Birth photography is quickly going from something most people have never heard of to a sought after experience for many expectant moms. With this rise in popularity, comes a rise in the number of photographers excited to meet this need but, because birth photography is vastly different from any other kind of photography, there are some distinct details EVERY photographer needs to consider before offering this service.

This list is not extensive and should be seen as the bare minimum. If you are interested in becoming a birth photographer, please seek the proper training so you will know how to respect and protect the birthing space and the professionals you will be working alongside. My favorite birth photography mentor is Tavia Redburn. You can view her course information here and read more about how to succeed here.

Northwest AR OBGYN catches baby moments after delivery

Remember why you were hired.

If you are hired as a birth photographer, your job is to photograph the birth. You are not the doula, the midwife, the nurse, etc. Your role is to tell the story of the birth as it unfolds. Most of your birth clients will become like family and offering words of affirmation and even supporting them in tangible ways can be natural and beneficial but we must know where the line is between emotional support and offering opinions or advice. It is never appropriate to offer medical advice or interfere in the mother's decision-making process in any way.

Be mindful of what you post.

Here are a few things for which you need permission:

- posting pictures of anyone online

While I have not had anyone ask to be kept out of photos posted online, it is always a possibility that a nurse, doctor, or other attending birth worker does not wish for their likeness to be made public. Remember, you are there at the request of the family you're photographing, not at the request of the professionals you're working alongside. Respect their autonomy and right to not have their faces published if they are not comfortable doing so. This will help build a trusting, professional relationship between you and others in the birthing community. Verbal permission is not enough. If you do not have a signed model release for a nurse, doctor, midwife, etc. you should refrain from posting until you acquire one.

- choosing a place to stand

Please remember your number one priority is NOT capturing great photos. Your number one priority is the safety of everyone involved in this birth, especially the mother and baby. If you are in the way of doctors and nurses, you are inhibiting their ability to perform their jobs. If you are invited into an operating room for a cesarean section, you need to ask where it is appropriate for you to stand and you need to stay there. Interfering with a sterile field to get "that shot" is absolutely inappropriate.

- posting details about the birth including baby's name, stats, and the name of the hospital

You need explicit permission before releasing these details. Not having this permission is a violation of HIPPA and endangers your reputation as a professional in the birthing space.

If you, even mistakenly, violate the privacy and the wishes of professionals in the birthing space, you risk any photographer being invited back into that hospital or birthing center. Please protect the reputation of other professionals in this line of work and help maintain trust between health providers and photographers.

Birth photographer captures proud Arkansas father as he holds newborn baby in hospital
Father gets emotional during the delivery of his son at Northwest Hospital in Arkansas

Respect the space of others.

Remember that the mother's and baby's well-being is your top priority. This means, you are not going to get in the way of doctors, nurses, or other professionals in the room. Be mindful of where you are standing and how it may impact others around you.

Know when to put the camera down.

When emergency situations arise, and they sometimes will, you have to know when to stop shooting. You should have this discussion with every mom beforehand so you will know how they wish for you to handle any emergency scenario. Remember, it is not your job to document medical procedures. Your purpose is to tell the story of the birth. Sometimes this includes documenting hard moments but birth photography is never about photographing medical interventions like the use of forceps, episiotomies, resuscitation, or any life-saving procedures. Respect the medical professionals and the family by producing photos that tell the story in a raw, beautiful, and thoughtful way.

expectant mom labors standing up at a local hospital in Northwest Arkansas
Birth photographer captures the first time a newborn baby nurses

The cost of not adhering to a code of conduct such as this could be detrimental, not only to your business but to the success of birth photography in your area. All it takes is one rogue photographer to end the privilege of birth photographers being invited into a hospital. I want birth photography to be a well-respected profession, not just because it's what I love to do but because I believe every mother and family should have the option of hiring a professional photographer/videographer to capture the most intimate and life-changing moment(s) of their lives. I want to see a strong community of dedicated birth photographers in our area, so if you have any questions or would like to talk, please don't hesitate to reach out!