With so many varying opinions on whether certification is a necessity or simply another cost for aspiring birth photographers, I want to break down why I pursued certification and why I'd encourage others to do so as well. This is not to put photographers down who are not certified (I've been there) but to encourage all of us to hold ourselves to a higher standard and pursue education and training so we can provide the highest level of service to our clients.
Can you shoot birth without being a certified birth photographer? Absolutely. There are currently no regulations on this, even in most hospitals. Should you? Well...I don't think so. Here's why:
Birthing spaces are sacred.
I cannot think of a time when moms and families are more vulnerable than during birth. These moments require a tremendous level of care and caution. Anyone with a camera can enter the birth space and capture photos but a certified birth photographer has received the training to do so respectfully and with discernment.
Many other trusted birth workers pursue training and/or certification.
I would argue that the most trusted birth workers have gone through a rigorous training and/or certification process and many value continuing education as a way to ensure their families are receiving the very best care. Birth photographers are not just photographers that photograph births. Birth photographers are birth workers and are trusted to document these moments tastefully and carefully so as not to put moms and families at risk.
Certification can help protect the provider/photographer relationship.
Birth photographers are not always allowed in hospitals and operating rooms, so when we do have the privilege of entering such sacred spaces, we need to do so very carefully. Part of the certification process is learning when it is safe to continue documenting families' birth stories and when it is necessary to put the camera down and stay out of the way.
Certification can provide peace of mind to moms and families.
Even if this was the only reason to pursue certification, it would be enough for me. I want my clients to feel confident in my ability to navigate any scenario or circumstance and certification testifies to the fact that I can do just that! Because I have received extensive training on necessary equipment, lighting, techniques, proper support, etc. I can confidently enter any birthing scenario and capture images and/or video that tell the story beautifully.
I chose to pursue certification because I knew my clients would benefit from the extensive training I received and I wanted to learn as much as possible about birth, photography, and the very best client care before asking any more clients to trust me with their most valuable memories. If you're considering adding birth to your portfolio, know that you're about to enter the most sacred spaces with a camera and this needs to be done thoughtfully and with care. Before you ask another family to put their full trust in you, consider signing up for a reputable certification course! It's more than worth it!