Birth Photography – Information


What is birth photography, how does it work, and all the answers to all the questions you want to ask …

What is birth photography ? Birth photography is where  you hire a professional birth photographer  to come along and capture the story of your labour and birth and the first hour or so of your babys life.

Why birth photography ? The days surrounding your birth are both amazing and miraculous in equal measure, for me it seems unfathomable that I would bring life into this world without having photographs taken since I have become aware of how much my birth images mean to me, and the difference it made to my own personal birth experiences. It is a time of great experiences, and love, and strength, and togetherness that you will have yet to experience, and just like any major event in our lives, it is worthy in it’s own right of being documented I believe, for both yourselves, and for your children. I remember a time when everyone thought photographs of the bride getting ready in the morning were strange, now we don’t think twice about it, it’s an integral part of a wedding day, why wouldn’t we capture those moments, at their purest, and show them as the important part of the story that they are. For me it is the same with birth photography and is as much, if not even much more so worthy of capturing the story of all the love, and patience , and strength, and togetherness and elation that surrounds birth.

But ***WHAT*** do you photograph exactly ? This is  (for obvious reasons) the question I get asked the most. Let’s just all say it now collectively VAGINA VAGINA VAGINA, there ! We got it out of the way so it’s no longer a taboo subject and I said it first lol  😉  Sometimes the faces of the older generation (can you image what my granddad said when I told him what I did for a living 😉 ) and sometimes the men aswell, are hysterical when they ask this question ! There is a very simple answer to this question is that I obviously give you say over what I photograph ! Most women say to me just photograph whatever and then if I don’t want the actual crowning birth shots after then I don’t have to have them. The reality is though, that although some people may raise their eyebrows at this, these are photographs for YOU at the end of the day, they aren’t the kind of images you are going to show the whole world. The first magazine article I was included in regarding birth photography made the icky hint at ‘showing every tom, dick, harry and the postman’ and it actually really bugged me. Some women do choose to show their friends (I know of at lease one of my clients who had all her girlfriends round for a little party to watch her slideshow/video and they all loved it !) but the vast majority have it to keep for just them and their partner and maybe a select number of closest friends and family. The big thing to remember here as well is that I have become extremely good at my angles, and positioning, and lighting techniques (both on the day of the birth and in post production as well) so a lot of the time you can have graphic birth shots that show your baby being born but don’t actually show ANYTHING – See example below ! However, the thing to bare in mind is that birth photography isn’t only about the birth shots, that is just a small part of it, it is about the build up of your labour, the first time you see your baby, the moment your partner first holds their child. Rest assured that there’s still lots to capture to document your birth if you choose not to have the crowning shots!


Do you only cover home births?  Nope, I am available to cover hospital births, home births, birth centre births, and c-section deliveries {at the discretion of your of your surgeon }

Why does it cost what it does?

Birth photography requires a huge commitment, not just from myself but my whole family. I’m unable to go more than an hour from my home (or hotel if out of cornwall) from the time I am on call. Babies can come anytime from 37 to 42 weeks, during that time I am on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, which means  I always have my phones on, and my camera bag with me wherever I am. We cannot book holidays less than 9 months in advance, and I have to be able to rearrange things like childcare and my family photoshoots at a last minuets notice during my time on call. This is a huge thing for me and my family, and the price needs to reflect this level of commitment. Not to mention that birth photography is unlike any other kind of photography you come across, because of mostly extremely low light available at the time, both my camera and my lenses need to be top of the range , and there needs to be quite a few of them that you wouldn’t need ordinarily for portraiture photography. Ontop of this you also have the editing time which given the sensitive nature of the photographs is substantially more than a standard photoshoot.

WHY have a professional birth photographer though when you can have a dad/mum/the doula take pics?

The answer to this is quite simple really. You want your partner, husband, doula, or whoever else is your support network during your birth to be doing just that, supporting you. If they are reaching for a camera, or taking a quick snap they are not doing that. On the flip side of it, your partner wants and needs to be ever present, not hidden behind a camera screen, and worrying about whether they got the best shot. Not to mention they should be in the photos with you as well of course ! 🙂 Then there is the skill and knowledge that is required to photograph in such low light conditions and sometimes quick and without warning births. Having attended so many births now, I’m proud to say that I have become quite skilled in knowing when a birth appears to be closer or a little way off, when it’s time to get the shots, and when it’s time to sit quietly in the corner, and preempting little details like a loving glance, or tear in the eye from a partner.

Won’t it be weird or distracting having you there ?

Ultimately only you can answer this question, but I am more than happy to talk about ways in which I make my presence at your birth as unobtrusive, and as comfortable for you as possible. Firstly we will meet up at least once or twice before your birth to get to know each other a little better, this can be done via skype if you are booking in for birth photography out of cornwall, and you aren’t available on the days/weeks when I am working in your area. We use these meeting to just generally chat about your birth, your birth plan, get to know each other, and discuss exactly what you would like me to photograph (some mothers choose not to have me photograph the birth but to be there ready to snap away as soon as the baby is delivered as I have explained above for example) so that when it comes to the birth you are at ease with me, and it feels hopefully, more like having a friend there than someone you have hired. The other big thing that I do, is that I try my hardest to never use flash during a birth if at all possible. We discuss this in detail at our catch-ups before your birth, along with all the other little details of how I work. My whole ethos is for you basically to not even know I am there, to be a fly on the wall and let things naturally unfold whilst being quietly in the background. Images are taken with available light, and I move around as little as possible, infact if you pop on over to the testimonials page you will find it is the one thing that is universally mentioned that the mothers were unaware of me during their birth, I have even done  a birth where the mother thought I was going to miss the birth, as she didn’t realise I had even arrived. This to me, is a job very well done ! 🙂

What is included in my birth photography ?

This depends on the final package you book but can include a combination of my time and talent, a usb of all your images at high resolution, gift prints, and bespoke albums of a combination of your pregnancy, birth, and newborn photos.

Sharing images on my website & blog

All images on my website & blog have been shared with the kind permission of the parents, I would never share images online without first gaining your consent. I do like to share a selection of images from a birth on my blog if possible, but this is only if you are ok with this, and never as I say without your permission. It is of the most importance to me that you feel secure and safe when booking me. If you are happy to share images but don’t want to be recognisable in them thats fine as well , as I say we can chat about all of this after your birth as it is most definitely not part of your booking arrangement.

What equipment do you use ?

My current cameras are a canon 5d mark4 . Lens wise I have a whole host but my regular go to lenses for births are the 50mm, the 24-70mm, and a 15mm fisheye .

How long do you stay, what if my labour is long?

I am on call from 37 weeks (if you go into labour prior to this you still ring it’s just I am guaranteed to be available from 37 weeks) until you have your baby. I supply you with a few numbers to contact me on when the time comes, and I come along to your home to take shots of the house set up, or meet you at hospital, depending on your birth plan, and where you are at in your labour. For most births I am then there until your baby is born, however this depends on your labour, and if it’s appropriate then I may possibly go off to get food for example and return a little while later. I then stay for around an hour following your birth, but again, this depends on your own individual birth circumstances.

When should I book ?

Ideally by your second trimester, as I do tend to book up early for births, however there is always the chance of availability so do give me a call and see.

How many births do you book, what if you are booked around my due date?

Firstly, it’s worth remembering that a due date, is an approximation, and ‘due’ theoretically is anywhere from 37 to 42 weeks. I generally only book one or two births a month in. When I book a birth out of the south west, I will only do one in any one four week period surrounding it as it is such a big commitment time wise. If I am booked during the same two weeks you are due it is possible to book in with a deposit, but if I am unable to make your birth, then the deposit would be transfered to a newborn sitting. In truth though, I have never missed a birth yet, as although possible the likelihood of having your baby at the exact same time as someone else who is due at least 2 weeks ahead or behind you, is very slim.

Do I need to get my hospital or midwifes approval?

For homebirths the answer in theory is no you don’t. However just because you don’t HAVE too, that doesn’t mean we don’t discuss it with your team, as it’s just polite to talk to whoever is going to be there. As much as I really would love to say that we see the same midwife all through our pregnancies, unfortunately that mostly isn’t true so at the time of booking I give you some information sheets to keep in your notes along with your birth plan that will explain to your midwife/midwives who I am, what I do, and how I work. Due to the potential for issues regarding consent, I do not include recognisable images of midwives or ob’s in your image set.

With regards to photographing c-sections, given I have had four myself I feel EXTREMELY strongly that this is something that should be welcomed by the hospitals as there is in my opinion, no more of a need for it than a woman who does not get to physically feel or see her child being born, the connection the images can bring are beyond measure, and I would gladly welcome any couple wishing to have a c-section to get in touch with me and we can approach your hospital and consultant together to request permission form your ob and your aneasthetologist for me to cover your cesarean section birth. If your hospital will not allow this, then I can photograph before you head into theatre, and afterwards in recovery, and supply you with one of my backup cameras to take into your delivery to capture a few images on if you wish.

Which areas do you cover ?

Predominantly the south west, london, and the west midlands, but I do take commissions all over the uk, with expenses payable at cost on top of the package booked if you are outside of a 2 hour radius of Cornwall OR the my base in the West Midlands .

How long until I get my photographs?

I usually do a sneak peek 2-3 days after your birth if you have given permission for some images to be shared online. The main photographs will be supplied between 2 to 4 weeks after your birth (final time depends on how many bookings I have at the time). If you have booked an album package these will be supplied roughly 8 weeks after your last photoshoot.

Colour or black and white?

Generally birth photography will be supplied in black and white to keep the photojournalistic feel. There will usually be some images supplied in colour but it will be a small percentage of the final selection.

This blog is written as part of my studies on the Falmouth University photography ma, an accredited educational programme.