Tips for photographing a birth in the hospital
When I started over a year ago as a birth photographer, almost nobody had heard of this type of photography in the Netherlands. Meanwhile, there has been a lot about birth photography in the national press, I have photographed more than 30 births and I frequently receive emails from photographers who like to know how I work. Photographing a birth is so much more than just shooting. In the hospitals the reactions vary, but by the time I leave or when they have time to look at my website, they are often very enthusiastic.
This article is intended for photographers who also like to specialize in birth photography and would like some tips for photographing a hospital birth. It is important that the doctors, midwives and nurses understand the added value, so that we may continue to be there as a photographer. If you try as a birth photographer to apply these tips, then I am sure that we are allowed to come to hospitals and do the most special thing in the world: document a birth!
If you have time when you arrive, go up to the nurse’s station. Ask of who is responsible for your clients and get to know each other.
2. Explain what you do
When you introduce yourself, explain immediately what you do. It is very important that you say you’re there to take pictures of your clients and not the staff. Doctors and nurses do not always like to be in the picture and not at all on your website. Ensure everyone with whom you work that day, that if they are in a picture, it’s only for private use. They will be more relaxed knowing they are not the ones you take pictures of.
3. Bring examples
Did you document a birth before? Bring a brochure, a business card, an album or something like this. I always take a birth album with me, which I leave at the nursing station, during the time I’m in the hospital. All the staff that day, can see what I’m doing and what the purpose is. This we everybody will know that there is birth photographer present.
4. Doctors have little time, keep this in mind
If during birth help is needed of a gynaecologist then he or she will be called at the last moment. Usually there is no time left to tell who you are and what you do. Make sure that during the meeting with the nurses you already ask them to inform the doctor and specifically to say that there are no pictures of the doctor used on the internet. This is a very sensitive subject and if you do not respect this, you risk that you never have to come back to that hospital again. You might even ruin it for other photographers, so this is very important!
5. Know what you are doing
Only document a birth if you know what you’re doing. Are you not sure if you can handle blood? Do you quickly faint? Attend at first birth, without you having to document it and watch everything on youtube what you can find about births. If the nurses have to make sure you are still doing o.k. there might be a chance to that you never have to come back again ;-). In addition, it is also not pleasant for yourself if you break into cold sweat just because of a vacuum pomp or a episiotomy. Be prepared and know what you’re getting yourself into!
6. Observe the room
Observe the room as you enter. Is the crash cart in the room and if so where? Is there perhaps a special resuscitation room and where is the door? If at the time of the birth, something happens, then you should not stand in the way. Select a position where the staff is not bothered by you in case something unexpected happens.
7. Ask for email addresses
Ask if it is possible, the email addresses from all the people who have “worked” with at birth. I myself always bring a notebook in which they can write this. You can send some of the results, if you have the parents’ consent, to the staff. That way they can see the results and will know who you are and what you do the next time you are there!
8. Create something beautiful! 🙂
Would you like to be a birth photographer and learn more about it? Then the birth photography workshop in 2013 may be something for you. Sign up here for the newsletter. Through the newsletter you will be informed of the details. If you are American and you would like to follow a workshop birth photography then I can recommend you Birthstories