Photographing the Birth of Your Child:
What is birth photography?
Birth photography is the recording of a story that will only be told once. For most parents the birth of their child it is one of the most important and life-changing experiences of their lives and yet many only have blurry cell phone snap shots to remember it by. Birth photography provides parents with breathtakingly, emotional pictures of a first meeting that only lasts a couple of minutes and yet has the power to change them forever. For parents it inspires memories of a moment in time that goes by too quickly, and for the child it will one day tell a story of love, life and a beginning – his beginning.
A birth photographer is so much more than just a photographer. Professional birth photographers bring training, expertise, quality equipment, a code of conduct and knowledge about birth and becoming a parent to your experience. They aim to capture the essence of a birth to form a complete story, rather than just isolated moments.
Why should one book a birth photographer?
1. We hire professional photographers for graduations, weddings etc. and yet few have the foresight to hire a specialized photographer for what would probably be one of the most important if not the most important day in their lives. They only take that first breath once – there are no do-overs.
2. Traditionally the partner or husband took some quick snap shots of the birth or first moments, but expecting them to capture all the key moments, in a beautifully composed manner, without shaking, whilst in a complete state of euphoria upon meeting their child, is a tad unrealistic. Plus freeing them from ‘camera duty’ allows them to be more supportive and connect with the birth of their child –it is after all their story and experience as well.
3. A good birth photographer will photograph a birth in a manner that tells the whole story from labour or going into theatre, to the first hello and baby’s first hour or two in his new environment, and not only highlight random moments and not only highlight random moments.
4. Instead of worrying about sorting through and sending good photographs with all your baby’s details to friends and family, most birth photographers create a birth announcement there and then with a beautiful first image of your baby – you simply have to send or upload to your face book – allowing you more bonding time with your newborn.
5. A professional birth photographer captures moments that you might miss, like your partner’s facial expression, or grand-mother-to-be sitting anxiously in the waiting room.
6. Birth photography allows you to see your child’s birth from a different, wider perspective and parents often discover breathtaking details which they miss at a time when they are inwardly focused.
7. Many mothers, especially mothers who had C-Sections, find that they feel that their birth photo’s helped them ‘connect’ with the birth process even if their bodies did not go through actual labour.
8. Birth photography allows you to one day tell your children about their birthdays. They will be able to see how much they were loved from the moment they took that first breath. Think about it – who of us would not love to see ourselves at the moment we entered this world – to see for ourselves how much we were loved.
9. Birth photography allows loved ones ‘to be there’ – even if they are not.
Guidelines for selecting a reputable, professional birth photographer
1. Does the photographer have experience in birth photography (both natural and C-Section)?
2. Does the photographer have a good report with the relevant medical professionals and institutions in your area?
3. Is the photographer a registered member of the South African Birth Photographers Association and/or the International Association of Professional Birth Photographers?
4. Does the photographer have client references?
5. Does the photographer have a birth code of conduct and an understanding of hospital and theatre regulations?
6. Has the photographer’s work been published before?
7. Will the photographer provide you with a proper birth photography contract?
8. Does the photographer tell the whole story?
10. For further guidelines on birth photographers and other birth partners you can go here.
More about Love Alda Birth Photography:
When should I book you?
Unlike with maternity, newborn and family photography, I am on standby for most of my birth clients. I therefore seldom take on more than 3 births a month. It is for this reason advisable that you book as far in advance (from your second trimester onwards) as possible.
I like the idea of birth photography, but value my privacy
I am also a woman and a mother and understand that some woman want to keep their bodies private. It is for this reason that I meet and consult with clients before the birth, so that you can get to know me, but also to allow you to communicate your needs and requirements to me. I always respect my clients’ wishes, as well as their privacy.
Will it not feel strange to have a photographer in such an intimate space?
I work in a silent, supportive and discrete manner. You will not be aware of me any more than you will be of the midwife, doctor or nurses assisting you. I want you to remember to experience and not me. You might also find this feature on what birth photography is NOT helpful.
Will you pose us?
No. With birth photography I have a photojournalistic approach and although I ‘frame’ images beautifully, I do not touch you or your baby or ask you to pose in any way.
When do you go on call for a birth?
14 days before and after the client’s expected due date.
What if I go in labour before my expected due date?
You still contact me and I will do my utmost to be there on time or at the very least get a back-up birth photographer, who is also registered with the South African Birth Photographer’s Association, in place.
When do you come?
The task of contacting me and keeping me posted is normally given to the partner or husband. Once you think you are in labour he calls to notify me. From there he keeps me posted and I normally come when active labour has started (regular contractions every 4 mins / water breaks / dilated approx. 5cm). From there I stay as long as it takes.
What if you can’t make my birth?
I have a back-up photographer who is also a registered birth photographer.
What if I have a C-Section?
I often cover C-Section births. It is the client’s responsibility to obtain permission for me to be in theatre. It can be obtained from the gynaecologist and theatre matron beforehand or on the day, but to avoid disappointment I encourage clients to discuss this with the relevant parties beforehand. In certain cases I do provide clients with a formal letter of request. Should theatre presence be refused I photograph until the moment you go into theatre and continue the moment you come out.
All of the above applies if your natural labour for some reason turns into a C-Section. That is also why I advise clients to have a back-up C-Section birth plan in place.
What should I wear?
This may sound like a strange questions but really it’s not if you’re planning a natural birth (with a C-Section you will have to wear a surgery gown). Anything you feel super comfortable in is fine – keep in mind that you do not want to wear restrictive clothing. Tank tops or vests are always a good option as they are comfortable, they cover key parts whilst exposing your bump and they are not restrictive. When a mom’s breasts are covered it allows me to do more skin-to-skin close-ups without exposing mom. That being said, there are no rules and I always photograph with the utmost respect and sensitivity – I do not photograph explicit nudity regardless of what mom is wearing (or in some instances not wearing).
How long do you stay and which moments do you capture?
I capture the whole journey and tell the whole story – from labour or going to theatre right through to baby’s first breath and first moments. I stay as long as it takes and will capture at least an hour of baby’s first moments after birth.
What if my baby needs to go the NICU after birth?
I can photograph your baby in NICU but special permission needs to be obtained. Alternatively I will come back when baby is out of NICU or offer a ‘welcome home’ complimentary mini newborn session if all else fails.
What if I do not want you to share any of my pictures?
I never share any photographs without consent, but please refer to the birth photography contract.
What if I want a lifestyle / styled newborn session as well?
I do offer a ‘Welcome Home’ lifestyle newborn session as part of my Magnolia birth package.
- Love Alda – Cape Town’s Premium Birth Photographer owned by Alda Heunis Smith is fast becoming the sought after, premier, Cape Town Birth Photographer. Baby photography and Birth Photography is her passion and she loves being able to capture the first moments of birth. This Cape Town Photographer will also give you special Newborn Photography as well as being a family Photographer. If you are in Cape Town and need your Photography done by a premier top 100 world class photographer then lookup Alda Heunis Smith.
- She has been featured in the top 100 in the International Association of Professional Birth Photographers. Love Alda photography has permission to shoot natural and c-section births at major hospital’s in Cape Town and South Africa. This includes Life Healthcare,Medi-Clinic and Netcare Hospitals. Hospitals where she has done photography include, Life Vincent Pallotti, Mowbray Maternity Hospital, Panorama Medi-Clinic, Louis Leipoldt Medi-Clinic, Capegate Medi-Clinic, Stellenbosch Medi-Clinic. Love Alda is also the founder of the South African Birth Photography Association (SABPA). Love Alda covers both natural and c-section birth stories and has worked and got approval from gynaecologists and midwives in Cape Town and across South Africa. Love Alda has been published in Your Pregnancy magazine, survival guide and more. Also find Love Alda Birth photography on Facebook at facebook.com/withlovealda and facebook.com/lovealdabirthphotography. Love Alda is also available for Johannesburg, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Bloemfontein and other major cities in South Africa as a premier birth photographer.