Is Birth Photography Overrated?

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Birth photography's not a luxury. Those images taken of a newborn just after delivery are precious forever.

There’s a lot of commotion going on behind the closed doors of any baby delivery. The arrival of your new little one has family and friends itching to get that first photo, too. But, what about before he leaves your side? What about all those moments leading up to his arrival?

I once asked my husband about hiring a photographer to capture the birth of our third baby. I didn’t even think about this sort of thing with our other two. His response? “They’re overrated! Why would you pay someone to be in the room with us knowing you only want me, the doctors and nurses in there anyway?” He kind of had a point there. Except that I had to remind him to turn on the camera after our son was born!

So, why consider birth photography? Looking back at my deliveries, there are things I can’t remember and things that are fuzzy. My husband did his camera duty for a few minutes before he was lost in the excitement of our newborn while the nurses tended to him. There are no pictures of us during this magical moment in our lives.

Why Birth Photography?

“Hiring someone to capture these moments allows dad to put down the camera and be in the images and video himself, rather than behind the camera,” says Kalli Pavon of Kalimana Film Stories in Murfreesboro. If you choose to photograph your delivery, you have the option to have photos, videos or both done during that time. “Most families say they treasure the video because it lets them remember (and share) things they said right after seeing their new baby.”

Many moms are ecstatic to have photos taken for them during delivery. Yet hiring a photographer may seem like a luxury — and some dads may be opposed to it. While some fathers may be hesitant at first, Pavon says they’re usually the ones doing the hiring simply because it’s what the wife wants. “Dads usually end up being the biggest fans,” adds Pavon. “Usually due to the fact that they didn’t have to hold the camera. Being able to actually experience their child’s birth is amazing for fathers, and it’s hard to do it from behind a camera.”

Choosing Your Photographer

When you’re ready to make the decision about birth photography, think about some questions for the photographer. “The most important questions would be about their process (how it works), if they have a back-up for every client, and questions about their experience and demeanor in the delivery room,” adds Pavon.

Pay attention to various photographer personalities. Pavon says you should look for someone you feel at ease with, who relaxes you, who’s calming and positive. “It’s very important that you, as a birthing mother, have individuals in the room with you who you feel comfortable with,” says Pavon. “You may not feel this with every birth photographer/videographer you interview, and that’s OK. It’s worth it to take the time to find someone you feel is right for you.”

What if You’re Having a Cesarean Section?

“A C-section delivery is an amazing feat, and absolutely something that a mom should be proud of,” says Pavon. “But not every team (OB/anesthesiologist/head nurse) will allow an extra body (i.e. photographer) into the operating room.” While Pavon has shot several Cesarean births in Middle Tennessee, she says she respects when it’s not permitted. “Still, not being able to capture that moment does not take away from documenting the moments around it. You can capture moments like sitting together, preparing, heading through the double doors and spending time with Baby afterward,” she adds. If your photographer is not allowed back with you, don’t be afraid to ask a nurse to take a few snaps for you. Most are happy to do it if they know ahead of time.

Think About It

Think back on the births of your children. Would you have loved to have had a birth photographer? If you don’t have your delivery documented, Pavon says, “There will always be a little part of you that at least wonders what it would be like to have pictures and video with the whole family in those moments.”

Kiera Ashford is associate editor of Nashville Parent and mother of three.

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