Birth Photography - Frequently Asked Questions
WHAT IS BIRTH PHOTOGRAPHY?
By the most basic definition, birth photography is the visual documentation of your labor, delivery, and immediate postpartum moments... though really, it's so much more than that. It is the preservation of all the biggest moments, yes -- the first breath, the first kiss, the first latch -- but also the easily forgotten ones. The way your husband brushes the hair off your forehead, the way you absentmindedly touch your belly in your last hours as one, the way your dedicated doula shows unwavering support. The face you, your husband, or a brand new grandparent makes upon meeting the baby for the first time, and the uncertainty or excitement of an older sibling. How thick was the umbilical cord? How big was the placenta? Was your baby covered in vernix, or clean as a whistle? Were her feet peeling? Were they wrinkly? Was she alert or sleepy? Birth photography captures as many of these moments as possible, for you to revisit for a lifetime.
DO YOU TAKE PICTURES OF THE WHOLE LABOR AND BIRTH?
Absolutely, and afterwards too! The exception to this, of course, is if you don't feel comfortable with me shooting something, then I will always respect that boundary. Ultimately, these are your photos, and I want you to adore them.
WILL YOU POST THE PHOTOS ON THE INTERNET?
Only if you let me, but most of my clients do. I love birth stories, I never get tired of reading them, of seeing them unfold, through imagery or in real life. I think that something has been lost among women in modern culture, we don't talk about birth among our families and friends the way we once did. I love to show the beauty, power, and magic of my clients birth stories, in hope that it will empower other women. I want women to feel strong, confident, and capable when they're about to meet their babies, and this helps to encourage that mentality.
WILL WE MEET BEFORE THE BIRTH?
That depends. Many of my clients hire me for my work, not for who I am. If you're comfortable with this, I am too. We can communicate via email, text message, over the phone, even video chat if you want. That being said, I am always happy to meet with families beforehand, and there is no additional cost for that. Birth is a very intimate, personal experience, so whatever you need to feel comfortable with my presence I'm happy to do.
HOW MANY BIRTHS HAVE YOU PHOTOGRAPHED?
Thirty-two as of April 2017! (Hospital - 17, Home - 10, Birth Center - 5)
WHEN DO YOU SHOW UP?
Ideally, I arrive sometime during your active labor. The most perfect timing is a few hours before your baby is born, for a total of 4-6 hours of photography. Birth is FAR from ideal though, most of the time... so we do our best to gauge the right time for me to join you based on a variety of indicators. Some people suggest that 5 or 6cm is the best time to go, but I have had mamas go from 6cm to birth in half an hour -- not enough time for me to get my littles to the sitter and make it to you in time! Usually it's best to go by how close together your contractions are, and how difficult they are for you to handle. If they're coming every 3 minutes and you're going to the moon and back every time, I should already be there.
HOW LONG WILL YOU STAY? WHAT IF I HAVE A LONG LABOR?
This varies greatly. I will never stay less than two hours, and average is probably about six. If you have a long labor, I'm in it until the end! Unpredictably long labors simply come with the territory.
WHAT IF I HAVE A SHORT LABOR, WILL I GET ANY OF MY MONEY BACK?
Regardless of how long the labor is, each birth requires a similar amount of time and work. The bulk of your investment isn't to cover the hours I spend with you during labor and delivery, but also for the time spent on call, and the post processing of your images. For this reason, I do not refund money for a shorter labor.
WHAT IF I HAVE A C-SECTION?
We can make that work! Ideally, you should discuss this with your care provider during your pregnancy. A handful of OB's have allowed photographers into the OR, and the images from those births are just as beautiful and moving as any vaginal birth I've seen. Dr. Diana Wang is the only doctor that has allowed me into the OR to date, at St. David's North North Austin Medical Center. I have heard many times that Dr. Seeker has also allowed photographers into the OR. Even if your doctor has a policy against allowing photographers into the OR, I can come to the hospital with you at check-in, document your pre-op, give my camera to your support person to use during the birth, and photograph post-delivery moments as usual. The documentation of your story is just as, if not more, important as any mama delivering vaginally!
WILL I HAVE TO GET APPROVAL FROM MY HOSPITAL?
To date, I have not had any problems with photographing births at any of our local hospitals. However, I would still highly recommend that you discuss your desire to have a photographer with your OB or midwife ahead of time, so there are no surprises. If he or she knows your wishes up front and what to expect, it's unlikely to cause any kind of friction when the time comes.
WHAT IF YOU MISS THE BIRTH?
Babies are unpredictable! Missed births happen, but they're rare. In the event of illness or emergency, I have a couple of backup photographers that I could send in my place. If I miss the birth because your labor was super fast, I still come to your place of birth to document as much of your story as I can. If there are too many missed moments to build a full gallery, I am happy to offer a Fresh 48 or Documentary Family session for a day soon after baby arrives.
WHEN SHOULD I BOOK YOU?
As early as possible! Because my family (and my sanity!) takes priority, I can only accept a limited number of births per year. I generally work with only one or two families per month, so I encourage you to contact me as soon as you know you're expecting.
DO YOU OFFER DISCOUNTS OR TAKE PAYMENTS?
I rarely offer discounts on my services. I love what I do more than any other work, but birth photography requires a great deal of responsibility, sacrifice, and commitment. I do offer payment plans so that I can make my services attainable for as many families as possible. A $400 retainer is due at the time of booking, and the remaining balance can be paid throughout your pregnancy in any way that's comfortable for you. The full investment is due by 37 weeks, before I go on call for your birth.
DO YOU USE A FLASH? WHAT IF I WANT MY BIRTH DARK?
I often use a flash at births, yes. I have yet to have a single client who was bothered by the use of my flash, it's never pointed directly at anyone, but instead is bounced off of a wall or ceiling to create soft, directional light. I am absolutely comfortable using my camera without a flash though, it is well equipped to handle low light conditions, but there MUST be some light in order for my camera to achieve focus, so keep that in mind. I am happy to show examples of images with and without flash to help you decide what you prefer if you're on the fence about it.
HOW MANY PHOTOGRAPHS WILL I GET?
This will vary greatly from birth to birth. The gallery from a 24 hour labor will look much different from the gallery a 3 hour labor produces. My smallest galleries are around 80 images, and the largest are close to 200.
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO GET MY PHOTOGRAPHS?
Immediately after your birth, I will deliver a handful of edited images for you to see and share right away, generally within 24 hours. The full gallery takes time, especially with 4 children at home! I try my best to deliver within 6 weeks, but because I hand edit each and every image for consistency, my contract states 12 weeks.
WILL THEY BE COLOR OR BLACK AND WHITE?
For most images you will get both. Some images lend better to one or the other, in which case I will deliver only one version. A bright, colorful image with low contrast, for example, will generally look much better in color than in black and white, while a high contrast scene with various light sources will look best in black and white. If an image looks acceptable both ways, rest assured you'll get them both.
DO I GET A CD OF ALL MY IMAGES? WHAT IF I WANT PRINTS?
I deliver client images digitally, in beautiful, password-protected galleries. All of the files are available for download in original, high, and low resolution formats. You can order high quality, professional prints directly from your gallery, or you may use the high-resolution files to print your own through the lab of your choosing (I highly recommend mpix.com). Please contact me for a quote if you're interested in having me design a lay-flat album for your family.