SESSION PREP GUIDE
Birth is unlike any other photography session
There are no forced smiles, no posing, no directing - Birth is a documentary session. Think of me as a National Geographic photographer - hiding in the bushes, far back, to capture nature doing its thing (only in a less creepy way since I was invited to be here...) Your job is to be present with your body, your partner and your baby so you can do the work of bringing life into the world. Fully surrender to each present moment, knowing you will have these photos to relive the best parts over and over.
Preparing for Labor Day
We will meet at least once during your pregnancy to get to know each other better and talk in detail about your preferences for birth images - usually over coffee at a local shop (on me!). I will send you a questionnaire prior to this coffee date to help you determine what you want most from your session. This is your chance to let me know exactly what you want to capture most. And if you're not quite sure what you want, we will talk through it to tailor your experience so you are thrilled when you get your birth gallery back. If you have chosen a package with doula support, we will also go over your birth preferences, any fears you may have, and come up with a plan for how I can best support you and your partner through this journey.
As you get closer to your baby's birthday (36 weeks until delivery), I ask that you keep me posted after your prenatal appointments and let me know if/when things change. You are never bugging me with updates. For small updates, a quick text message is perfect.
If and/or when you think things are happening, or you've decided to head to your intended birth location, please call me at (402) 217-1495. This becomes extra important during the hours of 9pm - 5am - because I do not hear text messages in my sleep. If you call and I do not answer right away, call again until you speak to me. Do not hesitate to call - even in the middle of the night. I would much rather be woken up by a false alarm than to miss your birth.
You can expect me to arrive at your birth place within 2 hours of when you call to say that you're ready for me. Once I arrive, I am with you for the long haul - whether that's two hours or two days. My goal is to be (mostly) a fly on the wall - standing back and finding the beauty in all of the in-between moments, as well as capturing the BIG moment of birth and all of the emotion along with it. However, I won't make it awkward and I do know how to read a room... so don't be surprised if I chime in once and a while if and when appropriate.
After your baby arrives, I will stay for 1-2 hours to capture those precious first bonding moments - including your first feeding, the first time your partner gets to hold the baby, and all of the first measurements.
*If you have also hired me for doula services, I will be less of a fly on the wall and more involved in your experience. Depending on what we have discussed prenatally, and what you need in the moment, that could mean hands-on comforting such as massage or counter pressure, helping you find comfortable and productive positions, directing and supporting your partner in ways to comfort you, or simply holding space and quietly cheering you on.
After I go home...
When your session is over, I will leave you to snuggle your new squish and head home to back up and start editing your images. Within the first 24-48 hours, I will send over a couple of my favorite images as a sneak peek. A lot of families like to use these images to announce the arrival of their baby, so I usually send images that are modest and "non-graphic".
Within 3-4 weeks of your birth, your gallery will be ready to view. First, you'll receive a slideshow of images to relive the experience all over again (only through my lens this time). Once you've seen your slideshow, you will pay your final installment and the full gallery will be opened for you to view and download all of your images.
If you have added videography to your package, your birth video will also be available to view at this time. Once your final installment is paid, the video will be opened for you to download.
Your gallery will include all of the images from your birth, as well as a subset of images titled "Artisan Edit." The artisan edit is a group of my favorite photos selected for use in my portfolio and marketing. I will ask that you either approve all of the images, or let me know which specific images you do not want me to use, and I will remove those at that time.
Do's (and don'ts)
1. DO keep lines of communcation open, especially as we get closer to your due date. You are never bugging me by giving me updates.
2. DON'T worry about TMI. Seriously. Nothing makes me embarrassed and nothing is "gross" to me. Suddenly have random diarrhea at 38 weeks? Lost your mucus plug? Let me know! These are important changes/symptoms that show your body is gearing up for labor day!
3. DO ask questions. There is no such thing as a dumb question - especially during pregnancy. If I don't have the answer, I can help you find it.
4. DO talk with your provider about having a photographer present for your birth. Find out how they feel about having photographs taken while they're working.
5. DO trust yourself. You may not be an expert at pregnancy in general, but you are an expert in your pregnancy. If you have a gut feeling, listen to it. I realize this tip has nothing to do with photos, but I feel so strongly about it that I think it's worth including here.
You aren't available when labor starts?I structure my life and business so that I can drop everything to be available to attend your birth whenever it happens - whether that's at 3am on a random Tuesday or on Christmas morning. I put every measure is in place to make sure that I am available, no matter when your birth happens. That being said, birth and life are unpredictable - and birth cannot be rescheduled. I have trusty back up photographers I can call on if needed due to an illness, injury, or other unexpected events that could arise that prevent me from attending your birth. If a backup photographer is needed, they will attend and photograph your birth, but I will edit and deliver your images to you. I will finish what we started, so you do not need to worry about "switching" photographers half way through the process.
You miss my birth?Knock on wood, I have never missed a birth I was scheduled to attend. However, the only guarantee in birth is that it is unpredictable. If I miss your birth due to circumstances out of my control (ie: inclement weather that prevents travel, precipitous birth, etc.) then your birth package can be transferred to a coming home session or a baby's first year package.
My birth plan changes?I feel like a broken record - but birth is unpredictable. Sometimes your birth story takes a turn that no one expected, and we just have to roll with it. Many moms wonder what will happen if they are planning a vaginal birth, but end up having to have a c-section. The policy at most hospitals currently is that only one support person is allowed in the OR with the birthing parent. Most people (understandably) will choose their partner to accompany them. However, it's worth talking with your provider and calling the hospital to see what their current policies are, so we can plan ahead. If I am disallowed from entering the OR to photograph your delivery, I will capture everything I can up to and after the surgery. I also would encourage your partner to take photos on their cell phone, which I can then edit and include in your birth gallery to tell the full story. No matter how your story unfolds, my goal is to capture everything I can, while holding the safety of you and your baby as my highest priority. In the event of an emergency, I will follow the direction of the medical professionals on your team.
What to wear
Yes, even for birth...
It might seem weird to talk about what to wear for birth. I mean, you'll be naked from the waist down - at least for the big moment. But you're spending good money to have these memories documented - you might as well feel comfortable and beautiful in them. Here are some tips for choosing clothing pieces that will be both functional and beautiful in your birth story images.
**Caveat - I literally do not care what you wear for your birth. This is YOUR story. These tips are simply meant to be a guide for things to consider based on your own comfort level and what you do/do not want to show in the photos of your birth.
1. Bring your own clothing to wear at the hospital - Something a lot of people are surprised to learn is that you do not have to wear a hospital gown when you deliver at the hospital. The way I see it is you are not a sick patient - you are healthy person having a baby! Even though it is standard procedure to be handed a hospital gown to change into when you get to the hospital, you can decline that and wear your own clothing instead. Most providers and nurses are happy to accommodate this small request!
2. Bring something that is comfortable to wear in water - You may choose to use the shower or birth tub as a comfort measure during labor (most hospitals have luxurious labor tubs - take advantage of that!). I recommend bringing something that is comfortable to wear in the water - such as a swim suit top or sports bra. Dark colors or swim suit tops photograph best, since they show less contrast of the dry/wet spots on the garment. It is not a bad idea to bring several - since you may be in and out of the water, and will likely want to change into something dry after being in the water. Neutral colors are best. Super bright and/or neon colors are a big no-no...they will cast funny colors on your skin in photos.
3. Pick a top that is easy to remove after birth - Most moms choose to do immediate skin to skin contact after birth (and thankfully our hospitals are super supportive and encouraging of this!) You will want to pick a top that is easy to remove after birth so you can expose more of your skin for contact with baby, and make initiation of breastfeeding easier (if you are planning to breastfeed). A stretchy bralette, a swim suit top, or a bra with a front zipper/clasp works great.
4. Pick something pretty - because why not?! Again, you're spending good money on these photos - why not choose something that is comfortable, functional, and pretty! You deserve to look and feel beautiful, so choose something that you really love.
5. Makeup - First - I don't care if you wear makeup or not. To me, there is nothing more beautiful than a pregnant/birthing person, so I will be swooning over your photos either way. BUT, If you are someone who doesn't leave the house without makeup, or feels much more confident with makeup on, then it is 100% okay to get dolled up for birth! I would recommend choosing as many water-proof products as possible, since water, sweat and tears are often part of the birth experience.
6. Consider a pretty cover up for after the birth - Since I stay for 2 hours postpartum, we often are able to get some photos of you and your baby together, as well as a first family photo. Many moms choose to bring a pretty robe or kimono to put on after birth. This can help you feel a bit more modest and put together, and creates a great opportunity to capture photos you can use to announce the arrival of your new squish - without feeling completely exposed and vulnerable.
7. A note for partners - I like partners to wear a dark colored shirt, preferably a solid color with no words or logos on it. Neon or super bright colors are a big no-no. I also recommend that partners do not wear a hat, as it can often hinder capturing the emotion and reactions in their face as they meet the baby for the first time. It's also a good idea for partners to bring extra clothes, and even a bathing suit in case you want them to join you in the tub or shower for support.
After your Session
After your session I will get to work on choosing the best of the best images (typically between 100-150) and edit them to perfection. Once they're ready and uploaded to your gallery, I'll be in touch to schedule your 7-day slideshow window.
When you get the slideshow link, I encourage you to make an event of it! Put it up on the big screen, grab a yummy beverage, turn the volume up and snuggle up on the couch to watch it together. You only get to see these for the first time once, so make the most of that experience!
After you've seen your slideshow, you will be prompted to pay your final installment. Once your final installment is paid in full, your full gallery will be opened for viewing and download. Your gallery will be open for 3 months, in which you will be able to download and back up your images, and purchase any products from the store (ie: albums, wall art, keepsake boxes, etc.).
The Artisan Edit
Your gallery will include a set of images titled "Artisan Edit". These are my favorites from your session that I have chosen to use in my portfolio and marketing materials. I will ask that you either approve all of the photos, or let me know which specific images you do not want me to share at that time. Any photos you do not want me to share will be removed from the artisan edit and will not be shared as a part of my portfolio or marketing.
Downloading your files:
I encourage you to download your images right away before life happens and your gallery expires. Once you've downloaded them, I highly recommend backing them up to a cloud service, like Dropbox or Google Drive.
Copyrights (and wrongs):
Once you've got your digital files in hand, you are free to print them when, where, and as often as you wish. You can use them for birth announcements, share on your social media, or send personalized gifts to friends and family. The only thing you can't do is resell them for commercial or business use - for example, you wouldn't be able to enter them into a contest to win prize money, or use them on the cover of your novel (but if you are writing a book - please let me know! I'd love to read it ;).
Printing your images:
While everything I offer in my store is printed in professional labs and guaranteed to be beautiful and long-lasting, I also recognize that you may want to print your images yourself for future projects, gifts, etc. - and thanks to those digital files, you can! However, not all photo printers are created equal. For the best quality and color accuracy, I recommend Rockbrook Camera (in Lincoln), and mpix.com for online printing. Be sure to de-select any "color correction" options, and upload the original files you downloaded (not copies of the files). The files you receive from me should allow you to print as large as you like.
What you do with your images is perhaps the most important aspect to consider when you're planning for a photo session - but it's all too often the part that's overlooked.
You've invested time and money. You deserve better than photos gathering dust on a hard drive somewhere (or worse yet - lost in the digital ether). You will never get the same feeling looking at your photos on a screen as you will seeing them on your wall or flipping through them in an album, so I include a substantial print credit with every collection. Below is a sample from the print store
FINE ART PRINTS
Premium inkjet prints, printed on smooth matte hot press 100% cotton paper (330gsm) with an extra smooth surface and museum grade quality.
Starting at $12
Enjoy a customized engraved wooden box to store your favorite photo memories, as well as physical keepsakes. Add your ultrasound photos, hospital bracelets, a lock of hair, or any other small keepsakes to keep your precious memories all in one place. Includes 10 5x7 prints of your choice
Starting at $185
Printed on matte recycled paper (110lb), these beautiful cards are perfect for all occasions.
Greeting cards come in a single-image pack of 24 along with white stationery envelopes.
Available in square, portrait, or landscape format.
Starting at $67
Printed on smooth matte paper, these handcrafted albums are durable and built to last.
Using archival materials with pages carefully mounted to create thick lay flat spreads, these albums will be cherished for a lifetime.
Available in a variety of sizes and custom leather covers.
Starting at $600
"She captured emotion in every moment perfectly."
- Hannah, Lincoln NE