Birth Photography Facts & Choosing If It's Right For You

Oh, I could write about reasons why you should have a birth photographer until the cows come home, but instead I'm going to share my perspective as a birth photographer and why I think capturing these days and moments are so special for families to have, and then I'm going to share why it was so important to find one for our babe's delivery.

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Why Birth Photography is my favorite thing to capture:

There is seriously nothing like capturing a birth, just thinking of it takes my breath away. Don't get me wrong, I love capturing wedding days and family lifestyle sessions, but births. Births. They take the cake. They take all the cakes and then some.

Birth Stories are so special to me because I am capturing someone's FIRST breath, FIRST cry, the FIRST time they meet their parents, and the first time they're meeting her/him! I am able to capture and give parents something they will never be able to recreate, the moments that fly by far too quickly, and are so full of emotion that they are often hard to remember or show up in memories as a blur.

I guess my photography style preference is more of a photojournalist in the way that I live for the shoots where I don't have to pose anyone or anything. Capturing raw emotion is what really brings me to life which is why birth stories are my absolute favorite. From the time we arrive at the hospital until the time I leave I'm capturing candid images that are full of almost every emotion one can possibly feel.

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Why We Want A Birth Photographer:

Since this is my favorite thing to capture for families I did not want to pass on having someone capture this day for us. Like all big decisions, though, I wanted to make sure Pat was okay with someone else being in the room with us during this experience. Truthfully, this is something that he was not bothered by, but this is usually the main deciding factor with couples and whether or not they choose to use a birth photographer.

Because I've been in so many delivery rooms before I know that emotions are high, times get stressful, and things get crazy. No matter how long labor takes, the day is so overwhelming that I can't even begin to imagine how many moments you forget. This is the main reason I want someone there, to encapsulate the day for us so we will never forget the moments leading up to our baby's arrival, his/her arrival, and his/her first few hours. Especially since we have NO idea what we're having!! I cannot wait to have pictures of our reactions of when we first find out what gender our little one is as we meet it!

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How Do You Choose A Birth Photographer?

This was definitely the hardest part for me, so I wanted to share a few tips to help you find a birth photographer in the case you're looking to have one!

  • Start off by researching birth photographers in your area, and find someone who's style you like. My preference as a photographer, and consumer, is that my birth stories are given to families in black and white. I do this because I believe this day is a classic day in history that should be encapsulated and cherished in a way that will never be looked back on as "a fad". The simplicity of black and white makes this day something you'll forever look back on and it will remain in style.
    • Find someone who has birth photography experience. You want someone who knows how stressful the day is, how quickly things can change (and happen), and someone who knows what type of environment they will be working in.
  • Next, read the photographer's bio, research their social media outlets, and do your due diligence on being the best researcher on them LOL (I'm being serious haha). You want someone who you automatically click with, connect with, and most of all feel comfortable with.
  • Then, reach out to the photographers you are interested in working with. You should have two to three that you email, this is because photographer's only have a certain amount of sessions they'll take a month. For example, my limit on birth stories for a month is two, and their due dates have to be at least two weeks apart. Why? Because I do not want to have to compromise on one of my clients if one goes over their due date, and one comes early.
  • Interview the potential birth photographers IN PERSON. You want to find someone who makes you feel like family. This is HUGE. You are choosing someone to stand by your side, and capture you and your partner, on a day where you are exposed, stressed to the max, and most likely irritable. You want a photographer who will not only be a fly on the wall, but someone who at times will be there to get your husband water, wipe your sweaty face with a washcloth, and hold your hand if you need it.
    • When I'm at a birth I'm not only a photographer, I am everything that family needs on the day. I'm like an on call best friend with a camera. I put my moms first, and capturing their emotions second, which means if the mom wants her hair brushed, face wiped, socks put on, or anything else- I'm doing that. Find the person who will be that to you. Be upfront in your interviewing process, and don't be shy when you're asking what their services involve.
  • Make a decision! Go with your gut and remember that you want someone to not only capture your day but someone who will hold your hand through the process and help make a challenging day less stressful.

When Should You Book A Birth Photographer?

This is such an important thing to know if you are wanting to have a birth photographer! Like I said above, most photographers set limits on how many sessions they take a month, especially birth sessions, so doing this sooner in your pregnancy is better! Not only will it ensure you get the photographer you want, but it will also keep it less stressful and more fun. I would say at the latest, you should book your birth photographer by 30 weeks. Why? Because even though most people do go full term, and some a week or so late, babies come whenever they want. You want to have your photographer chosen, interviewed, and ready to go in the case you deliver your babe early. This is another important question to ask when you are interviewing birth photographers- do you have a birth in the weeks leading up to mine? And if so, what happens if I do go into labor early?

This is not to say that you can't find someone if you've waited and now are realizing this is something you want. Hunker down, do your research, reach out to local photographers and pursue your gut if you truly are finding this is something that is important to you, and something you want!

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Why Is Birth Photography So Expensive?

Typically, birth photography is on the same price range as wedding photography, and for fair reasoning. Why? Go back to your wedding day, think about how much you paid, and for how many hours- typically a photographer's wedding contract is for 8 hours, sometimes 10.

When I sign a birth photography contact I am committing to being on call for two weeks before the due date (not scheduling any other sessions because babe can come at any time), being at the hospital/delivery center for however long the labor and delivery take, as well as two hours after the baby is born. This usually puts me, on average, at an 18 hour work day.

Right up front your birth photographer is not only dedicating more time up front for the session, but also working on scene. And, since your photographer is working extra hours, which is awesome because you'll get way more images, the editing time is longer than that of a wedding.

I promise you, the price birth photographers are asking is not only fair, but worth it. The images you will receive from your day will be more special than any from your wedding day, and some that you will cherish and keep close to you forever. It's a way to look back on the miracle of life, the first moments you met your baby, and something you will forever be glad you chose to do.

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All of the pictures in this post are property of Bourbon Oak Tree Photography & Films. Usage of these images is not permitted without consent from Brandie Scales.

If you have any further questions on birth photography, please contact me at bourbonoaktree(at)outlook(dot)com!

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