Frequently Asked Questions for Birth Photographers
How did you get started?
Before I photographed births, I photographed food! Food photography taught me how to use my camera but birth is where I found my artistic voice and passion. In 2012, my older sister invited me to be part of her homebirth. The moment I saw her pull my nephew into her arms was the moment I fell in love with birth. When I welcomed my own daughter the following year...my passion for the birthing process exploded.
What equipment do you use?
I work with a Nikon D5 and the Fuji XT-2. My favorite lenses are the 35mm 1.4 and the 24mm 1.4. I do bounce flash and use the Nikon SB-700. Is flash distracting? No, not if you use it correctly. I've bounced flash at over 200 births and I've never had a parent, nurse, or care provider mention it. I've even asked them about it after the birth and they often respond, "wait, you used flash?" By bouncing flash off the ceiling or a wall behind me, I never emit flash directly towards anyone's face. I'm also really selective. I only use flash when I absolutely need it...and I'm purposeful. I take my shot and then I put my camera down. I'm not bouncing ten to fifteen flashes each minute.
What settings do you use?
Ah! I wish it was that easy. I change my settings constantly. I shoot manually exclusively, and while I can't give you a magic formula, I will say that my settings during the actual moment of birth are usually something like this:
1/200s, f/4.0, ISO 800
How do you photograph and film at the same time?
Practice :) Filming and photographing a birth is absolutely attainable. The more comfortable you become with the birthing process, the more you'll feel confident to switch back and forth, documenting labor, birth, and postpartum in both stills and film.
What Advice Would You Give New Birth Photographers?
Respect birth. Take a doula workshop or spend ample time learning and listening from midwives, doulas, and labor and delivery nurses.
Learn your camera. Birth is one of the most challenging environments I've ever worked in...and you will absolutely be asked to push your camera (and your technical skills) to the maximum. Don't be afraid to invest in workshop and training.
Find a community. Birth work is amazing, but it can also be isolating. You'll work odd hours. You'll have a hard time planning. You'll sometimes walk away AMAZED by our bodies. And then you'll sometimes walk away devastated. Find a friend who you can turn to on those good days and bad days. A friend who gets birth. Jennifer Mason and I launched Birth Becomes Her to be a place where photographers could grow, share, and support each other. We'd love for you to join us.
Do you offer any online training resources?
Yes! I teach an amazing Online Birth Film Course.
I also created a wonderful collection of resources and tools that you can find here.
Do you offer mentoring?
Yes! You can find out about my current mentorship and consulting opportunities here.