You got that “+”, the excitement is real, and you’ve decided to hire a birth photographer to document your baby’s birthday. You want to make sure the pictures you have of your baby’s birth truly capture the emotions of the day, and you’ve put “hire a birth photographer” as a top priority on your pregnancy to-do list. And you’re wise to do so - birth photography is a great way to let yourself (and your partner) off the hook from being on picture duty, and the images you’ll receive from a professional will capture all the moments artfully and beautifully.
A good birth photographer will sit down with you (in person or on the phone) for a free consultation to discuss your hopes for your birth photos. Here are 10 questions you can ask during that consultation that will give you a good idea if this photographer is legit, or if you should move on.
1. Have you shot a birth before? Can I see your portfolio?
Here’s the thing - everyone has to start somewhere. Birth photography is a new genre and there are a lot of photographers who are eager to jump in. There’s nothing inherently wrong with hiring a photographer who’s just starting, but make sure you understand that when you hire them and decide if you’re willing to take the gamble on a newbie. If you are, you can ask a follow up question: Are you experienced in many different lighting situations? Just because they can take great images with natural light does not necessarily mean that they will capture great images during birth, which usually takes place in low to very low lighting conditions.
2. Do you have professional gear AND backup gear?
While I’m a firm believer that the photographer makes the image (not the camera), it is imperative that your photographer have professional equipment that can handle low light situations. A good birth photographer will have a high quality camera PLUS a backup camera, multiple lenses, and at least one external flash (not just the pop-up flash that comes with the camera). They should also have backups for each piece of equipment in case of failure during your birth. There are no “retakes” with birth photography, so this is extremely important.
3. What if you miss my birth?
Birth is unpredictable. And life happens. When you hire someone to be present for a life-changing event that isn’t planned around schedules, you need to take into account that there could be an illness, injury or some other emergency that comes up that prevents your photographer from being able to attend your birth when the time arrives. A professional birth photographer will have a backup photographer (and a backup photographer for the backup photographer) to capture your birth in case she/he is unable to attend. It’s also a good idea to make sure they have a plan for on-call childcare if they have children of their own. A good birth photographer will have all of these bases covered well in advance of your due date.
4. What happens if my birth plan changes? What happens if I have a c-section?
Again, birth is unpredictable. It is possible that a normal pregnancy and delivery could turn into an emergency change of plans. Depending on the situation, the hospital, and your provider, your photographer may or may not be allowed to photograph your birth if you have to give birth by cesarean. Make sure to discuss your wishes with your photographer in case a change of birth plan becomes necessary so you’re on the same page if and when that happens.
5. Are you able to be on call 24/7?
This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s important to ask. Birth is unlike any other photography session. It is a major life event that, more often than not, is not scheduled - and is always unpredictable. It can take a couple of hours, or a couple of days. A photographer who understands this will clear their schedule of out-of-town plans or other major sessions (like weddings) to be available in the weeks surrounding your due date, and will have no issues with being on-call, 24/7.
6. Will my photos be shared online?
This is a big one. Photographers love to share their work. Myself included. But birth photos tend to be more vulnerable than other types of images, so make sure to find out what your photographer’s policy is regarding sharing photos online. If your photographer is offering a portfolio building discount, make sure to find out what images will be shared, and if you are able to restrict what is shared online.
7. Do you have a business license and liability insurance?
This ensures that the photographer you’re working with is legit and takes their business serious.
8. What should I expect before, during and after the birth session?
Understanding your photographer’s process helps you to know what to expect so there are no surprises.
9. What do you charge and what is included?
Cost is always a factor when deciding to invest in something like photography. As with most things worth having, cheaper is not always better. Choose a birth photographer who is experienced, confident and professional so you can be sure your investment is well worth it. If the price tag seems steep, ask what your options are. Most birth photographers offer interest free payment plans. You may even be able to barter/trade or take advantage of a gift registry to help cover the cost. It doesn’t hurt to ask!
If you’re looking for a Nebraska birth photographer, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow me on Facebook and Instagram, and sign up for my free guide “8 steps to your best birth”.