Something has been on my heart lately. Something that I feel needs to be shared.
Birth photography is expensive. It really is. And it's a hard expense to swallow especially when you are expecting a new little one in your life. I mean, who are we kidding? Babies are $$$$$, am I right? And it's not like you can cut corners on those much needed items. You HAVE to have ALL the things. Especially if it will make your life easier after baby comes. I'm a mother of two, I totally get it. And I don't even hesitate to buy that adorable outfit because it's too cute to pass up! And that toy? Oh yeah, I bought it...did you see how his face lit up when he saw it on the shelf? If you have a new baby, I have news for you, it definitely doesn't get less expensive as they grow up. Don't get me started on college.
Back to birth photography. It HAS to be expensive. We photographers have to justify being on call 24/7 in the days approaching a due date. And babies do what they want! They don't come when it's the most convenient for us, they come when it's time to come! So for us, that may mean leaving our family in the middle of the night so that we don't miss a beautiful new person coming into the world! And who knows how long we will be gone. The longest birth I've attended was over 24 hours! I'm sure that mother was glad that I didn't charge by the hour. No way would that be fair! As for myself, I set my prices in advance with no regard to the potential length of time I may be gone. The last thing I want new parents to worry about is an accruing bill for photographic services. My prices are set no matter how long I end up being there. I think it's a fair compromise.
Many times, I'll get an inquiry for birth photography. It's basically the standard, "What do I get and how much is it?" As a consumer myself, I totally get it. You want to know what you are looking at expense wise. And while I can send a price sheet, what I cannot send is the experience behind my work. I can encourage potential clients to visit my galleries, but the photos barely scratch the tip of the iceberg on the experience we shared in the delivery room on that day. There is a major difference between seeing photos of someone else's child coming into the world, and seeing images of your own child coming into the world. A lot of times, my images capture things that a mother cannot see because of the nature of birth. While she is being tended to after birth, baby has been taken across the room to be cleaned, weighed, assessed, etc. Moms don't get to see that. Moms don't get to see the baby have it's first diaper. Moms don't get to see the baby get their little feet printed...the first actual, physical documentation that your baby exists outside of your womb. Moms don't get to see baby open his or her eyes for the first time. But I do. And because of my presence, they get to see these things through my photography. It's a beautiful thing.
The first births I photographed were HUGE learning experiences for me. I have major regrets from those experiences because I didn't know any better. I missed out on some great photographic opportunities. I missed details that were essential to the birth story. And every single birth I've captured since I've learned something new. I've carried away a new idea, or perspective that I never visited before. I hope I never lose that. I'm always hungry to learn. I am proud to say that I have photographed so many births that I have lost count! Birth photography is my absolute favorite thing to capture. There is something so incredibly emotional about seeing a new person come into the world. I'm going to be honest...I cry at EVERY. SINGLE. BIRTH. Be warned.
So when you reach out to me for pricing on a birth story, don't balk at my prices. Remember what we are looking at here. This is a moment that you will NEVER GET BACK. Sure, you probably have a friend with a nice camera who could do it for free. But do you really want that? Do you really want someone to photograph one of the most important days of your life because they have a nice camera? I promise you, you are running the risk of missing important details. They may have the camera, but not the creative eye or experience. Will they know what to do in a low light situation? What if the lighting changes abruptly? What if their camera senses that it needs a flash, but you don't want a flash going off in your face during your delivery? What about the right angles to get the important stuff without getting stuff you don't want photographed? Will they know the ins and outs of childbirth? Will they know the things to help comfort you in your time of need? Will they be able to explain to you what the monitor is saying about your baby or what the nurse means when she says the things she says? This is where my experience becomes very valuable. You honestly can't put a price on that.
So, if you are considering birth photography, with myself or another experienced photographer, think about what is important to invest in. I WISH I had held off on some of the stuff I bought during my pregnancy that weren't essential so that I could have invested in a birth photographer. My daughter long outgrew those high dollar outfits I bought, and today I don't have a single picture of her arrival into this world. Talk about regrets. Don't be me. If the price tag is the big of an issue, talk to myself or your photographer about a payment plan. Even if it takes you a solid year to pay your photographer off, you will eventually get those birth images. Invest in the memories, friend!