So your thinking about hiring a birth photographer. Who you hire and why you hire them is very important! The people you invite into your birth space can literally effect how your labor progresses. Birth is a very primal thing and if you feel stressed and unsafe it can literally stall and possibly stop your labor altogether. You need to be able to trust the people you invite in. This goes for family and friends as well as professionals. This is your birth and you get to make the calls. Period.
How do you make such a big decision? Here is a helpful guide!
Meet with your photographer before booking!
I know that your time is valuable and setting up a consultation may seem like something you can skip but I don't recommend it! I feel very uncomfortable booking a birth client without a consultation. Will I do it? Yes. I just don't like to because I understand the importance of making a connection with my clients. You need to "vibe" with your birth photographer. This doesn't mean that you have to be BFF's with your photographer right away but you should feel comfortable with her before the meeting is up. If things just don't feel right or if their personality doesn't set well with you, then you should move on and interview another photographer. Imagine being in labor feeling vulnerable and exposed in front of somebody that you don't feel entirely comfortable. You always have the right to change your mind and ask them to leave but then you are out quite a bit of money that won't be refunded (I can't think of a single photographer willing to refund for this). Why not just hire the right one to begin with. Don't be afraid to interview more than one photographer and don't be afraid of hurting a photographers feelings by gentle turning them away. Trust me, if your feeling awkward and the conversation is forced for you then they are probably feeling the same way. It's ok!
Read the contract/model release before signing it!
A common problem in the professional photography world is misunderstandings due to a failure to read and understand the contract. Every single photographer has a different contract, different offerings and different policies. Your photographer should be open and clear with you concerning her contract and offerings. You should know everything that you get for the agreed upon price. You should know what all of her policies are and what they mean. Don't be afraid to ask questions if you see something that isn't 100% clear to you. Trust me when I say that most photographers would rather you ask questions and understand what you are signing than have to deal with the issue that arise later when there has been a misunderstanding. I'm sure you would rather not deal with it either!
Avoid a photographer that you feel may be withholding contract information!
This is going to be a controversial one. 98% of photographers have great business practices and operate openly and honestly. They make sure that you know exactly what you are getting and at what price. Unfortunately, there are a few bad apples (isn't this true of just about anything?). If you find yourself dealing with one of the very few photographers that seem "shady" or vague when talking to you about pricing and policy RUN! You don't want to end up with extra unknown charges. Your photographer should be open and honest about package pricing and all that it includes. Your photographer should be willing to send over package pricing information so you can make an informed decision. No surprises. If you are unclear about what's included in the price quote and the photographer seems unwilling to be upfront RUN!
Know and understand your photographers refund policy!
Birth photographers typically have strict refund policies in order to protect not only themselves but also their client. You need to be informed of those policies so your not shocked when you don't receive a refund due to your 40 minute labor or your husband forgetting to call you when the time comes. It's important that you understand and agree to your photographers refund policy. Most birth photographers have similar policies concerning this matter!
Understand what it means when you sign a model release!
A model release allows your photographer to use the photographs taken at your birth wherever and however she see's fit. If you don't want certain exposing images to be used please make sure your photographer understands that. Never sign a full model release unless you are ok with all images being used. Most birth photographers are respectful of your privacy and will only use the images that you consent to. My contract and model call reflects my desire to protect my clients personal desires and sense of modesty. Be really clear with your photographer what you are and are not comfortable with. A lot of photographers will send over a questionnaire with the contract. This questionnaire typically asks these type of questions and more. This way your photographer knows exactly what you are comfortable with!
Know what type of photos your are hoping for!
What's most important to you? While birth photography is very unpredictable and your photographer can't promise you certain shots they can often plan to stand and shoot in a location that gives you the type of photos you want. Spend some time looking at birth photos, pick out the ones you love and why you love them. Don't be afraid to spam your photographer with images you love so she gets a better idea on what speaks to you.
Pick a photographer who's work aligns with what you are wanting!
If you are a modest women hoping to find a photographer willing to keep shots as modest as possible but you are looking into a photographer who's portfolio is full of bold exposing photos then she may not be the one for you. The opposite is true as well. If you are hoping to capture all of the raw unfiltered moments of your labor and birth don't hire a photographer who's portfolio only shows conservative images. Let her work speak to you!
Ask about backups!
Your photographer really should have at least one back up photographer in case something comes up and she can't make your birth. Unfortunately birth photographers don't have super powers and things do come up. We get sick and injured and on rare occasions might have two moms go into labor at the same time. This is why it's smart to have a backup photographer. Don't be afraid to find out the details about your photographers back up!
Have the difficult conversation!
Nobody likes to talk about what happens if things go wrong. Most likely you and your baby will be just fine but you need to have a plan for your photographer in case of unexpected events. This is not a fun thing to talk about when you are pregnant but its important. Should you end up in an emergency c-section do you want her there if possible? Do you want pictures of your child receiving oxygen or needing to be resuscitated? In the event of the worst possible outcome do you still want photographs of your baby or would you prefer privacy? You need to know how you want these things handled. You also need to know that its ok to change your mind at anytime during the process.
These tips should really help you in during the process of hiring a birth photographer! If you have any additional questions or would like some more advice please don't hesitate to reach out!