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Why You Should Hire a Birth Photographer

I’m still alive! It’s just so hard to step away from the couch, all nestled in with a nursing newborn. But, since my husband stole her and they’re enjoying a nap, I thought I’d take a few moments to pop into my favorite place and ramble just a bit.

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, then you know I’ve been sharing bits and pieces of our birth photos. I realize birth photography isn’t for everyone and to be honest, I wasn’t sure if it was for me. But color me happy and call me a believer. <– that is not the hormones talking,  y’all!

Here are a few reasons I chose to take the plunge, what I learned and why I think you should consider it, too.

1. Determine why you want this moment captured on film. For Scott and I both, the birth of preemie Luke was miraculous, but also downright traumatic. I really wanted to capture the moments of this baby’s delivery to heal from that experience, but also to capture so many of the moments during labor and delivery between Scott and I. I’ve always seen us as a team, but it’s hard to get that on film when one of you is laboring and the other is supporting. Picture taking takes a back seat. In short, I wanted us to be fully present for this birth and let someone else do the documentation.

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2. Do your research. Birth photographers are not made the same. A preemie mom friend of mine recently had her second baby (full-term) and shared her birth photos on Facebook. I could not look away. The beauty was just too great. I immediately reached out to her to inquire who did them, what she thought and the financial investment required. After some Googling I realized that birth photography is, indeed, its own artform. Just as with weddings, the moments are a one-time deal. There are no do-overs and I didn’t want a semi-pro to be present during one of the most intimate moments of our life only to produce images that I was all like, “meh.” This was too important of a moment. At least it was for us. Maybe you feel comfortable hiring a friend to take the photos, but I didn’t. To me, it was worth the investment (with payment spread over several months) to hire someone who specialized in birth photography. Bottom line? Be 100% at ease with your decision because you don’t need to carry that anxiety into the delivery room.

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3. Consider your payment options. Maybe your photographer offers a discount if you pay in full, perhaps you can make payments over time or there’s an option to swap services. Whatever your financial resources, ask your photographer about the options available. For us, I did a combination of the above and was able to secure our photographer before her rates changed in the new year.

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4. Meet the photographer face-to-face. Once I narrowed down who I wanted to take the photos, Leilani and I met to discuss my previous birth experiences, my desires this time around, my fears, my expectations and her involvement in the process. I will say that if you’re going to be stripping down to your birthday suit, you want to feel comfortable with the people that are in that room with you. I immediately felt at ease with Leilani and knew that she would bring professionalism and respect to that delivery room. She did that, and more, on the big day.

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5. Be open and honest and know your limitations. Our photographer asked us to call her when I was 5-6cm or contractions were 1-2 minutes long. We held off just a bit longer than that for one very important reason. When we got married, we took the vast majority of our photos before the wedding. So, the “first look” happened before the ceremony. After the photographer captured that, everyone left the church and it was just Scott and I, standing near the altar, for a few minutes. I count that as my most precious moments of the wedding day. We connected, we giggled and we just enjoyed being in one another’s presence before our lives dramatically changed. And, so it was with this birth. The nurse, OB and techs were out of the room and it was just Scott and I, staring at my belly and anticipating the next few hours. No photos of that moment are necessary and I mark them as my most precious of the day.

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6. Because I chose to labor naturally (more on that in the upcoming birth story), I needed all of my husband. Every contraction, I needed him. Every moment of joy, I needed him. So many shots, like this one, would not have happened if he was pulling double duty as coach and photographer.

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7. For me, this was about more than photography for just one birth. While we have physical proof of the beauty of Gianna’s birth, I know that it is representative of all six of our children’s births. To have these photos, to capture these moments, is to catch a glimpse of our lives during the entrance of each child. Just as I cherish our wedding, family and maternity photos, I now cherish these birth photos with an amazing amount of love. I believe the happiest days of your life should be documented. Making the choice to hire a birth photographer was one I’ll never regret.

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All photos courtesy of Leilani Rogers

And, a bit of a side note about our amazing photographer, Leilani.

No, she did not pay me to say this nor did she know I was posting this until I sent her the link. If you live in Austin and have a birth you want documented, call her. Like, yesterday. She was everything I imagined she would be in that L&D room. Professional, respectful, poised and thoughtful. She knew exactly when to ask a question, when to duck out of sight, where to be to capture the shot and how to interact with the hospital staff – I never even gave any of that a second thought. There were a couple of moments during the day when I was especially grateful for her presence. At one point, I changed positions during labor and I was worried that it would slow it down. She looked at me and said, “I labored the same way!” Whew. It was reassuring to hear those words at that moment. And, I had to chuckle (except I didn’t because CONTRACTION!) when I kicked off my flip flops and she smiled and quipped, “It must be getting serious. The shoes just came off.” Leilani, thank you for listening to your vocation to capture these beautiful moments of life. You have a gift and I am so very grateful you shared it with our family.

One million thank you’s for capturing one of the most beautiful and spiritually healing days of my life.

20 Comments

  1. Emily on May 15, 2014 at 8:18 am

    Congratulations, Kathryn! Your baby and L&D pics are beautiful!

  2. Verdina on May 15, 2014 at 10:46 am

    Once again… you are amazing, Scott is amazing, your children are amazing! Gianna is amazingly beautiful, too. Thank you so much for letting us share this joyful experience!
    God bless y’all!
    V

  3. sarah on May 15, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    These are amazing pictuers. flashbacks of my own labor and delivery came rushing back… Seeing these pictures brought me to those special moments. For sure, I did not want to videotape the pushing or the labor pains… but pictures of the baby absolutely!

    I am totally rethinking a birth photographer. 🙂 let’s see if I can convince my husband after showing these photos. They are elegantly shot. The photos were focused on the baby, the love and support your husband gave you and your amazing reaction upon seeing Gianna. Just beautiful!

  4. Nicole on May 15, 2014 at 4:58 pm

    Wow – These pictures leave me speechless. Thank you for sharing them. They are absolutely incredible/amazing/powerful. Definitely something you will cherish forever.

  5. Jessica on May 15, 2014 at 7:29 pm

    These photos are breathtaking, and so tasteful! Leilani has a real gift.

    • Kathryn on May 15, 2014 at 7:48 pm

      She absolutely does!

  6. Leilani Rogers on May 15, 2014 at 9:51 pm

    What an honor it was to witness that beautiful birth. I feel blessed to have been there, Kathryn! Thank you for trusting me to preserve those memories for you.

  7. Jenny on May 15, 2014 at 9:52 pm

    These pictures are incredible and I would love to have some for my next baby. Does it feel strange or regretful to you that (I’m assuming) this is your first time having professional pix done yet not your first birth?
    Also, can photographers be present for c-sections?
    Congratulations on the newest addition to your beautiful family!

    • Kathryn on May 15, 2014 at 10:49 pm

      It was my first time to have a birth photographer and while I would’ve loved to have had similar photos from the previous births I don’t harbor any regret. The photos are really driven by you. I talked to my OB well in advance about the photographer. And the hospital staff knew as well. For a c-section (which was a real possibility for me) I only needed to get authorization from anesthesiology. My best advice is be your best advocate. Your birth, your baby! Ask for their cooperation in such an important moment and my bet is they’ll give it to you.

  8. Jill on May 16, 2014 at 11:08 am

    Congratulations on the birth of Gianna! She is just beautiful as are all of the pictures!! I’m so glad you posted this! A friend convinced us to have someone in the room to take both photos and videos of our kids births (all PG like you’ve stated). It was the best decision we’ve ever made! And we hired a professional for the second baby and our third baby (arriving any day now). The pictures capture the love between husband and wife in a remarkable way. I love to go back and listen to our first words to our baby and hear those first cries. I love to watch my husband’s expressions as he helps me labor and as he meets our children. I get glimpses of him taking care of the baby as the doctor finishes taking care of me after baby is born. I wouldn’t have remembered those things had they not been captured on film.

  9. Laura on May 16, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    As a Birth Photographer myself, I absolutely love hearing the reasons why from the client perspective! Leilaini does beautiful work! Congrats! 🙂

    • Kathryn on May 16, 2014 at 6:01 pm

      Thank you, Laura! Leilani was fantastic.

  10. Stacy Woodruff on May 19, 2014 at 8:30 am

    The photos are gorgeous. If I had it to do all over again, I would hire a photographer for both birth and newborn photos. I didn’t have either with any of my kids, but I wish I had. My little sister is about to start fertility treatments, and I can’t wait for her to get pregnant and have her babies. I know I will drive her nuts with my need for pictures. Obviously, I will do her maternity and newborn pictures myself, but I’m going to try to convince her to let me hire a birth photographer for her when the time comes. I wouldn’t want to do it for the same reason I don’t do weddings – it’s a one shot deal, and I wouldn’t want to screw it up. Kathryn, you chose right with Leilani. The images are beautiful, and so is Gianna.

  11. Aileen on May 19, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    These are beautiful, beautiful photos!!!!

  12. Amy @ Motherhood and Miscellany on May 24, 2014 at 6:25 am

    Such beautiful photos! I have considered hiring a birth photographer myself (if I ever get pregnant again), and I’m so glad I read this (and saw your incredible photos). Congratulations!

  13. Susan on May 27, 2014 at 8:30 am

    Kathryn, I cannot look at these photos without crying! They are SO beautiful! I would really love to have a photographer take photos of these precious moments, but I’m so afraid that I would be nervous having her in the room with us! And, I am major camera shy – if she could just take pics of the baby and the kids with the baby, I think I would be happy. I can’t wait to hear the birth story, and to meet sweet Gianna in July!! 🙂

    • Kathryn on May 27, 2014 at 10:14 pm

      I was afraid of that too Susan. But I have to say our photog did a great job capturing the moment without being intrusive. During hard labor and pushing I don’t remember seeing or hearing her at all. In fact I looked at the photos and said to myself, “she was right next to me?”

  14. Micaela @ California to. Korea on May 28, 2014 at 12:09 am

    I’m not sure what just happened when I read this: either I definitely decided to hire a birth photographer, or I definitely decided to *become* a birth photographer. Perhaps both?

    Either way, just incredible shots. If I lived in Austin, Leilani would be my first call. Congrats again!

  15. […] *In another week or two I’ll be sharing the slide show of all our birth photos from our photographer. Until then, I hope enjoy the photos above from Leilani! If you want to know why we chose to hire a birth photographer, you can read about that here. […]

  16. […] birth photographer so we discussed the many benefits to having your birth documented (which lead to THIS touching post on her blog). I was thrilled to hear that we used the same OB and that Kathryn was […]

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