Did you know that birth photography was a thing? Just like weddings, birth is a momentous occasion that goes by so incredibly fast that the entire day is just a blur. The images captured can be some of the most amazing and empowering moments of your life, who wouldn't want to look back on those memories?!?! If you are thinking about hiring a doula or birth photographer, you should meet with them and get to know who they are! After all, this is your sacred birth space and you don't want to invite just anyone! There are many lists out there, but I've compiled 6 common questions that you can ask them to hopefully see if you make a good fit....
1. How much experience do you have with birth and birth photography?
When it comes to birth, experience matters. I completely get that every photographer has to start somewhere, but birth isn't something that you just jump into and try for fun because you photographed a couple weddings, portrait sessions, or you have kids of your own. Birth work is a lifestyle. You have to be able to jump at a moments notice when you get that call at 3am because baby decided it was the day. You have to be able to miss birthdays, holidays, and family dinners. When you invest in a professional birth photographer, you are investing in their time, their art, and the lifestyle. For these images, you will want someone that will be by your side the minute you call, not after their work shift or other sessions. Birth clients take priority over any other session in my business. Also, birth isn't like any other type of photography out there. You have to know how to shoot in every type of lighting situation, the fast paced hospital setting or calm home or birth center, those cramped bathrooms, behind the bed, or on the floor because that is the only clear shot you can get of the moment of birth. You want an experienced photographer who knows what to expect and won't miss these precious moments.
2. What if you get sick or have an emergency?
Despite all our planning and preparaton, we are only human and sometimes get sick. In that instance or if your photographer is tied up at another birth, they should have an group of dedicated backups to call on to step in and document your birth. In my business, I have an amazing doula and birth photographer to call in case of emergency. Ask to see their portfolios, make sure they’ll adhere to the same model release you have with your birth photographer, and find out what their qualifications are.
3. Will you put my photos on social media? Are you going to take those type of photos?
A true and legitimate, professional birth photographer should be giving you the choice whether or not to share images from your birth, it is after all your body, birth, and experience. If you choose to have your images private, your photographer should respect that choice and keep them privatem, or if you'd like to wait to share, you reserve that right as well! I have been very fortunate to have many clients allow me to share their beautiful birth stories and I am so grateful for that, but I do not require them to do so at all. As far as those type of shots, birth photography isn't only crowning shots, I mean, they can be if thats what you want! Your photographer should be asking what type of shots you are really hoping to capture. A professional birth photographer knows all about the birth process and should be able to capture all those moments and more.
4. What happens if I have an unplanned cesarean?
Birth is unpredictable, and in the event that you have to or choose to have a cesarean, your photographer should be comfortable with supporting you through your surgical birth. You have to make sure that they are comfortable withnessing and also documenting the process (if allowed) and your experience surrounding your birth.
5. Are there any births or families that you will not support?
As a professional doula and birth photographer, it is my job (and pleasure) to support any and all individuals and families in need of my support and knowledge. I take immense pride in knowing that I was able to be of service to my families regardless of their ethnicity, sexuality, gender, family dynamic, or any other category that isn't outwardly portrayed as the "status quo". In my life and business, I love and support all births and families!
6. What happens if my hospital only allows 1 support person?!?!
We have all been experiencing this pandemic for a while and completely get that life has changed and we all need to adjust. It stinks, and us doulas are still super bummed about not being allowed to support our clients in person like we used to. Depending on the hospital policy, some are allowing doulas in addition to partners (benefits of hiring a doula who is a photographer!), you will need to check with your L&D floor for their updated policy. We have gotten pretty good at virtually supporting though! In the event that your hospital is not allowing an additional person for your labor and birth, your doula may be offering in home support so you can labor there as long as possible before heading to the hospital. Your photographer could also capture those shots of labor support in the comfort of your own home, leaving for the hospital, and possibly even meeting you at the hospital to get shots of you walking in, or even capturing the moment you come home so siblings or other family members can meet the baby too. Some photographers may also offer their backup cameras to partners and giving them a crash course on how to photograph, so they can actually have birth photos like they hoped.