Photographer vs. Birth Photographer

intense contraction

Nobody wants to forget their baby’s birthday and in this day and age when everyone has a decent digital camera at their fingertips, it’s fairly easy to designate someone to snap pictures.

Good enough, right?

 Is it, though?
birth tub
I think we all appreciate the difference between having a friend who is a decent photographer being held responsible for your wedding pictures versus hiring a professional wedding photographer. Heck, I’m a professional photographer and wouldn’t feel comfortable shouldering that responsibility. Like a wedding photographer, I still need to have high end gear, necessary lighting equipment, back up gear, back up memory cards/batteries, etc., but I am no expert in the ins and outs of wedding photography despite second shooting one and having planned every last detail of my own wedding.

When you hire a wedding photographer, you are paying that person to know exactly where they need to be and when, and to block off a chunk of their calendar to make sure that come hell or high water, your wedding and all of the priceless moments are documented.  But, just as important, you are paying for a photographer whose style you love and respect. You can never get that day back and you want the reassurance that every detail has been perfectly and artfully captured.

 birth photographer
As a birth photographer, I am professionally trained and equipped to take on the huge responsibility of capturing another day that you can never get back, and with all due respect to wedding photographers, my job is a much larger commitment. For starters, in order to guarantee that I can be at your birth, I don’t just need to block off a day or a weekend in my calendar, I must prepare myself and my family to being on call for over a month.  During that on call time, I must have constant back up plans for my children, I cannot stay up too late working or take medications that might compromise my ability to be at your side; I cannot plan vacations or take on other time sensitive photography clients. My life revolves around you and your baby and with a patience and respect of the natural process that I pride myself in understanding.
birth support
Beyond the time commitment involved with being on call and capturing your full birth story and the first 1-2 hours after birth, I have developed a real appreciation for the importance of working with your family, the nurses, and doctors to create a comfortable environment for everyone. When I walk into a birthing space, I am not setting up any equipment. I am taking inventory of everything in the room that can be used to support Mama and her birth team while also preparing myself and the room for the most optimal outcome for her pictures without interrupting labor. I am reaching out to the nursing staff, confirming hospital policies, while also capturing all of the tiny details that you may be missing.  I am taking in the full picture and gauging Mama to see what level of involvement is best while also considering everything we have spoken about during consultations. I have learned when to be an active and supportive part of the team who will pamper and encourage her before and after her sweet baby is welcomed into the world, and also when to retreat to the role of fly on the wall so as not to interfere or intrude on her needed privacy.
 birth without fear
I know of several professional photographers who have dabbled in birth photography and quickly went back to weddings, which have a much smaller time commitment and pay far more. But, I am in this for the long haul. Birth Photography is a growing genre that people are slowly coming to appreciate for more than just the beauty of the pictures. I am personally excited about the healing qualities that my work offers moms during the postpartum period as well as the long-term as she realizes just how remarkable she was throughout labor. We typically remember ourselves as loud, sweaty messes, frantically out of control and exhausted.  I aim to reframe the way a woman sees herself during this amazing process so that she can walk away as the empowered and glorious creature that I am seeing through my lens.  One of my goals is to create images that she will be comfortable and proud to share with family and friends so that everyone else can see just how magnificent she is.
I am far more than a photographer.  I am a birth professional with a deep respect for the families I capture and true excitement for the opportunity to illustrate their birth stories.
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