10 Common Questions about Birth Photography

mother holding baby for the first time immediately after being born at Swedish Issaquah Hospital

Answering common questions about birth photography and what it means to hire me as your birth photographer.

Answering common questions about birth photography by showing this photo of a mother smiling with joy as she holds her baby recently born at Swedish Issaquah Hospital.

Do you have a lot of common questions about birth photography? If so, you are not alone. I’ve compiled a list of 10 questions and my answers to each of them. But first…

1. What exactly is birth photography?

This is one of the most common questions about birth photography. What exactly IS birth photography?

Birth photography is a photojournalistic style of photography documenting of the birth of your child. (AKA, one of the most transformative days of your life!) It highlights what’s unique about your family and birth, whether it be a home birth, at at hospital or a birthing center, a vaginal birth or a c-section. Birth photography captures your emotions and tells the story of your birth which is unique to every person.

2. How does birth photography work?

Another important question about birth photography is this: How does it work?

Well, first you hire a birth photographer to photograph your birth. Generally, it’s just one set fee, no matter how short or long your birth is. Your birth photographer guarantees to be at your birth, no matter the time or day.

Birth photographers generally arrive to your place of birth when you are in active labor (5-6 centimeters dialated, or when you no longer can walk or talk through your contractions.) Your birth photographer will document the birth, and then stay up to two hour postpartum to get all of those special first moments (baby being measured and weighed, etc.)

Answering common questions about birth photography by showing what birth photography is in this photo of a mother holding her baby for the first time after giving birth.

3. What does birth photography include?

Birth photography includes the documentation of labor and delivery of your baby. This means they also document the moment of the baby actually being born.

This can be more discrete, with the photographer at the pregnant person’s head, to capture the provider or midwife catching the baby and then setting the baby onto the chest of the pregnant person for skin-to-skin.

This can also be more raw, with the photographer documenting the process of the baby coming out including crowning images.

Birth photography can also include a combination of both tasteful and raw images. It all depends on your preferences!

Another thing that birth photography includes is documenting what happens after the birth. Most birth photographers document up to two hour postpartum. This might include baby’s first latch, the newborn exam, skin-to-skin with baby’s new dad, or meeting siblings and grandparents for the first time.

As a Seattle birth photographer, I also include videography and custom photo albums depending on which package you select when hiring me.

4. Is a birth photographer worth it?

Absolutely. A birth photographer is definitely worth it. I’ve never had anyone tell me that they regret hiring a birth photographer. But I have had many people tell me they regret not hiring one.

Hiring a professional, certified birth photographer will give you peace of mind knowing your most important memories won’t be missed. Birth only happens once, and your memory quickly fades. A birth photographer is a storyteller, and captures all the details to help you remember the important moments so you can retell your birth story to your child as they grow. A birth photographer also allows you and your partner to be fully present and experience the moment, since you don’t have to worry about missing a thing, knowing that all of your precious memories are going to be perfectly captured.

5. When should a birth photographer arrive?

With so many common questions about birth photography, this question deserves it’s own blog post! I wrote a whole blog post dedicated to when a birth photographer should arrive.

Essentially a birth photographer should show up during active labor, which is when your cervix has dilated to 6 centimeters and your contractions are regular. Active labor can last from 4-8 hours. This blog post also gives tips on how to be in contact and communicate with your birth photographer, to ensure that they arrive in time!

6. Do birth photographers use flash?

This is another common question about birth photography. I DO use flash. Using a flash guarantees sharp and crisp images. And most birth photographers DO use flash.

But I don’t always use a flash. If the birth is during the day, and there is adaquate window light or overhead light, I don’t need to use flash. I also don’t use flash if it bothers you during labor. (Although most pregnant people don’t even notice it!)

But if it bothers you, I stop immediately. I have a fantastic camera with amazing low light abilities, and I’ll still get gorgeous photos without flash…there just might be a bit more grain. Which is not a bad thing! (Especially if you like a nostalgic vibe.)

Also, the type of flash I use is a speedlight, which means I bounce a light off of the wall or ceiling to create a look similar to what a window would give. I NEVER flash a light directly in your face or your direction. I also diffuse my flash, so it’s not so bright or annoying. Like i said before, most people don’t even notice it!

Mother sitting in hospital bed smiling at her newly born baby

7. What should I wear for birth photography?

Another one of the most common questions about birth photography I get asked is this one. So much that I wrote another blog post about what to wear for great birth photos as well!

There are lots of intentional things you can do and wear to get amazing and beautiful birth photos (ie, get a mani and pedi, wear meaningful jewelry, etc.); however, it all comes down to what is most comfortable for you! And no matter what you are wearing, if you hire a professional birth photographer, you will get amazing photos. I promise.

8. What should I ask when interviewing a birth photographer?

I compiled a list of 12 questions to ask when interviewing a birth photographer. However, after receiving the answers from these important questions to help vet a potential birth photographer, a final question to ask yourself is this:

How does this person make me feel? 

This birth photographer will be in the room with you capturing one of your most life changing experiences. Do you feel comfortable with them? Your birth space is sacred, and it’s an honor and privilege to be invited into that space.

9. What should I do with my birth photos?

I love this question! I wrote another blog post about 5 easy things you can do with your birth photos. All of the 5 suggestions of things to do with your birth photos are fantastic, but I’m especially fond of number 4. 😉

10. How many births do you take a month?

Since I take only 3-4 births a month, I recommend inquiring as soon as possible to ensure a spot on my calendar.

Not located in Seattle and the surrounding areas? Don’t worry! I’m a member of the International Association of Professional Birth Photographers, where you can find a “birth photographer near me” by entering your city or zip code. You’re welcome! 😉 And if you live in Charlottesville, VA and are wanting to know more about birthing centers, be sure to check out the Birth Center Charlottesville.

  1. So many great tips, I had 3 csections so a birth photographer wasn’t an option but love seeing how helpful this is for pregnant moms!

    • Becky Langseth says:

      Melissa! I just photographed a c-section birth last month and have another one scheduled next week! This is a misconception about birth photography that you can’t have a birth photographer for cesarian births…but in reality, you CAN! A belly birth is a birth too, and deserves to be documented! And OR photos are just BEAUTIFUL!

  2. I love these tips. I wish I could go back in time and hire a birth photographer for me. It’s absolutely worth documenting that special day.

  3. These are some great questions answered about Birth photography, I was reading Melissa’s comment above and yeah back in my day (my kids are 17 & 16) photographers were not allowed in the operating room for C-sections. Glad to hear times have changed because what a beautiful thing to document.

  4. Alison Bell says:

    Becky, such good work with tough light. I’m impressed you make it work so well. That’s a lot of skill!

  5. Tracy Miller says:

    Boy how I wish birth photography was a thing when I had my kids. How absolutely priceless to have this documented, and so beautifully at that!

  6. Ashlie says:

    Thanks for breaking down all of this information into one post, its super helpful. I didn’t have a birth photographer and wish that I had. My husband didn’t take as many photos as I wished he would have. LOL

leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *