What is birth photography and why should I do it?

Birth photography is the art of capturing the story of the day that you welcomed your little one earthside. Birth photographers document and capture details of your story; your partner supporting you through contractions, your dog by your side during early labor, the look on your face as you meet your new son or daughter. There are so many moments that make up your birth experience, moments that you may not have noticed or that you may have forgotten. I’m there to quietly document those moments and tell your story so that you can treasure and cherish that day forever. We often hire photographers for other life events like weddings and your kids’ milestones. Why do we often overlook hiring someone to document the day that you welcomed your little one in your arms? It’s a journey that lasted 9 months (sometimes more). It’s hard for partners or family members to fill the roll of supporting mama through labor and delivery while also trying to take some pictures on their cell phones. By hiring a photographer, you know that you will get professional images and your birth team can focus on doing what they are really there for, supporting you.

What area do you serve?

Portland, Oregon and its surrounding areas. I live in Lake Oswego, which I feel puts me in the perfect location for doing what I do! I can get to most local hospitals and birth centers within 20 to 25 minutes (no traffic), with some being even closer. Cities I serve include: Portland, Lake Oswego, Tualatin, Tigard, Sherwood, Beaverton, Milwaukie, Wilsonville, Oregon City, Gresham, Hillsboro, and Salem. 

When do you arrive and how long do you stay?

I usually come to your birth during active labor (often around 5cm) and will stay up to 2 hours after delivery. I like to stay until the newborn exam has been given, baby has been weighed, measured, etc. Of course, birth is incredibly unpredictable so we will go over different scenarios during our third trimester consultation. 

Do you use a flash?

I do not. I am a natural light photographer and do not bring a flash with me to any of my photography or videography sessions. The equipment I use (Nikon D750 and Sigma Art 35mm 1.4 lens) are phenomenal in low light situations. Having said that, during our third trimester consultation, we will talk about the reality of birth and how there often isn’t much light available, especially those births in the middle of the night. What this means is that some low light photos may have a bit of grain, but I love and embrace the grain and feel that it gives my work a raw, almost film-like quality. 

Will we meet in person before the big day?

 Yes, of course! Most clients who hire me do so after an initial meet and greet / interview. In addition, all birth photography and videography packages come with a third trimester consultation, generally around 36 weeks. We use this visit to really take the chance to get to know each other and so that I can learn a bit about your vision for birth. We discuss all birth scenarios and chat about your expectations.

What if I go into labor before 38 weeks?

Even though my “on-call” window technically starts at 38 weeks, chances are as long as I am in town, I will be able to make your birth if your labor starts earlier. It might take me longer to get to you, but most of the time I will be able to come. I will try my hardest. If I cant make it, your deposit will be put toward a Fresh 48 or Lifestyle Newborn session.

Can you photograph cesareans?

Absolutely! I have been invited into the operating room for a few births, but even if your care providers do not allow me back, there is so much of your story we can still capture and preserve. It is generally up to the anesthesiologist whether or not they will let a second person in the surgery with you and your partner, so it is generally a good idea to put this request in your birth plan (if you have one). Regardless, I will document your story including any moments I am able to capture before the surgery and those precious first moments as you begin to bond with your new little one. If time and situations allow, I will also send one of my cameras (set to auto) in with your partner or the nurse to take pictures in the OR and recovery.

What about a scheduled cesarean?

I can do those, too! The same answer applies as for unscheduled cesareans: it is generally up to the anesthesiologist whether or not I’ll be allowed back for the surgery. Even if they don’t allow me back, there is still so much of your story that we can document, together. I can be there for you leaving your house, the arrival at the hospital, and of course the first 2 hours of your bonding with your new little one. I can send one of my cameras back with your partner or nurse, too so that we can get some shots of your baby’s very first moments earthside.

What about inductions?

Inductions are treated just like any other birth, but we handle things just a bit differently. Sometimes inductions can last for a few days, so I ask that we remain in regular contact throughout the process. If time allows, I may come to the hospital for the start of the induction and leave for a while until things really get going.

I’m a bit nervous about being completely exposed…do you take pictures of EVERYTHING?

I know, at first it does feel a bit intimidating having someone with a camera in your birthing environment, doesn’t it? Not to worry! I have worked as a labor doula for over three years and am great at helping to maintain a calm birth environment. I also know how to fade into the background and most moms forget that I’m even there. During our third trimester consultation, we will discuss what you would like photographed and if there is anything you would like to avoid.   Your comfort is my top priority, so we also spend some time during our consultation getting to know each other, so that you feel good about adding me to your birth team. And in reality, the actual delivery, of baby being born, is maybe only 5% of the images you’ll get. There is so much more to your story that we will capture.

Do you share my images?

I absolutely love sharing birth images because I feel that it helps to normalize the experience in our society. Having said that, you always have the option to opt out of me sharing any of your images. If you do sign a model release and allow me to share your story, you will be able to view your images before they are shared to my website, Facebook, or other social media outlet. The only exception are those ‘sneak peek’ photos shared on my Facebook within the first 72 hours – but I always keep those PG.

How long will it take to receive the images?

My current turn around time is 4-6 weeks. At that time, your photos and slideshow (if applicable) will be available for download in a password protected proofing gallery. Please allow 2-3 weeks after that for albums and other print products to arrive.

Do I receive color or black and white photos?

When I first started birth photography, everything was in black and white. But over the years, I have grown to love editing in color. For this reason, you will get both color and black and white versions of every image. We all have different tastes and I find that some of my clients like certain photos in color and others in black and white…this way you will have both to choose from.

What if you don’t end up making it to my birth?

I employ a backup photographer whom I love and trust for every birth I agree to photograph. In the event that I must miss your birth due to my error (illness, attending another birth, unforeseen emergency), and the backup photographer is not able to take my place, you will receive a full refund. If I miss your birth because it was too fast, you did not call me in time, the birth happened outside of my on-call window, or some other circumstance not due to my error, there is no refund.

Okay, I’m interested. What do I do next?

Contact me to set up a time for us to get together and chat to see if you think I’d be a good addition to your birth team!