The recent situation with the Royal Brisbane Women’s Hospital and their decision to not allow birth photographers to do their job of capturing an entire birth story i.e. before, during and after the birth, has bought to light many misconceptions about birth photographers which I’d like to debunk…right here, right now.
The equipment birth photographers carry will get in the way of medical staff and of the birth itself
Debunked: Birth is not a production. As a birth photographer, I’m not out to style the setting with outlandish props and direct the session, and people, to my photography style. I do not carry tripods and studio lighting into the birth space with me. I use one camera at a time. The camera that I use measures 13 x 17 x 13 and if need be, I’ll attach a flash to it which measures 15 x 5 x 5. This equipment fits in to one hand. I also bring a bag with me that contains a backup camera, extra camera batteries and personal items (like food and water) so that I can last the distance of birth. This bag is usually a backpack which is tucked away into a corner, out of the way. That’s it. That’s my equipment and it doesn’t get in the way of anyone.
Birth photographers will get in the way
Debunked: Here are just a few comments from my clients… “Stealth” “Discreet” “Barely noticed she was there” …doesn’t really sound like I was in the way, does it? I’m a professional, who has been trained to read and respect the birth space. I can read people’s energy and I take notice. I don’t walk in, throwing my weight around, proclaiming my existence, like I’m arrogantly directing a production. I have a job to do, that I’ve been hired to do, that I love doing. I work with medical staff, not against them, because I understand that they have a job to do also. I do not get in the way of anything or anyone in the birth space. I am not a liability nor am I a health and safety risk.
Birth photographers just want to try and “catch” medical staff doing something wrong
Debunked: Why would I want to do that? I’m not out to “catch” someone doing something reprehensible, I’m there for the client and the client alone. But also you have to ask why would medical staff be worried about that? If they’re doing their job, with patient care at the top of their list, then they shouldn’t even be concerned that a camera is taking photos. If they’re not doing anything negligible then they have nothing to be worried about.
Birth photographers will photograph medical staff without their consent
Debunked: As a photographer in general, I don’t photograph anyone without their consent. I understand and respect peoples privacy and safety, including medical staff. I introduce myself to every single person in the birth space and ask them if they mind being in any photos. But guess what? We’re not there to photograph the medical staff. Our client doesn’t want photos of the medical staff. So when I ask if they mind being in photos I also explain that they might inadvertently be in photos. And if they do mind, then I make a conscious effort not to get them or any distinguishable features, in any photos but will easily crop them out if they happen to be in any photos. It’s all about communication and consent.
Birth photographers take photos of emergency situations and medical procedures
Debunked: No, I don’t. Think about it. Why would a client want to see those photos?
Birth photographers just want to get the crowning shot
Debunked: My job, and what I love doing, is documenting my client’s entire birth story which, yes, sometimes includes capturing the moment baby emerges Earthside i.e. “the crowning shot”. But capturing an entire birth story is so much more than that shot. It’s emotion filled, raw moments that you won’t remember until your mind is clear enough to look at your birth story. It’s tender, tear filled moments. It’s the birth of baby and the birth of Mother, encapsulated in your own, personal documentary.
As a documentarian, I capture once in a lifetime moments, that can never be re-lived or reproduced, and put them together to create the story. The unique thing about being a birth photographer is that I have a relationship with my clients like no other. Each and every one holds a place in my heart. Bearing witness to this moment is not something I take lightly and welcoming me in to that sacred birth space, makes an impact on me forever.
If you have any questions, concerns or things you’ve heard on the grapevine and just want to ask a real birth photographer, please don’t hesitate to contact me here.