Isn't it funny that (in most cases) the bathroom is where you get the biggest news of your life? You wait anxiously perched on the edge of the tub, your eyes switching back and forth from the clock and that stick sitting on the counter. Seconds tick by... they may as well be years. You start daydreaming about how your life will change, a fog of what ifs... and all of a sudden you see it. A line. You're going to be a mom!
The next weeks and months will be absolutely filled with important decisions and choices... and expenses! It can seem overwhelming for sure, and some of the most difficult choices involve where you will deliver, and who will be there when baby arrives. More and more families are choosing to document their birth experience, and as birth photography grows in popularity, more and more photographers offer their services in this area... but how do you choose the birth photographer that's right for YOU?
What is going to be the deciding factor? Style? Experience? Investment? Of course all of these things matter, but what is your priority over all else? Once you know what your priorities are, it's time to start narrowing down the field of potential photographers.
No doubt about it, birth photography can be a big investment. What would it cost for someone to leave their family and children in the dead of night to rush to your side? When you hire a birth photographer you are asking someone to be at your beck and call 24/7 for the last 3 to 5 weeks of your pregnancy, to make themselves available at the drop of a hat... whether it's 11 AM, or 2 AM, even on a holiday; and stay with you as long as you need them. I myself have been at births anywhere from 3 hours to 40 hrs.
Finally, you are asking them to skillfully and respectfully document your labor and delivery, to hold space for you in one of the most vulnerable times of your life. A quality, experienced birth photographer is usually going to start out at $1000+ and has priced themselves according to their cost of doing business, their skill, and their experience. I have found that birth is far more challenging, and just as lengthy (often longer) than capturing a wedding!
You can't control when you deliver, even if you are having a planned cesarean (I have only photographed one planned cesarean that happened the same day and time it was planned for!). The location and the time of day when you give birth will have some bearing on the look of your final images. That said, you should look for portfolios that demonstrate the overall style you prefer.
Everyone starts somewhere, and all of us at one time photographed our first birth. Even if you choose a photographer that has never photographed a birth before, it's wise to make sure they are experienced with their gear and confident working in fast-paced low light situations. A complete novice is liable to miss key moments (like dad's expression just seconds after his baby arrived).
Once you have a short list of people you are considering, it's time to start meeting them face-to-face. Meeting in person is a great way to know if they are a good fit for your birth team. You want to be certain that you are comfortable with anyone you invite into your birth space.
Your baby's birth is a once in a lifetime event. There are no second chances to capture these moments. Be sure you are trusting them to someone that can deliver what you are looking for. Many birth photographers, myself included, offer a gift registry to allow friends and family to contribute towards your session as well as payment plans. The earlier you begin your planning the more likely it is that you will be able to budget for and book with your "dream birth photographer"!
I am an artist at heart and have been ever since I can remember. I have been blessed with four beautiful children and an amazing husband. One of my favorite things to do is help others capture beautiful memories that will last a lifetime.