When it comes to documenting your birth story there are lots of myths & misconceptions about what it means to invite a birth photographer or videographer into your sacred space. Here are some of the more common myths I’ve encountered as a birth storyteller and how they apply to families who choose me to document their story.
Myth #1: Birth Photography is All About Vagina & Crowning
Actually, sometimes I see very little vagina and zero crowning moments. Every birth is different. For some the crowning shots are super important and for others it’s not. If crowning shots are important to you they still only make up a small portion of your total gallery—maybe 5 out of 75 images.
Birth photography is about the moment of birth but it’s more about the moments surrounding birth. Those fleeting in between moments: Moments of connection between you & your partner, the loving words of encouragement whispered by your Midwife or OB, the unwavering support of your Doula, siblings (friends or family) experiencing birth for the first time—meeting each other for the very first time. First breaths, cries, kisses, the first time you lay eyes on your baby & realization that you did it. It’s preserving one of the most monumental transformations we experience in life as a part of your family’s history.
Myth #2: My Images Will Be Shared All Over the Internet & Social Media
There’s always curiosity about the images I post & use to promote my business and the answer is I have permission from the family--otherwise the photos don’t get used. Yes, you absolutely have the final say in what gets used on social media, including what is used in my portfolio and even my marketing materials.
What happens if you only want to share a select few images or none at all? That’s totally okay, too. Most families I work with approve around 80% of the final images they receive, some more and some much less.
Myth #3: Birth Photography is Overpriced or I Could Never Afford It
The reality is that birth photography is probably one of the most under priced genres of photography. Wedding photographers charge more than birth photographers and this should actually be the other way around. Wedding are predictable and birth is not.
I’m on call for 5 weeks surrounding baby’s guess date and at any moment I’ll need to leave at a moments notice and be gone for 5 hours or 36 hours. High quality equipment is expensive and high quality backup equipment is an absolute must for pro birth photographers. There’s also reinvestment in the business & education. Paying for business insurance taxes, computers, storage, software, subscriptions, marketing, advertising, music licenses—the list goes on and on. And notice I haven’t even mentioned paying myself yet. My expenses include bills, savings for retirement, savings for life, cost of medical, dental & vision expenses all out of pocket. And on top of it all, I’m limited in the number of births I can take every month.
People are willing to save & invest in things they appreciate--especially when those things require expertise, quality & artistic perspective. With all of that said, I also believe in making it possible to manage the costs. I offer flexible payment options and a complimentary gift registry to every single family who hires me. I’m even open to barter if you have a product or service I have a need for. If these options aren’t enough consider a Golden Hour or Fresh48 session. These sessions are more affordable and can take place immediately after birth if it’s those raw moments you’re craving.
Myth #4 Birth Photography is Intrusive & I Don’t Want a Stranger in My Room
First, I totally get birth photography isn’t for everyone. Documenting your birth doesn’t have to be intrusive to your space and it doesn’t have to feel like there’s a stranger in the room. Choosing an experienced photographer who takes the time to get to know you and knows what they’re doing makes all the difference. A good photographer adds to the experience, they don’t detract from it.
I always hear birth photographers talk about being a ‘fly on the wall’ at births. I feel like this is just a tad misleading because birth photographers are people and people take up space & carry a vibe/energy. We document your story with equipment and that equipment takes up space & makes noise (nothing crazy, but still noise). It takes skill, experience and an understanding of birth to minimize our presence in ones space and not miss those beautiful fleeting moments. I always say choose your birth photographer as carefully as you would your Midwife, OB & Doula because our presence can make a difference.
How can you make sure you’re getting the real deal when it comes to an experienced professional in your birth space? Talk to your provider about who they recommend. Chances are your provider has worked with a photographer at some point and they can give you some guidance. You can also interview the photographer you’re considering to get a better sense of their expertise. Review the photographers testimonials, look for reviews. You can even ask the photographer for referrals from past clients or other birth professionals they’ve worked with.
Myth #5: My Friend, Family, Partner or Doula Will Just Take Pics
Having friends, family, your partner or doula take your photos for you is a great alternative to hiring a pro if it’s just not in budget. Chances are though, the images they capture won’t have the same aesthetic as images taken by a an experienced pro with pro equipment.
I am dedicated to showing up for you day or night, at the ping of a text, I drop it all to be with you. Even if your images are taken by a doula (for example) who is experienced with birth and maybe even with taking birth images, you will very likely have to choose which takes priority in the event you need your doula’s support. There will likely be a breaks in the birth story captured because it’s almost impossible to do both at once. Chances are you’ll also need your partner’s support and they’ll likely be too busy or overwhelmed to remember to take images. Hiring someone to document your story takes the pressure off friends & family and gives them the ability to just be present in the moment.
Myth #6: I’m Having an Epidural or Section Birth So There Won’t Be Much to Photograph
I was talking with a Mama the other day who said, “Yeah but I didn’t give birth. It wasn’t a real birth because he was born from a C-Section”. It was sad to think that some people think their birth experience is less than because their baby was born via section or with pain meds.
Birth is birth. Regardless of how your baby enters this world your birth is beautiful & worthy of remembering. In fact, some might say documenting your story is even more important in case side effects from medication make it difficult to recall your story. Birth photography is a remarkable tool that helps you piece together your story & if needed, find peace if the experience doesn’t go according to plan.
The Mama in this image (above) had her heart set on an unmediated birth for their 3rd baby. Her birth plan took an unexpected turn when Pitocin was used to induce. The waves became too intense and she opted for an epidural to manage. The moment her baby was born still took everyone’s breath away. She still worked just as hard to bring her baby earthside and still needed her mother & partner support every step of the way.