Tips for Photographing Your Own Birth | Jacksonville + St. Augustine Photographer

As a photographer I know very well the beauty and benefit of hiring a photographer to capture your birth. As a mother I know that hiring that photographer is not always feasible. Just because you can't swing a cake-smash photo shoot when your child turns one doesn't mean you shouldn't take pictures of your babe going to town (or screaming in horror) on some cake at their birthday party. I believe the same is true of birth. Document your birth. It's such a powerful day to re-live. To that end birth is far more complex then a first birthday party, and navigating that documentation respectfully and effectively are paramount. Here are some tips if you plan on using your own camera to capture your birth story.

1.) Select the right person

If your partner is the only person in town you want at your birth, by all means have them take pictures; but if you have another close friend or family member available to press the shutter - delegate to them. You're going to want to remember dads reaction to baby, and how he supported you (or how he panicked and was of no help - either way - the story is surely memorable lol). Also you're going to want your partners support during labor. If you invite someone else to capture the day - be it your mother, sister in law or long time friend - it's of utmost importance that that person knows and fully respects YOUR birth plan. Birth pictures are so good to have, but they are never worth sacrificing the experience or integrity of your birth. 

2.) Treat shooting like you were shooting with film. 

Once upon a time - in a land far far away - we didn't have massive storage space on memory cards like we do today. The more pictures you took the more it cost to develop (aka view) those pictures. Now that photographing in that sense has become more cost effective people tend to just hold that finger on the shutter, take as many shots as possible, and pray for a decent shot or two. I know I'm guilty - and you can always tell when I'm nervous at a shoot by how often I am clicking the shutter. But pretending you're shooting film and being mindful of each shutter is beneficial no matter what you're shooting - especially at a birth where you want to be as close to invisible as possible. You want mom to keep the focus on her birth and her baby - not the camera. So keeping the cameras presence as discrete as possible is key. 

3.) Keep Quiet

Make sure whoever is using the camera knows how to turn off any and all unnecessary sounds (and flashes!) before the birth. Even my camera- which has a 'silent shooting mode' - makes noise when the shutter is pressed, they all do - it's just the nature of the beast.  When a mom is having a contraction - you stay silent until the wave has passed. Incidentally - that's when some of the more powerful moments occur - so if you're photographing during them be as discrete and quiet as humanly possible. (I have a 1-2 shots per contraction rule to keep distractions, anticipation and sound to a minimum/consistent). 

4.) Don't forget the details

It's easy to remember to get the shots when mom meets baby and when dad holds baby for the first time. While mom and baby are the focus of the birth story, make a point to take pictures of other aspects of the birth too - they are all an important part of that day.  What is everyone else in the room doing? What does the room look like? If you're at a home birth - what are the pets/ siblings doing. The little seemingly minor details are the first to slip from memory - so having a way to recall them is so, so sweet. 

I would have loved a birth photographer - but it was not an option for our family. All the same I am eternally thankful to have the memories captured that I did! If you're looking for a birth photographer - shoot me a message and let's see what we can make happen. If for any reason a birth photographer isn't in the cards for you - caputure that day anyway. 

Birth of baby # 1 

Photographer: My Mom

Birth of baby # 2

Photographer: My Mom

Birth of baby #3

Photographer: Birth assistant Serena + Milton traded off