Why I Didn't Hire A Birth Photographer | Jacksonville Birth Photography
I didn’t hire a birth photographer. That's right. Me, a birth photographer myself.
And oh, how deeply I wish I had.
I have very few regrets in my life, and one of them is not adding a talented birth photographer to my birth team to document my hard work of bringing my first baby into the world. But I had my reasons. And before I had my baby, I thought those reasons were pretty good!
I know so many families are in that same place that I was two years ago: writing up their birth plan, watching the bump in the mirror get bigger and bigger, looking at finances and wondering how the heck this is all going to work out. But now that I am on the other side, with my daughter's birth story fading from my memory a little at a time, I want to share with you my reasons for not hiring a birth photographer then, and my opinions now, a few years down the road.
6 reasons why I didn’t hire a birth photographer. (And why I wish I had.)
Along with the few cell phone photos that my family did manage to grab.
(They did the best they could! Love you guys!)
6. "My mom and my husband will be there! Between the two of them, I’m sure they’ll get plenty of pictures with their cell phones. They know it’s important to me."
Except that, like most non-induced births, my labor started in the middle of the night. Skilled photographers with professional equipment know how to work with low light. Husbands with cell phones do not. In fact, the picture above is the very first picture I have, when I was 10 hours into my labor. This was when the sun finally rose and there was enough light for my husband to grab some pictures.
Even if my family had been able to work around the low light, there were hours of my labor where I desperately needed both of their sets of hands, rubbing my back and squeezing my knees, in order to ride the surges of my contractions. They couldn’t have taken pictures even if they wanted to.
When we see a person we deeply love in the midst of something as intimate and raw as birth, it goes against everything in our nature to stop and take a picture of them. A professional knows that those moments are sacred and worth documenting.
5. "I cringe when I have to be in front of the camera instead of behind it. I’m so critical of myself in pictures."
Even in the shaky, cell phone pictures that my wonderful husband took of me, with my swollen, red face pushing as hard as I can, I look at those pictures and think, “Holy cow, I was strong. Look at me, that’s amazing.” (I wish they were in focus and taken at a slightly more flattering angle...but still!) I don’t care that my face is fat or that my hair is a mess, I care that I am a badass pushing a human out of my body.
And besides, (and this is important) birth isn't just about you. Birth is such a beautiful dance between a mom, her partner, and her care providers. Birth photography captures the moments happening around you that you may not even be in tune with, and there is beauty in the details.
4. "I don’t even wear a bikini at the beach, yet I know I will be at least half naked."
Of my 11 hour labor, I was only naked for a whopping 45 minutes. And even then, if I had planned ahead, I could have worn a bikini top for more coverage when my baby was born. As a birth photographer, I strategically use angles to keep things modest. (Take the image below, for example: if I had been the one taking this image, I would have taken a step to the right so that the midwife's back was covering me.)
When the time came, I stripped off clothes during labor without thinking twice, and even if I wasn’t comfortable sharing images like that with the world, they would mean everything to me, to enjoy privately with my husband and my children. I would rather have naked images of me with my baby in my arms for the first time than no images at all.
3. "I am an introverted person. I’m already worried that there will be too many people in the room and that the pressure of all eyes on me will be too much. Do I really want to have another person standing there watching me in my most vulnerable state?"
I was off in labor-land, and wasn’t at all bothered by the loving womanly support (plus my wonderful husband) around me. They were all respectful of my birth space and didn’t have any side conversations, just gentle encouragement. Having another supportive, quiet person there with a camera wouldn’t have even phased me.
And for the hospital-birthing families: trust me, when you start pushing, that room can get full with nurses and staff you’ve never even seen before. One more friendly face will be nothing.
2. "Hiring a photographer is expensive. This is our first baby and money is already so tight. We can’t pay the whole fee at once anyways."
There is no dollar amount that I wouldn’t pay to have those images in my hands today. And if I had been able to split up my payments over several months, we totally could have made it work, especially with baby shower gifts of cash. I would have gladly bought baby clothes from consignment shops and borrowed a stroller from a friend to be able to cut back our expenses and afford those once-in-a-lifetime images.
1. "I really just don’t want naked pictures of me to be shared!"
First of all. When I come to your home and show you all of your birth images, we will go over every...single...one...and discuss whether or not you are comfortable with it being shared. NOTHING will be shared without your explicit, written permission in a signed model release. Period.
And second of all...well, let me tell you a little story.
My sweet husband took a picture of me in the birth tub and excitedly sent it to all of his friends and family right after Alexis was born. Months later, one of them let the secret slip…my naked bottom half was definitely visible in that photo. My husband had realized this the day after the birth and hastily texted everyone to immediately delete it and never tell me. So…yeah. A professional photographer who will review each of your images with you and get your permission to post any of your images, IF you choose to share them, is better than a family member accidentally texting your friends a picture of your naked self. Just sayin’, from personal experience.
And one final thing to remember...
...birth photography is about more than just mom and baby.
There are so many special moments surrounding birth, that we can't recreate. The awkward yet adorable way that my husband held his daughter, just minutes old, while I was getting out of the tub. The smile on my dad's face when he met his first grandbaby. The look of surprise on my husband's face when I announced to the room what her name would be! (We hadn't made a decision yet, so I just went ahead and named her myself!)
Beautiful moments deserve better images than this.
You might look at the images above and think, "Well, those aren't too bad! At least she has those!"
These images mean the world to me, but I will always regret that I won’t have more of my sweet daughter’s birthday to show her. They only encompass the last hour of my birth and first hour afterwards. There were 12 incredible hours of labor that are a complete blur to me, and I wish I had images to put all the pieces together and remember how the night unfolded.
So think about your reasons. Then put yourself in your shoes a year down the road, on your baby's birthday. Five years from now, when they ask for you to tell them the story of the night they were born. Ten, twenty, fifty years. Will your reasons stand the test of time?
Let’s talk. I’ve got several packages to choose from, for a range of budgets. I have payment plans available. I know my way around a birth space and I’m on your side, no matter what your birth plans are.
And you can trust me when I say, I didn’t and I wish I had. Let me witness your birth and help you to tell your story; it would be my honor.