Thoughts on Birth Photography

Birth Photography

When some people envision the birth of their baby, they imagine a room full of care providers, family, and friends. Others have a different dream: a quiet room, with just their birth partner and provider present. Regardless of where your wishes fall on this spectrum, you might want to document your birth with photography. Sometimes it is enough to ask your birth partner to take a few quick snaps on your smart phone, but you might want a skilled friend or even professional photographer present.

Choosing to have photographs taken of your birth by your partner, a trusted friend or family member, or a professional is a personal decision. What follows is an exploration of the considerations you might want to take into account as you decide if and how you want to document your birth.

Weigh your options

When considering birth photography, ask yourself these questions and discuss them with your partner:

  • How do we feel about having a dedicated photographer—professional or otherwise—in the room at the birth? If you invite a photographer into your birth experience, this person will likely be part of your memories of your baby’s birth, for better or for worse.
  • Would we be comfortable hiring a stranger, or would it be better to ask a family member or friend? Some people don’t mind having just anyone in the room as they labor and birth a baby, but others feel more private. If you have an older child whom you would feel comfortable having at the birth, he or she is a great person to ask.
  • What level of photo quality and dedication to taking photos do we want? If you ask a family member or friend, rather than a professional, you may not end up with high quality or very many photos if, for instance, that person can’t handle the intensity of birth. On the other hand, a friend who is willing to commit to being your birth photographer may do a great job.
  • How will we feel about having or not having photos of the baby’s birth? How invested are you in having photographic documentation of your birth? Will you regret not asking anyone to take photos or not hiring a professional? Or maybe you have no desire to have a record of your labor and delivery, instead preferring to enjoy your new baby in real life.
  • What financial commitment are we willing to make to birth photography? Because birth photographers generally agree to be on call in the weeks around your due date just like a doula and because they often have expertise photographing births, their rates can be expensive.
  • What are the policies around photography in the location where you are planning to give birth? Some hospitals have limitations on the number of people that can be at a birth or on photography in patient rooms. Before you hire someone or ask a friend to be there, make sure you know whether they’ll be allowed at your birth.

How to find and hire a professional birth photographer

If, after discussing your options with your partner, you decide to hire a birth photographer, start with an internet search of the city or region where you live plus birth photography. Another great place to search is Instagram, using the hashtag #placeyoulivebirthphotography, where you substitute your city or region for “placeyoulive.” You can also ask friends for recommendations, and check out the International Association of Birth Photographers for affiliated photographers in your area.

Once you’ve found a photographer—or several—that you’re interested in, explore their website and social media presence. Look at a good number of their photos, so you can get an idea of their style, and read the information they have on their website about how they do birth photography. Most photographers will answer questions that you have by phone or email if you contact them. Topics to inquire about include: why they offer birth photography, what the on-call policies are, and what pricing packages and payment plans are available. You can also ask if the photographer would be willing to share the information of past birth photography clients, so that you can talk to other parents about their experiences.

After your initial research, meet the photographer! It’s a good idea to meet in person if possible, so that you have an idea of whom you are inviting to your birth. This meeting is another opportunity to ask questions and get to know your photographer. They will likely also share their contract at or shortly after this meeting. Read it carefully before you sign it, and do not hesitate to ask more questions at this stage. Once you’ve signed the contract, your photographer may ask you to pay a deposit. At that point, congratulations! You’ve hired a birth photographer.

Abby Olena
Dr. Abby Olena has a PhD in Biological Sciences from Vanderbilt University. She lives with her husband and children in North Carolina, where she writes about science and parenting, produces a conversational podcast, and teaches prenatal yoga.

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