Birth photography FAQ
Birth photography is still in its infancy in Australia, so naturally there are lots of questions to be asked about what it is, why you should consider it and how it all works.
Birth itself is mostly an unknown to the everyday person. It is shrouded in darkness and mystery. It’s not spoken about by the everyday person and you don’t learn about the physiological process of birth until you absolutely have to.
In this generation we are running birth education classes to educate the masses on what birth is and how it works; back in the day this would have been common knowledge! My sister and I speak a lot about the loss of the ‘village’ when it comes to raising children and this is one of those things. Birth would have been something you would see regularly as a child in your ‘village’, you might see your mum giving birth or your sister – not anymore (well…not for most!).
We aren’t taught about it in high school, and what we do learn along the way is mostly wrong and irrelevant information anyway (yes….some women poop during labour. *insert eye rolling emoji here*) so it is no surprise that birth photography is viewed the way it is in the mainstream society…
I’m going to take a stab in the dark here and say that when you first heard the term ‘birth photography’ your mind immediately pictured one photo…you know the one…we all know the photo that comes to mind – what I’ve mentioned before and is known in the birth photography world as the ‘crotch shot’.
Beautiful as that photo may be, that is not the be all and end all of birth photography.
So here I am, ready to bust some birth photography myths and answer some of the most commonly asked questions regarding birth photography!
Why YOU should consider hiring a birth photographer
I feel like I touch on this particular question a lot, I have written blogs detailing the many reasons why you should consider documenting your birth, so let me try and package it up all nice and neatly for you here.
IT ONLY HAPPENS ONCE!
There will be only be one first breath, one first breastfeed, one first cuddle with Mum and Dad and one moment where you can catch the look on your partner’s face when your precious little babe is birthed.
Much like your wedding day...
it is one of the few "once in a lifetime moments" we as humans get in our lives...
This is a big one for me, my first birth was such a blur - I do remember bits and pieces of it, but what I don’t have any memory or record of is my husband’s face when his first born was brought earth side. I wish I had that, both for me and for him but mostly for our daughter Wren. What a gift I could give her, to see her Dad’s face when she arrived on this earth.
TRUST ME, IT MAY SEEM ‘ODD’ NOW, BUT YOU WILL WANT THESE PHOTOS LATER…
I have been there myself, having my birth photographed with my first born was not even a consideration. As a photographer myself I didn’t even know such a thing existed and I probably wouldn’t have done it even if I did. I was disconnected from my pregnancy and didn’t value what was happening to me and the beauty of the process. I would have thought “eww, I will look gross in all of the photos, why would I want that?”
But it’s not about that.
There is beauty in the raw honest detail of birth. There is absolute mind blowing strength in the powerful messages that birth photography can convey. There is calming reassurance in seeing the way birth partners support and lift their birthing partners up.
I feel you almost have to go through it once to see it for what it is worth. To understand it’s not about the blood and the sweat – it’s about the experience. I have never felt more empowered or strong as I have immediately after all three of my births. I wish I had photos of them to remember that feeling.
What if I don’t want detailed intimate photos?
That’s fine. Everyone is different and whilst I love taking photos of ALL of the finer details of birth, you don’t have to look at them. I do take those photos and I LOVE to take those photos, I think they are raw, primal and stunning! But, if you choose not to look at them, problem solved – you never have to see them again.
On the flip side, if you say now that you don’t want those detailed photos taken, and then afterwards you wish you had of consented to them being taken, then we run into issues.
I am good, but not that good; I can’t fabricate moments you didn’t want captured.
"it is all about the emotion, the hard work, the environment..."
The moments of birth which see the baby emerging from its mother are only one very small portion of what birth photographers capture. We spend the majority of our time documenting moments prior to and after this point in time – prior to it is all about the emotion, the hard work, the environment and the connection between birthing figure and support people, and post baby’s arrival it is all about the reactions, the tiny details of your baby and all of the firsts.
Our job doesn’t end once baby has been born, we usually stay for up to 2 hours after the birth to complete the story and capture your baby’s first moments earth side. Once the storm has passed and everything is still and quiet and you are enjoying your new life as a family…
I’ll just get my husband or sister or *insert non-professional photographer relative here* to take a few pictures on my phone…
Ok, I’ll try to tread carefully here…
Yes of course you can do that! But, would you not rather have said family member IN the actual photos and would you not rather professional quality photographs instead; I mean, have you tried printing an iPhone photo to a print worthy size? It’s not great.
Think about it like this – would you allow your ‘family member’ to document your wedding on their iphone or point and shoot? No? Really?!?! Come on…. then why the birth of your child?
Why is it “so expensive”?
When I first looked into hiring a birth photographer for our most recent birth, I thought the exact same thing. I don’t know what I was expecting exactly but it wasn’t that…. But then, I thought about it a little more…
Consider this, you want to hire a birth photographer to document your birth. Amazing. This photographer has a life of their own too, sometimes children to take care of and childcare to arrange, a husband to spend time with but...
You can’t tell them when they are needed.
You can’t tell them how long they will be needed for.
You can’t tell them what exactly will be happening on the day/night, aside from the fact that you’re going to give birth to a precious little bundle. I mean, you might start out at home and end up in hospital. You might plan to birth in hospital and end up at home.
You can’t guarantee to give them much notice.
You can’t guarantee your birthing environment; will there be sufficient light to take photos? Probably not…
Is any of that a problem for us? No because WE LOVE IT!
Birth is unpredictable and as birth photographers we are prepared at all times to drop whatever is going on in our lives to be there to document YOUR birth story.
We go on call for approximately 4 weeks around your due date and restrict our lives during this period to give us the best chance possible to make it to your birth. We have to arrange care for our own children at a moment’s notice, we stay within an hour or two of your place of birth for the entire 4 weeks we are on call, we don’t drink and don’t commit to anything else during this time.
We will be there if you call us at 11pm, 2am, 4am and 6pm, whatever hour you need! We have backup arrangements in place to ensure that if we can’t make it, that SOMEONE can…. We value your birth more than you know and we LOVE this work but, it isn’t without its complications.
We will get home from a 12-30 hour birth only to come home to take care of our own children on zero sleep, stay up all night editing your photos and putting together your birth story only to be called out to another birth the following day so then we start all over again…
We purchase the absolute best equipment we can and are on a constant quest for knowledge to ensure we can shoot in a wide array of environments; low light, hospital light, no light – we make it work.
And we love it. I would not choose to be doing anything else for my day (and night) job.
Meeting little sister for the first time...
Not just a birth photographer…
If you’ve scrolled through my website you would have seen me say this once or twice before. As birth photographers, not only do we have a love and a burning passion for what we do, we know how birth works, we’ve either been there before ourselves or we have extensive experience in the world of birth and birth spaces.
It is a delicate operation. Birth is sacred and as birth photographer’s we know to honour this sacred intimate space and how to navigate the twists and turns that birth can throw at you. A good birth photographer will make you feel safe, they will make you feel supported and at ease. A good birth photographer isn’t just interested in getting good images for you, I mean that is what we are there for but ensuring you have the birth you want is paramount and comes first.
We don’t get in the way and take shots and risk disrupting the process, we mould and melt into the environment and ensure we fit seamlessly into your labour.
Speaking for myself now, I am passionate about birth choices and human rights in child birth. When booking my mumma’s into birth photography you’re not just a number and a file to me; I want to meet you and your birth partner. I want to know about you as a person. Tell me about your previous births, how did they go, is there anything you didn’t like, do you have any concerns leading into this birth, what do you want for your birth – tell me your birth plan! I want to know the details so that when you are deep in the throes of birth you can rest assured that there is one more person in the room who has your back.
I know what you want and will help support and guide you and your birth partner to the birth of your choice.
And with that, I will leave you with some words from a father whose birth I recently documented, this birth was this couple’s first and when things took an unexpected turn and overwhelm set in I did my utmost to ensure that this couple’s rights were upheld and their wishes respected.
“Throughout the labour Sarah was invisible but was very supportive when we needed it. When the labour became a little more complicated than expected, having Sarah there as an additional support person was invaluable. Having the experience of so many births, my wife and I were able to lean on her to ask the right questions and provide other options that we weren’t aware of as first time parents…”