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Thursday, January 9, 2014

Birth Photography: Why should you hire a birth photographer?

Capture their birth story – You only have one time to capture it

Weddings are never done without a photographer. It's one of those obvious things everyone wants to have at their wedding because you want the most important day of your life thus far documented to perfection. However, the other most important days of your life are the days you give birth to any children you ever have. It is ten times more emotional than your wedding day and is full of memories you will wish you had documented to perfection if you don't. So why are people hesitant to hire a professional photographer for such a monumental occasion? I often hear reasons such as they don't want an extra person in the birth room, they don't want their private areas photographed [which by the way is a big misconception of birth photography], they feel confident that their husband or family members can capture the moment just fine with their own camera....So, to those of you who may need convincing on why you need a birth photographer...here are just some of the many reasons why you should hire a professional photographer to capture your child's birth...

YOU FORGET. Most people honestly don't remember to much the day of their child's birth and all the emotional events, details, and happenings throughout the day. Things are usually a definite blur, and even more of a blur for the moments after you give birth. I had my birth captured and I love looking through my photos to jog my memories, and since the photos are so beautiful, they definitely jog back beautiful memories. [not pictures of my private areas] They were captured so beautifully and it brings back every single emotion I felt the day of my child's birth.

BABIES CHANGE QUICKLY. They can come out of the womb and look incredibly different an hour later (Birth is a whirl wind, by the time the dad has a chance to pick up the camera their head shape has already changed, feet have stretched out, that crooked nose has already slightly straightened etc.)

DADS SHOULD BE IN THE PHOTOS, NOT TAKING THEM. Birth can be an emotional roller coaster (for the dad too!) and he shouldn't have to worry about handling a camera during labour delivery and the first moments of life. Let him support you, enjoy holding his baby, and greet family visitors! [p.s. Your family there for support should be able to enjoy the moment too, not worry about taking pictures of every single moment]

THE EMOTION AND EXPRESSION DURING BIRTH IS PRICELESS. How amazing to be able to look back at the expression you had when you met your child for the first time, and their expression when they first met you. How beautiful to capture dad wiping a tear as he holds his son for the first time. How great to capture grandma's face as she sees how much her grand-baby looks like her own baby 25 years ago. Birth is full of real emotion by everyone involved that you will likely never have the chance to get in other photo sessions. The smiles are real. The excitement and anticipation is real. The tears are real. The exhaustion is real. The love is real!

QUALITY CRISP IMAGES. If you tried to take photos in a darkened birth room, you would likely need to use a flash with your camera, but birth photographers have proper equipment and lenses to be able to take crisp photos in low light without a flash, and that's important when dealing with a newborn's sensitive eyes.

THE VALUE OF BEAUTIFUL IMAGES. People don't bat an eye at booking a maternity or newborn photo session... but why not value the moment the baby actually enters this world? Personally I think it's nice to have newborn shots, but I look more at the photos of the day of my sons birth. Re-living the emotion looking at those photos is something that has helped me get through some very hard times. It reminds me of the love I felt so deeply that day when I am overwhelmed with motherhood and need a happy reminder of it. If money is an issue and you have to chose between hiring a photographer for maternity/newborn pictures or birth pictures, please pick birth! You will NOT regret it. Birthing is one of the most important journey's in one's life, and to have the story captured on film from beginning to end is special. I can hardly wait to show my children their own birth photos.

Things to keep in mind: Birth photography IS an investment. It requires a LOT on the photographers end. Let me show you why...

In many ways, birth photography can be compared to wedding photography, except a little more stressful when it comes to the “when's.” Lexia Frank, a Portland birth & wedding photographer, recently said it best when speaking at WPPI. She joked about weddings being booked like births. Not quoting her, but summarizing what she said she basically put it somewhat like this: Shooting a birth is like getting an inquiry from a bride saying that she wants you to come photograph her wedding, but isn’t going to set a date, just an estimated month. However, could be anywhere 2 months before that month, or even a bit after. She’ll just call you whenever she's ready and you need to get there immediately, no matter what you are doing. At your son's first birthday party? Three hours away at your daughters dance competition? Too bad, get there. When you ask her how many hours of coverage she would like, she says she’s not sure, could be 12+ hours, could be 2. You ask her when she’d like for you to start coverage and she says she wont know, could be 10pm, 1pm, or even around 3am. And also, that she doesn’t want any use of flash. So when you ask her if there will be bountiful natural light she says that she’ll be getting married in a dark closet with hardly no light whatsoever. And, she’s going to want the images within a week to send out announcements. AND you’re not going to be able to use them anywhere on your website or blog because she wants to keep her privacy intact. She also said you can't take vacations or go out of town the 4 months around her estimated date. Doesn't that sound ludicrous? I would either turn down that bride, or charge her $20,000.00 if not more! Of course we aren’t quoting our birth clients $20,000, or even near that.

Birth photography requires the photographer to be on call in the months surrounding the estimated date. That in itself is a stressful situation. Birth photography isn't a walk in the park, however, those who do it, have a passion for it because it isn't easily done, but so worth it.
Being on call isn’t just stressful for the birth photographer but for her entire family. We often rely on our partners to provide care for our children that may interrupt their own careers with no notice at all. We expect them to carry the weight and our children to be understanding if we have to dash out of a family event or outing early or not attend at all due to an impending birth. We have to drive separately wherever we go, taking our equipment with us, and we can’t ever be unavailable. We have to keep our bags packed at all times. We can’t indulge in the occasional glass of wine while we are on call. We miss holidays, birthdays, recitals and milestones very important to us. We can’t, of course, go out of town. We also can’t expect the world to plan everything a year in advance but many of my clients book me 8 months ahead of their due dates. I read of a photographer who missed her brother’s wedding when the date conflicted with two clients she had previously committed to. 
It will never pay the bills even though people see the investment of birth photography and think WOW, big money. However, it doesn't. Photographers who shoot births, shoot births because they are driven by the love of birth, the emotional exchange between a couple as they become parents, the vulnerability of an otherwise strong man as he becomes a Dad, the look for pure love on the face of a woman as she meets her long-awaited child for the first time. We love creating art that makes families cry.
I personally charge what I charge because I value my expertise, my experience, my family's time, and my own time. I make it as affordable as possible while being fair to my family and myself. Remember when “shopping” for something so special as this, you get what you pay for. Unfortunately, I can’t offer deals or even apologies for charging a fraction of what folks would be willing to pay for a wedding photographer and expecting much much more in return for a day just as special. I hope to draw clients to me who value what I have to offer and I’m blessed to have accomplished exactly that so far. I have some of the best, most appreciative and wonderful clients! I happen to think birth photography is the greatest but toughest specialty in the photography industry, worth every penny, and those who choose to hire a birth photographer truly never regret it!


That being said, Rachel Smith Photography does offer birth sessions but only takes a limited amount per year.

Since I understand being on both sides of the camera as far as birth photography goes, I understand it is important to document quietly and unobtrusively. I call it the “fly on the wall” approach cep I'm a bit bigger than a fly ;) Both packages come with a “coffee date” consultation after you have booked to discuss the details of your desires during the day of your child's birth to ensure you are at 100% ease with investing the money into hiring a photographer to capture one of the biggest days of your life! There is no hourly fee; I am usually there from just before you hit transition to 1-2 hours after the birth. Keep in mind time varies all dependent upon your birth experience. 

Angel of Mine - Package - $1000
Coffee Date Consultation
Customized Session – Time varies per birth
ONLINE GALLERY with all edited images
Web Usage & Print rights Web Usage & Print Rights
Customized Video Slideshow Customized Video Slideshow
30% OFF Maternity Session 
20% OFF Newborn Session
$50 Print Credit
10x10 Hard Cover Album

 Sweet Pea - Package - $800
 Coffee Date Consultation
Customized Session – Time varies per birth
ONLINE GALLERY with all edited images 
Web Usage & Print rights Web Usage & Print Rights
Customized Video Slideshow Customized Video Slideshow
20% OFF Maternity Session
10% OFF Newborn Session
 $25 Print Credit
5x5 Hard Cover Album

Little Peanut - Package - $600
 Coffee Date Consultation
Customized Session – Time varies per birth
ONLINE GALLERY with all edited images 
Web Usage & Print rights Web Usage & Print Rights
Customized Video Slideshow Customized Video Slideshow
 $25 Print Credit

Payment Plans are available. Sessions should be booked as early as possible. Contact for investments.

                                      Seeing his baby boy for the first time [deployed overseas] 

I LOVE this one of Claire with her father. He helped her be strong since her husband was deployed!

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So happy to have found Thumbtack! I receive requests for quotes from clients in my surrounding areas for their photography needs. It really helps me market to potential clients and have an opportunity to be hired by people who I may not have found had I not joined Thumbtack! If you click below you can view my profile there and even leave me a review if you have had a session with me in the past! Rachel Smith Photography