Questions to ask before you hire a birth photographer
This is a topic that has been weighing on us lately, and for good reason. When it comes to birth photography, you are looking for a specialized field within the photography world .Lighting and space conditions are not always optimal, 90% of the time we are called to a birth session in the middle of the night with no notice- so scheduling is impossible, and we spend days, weeks, and months on call and available to drop our lives in a heartbeat. For this reason, we at Fox Valley Birth and Baby have dedicated our lives and careers to you and your birth. We don't photograph weddings or events that could interfere with a last minute call for a birth, YOU are our priority and if you hire us, we will be there...we don't over book portrait sessions, and we plan what little vacation time we take around our clients and their babies because birth photography is our specialty and we want to provide you with the highest standards of excellence, quality, and care possible.
For this reason, we feel it's our duty to educate on questions to ask before you hire a photographer for your birth, so that you can be sure you have a skilled, reliable professional that will handle their responsibility to you with ease.
Questions to first ask yourself:
What does their portfolio look like?
If you are having trouble finding consistent examples of their birth work, then you may want to explore some other options before making the decision to hire. By consistent, we mean that all images should be in focus and have similar editing techniques applied. If you are finding that some of the photos are "good" because you like the moment that was captured, but some other photos are out of focus or don't have the editing style you like, then find a photographer who consistently delivers a style you love!
Do they make me feel comfortable?
Giving birth is such an intimate time. The last thing you want is someone in the room who you don't feel comfortable with, right? We stress the importance of in-person consultations, so that we can not only get to know you, but more importantly, so that you can get to know us a bit as well. We want to make sure all of our birth clients are more than comfortable to have us in the room with them during this time, and that they also know their privacy is important and safe with us.
How much are they charging?
I know what you're thinking! This is a given! But hear us out on this one, because you may not have thought about this before. Unless you find a reliable, skilled photographer who is portfolio-building and will therefore charge less for this reason only, a professional birth photographer that you can count on to be fully committed to you and your birth will charge upwards of $700. And that is the very, bottom low minimum (also note that this varies by location too. We know that other cities are double this and more). We could go on and on about the reasons why, but just rest assured that we know the work that goes into photographing a birth, the equipment costs that are needed to handle the tricky lighting situations, and other costs that we have to promote, run, and sustain our business, and that we are priced fairly and with confidence when it comes down to it. If you find someone who is charging less or who will give you a "deal", be wary, and think about whether or not you're willing to chance this one, irreplaceable event for a discount.
Questions to ask the photographer:
Is your equipment capable of handling low-light situations?
We all know that birth happens when it happens, and that it's usually in the middle of the night! We also know that many women like to have the lights dimmed while they are laboring, as this provides them with a sense of comfort and peace. Be sure to ask if the photographer uses a bounce flash, and if you don't want them to use a flash, if their camera can focus in little to no light.
Side note: in most photographers' opinions, you want them to use a flash if possible! We have found that most clients do not even notice our discreet flashes that we use to bounce light off the walls around us, and the difference it can make in your photos in the end is tremendous.
Do you have a backup photographer that will be on call and ready too?
We have a unique partnership here at Fox Valley Birth and Baby which makes it possible to have more availability to each of our clients, but even we make sure we have backup options as well. A lot of photographers will do this solo, and they will most assuredly have a strong commitment to you. However, they should always have at least one backup photographer ready, just in case. Births are incredibly unpredictable, and so are other things in life: cars breaking down, family emergencies, coming down with the stomach flu! And those babies don't care if the time is inconvenient for us - they come whether we like it or not!
How do you handle being on call?
Get a feel for the photographer's flexibility and what kind of childcare arrangements they have set in place for their own children, if needed. You'd be surprised how many photographers will take on a birth because it sounds like a fun idea, but they haven't thought about what it means to have to be glued to their phone night and day and ready to run out the door in a moment's notice. Also be ready to sign a contract that has clear instructions for you to know when to call and what will happen if the photographer were to miss your birth for any reason.
What if I am uncomfortable with more intimate shots being taken, like nudity, breastfeeding, or crowning?
Birth photography isn't all about getting up close and personal, it's about capturing all of the moments leading up to your birth and after that tell the story of your babys' birth. We want to capture dad's reaction as he watches his baby be born, or the small details like your baby's first outfit tucked into your diaper bag just waiting to be worn. We can use clever angles to capture the moment of birth in a more discreet way as well. We will meet ahead of time and discuss thoroughly your expectations and wishes for what you would like photographed or not.
What are you willing to miss out on in your life to attend my birth?
This is a question that hopefully will not make your potential birth photographer stumble. The answer should be pretty straightforward. We have missed our kids' birthdays, family vacations, and countless hours of sleep in order to make it to our clients' births. This is the nature of birth. If you want to be sure your baby's birth is captured and that you can rely on your photographer to do everything possible to be there, then your photographer will have to makes some sacrifices. And it should never be something that you are made to feel guilty about. That's our commitment to you when you hire us.
~ Laura and Veronika