Birth Photography – What You Should Know

By: Jennifer Gilbert HospitalBirthPicture_JGP 250

Birth Photography is quickly becoming a sought-after service for moms-to-be and their partners. Parents that choose to hire a birth photographer do so because they want to have the birth of their child captured by someone who is not directly involved in the labour and delivery of the child. The sole purpose of the photographer is to capture the images. He or she doesn’t have to act as a midwife, doula, doctor or nurse and is able to perform his/her task without distraction.

Parents who choose to hire a birth photographer do not necessarily fit into any particular category. Although many parents who hire photographers tend to have midwife-assisted births at home, many also choose to deliver at the hospital. Parents who choose birth photography have the mindset that they want the birth documented, and that’s what motivates them to hire a photographer.  It is important that both parents-to-be are completely open to the idea of having the birth photographed, otherwise, it can cause tension during the labour and delivery time. If the birth is occurring at a hospital, the parents must find out the photography policies of the hospital and/or doctor prior to hiring a professional birth photographer. This will avoid any tension during the labour and delivery.

If you are considering hiring a photographer, start researching when you are around 20 weeks pregnant, and be sure to thoroughly research the photographers in your area. Because the birth of your baby is an intimate time in your lives, you want to make sure that the photographer you hire shares the same beliefs and values that you do, as well as make sure that they properly registered and insured as a business. Prepare a list of questions to ask during your initial consultation meeting. These questions should include:

  • How many births have you photographed?
  • How many years have you been in business?
  • What is your backup plan should you become ill when I go into labour?
  • Are you registered as a business, and do you have liability insurance?
  • Are you a member of any professional organizations?
  • Do you have daycare arrangements for your own children when it’s time to have my baby?
  • What happens if you miss my birth?
  • What happens if I end up having a c-section?
  • How much do your services cost?
  • What is your privacy policy regarding images being posted online?

I suggest interviewing at least two photographers before deciding which photographer to hire. Make sure you review not only their birth portfolio, but their overall portfolio also. Look for the following:

  • Image quality – are the images in focus? Do the colours look right? Do the black and white images look good?
  • Types of images – does the photographer’s portfolio appeal to you?
  • Presentation of images – does the photographer present the images in a slideshow or in another way?

I also think it’s important for the photographer you are interviewing to know why they chose to photograph births. For me, I chose to add birth photography to my services because I knew that deep in my heart, this is something I was meant to do. I photographed my first birth in August 2011. I cried along with the family when Aveline emerged out of the water of her mother’s birthing pool. I photographed, in awe, as Dawn met her new daughter for the first time, and everyone screaming with excitement when Dawn’s eldest daughter, Bella, announced it was a girl.

I left Dawn’s house completely enamoured by what I had witnessed and felt so completely blessed that I had been allowed to document this beautiful miracle.

When I am contacted by a potential client, we have a consultation meeting six to eight weeks prior to the expected due date. At this meeting we outline all the expectations we have of each other and discuss when I should be notified that labour has begun.

When a client calls to say “it’s time”, I head off to their place of birth and quickly sink into the shadows as the labour and delivery unfolds. If I sense that the labouring mother wants some privacy, I leave the room and return when she’s given the ok. After the baby has been born, I stay for an hour or two, to capture the first moments with mom, dad and any siblings. This all goes into a carefully created slideshow that will become a keepsake for mom and dad for years to come.

The birth of a child is an extremely intimate time in the lives of a new mother and her partner. Documenting the birth of a child, regardless if you hire a professional photographer or not, is an act of love. The memories of the labour and delivery may diminish over time, but photographs help keep those moments alive in our hearts, forever.

Jennifer Gilbert, owner of Jennifer Gilbert Photography, is a Toronto and area expert in capturing the innocence of family life and development whether expectant mother, newborn, toddler or entire family unit. With a versatile and flexible studio, she goes anywhere to capture the true moments that define who you are.  She also commits a considerable amount of time to charities close to her heart, such as Dreams Take Flight, Helping Hearts and The Tiny Light Foundation.  She can be found online at and on Twitter at @JenGPhotog.





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