The moment your baby enters the world is something you will understandably want to remember forever. Babies change so quickly in those first few hours and it’s surprising how quickly your memories can fade. As such, in recent years, there has been a growing trend for birth photography – having a photographer / videographer present during the later stages of labor and birth, to capture even the smallest of details around your child’s arrival.
There are various reasons why parents-to-be may consider having a photographer at the birth. During pregnancy, with the labor experience somewhat unpredictable, many women may be worried about how alert or focused they will be during the final stages of labor and whether they will remember the finer details. They may also not fully trust their partner to capture some photographs on the big day or worry about the quality of pics snapped on an iPhone or mobile device.
Having a photographer at the birth allows you to watch your baby’s arrival after the event from a different perspective. That said, having a photographer present during labor can be quite daunting and isn’t for everyone. Should you hire a birth photographer or videographer or simply take some shots yourself? Here are the pros and cons.
Pros of hiring a birth photographer:
- The tiny details – An experienced birth photographer will capture images of all the tiny details that you are unlikely to remember to snap on the day – from that first breath, first time they open their eyes and even the first time you hold your baby. Even with the most enthusiastic, snap happy birth partner; it is unlikely they will catch them all.
- Un-posed – Whilst your birth partner or medical team may help snap some images on their phone, they are likely to be posed and staged. A birth photographer can capture the real raw emotions you are experiencing on camera – from that first greeting and reaction to the gender reveal – you will see the elation, joy and relief in real time, as it happened.
- Highlight reel – Many birth photographers and birth videographers can create a highlight reel or short video of stills and motion, allowing you to watch back the key moments of your baby’s arrival.
- Shot with dignity – A good birth photographer will know the right angles, shots and appropriate moments to capture on camera whilst protecting your dignity and privacy.
- Quality imagery – Do not underestimate the difference in photo quality between a haphazardly taken iPhone image and a professionally edited high-resolution photo.
- Focus on the event – Having someone else present to take photographs allows your birthing partner to be totally invested in the miracle of life, rather than scrambling around in the hospital bag for their camera or seeing those first moments through a lens. Removing this responsibility means they can be in the image and fully present in the moment.
- Newborns change so rapidly in those first few hours after birth. Having some images of those raw, unfiltered moments can help you remember and look back on in years to come.
Cons of a birth photographer:
- A stranger – Unless you know them personally, a birth photographer is still an extra person (and an extra stranger!) in the delivery room. As such, you may not feel entirely at ease. Whilst a good birth photographer will be as discreet and ‘hidden’ as possible, you never truly know how comfortable you will be in the moment.
- Cost – When it comes to birth photographers, you generally get what you pay for, so the cost for a good quality photographer with experience at birth shoots will not be cheap. But if the price seems too good to be true? It probably is.
- Experience – If you are going to open up your birth and labor experience to be photographed, you need to hire an experienced birth photographer – don’t be tempted to bring in your mate Karen with a DSLR. Having a good experience is so much more than finding someone with a good camera.
- Privacy – Should this be a private moment? Some parts of labor can be intense and stressful and if things go wrong, memories of the event can even bring back trauma. There are some images that you may not want to see or share with anyone other than your immediate partner.
- Feelings can change – As well as you know the photographer or feel comfortable outside of the labor room; your opinions can change very quickly when you’re mid contraction or 34 hours into your labor. Suddenly the thought of someone snapping away whilst you’re screaming for an epidural may lose its appeal (and by that point it’s probably too late!)
Things to bear in mind
If you are considering a birth photographer, here are some tips for making it a positive experience.
- First, make sure you meet them in person before the day itself and get to know them as much as you can. You need to feel comfortable around them and if you’ve never had a photoshoot before, opening yourself up in this way at such a vulnerable time can be quite overwhelming. Check that their personality, sense of humor and their shooting style feels natural for you.
- Get case studies and look at their previous work. Ideally talk to the previous families and customers to get genuine insights into their experience. These families may also be able to share tips and hints about what worked for them.
- How does your birthing partner / partner feel about a birthing photographer? It’s important that you both feel comfortable – it’s their birth experience too, so ensure that everyone is in agreement about the approach you are taking.
- Finally, are you comfortable with the photographer seeing you at your absolute most vulnerable? (Let’s face it, not all parts of labor are pretty!) How intimate do you want the pictures to be? Are you comfortable with showing nudity? Or would you rather they capture images that maintain your privacy? Discuss your feelings first and make sure that everyone is on the same page.