Common Misconceptions About Birth Photography

It happens all the time when I'm at a party or a networking event: an unsuspecting stranger makes polite small talk, asks what I do, and the moment I say "I'm a birth photographer" their smile kind of freezes. "Birth photography? Ehh, um, that's...interesting!" They start to edge away, they start a conversation with someone else; the really bold ones actually challenge me on the topic. "Birth? Like the...blood and the nudity and ALL OF IT?" I prefer this line of questioning, because it's something I can work with. Come at me with your misconceptions and let me dispel them, because I love my job and everything about it.

Common Misconceptions About Birth Photography

1. It's gross.

It's not. The end. Haha, just kidding, there's more to it than that. Yes, some typically inside-the-body things come outside the body during birth, but guess what? I never see them. The camera goes where the emotion is, and the emotion is on the faces of the new parents, the support-friends, the grandparents coming in the room to meet the next generation. So unless you find tears of joy "gross," you won't find gross here. 

2. It's too private to have a photographer.

Most of my clients are very private people, and it's important to them for birth to be an intimate experience. I too am a private person! I get it, and I stay out of the way. But why take my word for it? Here's what one of my clients had to say: "I'm not someone who enjoys having my photo taken and I had some doubts about whether or not I would feel comfortable with a camera in the room. Emily was so gentle and unobtrusive (in the best way possible) that I forgot that the camera was there at all. I worried that I'd be too self-conscious to truly capture our reactions but this wasn't the case at all--each image is real. As someone who is intensely private, the skill of my birth photographer was critical. Emily was the perfect balance of quiet, respectful and good humored. She acted as a support during my labor in addition to capturing beautiful images. I couldn't have asked for anything better." - Catie M.

3.  You just take pictures of whoo-ha's??

No. I do not. During the delivery, I'm typically shooting from behind or beside the mother's head, which gives me the perfect angle to see what the mother sees as her baby is lifted up for the first time. Only a few times in my career has a client specifically requested the opposite angle, and I of course will oblige, but for the most part, no whoo-ha's ever find their way into the frame at all. 

4. Everyone's got a smartphone; no one needs a birth photographer.

You or your partner may be the best photographer in the world, but let me let you in on a little secret: you both have other responsibilities during the birth of your child. It's a little like photographing your own wedding; you need to be present and in the moment - trust someone else to document the emotions and the memories. 

5. I'm having a C-section, so I can't have a birth photographer.

UNTRUE. Although this is entirely determined by individual hospital policy, I can say that all local hospitals in Chattanooga allow you to have two support people with you in the operating room. In every c-section I've photographed, it's been me and the birth partner as the mother's support team. It's an insanely beautiful experience, and let me tell you - you won't remember much (if anything) of it later.

A few final birth photography facts:

Black and white:

Many birth photographers use black and white film or digital processing for birth photos, and the reason is that hospital lighting typically has a greenish tone to it - which, as you can imagine, is SUPER FLATTERING on every skin type (tongue firmly in cheek here). Black and white is timeless, artistic, beautiful, and tells a story in a way that color photographs can't quite touch; it also covers over bad lighting, sickly color tones, and mess.

Timing:

All birth photographers have their own timelines, but for me, I've found the ideal time to arrive for a birth is around 6 cm dilation.

How many images:

Typically there are between 100-300 images in each final gallery.

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Emily Lapish is a lifestyle photographer in Chattanooga, TN specializing in all things family-related. She spends her time fending off wild animals raising three boys with her husband, and enjoys long walks through Target while cradling a hazelnut latte. To book your session, or to schedule a free consultation, click here