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A homebirth captured by a birth photographer in San Antonio

Having Your Birth Documented: Is It For You?

By Jennifer Hamilton

Birth photography and videography are fairly new in terms of official genres in the photography world.

Just a few short years ago it was unheard of, and still today it is not entirely understood even by other
professional photographers. A professional birth photographer is a birth worker. We not only have the
skills and equipment to document unpredictable subject matter in varying lighting conditions and
spaces, but we have a solid understanding of physiological birth. In other words, we have the training
and experience to be in the birth space without being disruptive and without getting in the way of
medical providers while still capturing professional quality imagery of labor, birth, and postpartum.
Birth photographers are on call 24/7 for anywhere from 4 weeks or more, respond any time of day or
night when called to join the birthing person (even holidays), and stay usually an hour or more after the birth to document those first moments of golden hour, feeding, skin to skin, and the baby exam. We document birth wherever it happens: in the tiniest bathroom, in a laundry room, in a birth center, in the hospital.

Birth is INCREDIBLE. It’s likely the hardest thing you will ever do, and the most rewarding. It is
exhilarating, exciting, scary, challenging, and beautiful all at the same time, and it’s worth documenting to look back on and to eventually share with your child. In a world that documents meals, shopping excursions, and a walk in the park, why WOULDN’T you want to document the first moment you see your baby? Just like weddings, there will be things you miss because of adrenaline, or simply being deep in labor. You will never regret seeing your strength, your partner’s support and love, and the look on your own face the moment you see and hold your baby.

Lots of families worry about discretion, modesty, having a stranger in the birth space, and the expense. So let’s talk about it!

  • Discretion: A professional birth photographer won’t share anything you haven’t consented to
    share. At the time of booking your photographer will discuss model release and what can and
    can’t be shared with you. My model release for families here in San Antonio and surrounding
    areas has options to share everything, share select images only, or to keep everything private. I
    have even created an “edited for television” version of birth films for families that want the
    FULL story for themselves but wanted a censored video to share. This is about you and your
    journey, it’s not about us.
  • Modesty: If you don’t want crowning, we do our best to document from an angle that it can’t be
    seen. If you prefer not to have your chest or bottom photographed unclothed a professional
    birth photographer will do their best to shoot as modestly as possible. There are definitely
    situations in which it’s impossible not to show skin in birth, but as much as possible we consider
    your preferences when shooting while still capturing those moments.
  • A stranger in the room: As a birth photographer/videographer my job is to capture your birth as
    it unfolds. There is no posing, and anything you might need to consider for quality of imagery or
    footage (such as leaving a specific light on, or use of flash) should be discussed at a consult
    before labor ever begins. Birth photography is about the relationship between the partners and
    capturing the journey into parenthood. I have never had a family say they were aware of my
    presence once they were in active labor (which is when I aim to join my families). Some barely
    notice when I arrive. Most birth photographers here in San Antonio encourage a meeting to cover details. In addition to a consult my birth stories include a maternity mini around 33 weeks. I also check in from the time I go on call at 37 weeks until I am called to the birth. By the time I enter the birth space I am often the most familiar face other than the OB or midwife.
  • The expense: There is no doubt that a professional birth photographer is not cheap. They maintain thousands of dollars in equipment specifically geared toward low light situations and have hours of training and experience aimed at documenting your birth beautifully. Being on call is no small task, it requires altering a lifestyle to make the client a priority, often even over family events and plans. That requires an investment. Most birth photographers offer payment options to help families budget for the services they want, and many offer bundles for clients that are booking additional sessions such as maternity and/or newborn.

I hope this helps you understand what birth photography/videography is all about. If you are interested in having your birth experience documented there are lots of amazing birth photographers in San Antonio! I own Mamarazzi Photography, specializing in birth, maternity, and newborns. I serve the San Antonio area and would love to visit with you! |

You can find a birth photographer on the San Antonio Birth Network's directory.

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