Today’s post was kindly written by Jaydene of Cradled Creations birth photography.
Note: these images are amazing! Click on them to see them bigger.
Birth Photography is uncharted territory for most photographers, but it’s gaining popularity. As people are warming up to the idea of adding real-moment photos to their family albums, photographers are warming up to the idea of adding this hectic genre to their roster. So if photographing births is something you think you are ready to try, then make sure you are also ready to be on call (that means no trips out of town for the weekend, possibly getting a 2am wakeup call, and not knowing when you’ll be home).
If you’re ready to take the plunge and accept your first birth client, then here are 5 tips to get your started!
(1) Pre-determine Your Angles – Prior to the birth, sit down with the client and ask them what kind of photos they value. If she wants a photo of the baby the second it’s born, then the best angle comes from squeezing yourself behind the hospital bed. If she wants to see the dad’s reaction then position yourself beside the doctor at her feet. Ask her if she minds if certain body parts are showing. Some people want to see photos of EVERYTHING!!! While others want to be able to show their birth photos to their father-in-law, in which case you will have to frame out naked body-parts by finding creative angles.
(2) Tread Lightly –
Keep in mind you do not run the show here, so move quietly, find space around the doctors and nurses and be as inconspicuous as possible. When I arrive in the room, I introduce myself to the staff working and don’t say a word after that.
(3) No Flash! – So you’ve finally made it to the hospital (or home) and the room is quite dark. Rule number one: No Flash! A labouring mother doesn’t want a flash to break her concentration when she’s pushing and she certainly doesn’t want a flash in her newborn baby’s eyes. So if you are in a dark room (which is very likely) get your settings right. Use a lens that lets in as much light as possible, and shoot at a high ISO (I set mine at 3200) Practice at home at night with only a corner lamp on. Can you take crisp images of a moving subject? Make sure you can before taking on clients. If you are in a pinch for light at the ninth hour, then take initiative and just turn on another indirect light, but beware – don’t disturb the mom to ask if it’s okay. If she doesn’t like the extra light, she will speak up!
(4) Pack a Hospital Bag – Don’t bank on the hospital gift shop or cafeteria to be open in the middle of the night; bring your own snacks and water. I also carry a small folding stool (this is if you are short like me, so you can still get a good view of the baby.) And I always have a few printed doctor/nurse release forms.
(5) Emotion – An emotion might only show itself for a second, so you have to be ready to focus and snap at a moment’s notice. In the photo below, a mom just walked in to congratulate her daughter on having her first baby, and first grandchild. I already had my camera focused in that direction and snapped at the perfect moment. This is what birth photography is. Capturing the perfect moment when the real emotions appear, whether it’s joy, fear, frustration, laughter, boredom or relief. It’s the raw, real emotion that makes this type of photography unique.
Once you have seen the miracle of birth for the first time (on this side of the camera) you are going to be hooked. It’s the most amazing thing in life that one can capture. Lastly, get ready for a lot of editing once you get home. This form of photography is about the story so clients are going to want all the photos!