Birth sessions can be tricky to pull off – basically you are in everyone’s way for almost the entire time you are there, things can quickly become “scary”, and it is hard to find the right positions so that you’re capturing enough detail without the images becoming untactful. Despite the challenges, Maddie B Photography, delivers (pun intended) a beautiful and well-told story of the birth of little Colton!
Now that is dedication! Getting up at 2:30am to shoot a birth session! Some great advice at the end of the article for those who are thinking about trying a birth session. 1) Remember that you are a spectator! Don’t be in the way! 2) Know your angles ahead of time and where you need to be to get appropriate pictures.
Home birth and newborn: As many of you know, photographing a birth, whether at a hospital or at home can present many challenges, from low lighting to changing emotions in the room. Elizabeth Kowal from Adore Pictures Studio offers some key advice for shooting in these conditions. As documented experiences go, a birth ranks as one of the most intense. These images make tangible the fleeting moments that a parent will never forget and capture the expressions that might otherwise have been missed. Please leave your feedback for Elizabeth below. If you’ve recently documented a birth, we invite you to share it!
Message from Elizabeth:
I recently was asked to photograph the home birth of another photographer after she had seen some of the photos I took when my own daughters gave birth. Before I was a photographer I worked as a labour and delivery nurse. As a nurse I don’t know how many times I swallowed back tears and wished I was photographing these amazing moments. I’m also a mother of three, and to me there is no time more beautiful than when a brand new person is born, whether it is in a hospital setting or safely at home under the watch of a licensed midwife.
When the phone call came at four in the morning I knew it would be Roxanna calling to let me know that the labour had started. Roxanna and I had talked about photographing the birth of her third baby.
There is so much to say. I could say what a miracle it was to see this sweet life enter the world, or how I admire the strength and grace with which Roxanna (and mothers everywhere for that matter) laboured and gave birth, or how the love and joy in this little family as they welcomed J made it hard for me to keep back tears. I am grateful for the trust placed in me and I hope you enjoy and are inspired by these images as much as I am.
Tips for photographing a birth session:
- Tell the story. Every birth is different. Don’t forget to capture the little details like father’s expressions, grandma’s response or even the little things like the clock telling the time on the wall.
- Be confident. Know your camera and make sure you are comfortable shooting in low light. Look for the light. Be prepared to use high ISO and a low aperture when you need to.
- Be calm. Put your feelings on hold. This is all about mom and her family. Be a fly on the wall (real photojournalism!).
- Be professional. Make sure you are knowledgeable about birth and be prepared for the unexpected. Stay out of the way of professionals and be respectful of nurses, midwives or doctors trying to do their job.
- Be sensitive. Chose your angles and always maintain your client’s dignity and respect her privacy.
// Adore Pictures Studio //
If we receive a submission from a photographer who has already been featured, we try to space their featured sessions far apart from one another. Just last week we featured a maternity session from Scarlett Bowling Photography but we’ve only ever featured TWO other birth sessions back in June and August, so thought it was about time!
How many of you aspire to do more birth sessions? I know I definitely want to. The energy and the anticipation makes a birth session so rewarding and capturing an event beautifully without having any control of posing, lighting, etc. really challenges you. But in spite of these challenges, it CAN be done well! Using a high ISO and a wide aperture will give you more light without having to resort to using a flash (which will more than likely disturb the energy).
Remember to photograph the details and find a way to tell a story!
From Scarlett Bowling Photography: This was an amazing birth photography session as I BARELY made it in time racing from Maine to Boston to capture his first breath. As I raced down 95 South I prayed that I would make it there in time. We have been there for each other so many times over the past 29 years, I couldn’t imagine not being there for her this night, the night she would meet her baby boy. When I rushed into the pitch dark room at 8:30 pm, I realized I had made it… barely. I gave hugs and reassurance of how proud I was of her (and her amazing husband, he really blew me away with what a great support he was to her), and then started snapping. With every image I captured I knew I was witnessing and documenting something so amazing, a miracle really. Within a few minutes, as the lights from Fenway Park shined in the distance, baby Will was here. I watched as he took his first breath, heard his first cry, and met his mom and dad for the first time. What a treasure, my heart was so full it felt like it might burst.