Thank you so much for choosing me to capture this life-changing, intimate event. I do not take it for granted when my clients invite me into their birth space, and I am truly grateful for your trust! My hope is that we not only capture your unique story, but that when you look back on these images, you are able to remember just how strong and incredible you are.
I know pictures can feel stressful...especially during such an emotional, raw and intimate experience. This guide is designed to help you get super prepared for your session so that you can feel calm, confident and relaxed when the day comes. I will walk you through some of the most common questions and concerns that come up - like when to call when you're in labor, what to expect during your session, and what to wear (yes, even for birth!)
Preparing for your session
A birth session 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. You can fully surrender to the moment knowing that when the whirlwind of labor, birth and those early weeks of postpartum haze subsides, you will have these photos to relive the best parts over and over.
During your Pregnancy
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), you will keep me posted after your 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. However, 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.
During 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 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. After your baby arrives, I will stay for 1-2 hours to capture your first moments falling in love with your baby on the outside, 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 your Birth
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 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 clean.
Within 3-4 weeks of your birth, I will let you know that your preview gallery is ready and active for 14 days. Once you've seen your images and paid your final installment, the full gallery will be opened for you to view and download all of your images.
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 and letting me know how things are going. This becomes especially important as you begin to have early labor symptoms.
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 when your focus is not what you're used to (yes, pregnancy brain is real). 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. Some providers love it, and others would prefer not to be photographed. Making sure that your provider is supportive of having your birth photographed can help to avoid any awkward moments in the delivery room.
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, I understand that 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, then give me the raw images to edit and deliver 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
Tips for Style and Comfort
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.
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 24-hour 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 receive your invoice for your final installment. Once your final installment is paid in full, your full gallery will be opened. Your gallery will be open for 60 days, 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.)
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
PROFESSIONAL LAB PRINTS
These are not your typical drugstore prints. You will fall in love with these luxurious silk like prints that are true to color and fingerprint resistant. Gift prints are perfect for sharing with friends and family, and you can bet your bottom dollar that they’ll last for a lifetime (plus some). Add a hard-back mount and display anywhere without a frame
Starting at $8
Keepsake boxes are perfect for the sentimental person who loves to hold onto physical treasures as well as printed photos. Each keepsake box is custom designed and can include names, dates, birth stats, a meaningful quote, etc. Then, you choose 5 images to be included as 5x7 prints inside your box.
Starting at $185
Let your creativity run wild! These are perfect for announcing your baby’s birth, or sharing with friends and family for the holidays. Using my design templates, you get to customize the perfect card to share your joy with those closest to you.
Starting at $85
Your photos are printed on heirloom quality fine art paper that lays completely flat when you open it. The pages are nice and thick to stand the test of time (and little fingers). Your album will hold up to 30 of your favorite images, and can be customized with a full photo cover or your choice of cover materials and colors
Starting at $600
I can't wait!
"She captured emotion in every moment perfectly."
- Hannah, Lincoln NE
I am so excited for your birth and I can't wait to capture some magic with you! Please feel free to reach out to me via phone, text or email if you have any questions at all. See you soon!