Happy 2020 everyone!! I wanted my first blog of the year to answer your most burning questions about birth photography! These are the top 10 questions I'm asked all the time, whether from clients, friends and family, or inquiries. If you have any other questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below!
1. So.. How does this all work anyway?
It can all be a bit strange, right? You hire a stranger to join you in your most intimate moments, often months in advance, so how does this all work?
Well first, I hope you won't think of me as a stranger! After your initial inquiry, you'll hear from me within 24 hours - likely much sooner than that. We'll meet up over coffee where we'll have a chance to get to know each other. You'll ask any questions you may have and I'll get my first glimpse into what your child's birth might be like. We'll go over the contract and you may or may not sign that day. If you do sign, you'll pay the retainer fee and so begins our journey.
We'll chat over the coming months about how your pregnancy is going. I love to get updates about how you and your little one are doing. It's great for me to be kept in th loop regarding any changes to your birth preferences or any potential pregnancy complications. We'll develop a friendship that will make welcoming me into your birth space much easier than when you first imagined me as a stranger with a camera!
Once you go into labour, you'll give me a call to let me know and we'll discuss when you'd like me to arrive. I will stay with you for the duration of your labour, birth, and up to two hours postpartum.
Within 24 hours, you'll have 3-5 sneak peek images in your own private online gallery. Your full gallery will be ready and delivered to you within two weeks. Within a month, you can expect a beautiful gift from me as a way to thank you for allowing me into such a sacred space. Then we will hopefully keep in touch as your little one grows!
2. Is birth photography invasive?
This is a completely valid concern! It's a large camera pointed at you while you work harder than you've ever worked before in a very intimate setting. But here's the thing, not only am I a certified birth photographer and videographer, I'm also a certified doula. With my doula certification, I was trained to have the utmost respect for the birth space. Protecting that space comes first, before all else. I have put my camera down many times to give my clients space or get them a drink of water and that's something I will always do when I feel the need is there.
Aside from that, many birthing people go to a place I like to call "labour land" and at times, completely forget I'm there. They no longer see me in the corner or hear the shutter click because they are so focused on working through each contraction.
When I am at your birth, I am part of your support team and I always have your best interests in mind.
3. What if I don't want nudity in my photos?
With birth, a certain level of nudity is expected (obviously!) but that doesn't mean I need to capture it! I've had many clients that wanted nothing to do with crowning pictures and that was totally fine with me! Alternatively, there are images that I could capture and then you can decide whether or not you'd like to see them after. At my own births, I refused any pictures, videos, or even the mirror to see the moment of birth and now I wholeheartedly regret that decision!
I also advise any clients that prefer little to no nudity to invest in a good sports bra for their labour. It's much easier to avoid below the waist nudity than to crop photos if you're topless. Wearing a sports bra will likely make you feel much more comfortable if nudity is something you're worried about.
4. What if I don't want my images shared?
I have such appreciation for my clients who are willing to share their birth images with the world. As I've said, birth is such an intimate experience and to allow me to join you is huge, let alone allowing me to share your photos on social media!
I've had clients that encourage me to share anything and everything from their birth, clients who prefer I only share images without below the waist nudity, some clients who say anything without nudity is ok, some clients who wish to approve each image individually, and some who prefer that absolutely no images are shared. All of the above options are 100% fine with me!
You hire me to capture YOUR story for YOU. These images I create are not for me. They are not created with the purpose of expanding my business or going viral. These images are created for you and your family, and you have 100% say in what is done with them!
When we meet, I will present you with a model release to sign as well as the contract. Each of the above options are listed on there as well as which platforms you would be ok with me sharing to (social media, website, blog, advertising, etc.). You have control of when, where, and how your images are used, even if that means never sharing them with anyone but you.
5. We really want birth photography, but it's such a big investment! How can I possibly afford it?
When I look back to where I was financially when I had my kids, I think "there's no way I could have afforded me!". But then when I examine that closer, I remember going out to restaurants, buying new clothes, making way too many stops at Tim Horton's.. The reality is, we put money towards the things we value. If birth photography is something you truly value, there is usually a way.
Of course, I understand the difficulty of living "pay-check to pay-check" as well, so I have a few options you might find useful if you're having a hard time figuring out how to afford the pictures you so desperately want.
Gift Certificates: Most expecting parents, especially if this is your first baby, have a baby shower. If you express to your family and friends that birth photography is something you would really like, they can purchase gift certificates from me to go towards the package of your choosing. Even if you aren't throwing a baby shower, there's usually someone who would like to give you a gift. It's a great time to mention birth photography!
Payment Plans: My clients usually hire me months in advance which makes payment plans the perfect option! Pay your package off a little at a time in a way that works for you. These plans can be as flexible as you'd like and can even extend past the date of your little one's arrival! All interest free!
Credit Card Payment: Now, this option might not exactly be ideal depending on how you feel about credit cards but I wanted to list it anyway because it is an option! I'm happy to say that beginning in 2020, I will now be able to accept credit card payments via PayPal!
6. What happens if my birth goes really fast?
I always keep in mind my client's history when I'm deciding how soon I should arrive to a birth. If you have a history of a precipitous (fast) birth, I will likely arrive sooner rather than later. Communication is key - always. I ask my clients to notify me as soon as they have any signs of early labour. It gives me a heads up that I *may* need to arrange for childcare, take a separate vehicle if we're going out somewhere, and have my gear with me.
Sometimes it's just braxton hicks contractions and active labour doesn't begin until days or weeks later, but I always prefer as much notice as possible. With two kids at home, I need to make sure I'm prepared if things do progress quickly and I have to run out the door.
In the event that you do have a precipitous birth and labour progresses so quickly that I don't arrive before the birth, I will arrive as soon as possible and document as much of your story, (in this case, the story of a very fast birth) as I can.
7. What happens in the case of a hospital transfer?
Hospital transfers happen, sometimes for emergent situations, and they can be scary for everyone involved. The way they are documented is determined case-by-case but with each one, I will continue to document your story from my perspective as much as the situation allows it.
I will head to the hospital in my own vehicle and will join you in your room as normal if the transfer was voluntary. If the transfer was emergent, I may not be allowed back until after baby is safely born. In that case, I will wait in the waiting area until I'm invited to your room and then I will continue to photograph you and your beautiful baby.
8. What if I'm having a planned Cesarean birth? What if I need an emergency Cesarean?
Let's talk about a planned Cesarean first. Here in Sudbury, you are only allowed one support person in the OR. I'm hoping someday that will change, but for now the chances of me being able to attend your birth in the OR are slim to none. However, just because I can't come into the OR to witness the birth, doesn't mean your story goes untold.
I would tell your story from my perspective and capture the moments before your Cesarean as you are admitted and prepped. There are still so many emotions and much of the story to be captured. There's also the option of bringing my camera into the OR with you. Your partner, midwife, or nurse may be able to take a few photos for you that can be added to your story. I would also stay until you are back in your room where I could join you again for photos of you and your little one bonding. I could also return the following day for some fresh 48 photos of your family once everyone has had some rest and time to recover.
For an emergency Cesarean, the process would be very similar. Depending on the situation, there may not be time to pass my camera to your partner but as I've said, there is so much more to your story than just the delivery, and I promise you, it is worth documenting.
9. What if I go into labour in the middle of the night?
When you hire me as your birth photographer, I'm on call for you - normally from 37 weeks until you have your baby. That means I'm available day or night, 24/7. My camera is always charged and my memory cards are empty and in my camera. My flash batteries are charged. My ringer is set to the highest volume and my smart watch is on my wrist. I don't go out of town or on any family trips. I don't consume any alcohol. I am at the ready and waiting for you call. Most of my fee goes towards this 3-5 week period of being ready for you whenever you call. My life quite literally revolves around you and your baby!
So if you go into labour in the middle of the night, you call me as you would if it were the middle of the day and I will be there! As I tell my clients, I won't be upset about losing sleep, but I will be upset about missing your birth because you didn't want to wake me.
10. My partner isn't sure they're comfortable with birth photography. What can I say to convince them?
I can completely understand why some partners would be uneasy about the idea of having the birth of their child documented. The moment you bring up the idea of birth photography might even be the first time they've heard of such a thing! Birth photography is far from the "norm" and has a long way to go in becoming as normal as wedding photography.
If your partner is unsure about birth photography, or even if you are, I always recommend getting together to talk with me about it. There are so many misconceptions about birth photography being all about the "crotch shot" or being invasive. Before meeting with me, some partners have expressed that they thought I would be posing them while you're giving birth! It's natural to have questions and concerns when it comes to documenting something so incredibly personal, I would love nothing more than to chat with you both to ease those concerns and explain what the process is really like.
You can also send them the link to this blog here: 5 Reasons Dads want a Birth Photographer
*Please excuse the non-inclusive language in above blog post*
There it is! My top 10 most frequently asked questions. If you have any other questions, feel free to leave them in a comment below or you can contact me at the bottom of the pagehere if you'd like to set up a no-obligation consultation!