What is birth photography?
I have to admit that as a mom, I balked at the idea of someone being there to document the birth of my first baby! Looking back, I know that the reason I was so afraid of “birth photography” was simply that I had no idea what it really could be.
Birth photography isn’t about simply capturing the physical birth of your child. It’s about preserving all of the emotions, interactions, and first moments surrounding their birth. Will the physical birth be documented in the process? Yes, but what I focus on are the people involved in bringing your baby into the world – your coach’s support, your strength and determination, your baby’s first moments with his/her parents… and all of the rawness and emotion that come with the miracle that everyone is witnessing.
Why should I hire a professional?
The number one reason to hire a professional is quality. Hospitals often have difficult lighting situations – low light, flourescent light, etc. and I am 100% ready to handle whatever the situation might throw at me!
Having said that, I feel like reason number two is just as important. By the time our son was born, my husband, Toby, and I had already started Varland Photography. Since I knew Toby was a professional photographer, I made the decision to let him capture Noah’s birth instead of having a dedicated person there to document it. While Toby got some great images, I missed out on getting photos of him being my supporter, my husband, and Noah’s dad during the birth. I’ll never have photographs that tell the story of the moments we shared as parents because Toby was the one with the camera. If (or hopefully when) we have another child, I’ll definitely be bringing in an outside professional to document those priceless moments that the three of us will share.
Won’t having a photographer there ruin the moment?
The best way to do ensure that doesn’t happen is to be open about our expectations. My first step in the process of scheduling birth photography is to meet with you and talk about what you’re hoping for – your birth plan, the photographs you’d like, the what-ifs, etc. I’ll also explain how I’m able to get the photographs I do. I feel confident that after discussing what your expectations are as a mom/couple and my expectations are as a photographer, we will be able to create the kind of photography experience that is comfortable and personal.
Can you be there to photograph everything BUT the birth?
If that’s what you decide, I’m more than happy to do that. I understand that those first precious moments are just as amazing as the actual birth of your baby. If this is something you’re interested in, I’d love to get together and discuss exactly what you have in mind!
I love the idea of birth photography, but I’m afraid that it will make me feel gross or like I’m on display…
As someone who knows what it’s like to give birth, I’m super aware of this concern. From beginning to end, I’m all about creating the most flattering, appropriate photos possible – images that you’ll want to share with your family and friends. For me, it starts with a photographer’s knowledge of what angles and perspectives are the most flattering. I’ll also talk to you about what your expectations are, what exactly you’d like me to document, and what you’d like me to leave out. Bottom line? I’m all about making you feel comfortable. No shots of your little guy crowning unless you want them.
Can I be involved in choosing which images are posted online?
Definitely! Every mama (and dad!) has a say in which images they’re comfortable sharing as part of their baby’s birth story. Later in the FAQs, you’ll read the steps I take to make sure you’re 100% comfortable with every image that’s used publicly.
I’m planning on breastfeeding, but I don’t want any photos of that online…
That’s perfectly fine. I understand that breastfeeding can be a very private thing. Taking pictures of your first time/s breastfeeding is something that we’ll discuss when we get together to discuss your birth plan and expectations!
What if things don’t go according to plan?
The number one thing to remember as you’re giving birth is that every birth experience is beautiful and unique. Meeting with you ahead of time will allow me to have a good idea of your preferences and make decisions about what to document if things go down a path we didn’t plan for. I’m all too familiar with those circumstances myself and will be very sensitive to your situation. In my case, change of circumstances meant a c-section instead of a vaginal birth, but I realize that things can change much more drastically. In any case*, I’ll be there to document your experience to the best of my ability.
Is there a limit to how long you’ll stay to document a birth?
No. Every birth is different and I’m always willing to document as much of the experience as I possibly can!
Ok – I’m in labor! When should I call you?
Because I’m a mom, I always appreciate updates! I’ll need to know how things are going in order to ensure that my kids are taken care of. The big milestones are when you are admitted to the hospital (if you’re not birthing at home) and when you are considered in active labor. As soon as you’re in active labor, I’ll be on my way! Remember that I live in Northern Kentucky and may have to travel a bit, so letting me know ASAP is always best!
What if you’re not available when I go into labor?
I will make every effort to be on-call during the week surrounding your due date. The only time that I am completely unavailable is when Toby and I are photographing a wedding. If that were to be the case, I have several female photographers I could contact to stand in for me until I could get there.
We definitely want to book you! What’s the next step?
Fantastic! I’m excited to work with you! After we work out the details (due date, hospital/location, birth plan, etc.), I’ll send you an online agreement via email. To officially book me, you’ll need to confirm the agreement online and pay a $100 deposit. Payments can be made either online or via check. Your remaining balance will be due 3 days before your due date. Please address checks to Annie Varland | 2329 Sunflower Ct. Hebron, KY 41048.
What happens after the birth is photographed? How does the slideshow work?
The first thing I’ll do is get a preview post up on the blog so that you can share some photographs of your new little one with family and friends. That usually happens within 24 hours of your baby’s birth. The next step is a private gallery on a different website for you to view the images I’d like to use in your slideshow. This is your chance to let me know which images, if any, you’d like me to refrain from posting and/or using publicly. After I get the go-ahead from you, I’ll spend time creating your slideshow. Since this is the main way you’ll most likely be sharing your birth experience with others, I put a lot of time and effort into choosing music, creating an audio track, transitioning each individual photo, and timing all of your photographs to the music – one by one. Could I get it done more quickly by skipping some of those steps? Yes. Do I think it’s worth saving the time? No way. Your slideshow – just like your photographs – is an heirloom, a piece of art that will be passed down to your child. Putting it together is something I feel honored to do and skimping in any way just isn’t an option for me! Once your slideshow is finished, I’ll blog the birth. Then I’ll finish the editing of the pictures that aren’t featured in the slideshow and your DVDs (one photo DVD and one slideshow DVD) will be in the mail ASAP!
Most birth photography I’ve seen is black and white. Why do you use so much color?
I feel very strongly about documenting your baby’s birth as it happens in real life. As with any event, there are photographs that I convert to black and white, but I make that decision for every single image. I don’t ever batch process your images to take the color away. Whether it’s the way your baby’s eyes are blue from her first breath, the orange tint to his hair, or the way her skin is super pink – it’s all a huge part of meeting your little boy or girl for the first time!! The last thing I want to do is take that away. It’s my job to capture and deliver beautiful images that are processed in color (and/or black and white when artistically appropriate). Having said that, I do understand that there are a few parents who prefer black and white images because they don’t want any blood, etc. to show in their images. If you’re one of those people, that’s totally fine!! Be sure to let me know and we’ll chat about your thoughts and concerns.
*If something should happen that will endanger your baby’s life (full term or not), know that I do have experience with photographing such situations. Regardless of the situation, I believe that every child’s birth is precious. If you are facing something like this, I am willing and honored to offer my services at no charge.