Hiring a Birth Photographer? Ask Them These 8 Questions First - Milk And Hannah | Columbus Birth Photographer

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Eight Questions

F O R
Y O U R
B I R T H
P H O T O G R A P H E R


Birth Photography is booming and as a professional, I want to make sure you hire the best one for you.
Before you pay that retainer fee and make that booking official, here’s a list of my top 8 questions to ask your birth photographer.


 

 


1. CAN YOU SHOW ME WHAT A FULL BIRTH GALLERY LOOKS LIKE ?

Social media is wonderful but it’s also the worst.
We live in an online world in which only the best of the best versions of ourselves are on display, and this extends to businesses and artists, such as Birth Photographers. We show you THE BEST, and can you blame us? We aim to impress! But this doesn’t tell the full story of birth photography, and to make an educated decision on whether or not your Birth Photographer is a good fit for you, you need to see the full story, not just what Instagram shows you.

Ask your Birth Photographer to see what a full finished gallery looks like.
A professional worth hiring will have one or even several to show you, and will do so happily.

Things to look for :

  • Editing style- Do you like how the photographer edits their images- whether dark and contrasty or bright and airy ?

  • High Quality images (Are the majority of photos in focus or are they blurry? Is there a lot of grain or scratchy speckles ? )

  • Color - Are the photos edited in color or black & white or both? ( Your preference will vary-just be sure it aligns with what you want! )

  • Story Length - Does the gallery show images from all aspects of birth - labor, pushing, moment of birth, and the postpartum period ?

  • Diversity in Shots - Are the photos creatively composed or are they all the same? Are you seeing moments you’d never have thought to photograph? Both small details and large ones ?

  • Emotional Connection - Are you feeling connected to the photographs? Do you feel moved emotionally?


2. WHEN CAN WE MEET IN PERSON ?


MEET YOUR BIRTH PHOTOGRAPHER IN PERSON.




I can’t stress this enough. For me this usually happens after a basic e-mail interview, a contract signing and retainer payment, but occasionally, parents need to meet me in person before they’re totally sold, and that’s perfectly fine. It’s a pretty big financial commitment! Regardless, part of my process is meeting my client and their families in their home. Connecting on a level above Client/Photographer, and beginning a relationship of trust and care that transfers into a birth space that is supported, loved, and invested in.

Birth spaces are one area where you don’t want people around you who you don’t mesh with. This will have a direct affect on your ability to focus, relax, and birth your baby.
Before you make a decision, get to know your birth photographer. Meet them in person, get to know them, see how you get along, and listen to your gut-you’ll know if it’s a good fit.





3. WHAT IS YOUR CHILDCARE SITUATION ?

The vast majority of birth photographers, I’d put my money on 80%, are parents to young-ish children.
And children are THE BEST, they really are, BUT…
They make it absolutely impossible to do what you need to do when you need to do it.

If your Birth Photographer has babies at home, ask them what their childcare plan is.
Birth doesn’t normally happen Monday through Friday, 9am - 5pm, it happens during Father’s Day Brunch ( been there!) it happens at 2am on a Wednesday, and on Christmas Eve while everyone is still sleeping. It sometimes lasts for 4 hours, and others last for 37.

Childcare for a Birth Photographer should be covered 24/7, 365 days a year, with need for little notice and no time limits.
If your choice doesn’t have a 24/7 care plan laid out, ask what the back up plan is- if they have no back-up plan, you may want to consider another option.


Specific details you’ll need to know :

  • Are you covered 24/7 in the time surrounding my due date ?

  • What if my birth unfolds during a holiday or celebration ?

  • How much time does it take to finalize childcare arrangements after being notified I’m in labor ?




4. ARE YOU A LICENSED AND / OR REGISTERED BUSINESS ?

State laws vary on business license requirements from one to the next,
but the basis of this question is a simple one : Are you a legally operating business ?

Because birth photography sometimes happens inside hospitals and birthing centers, it’s very important to make sure your Birth Photographer is a professional- licensed to operate in your State/City/County. For Ohio, this means I’ve paid applicable fees and taxes to become a registered business in the State of Ohio and am operating a legal, recognized, licensed Limited Liability Company.

It’s easier than ever to obtain a decent camera- they are built into every cell phone and for sale for under $100 at every local department store. In that same breath, a Facebook business page can be made in under 5 minutes, regardless of the legitimacy of the actual business. New birth photographer Facebook Pages are popping up every single day.

- HOWEVER -

A camera does not make a professional photographer, just as a guitar does not make a professional musician.
A Facebook page does not promise you are dealing with a reputable business.

A Birth Photographer worth their weight in gold will be operating their business legally in their country/state/city/county .



5. HAVE YOU EVER WORKED ALONGSIDE MY MIDWIFE / OBGYN / DOULA / BIRTH TEAM ?

Birth communities are relatively close knit with many of us connected outside of the birth space. Ask your Birth Photographer if they’ve ever attended a birth with the professionals that you’ve chosen. If they’ve been in the same birth space, great! If not, no worries. It’s just a good idea to have these details up front.

And to round things out, ask your birth team if they’ve worked with your Birth Photographer.
They’ll have a pool of knowledge and experiences, both good and bad, so consider them a great resource in nailing down a Birth Photographer that checks all the right boxes for you.


6. WHAT HAPPENS IN THE EVENT OF A PERSONAL EMERGENCY ?

Life Happens.
Good birth photographers have policies in place to prepare.

In the event that something out of the control of your Birth Photographer comes up - a car accident, a broken leg, the FLU - it should be clear what the expectations are. Will your birth be covered by a back-up photographer? Will you receive a refund?


A Birth Photographer worth the investment will have a back-up photographer ready and waiting in case something comes up.
A really good birth photographer with have 2 or more back-up photographers.

Double check your Birth Photographer’s policies on “Acts of God”, or situations outside their control.




7. ARE YOU COMFORTABLE AND PRACTICED IN PHOTOGRAPHING BIRTHS IN DARK SPACES ?


Light is the main ingredient for making photographs- and in the middle of the night, there’s not much of it.
A daytime birth is a rare occasion, and when the hospital or living room lights are dimmed down, is your Birth Photographer able to handle the low light?

Ask to see examples of photographs your Birth Photographer has taken in low light. If they don’t have any examples to show you, take a peek at the full gallery they’ve shown you and weigh the pros and cons . A dark location for someone who doesn’t shoot in dark spaces or carry a flash along with them will result in few quality, usable photographs and is something you should take into consideration during the decision making process.

For those uncomfortable with the idea of flash photography during their birth, or those with conditions like photosensitive epilepsy or any disorder that makes you more prone to seizures, definitely bring this up with your Birth Photographer so they can best prepare. In the event that you have been diagnosed with photosensitive epilepsy, you’ll want to find a birth photographer who specializes in low light birth photography without flash, and has the portfolio to back that up.


8. THERE'S A CONTRACT, RIGHT ?


This is #8 on the list, but it could just as easily sit at #1.
Hiring a Birth Photographer that has a contract ready for you is crucial, and here’s why.

Contracts protect not only your Birth Photographer, but you. They lay out the groundwork for the stuff you expect like pricing, payments and turn around times, and the stuff that you don’t - Like, what happens in the event of an emergency, what happens if the camera falls onto the hospital floor and breaks into pieces, what happens if you forget to contact your photographer, and what to do if either of you would like to pursue legal action.

Contracts may seem intense, but they’re the safest way to lay a solid foundation for a client/photographer relationship and for both of you to have something to reference. They’re also a surefire way to spot a Birth Photographer who values you and is worth your investment.

Look over the contract carefully, and be sure to save yourself a copy, if it’s virtual, or ask for a copy of the original if it’s paper. Keep in mind, Photographers have likely invested in a local lawyer to look over their contract and/or draft something that’s specific to their own business. Rarely, if ever, are they something that is editable. You can always inquire, but you’ve heard it here first that extensive lengths go into contract creation, for the good of the Photographer and for the protection of their client’s, so definitely keep that in mind.

5 years into birth photography, and I have witnessed my fair share of wonderful stories and horrible ones.
Keep this list handy to help round out your expectations for the artist you choose to document these moments of triumph that you won’t ever be able to redo.

I care about ya.
Hannah