in the photos. The people on your birth team are there primarily to do their jobs, and this is the time they have their hands full. Maybe you’ll get lucky with an intern. Also, the partner will not easily think of a camera at the moment suprême, because he/she himself/herself considers this an important and exciting moment. And if they are, he/she will be missing from the picture himself/herself.
A comparison with her previous delivery is not possible because these moments were not recorded.
If you hire a birth photographer, that’s obviously an extra person at your delivery. If that idea makes you very uncomfortable, I definitely don’t recommend it because it is not conducive to labor. But if you do see the value of birth pictures, it is still good to examine whether this feeling is not grounded in an assumption. You can do this by meeting with the birth photographer you have in mind and discussing expectations and methods. A professional birth photographer knows the birth process and will be present here in her own appropriate way.
Also, she often works independently and it can therefore feel very familiar because there is one permanent face. In hospitals, you often have not seen the staff before, there are alternating shifts, and in large midwifery practices, it is also common that you have not met everyone. So you choose a birth photographer very consciously based on (of course) their work, but also for someone’s personality and energy. Therefore, a free introductory meeting is a must to experience whether you feel comfortable with the person and their methods.
If after reading this blog you still don’t know what is appropriate for you, check with yourself if your doubt/uncertainty outweighs what has been written above. Don’t know yet? Then check out the experience of others who have gone before you or feel free to schedule a no-obligation consultation.