Why you should hire a professional birth photographer.
Once upon a time, birth photography didn't exist..
Well yeah, of course, cameras didn't exist. But that doesn't mean people didn't value art depicting women in labour and babies being birthed. Childbirth sculptures and carvings have been found across, a testament to our appreciation of the amazing journey between two worlds.
We’ve come a long way since then and now you’d struggle to find someone who didn’t have a phone equipped with a camera in their pocket or bag. This has meant that most women who have birthed within the last few years have at least a couple of photos of this period, some have photos of them with their scrunchy little newborn moments after birth, others have a full collection of labour, crowning, birth and early postpartum hours.
My biggest regret from my last birth was not having a professional photographer. Still, I've got about 150 photos and videos from active labour to a few hours after birth taken on my own camera and people's phones. I made the mistake of thinking that because I am a photographer, that I could DIY it. Unfortunately, I was wrong. My midwives and husband did an incredible job of capturing the moment with the tools they had, but most of the photos are blurry, poorly composed or capture me from an angle that's a little too intimate to share. But some are beautiful, here, I’ll show you. If this is your only option, do it!
Photos of me from my homebirth with a Privately Practicing Midwife in December 2022
There's more to birth photography than just pressing the button. There's an art form behind the composition and angles, capturing the little details and the environment. Capturing Mum in a way that tells her story, a story of power, courage, longevity, fatigue, relief, celebration, connection and love. There’s also the reality that someone has to have the responsibility of taking the photos, and in most settings that falls on the Dad's or birth partners. I’m a big believer that birth should be like good sex. Intimate, connected and safe and to achieve this I believe our partners should be fully immersed and present in the experience and be the front-line support. As your doula, I’m right there too, but I'm managing the environment and supporting them to support you; blending into the background holding space and then popping up right when you need me. If we task our partners with the job of being the photographer not only are mentally and often physically elsewhere, but we also need to adjust our expectations and to not expect perfectly captured photos.
With me as your birth photographer or photographer and doula (yup, I can do both and it will save you money). You can rest assured that someone else is doing it, someone else will take the photos (like 500+), cull them down to the best 100 or so, lovingly hand-edit them and return them to you as beautiful pieces of art in a private and secure online gallery. This art tells one of your most momentous life stories and you’ll have it to treasure forever. Plus, I deal with the real practical stuff. I'll bring 2 cameras, extra batteries and SD cards etc., so we’ll never have an ‘oh shit, it's not working’ moment, just before baby crowns. Plus, I’m happy to do a handful of social media/ family-friendly edits, blurring out the bits you don't want your father-in-law to see.
How let's get into the good stuff, the big you actually came here to read!
Benefits of Birth Photography
If you’ve ever had the privilege of listening to someone tell their birth story chances, are they couldn't really tell you the events in chronological order. During birth the neocortex part of our brain, the bit that controls time, memory, language and conscious thought partially switches off to enable our limbic system, the primitive, emotive, hormonal, gut feeling, danger sensing part, to take over. This shift in our brain is essential for hormone production, labour progress, primitive instincts and intuitive connection to our bodies during birth. But it makes keeping track of events and timelines really difficult. Having a photographer there to document your labour and birth will provide you with a documentary style series of photos that tells your whole story and allows you to record those memories to keep forever. Plus, they will be digitally timestamped!
Oxytocin is the hormone that drives labour and birth, it's also the love and bonding hormone, and supports breastfeeding. What better way to stay on that ‘birth-high’ than to have photos of that moment to look back on! Also, what a kick ass way to celebrate your amazing body than to honour it through art in its most powerful, vulnerable and transformative time!
Once in a Lifetime Opportunity
I believe the moment of birth is more precious than even your wedding day. While you can capture your exact wedding moments again, you can always do a professional wedding photoshoot a week or so later. But birth is one day, one moment that for you and that baby, will never happen again. So don’t leave it to chance by asking your midwife (who will probably have a million other things to do at that moment), or to your partner (who will probably want to be right by your side) to take the photos.
Justifying the Cost
Birth photography is expensive but when you compare that to a wedding it makes sense. Most wedding photographers charge between 5-10k, they work for 6-12 hours and then have endless hours of editing to do after the event. They have business costs, equipment costs, and ongoing professional costs. Birth photography is surprisingly similar. However, unlike a wedding we don't know the date or time of your birth. Most photographers have an on-call period of a month around your due date (mine is from 38 to 43 weeks) which means for that month+ our lives go into standby. That's why, even a top tier birth photographer charging their most luxurious package at around $4,000 is absolutely worth the investment. Society views wedding photography as a mainstream standard inclusion of the day, and couples see the value in it and are willing to make the investment. Birth photography is still a little alternative, although that's changing fast!
I'm offering introductory portfolio building packages at cost price, with the option of payment plans. For a very limited time you can add birth photography to your birth doula support packages for just $800, or as a stand alone package for $1,400. This is your sign to invest in this moment with art to treasure forever.
If you feel called to invite me into your birth-space please get in touch via my contact form. I'd be honoured to capture your birth story.
Sarah Del Borrello
Mother Mother Doula