Birth photography is such a thrilling and beautiful style of photography. Since it only happens once, you have to be prepared.
begged asked my best friend, if I could be there for the birth to take pictures. Luckily, she said yes!
I wanted to share some of the pictures and the lessons learned from this birth photography experience.
Table to Contents
What lens is best for birth photography?
A versatile and familiar lens for birth photos
When choosing which lens you will use for this shoot, think about where you will be. Sometimes it’s in a hospital, or a birth center. Others times it’s even in a house.
Most likely the room will be small and at some points filled with a lot of people.
My go to lens is the 50mm f/1.4 because it gives me beautiful portraits but I don’t feel too limited for space.
I can use this lens to tell the whole story. I get those small details and also capture the big picture without losing quality.
If you aren’t sure what lens to use read this: When and Why You Should Consider a Camera Lens Rental
You don’t need to bring every lens
Yes, I brought every single lens I owned. I had never done this before and didn’t know what I needed. My bag was so heavy from all my gear!
I only ended up using my 50mm f/1.4 and my 105mm after he was born. You may want to bring an 85mm or even a 24-70mm instead of bringing multiple lens.
However, once the baby is home here is a list of lifestyle newborn photography gear I recommend using.
When should a birth photographer arrive?
Birth photographers discuss clients wishes
This question is a very important question to ask the mom and dad. Some might want you there for the whole labor.
Most will probably want you to meet them at the hospital or birthing center.
Remember you are on call though so those last few weeks, turn your phone off silent at night you might be getting an early wake up call!
Here’s a bit more on Birth Photography: 6 Things you Must Know as a Birth Photographer
Stay out of the way and be quiet
Once you are there, try not to actually be there. This is hard for me! Especially if you know me, quiet is one of the last words anyone would use to describe me.
However, I told myself when I arrived that I was an observer and even though she is one of my dearest friends, I would only speak if spoken to.
I broke my rule a couple of times but for the most part, I tried to get out of the way and pretend I wasn’t there.
Best tips for birth photography
Capture the details
There are so many little things you want to remember about that day. Some ideas you can look for are the hospital bracelets, the monitors, hospital bag, and the baby onsie.
Also on your way in, grab a newspaper this will be a fun way to capture more details of their special day.
Storytelling is one of my favorite ways to photograph read here on How to Take Outstanding Photos That Tell a Story
My friend had her trusty iPod that she kept in the whole time to listen to her Hypnobabies, Adele, and Mumford and Sons.
I wanted to capture those little things because aren’t they the first things we forget.
Go see my advice on How to Embrace Candid Photography to help capture this big life moment beautifully.
Bring extra memory cards and a battery
The last thing you want to do is run out of space or battery.
My current camera is capable of holding 2 memory cards, but I would even suggest bringing one more just in case.
Another option is to bring a laptop and upload the photos as you go. There will probably be some down time to be able to do that.
Keep in mind you don’t want to be uploading photos while the mom is pushing. Therefore, use the time she is resting and the download to upload your images.
Here is my general advice for What to Pack for a Photo Shoot.
Take snacks and something to do
I got the call at 5:45am that she was pulling into the hospital. This is her fourth child so we thought this baby would come out right away.
I arrived at the hospital thinking I may have missed it. However, this baby was in no hurry. I waited in the waiting room for about 2 hours while she was in triage.
I didn’t mind because I brought things to do. Also, being 7 months pregnant at the time, I needed snacks. I did not eat in front of the laboring pregnant woman though (that would be mean).
Edit quickly when it comes to birth photography
Since I was the only one in the room taking pictures they were waiting on my photos to be able to share the news with family and friends.
I got her about 25 photos the next morning for her to share with everyone who wasn’t able to be there.
(Keep in mind, I was doing this for a friend and not a client, so you may need to discuss your turn around time).
Discuss ahead of time what parents are hoping you will capture
You do not want to be asking a woman in labor what she wants you to get. We talked about how she wanted photos of her laboring as well as the birth.
Planning ahead will help you to know what to shoot. Write down certain shots you definitely want to get.
During the down time review your list as once things get moving you won’t have time to stop and look at your list of birth photography ideas.
Don’t forget about Dad during birth photography
He is just as much a part of the special day as mom and baby. Capture what he does while she is laboring as well as his first moments with the baby.
Be ready to go for birth photography
Get your metering and everything set on your camera before she starts pushing.
My friend pushed her baby out in 1, yes, 1 push. There was no time to redo the shot if my settings were way off.
As the doctors were setting up to catch the baby, you better be setting up your camera to capture this once in a lifetime moment.
If you have time, try to capture a clock in one of your photos that shows the time of birth.
Follow the baby after the birth
Generally speaking the care team will take the baby to be cleaning, weighed and this is a perfect time to get all those important details.
The parents will thank you later for those first sweet moments and the reminder of all the birth stats.
Be sure to capture all those first measurements, weight, and the footprints.
Capture the whole family
Some of my favorite photos are those sweet family photos right after the baby is born.
You can just see the love and happiness in the parents eyes while the baby is cuddled up on moms chest.
Have the dad get in really close to mom and the baby and capture those very sweet intimate moments, and try not to cry while doing it.
If siblings are allowed to come meet the parents at the hospital, this is a perfect time to have a birth photographer ready!
Read more tips here: 6 Tips to Photograph your Baby’s Birth
A little extra
As a little something fun for y’all, I thought I would share my embarrassing moment when I photographed my sister’s birth years ago.
Remember how I said, stay out of the way and be quiet. You want to be an observer, not the one getting the attention. Well, I almost fainted when I was photography in my sister’s son’s birth.
I don’t do well with blood and needles. My sister’s advice to me before I did the above photos was “Do not faint!” Yup, that is me in the chair, trying as hard as I can not to pass out. Thanks Mom for capturing this moment!
Have you photographed a birth? Share the a lesson you learned while doing birth photography.
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