While pregnant, I debated back and forth for a weeks about having a birth photographer capture Maverick’s birth. I knew I’d cherish the images later in life, but as a first-time mom, I sincerely doubted if I’d be comfortable with the scenario of having a photographer in the delivery room.
I had so many logistics questions about when a birth photographer arrives, how much coordination a mother in labor has to proactively communicate with the photographer, etc., and I couldn’t find a lot of straightforward answers about the coordination from local photographers, so I opted to not hire a birth photographer and planned to buy images from the in-hospital photographer that offers photos. That seemed like the easiest route.
Joke was on me with my analysis paralysis over birth photos, because COVID happened the week Maverick was born, not only would a birth photographer not have been allowed in, but not even the in-hospital photographer was.
I one-hundred percent regret not having birth photos, and after getting to know photographer and doula Bailey Wilson, I know I would’ve been at ease with her in the delivery room.
Read on for some insights into birth photography if you’re like me, and just need more of the context about how Bailey runs birth photo sessions.
Tell us about how also being a doula prepared you for doing birth photography
I actually only ever offered birth photography because I was a doula! It felt natural to begin offering photography services to my birth clients since I was already someone they had built a trusted relationship with and was already present at the birth. I think being a doula definitely gave me a huge understanding of the physiology of birth and gives me a good perspective on how each labor is progressing. I’m able to know where a mom is at in terms of her labor and that helps me look for really special moments to capture. It also helps me feel really comfortable within a birth space!
Is doula support included in your photo packages?
I offer two options for birth photography. One is primarily doula support with photography as an add-on at a super discounted rate, and one is strictly for birth photography for those who don’t feel like they need a doula at their birth.
How intimate are you in the birth process?
This obviously depends on if I’m offering doula support or not, but I always take photos in a non-invasive manner. I use lenses that allow me to work from a reasonable distance within the birth space and leave plenty of space for partners, other members of the birth team, or hospital staff to support mom as she desires. I love for my birth images to tell the whole birth story and that is achieved without being in anyone’s face.
How long do you stay after the baby is born?
I typically stay until after the first measurements are taken and to grab a couple snuggly shots with the parents before I head home.
What types of shots do you typically capture?
Oh gosh, so many. Birth galleries are always my largest. Labor can be such an inward event- especially for mom. There’s often not a real sense of time when you’re in labor and you’re usually working so hard that you’re not focused on much else around you. I love that I’m able to provide the details of the story that mom (and maybe even dad) would not have noticed if there had not been photos.
I also discuss with clients beforehand what moments they imagine being captured so that I know going into a birth if there are any that someone is really hoping are captured.
When should a laboring mama call you?
As a doula, I’ll meet my families when the clients feel like they could benefit from some more hands-on support. Typically, this is in the active labor.
For clients who are only booking photography services, I’ll usually arrive in active labor as well, but usually a little while later. I ask everyone to be in close contact with me and keep me updated on any changes.
How quickly do you arrive to a birth after you’ve gotten the call?
I ask for a two hour allowance to arrive but can typically make it sooner! I just have to get my own kiddos to childcare, and babies love to arrive in the middle of the night, so dragging my kids to a sitter while they’re half-asleep is an adventure!
Do you have your Tdap shot?
What’s the difference between a birth session and a fresh 48 session?
Birth photography includes labor- golden hour (typically before you’re transferred to postpartum care in a hospital, or until the midwives leave at a home birth).
The fresh 48 are essentially brand new newborn photos. Think of fresh 48 as all of the really raw details of birth still present in baby- wrinkly toes, fuzzy arms, all of that good stuff. Pre-COVID, they were often done in the hospital after baby is born, but they can be done in-home as well.
How many birth clients do you take on at one time?
Personally, I only like having 2-3 a month!
If a client is worried about modesty in the images captured, how do you capture the birth while ensuring modesty?
I think this is a really common question for people who haven’t seen a lot of birth photography! The reality is that there are tons of ways to do this; there are so many ways to play on angles and keep things really conservative.
Thank you so much, Bailey, for taking away some of the mystery behind birth photography! For any family sessions, from minis, to newborn, to anything else, Bailey Wilson Photography is offering $20 off if you mention East Valley Moms!