The value of a birth photographer
Updated: Feb 10
Birth photography. How does it compare to other event or documentary photography sessions? Let's take a look...
Your wedding, you'll pay good money to hire the perfect photographer, trusting that he or she will capture perfect moments of the day, while beautifully documenting a part of your love story. You're paying for the photographers set up and shoot time, client management time, you're paying for a part of their business costs, their editing time, etc. and you don't blink an eye at it, because you value what they do, and you value the visual reminders of your wedding day.
So, what goes into birth photography...
A birth photographer may have similar gear to a wedding photographer, two cameras on hand, lenses, flash, extra batteries, cards, etc.
We have similar business costs (travel, computers, programs and software, insurance, etc.).
We may take the same amount of photos (that we then have to cull).
We might do the same amount of editing (trying to fix the exposure and skin tones from a darkly lit birth. Or evening fixing a babies skin tone ever so slightly. Maybe fix shadows and highlights, acne on our clients, etc.).
We have to learn to not to disturb the environment that we are in (just be a fly on the wall and capture special moments).
Those are some pretty strong similarities. Now, here's where we differ;
Birth photographers live that "on call" life, meaning that any event we plan or respond to, ends with "unless I'm at a birth". We may miss birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries, concerts, you name it, birth clients always come first.
We don't know when we're going to get called in. We have an idea of when our clients will have their babies, with a guesstimate calculator called due dates, but our clients generally have their babies within two weeks before or after their due dates. That's a month or longer that we could be on call, with our bags packed, a tank full of gas, and babysitters on standby. We could get called first thing in the morning, mid afternoon, right before our kids need to be picked up from school, it could be 11:30 pm, right after we've gone to bed and had just fallen asleep. We just don't know. Our clients could even be in labour for a good 3 days, and our lives are almost put on hold during that time, because we're on standby.
We don't know what our lighting situation will be. This one speaks for itself. We could have a client who doesn't want flash, and a birth room that's lit with one candle, and we have to make it work.
Don't miss the shot. Babies are born once in their life. You can't put the baby back in and shoot again, if your camera produces an error message or your forgot to change your settings once the hospital spotlight comes on. You have one shot at getting the shots, and you'd better not mess it up!
When you leave for a birth, you don't know when you'll be back home. A birth photographer can leave for their client at active labour, but because birth is unpredictable, that active labour can last for 10+ hours...or it can last 30 minutes and you miss it all completely. Who knows? Birth doulas can be gone even longer. It's no big thang for a doula or doula-tog (doula + birth photographer) to be gone for 24-48 hours.
So when you hire a birth photographer, you're getting all of the above professionalism and dedication, and you're also having the once in a lifetime memories of the day your baby was born, documented, because we all know it goes by in a blur, and the memories of that event, fade quickly.
Leave a comment and tell me your thoughts!!