Six Lessons for Birth Session Success
This morning we're going to talk about um birth in your words all right, my ladies out there you guys okay? Did you get a lot enough sleep he was saying about today? Yeah yes do either of you photograph birth first newborns? I have not, but I have my first one later this month. Yeah, just a tiny perfect time perfect timing I do, I do this is gonna be part of the court so you didn't know so yeah, yeah you guys I have and it was a friend's and I helped her deliver but yes, I helped her to live it and I was trying to take pictures at the same time and end up being caesarion and in the opera it was just it was crazy, but it was great that I could yeah do all of it that's amazing, yeah, actually our guest has some experience with being part of the process as well shooting that's why we're going to talk to her later. Um awesome. Okay, well, like I said, we're going to talk about berths. Newborns on were also talk about dana life sessions today that's later as well as business but we're going...
to start out with birth and newborn photography and I'm gonna start with the births first um my experience with documenting bursts is actually only in the hospital and so when I bring out our guests she does a lot of home burst so she's gonna be will give you a different perspective there is a difference in photographing the to uh but I'm going to share some tips and kind of give you all an idea of like how I approach him and also like business wise what how I charge for them and um, how I contract for them uh, here's the very first thing you need to know is that birth are they're very unpredictable and last you have a scheduled c section and that's no guarantee either a woman can always go into labor before then they're probably the most unpredictable sessions you can have, so I don't take a deposit for birth um just because there's no, no, I never know if I'm not going to make it. What I will do for clients is if they want a contract me for birth, I will make sure that I keep the weak, that they're do free my schedule be free I won't book anything else and then I won't look any weddings the week before after if I can avoid it usually try and encourage people only hear me for versace it's out of season because they still do have a wedding season, but if my schedule looks good, I'll schedule the birth and I will keep that entire week free I'll feel okay if I schedule like a one hour family session because I can always reschedule that and I'll let people know if I already have a birth booked and they really want to work with me that week, I'll explain I am contract her birth this is the week she's due in the event that she goes in labour. When your session is scheduled, then we'll have to have revisit this and talk about it if we could if she doesn't labor while we're scheduled. If you're okay with rescheduling that I don't mind skeleton you that weak, but just know that we have to be flexible with the dates and then if I end up shooting the birth, then that full amount is due, and I charge the same that I do for day in the life sessions. So it's seventeen fifty for me to document the birth, the only difference and we'll talk a little bit more about this is I do three day birth coverage and it's not like twenty four hours for the three days, but I do visit them for three days and I'll talk a little bit more about that in a minute um, with birds, I really want to meet the clients beforehand, there has to be a certain amount of trust, I mean, probably the most trust I can get uh it's also important even before they book me that we meet and that we feel comfortable in each other's space really more her she needs to feel really comfortable with me there I think that one of my best compliments is that they like having me there and that's that says a lot because most women when their giving birth don't really want a lot of people in the room like when I approached my family sessions or my day in the life sessions I'm involved like I'm uh I'm not shooting the whole time if she's pushing for a long time all like be there to, like kind of coaches well be like you're doing such a good job, we can see the head like just keep pushing, you're doing awesome, I'm really much very much a part of the process again that's developing trust developing access it makes them feel good to have me in the room they know that they have my support and that I'm basically their cheerleader on dh that they know that I'm gonna document the day in a very respectful manner I'm respecting the process and I'm feeling very grateful that I can't even be there teo to document it so this is going into the third most important thing is the trust you're going to be in the room with a woman during one of the most challenging times possibly in a girl her whole life and so she has to feel safe with you they're so like I said meeting beforehand really helps with that being connected and talking when you feel like it's a good time to talk and be involved is really good um this is a really key thing from me that I found is you want to become the nurses friend for anyone out there that's given birth I haven't but I've been to several births that doctors don't do a whole lot it's really the nurse that does and free thing until the baby is ready to be pushed out but even the pushing part most of that is done with the nurse so if you can also get the trust of the nurse be kind her ask any questions she's going to give you the most physical access and if she doesn't like you or she feels like you rub her the wrong way she'll just tell you to get out of the room or she'll say no you can't be here you can't be there but I've been really lucky that I have picked up on this I picked up on this pretty early in my career of shooting these sessions so they usually like go wherever you want they like really like me and they want to see the pictures later but again it's it's really like kind of becoming their friend and I'm telling you like that's like the the best piece of advice I can give is aside from being the trust from the clients you really want to get the trust from the nurse we're going to look at one of my part of the birth I'm gonna show you actually uh really a company's number five and that is you need to be prepared that things might not go the way that you plan them tio there are things that can happen in a delivery room that are unexpected there could be an unexpected c section for one which is then you have to find out the surgeon will let you in the room and that's up to the surgeon's discretion usually if it's not too much of an emergency how a lot of times you could just explain I'd love to be there I'll stay out of your way I'll stay at the head you know it's not a problem and they let you in um in the situation that you're going to see the baby was born not breathing and so the best if I say I can give you is you have to stay calm and you have to remember that you are lucky enough to be in the room with them so you are part of it now and so you have to stay calm you have to be supportive you cannot panic and you need to also use your discretion wisely about what you can shoot and what you can't um we're going to talk a little bit more about that while we're looking at the pictures in number six is the biggest one for me and that is you need to be grateful that this is an amazing thing to be invited to witness a birth in my opinion and I actually cry every time a baby comes out, I just can't even help it like I just start crying like it's like it can't even feel it coming on it just immediately I start crying, um, because I feel so grateful and that this opportunity is like a once in a lifetime opportunity for the family to invite me to be here to witness like them meeting their baby for the first time that's just incredible to me, so be grateful and be appreciative. Um, so we're gonna we're actually gonna look, I've decided not to show a lot of slide shows um for the three days I'm going to show one tomorrow, but instead to actually show you single images so I can talk through the process. I think it's easier to learn that way, so we're going to do that. This is this. This is a birthday did a couple of years ago um seemingly was going to be like a normal birds um I I was getting ready to go to california, but she wasn't due for four weeks so it was no big deal I had dinner with her the night before I left and I noticed she dropped um if you've never seen this before if you're around a woman for a long time and then there's a certain height even if like they say you have a boy and it's round in the front there is a certain time in the pregnancy where there's a drop and that's usually means the baby is getting ready to come out and you can actually see that the whole belly has dropped a little and we had dinner and I was like, you dropped and she's like what? No, I'm fine and I was like, no, you've dropped and I'm freaking out because I'm leaving when she said it'll be fine, you'll be fine and I was like okay, do not you just like keep it tight down there do not let the baby out let's just please like don't let the baby out until I get back it was my first vacation I was going on in leg three years where I wasn't gonna work I was just gonna go hang out with friends so I flew out to california he was it was over maybe st patrick's day it was it was right after it was during same hunters say so we celebrate st patrick's day and then the next morning my phone ring and it was her and I was like, I'm not answering that we don't let her leave the message hopefully she's just calling to make sure I got like I got there okay and then I listened she left me a long message and I listened to and she goes that's where I got this is a message um so I was in the goodwill and I thought I was being myself and actually that was my water so I'm in the hospital and I think I'm gonna have the baby so of course I call her back and like god I told you to hold it in and I said, well, what are the contractions like and in that point so her water broken but she was in a situation where she was having no contractions so they told her that she could go twelve hours when no contractions before they'd start photos um I said okay all buy a ticket so I immediately got back on the airline website I bought a new ticket I flew home and I manage if I home coast to coast because it was in virginia amanda fly get that call schedule flight fly back from california to new york and I managed to get to the birth so enough time actually to do some exterior I like what I'm telling a story like if I can find the hospital sign another note to everyone because of certain hippa laws hepa laws you can shoot outside the hospital just uh be careful because security will even though it's public property because of the laws that protect medical disclosure you're not really supposed to photograph anybody walking into hospital so when I try and do is get really far away just to have a big exterior and I try and not shoot if there's someone physically going in on the door just to respect their privacy once you get into the hospital you're not camille shoot until you're in the private room because they've given you permission you can't shoot anywhere else in the hospital and we'll exactly how I approach family photography I'm going approach birth the same way I'm not there to shoot instruction manual on how to push the baby out okay that's not my job it's not your job my job is to show what the process is emotionally for the couple um or maybe a single mom but like emotionally what does it feel like to have a baby and there's a difference between what does it take to deliver a baby? And what does it feel like to have a baby and that's my goal and want a document when it feels like for that couple to have a maybe um and it's painful and about the same time you need to be selective in what photos of the pain that you've photograph? I still wanted to be a connection between them and sometimes I have lots of family members in the room and sometimes it's just the couple um I really would like to photograph a birth adoption process I thought that what I would think that would be really nice at some point um, again I'm trying to photograph what it feels like to have a baby I do not photograph anything vaginally s o I actually don't photograph the full head coming out some states have a law where you can't even do that like it's against law because of liability and insurance purposes there's other things that can happen like what happened here if they use a kiwi uh, which is kind of like a plunger if the mom is struggling and they have to use a kiwi yeah, they're going to ask you to please turn your camera away again it's because of insurance purposes and liability, I'm still trying to tell a story and I'm finding details and I do this with weddings too. So anybody out there that shoots weddings I don't just shoot details of shoot details actually shoot details with purpose that has meaning to the picture. Um so I only photograph found details so this is one they hadn't decided what they're going to name him yet and so I thought it's really awesome that they wrote all of the different names that they were thinking off on the I think it was like a photograph or something, and then you can see them in the background laboring again, I'm very strategic about my composition were in placing myself so that it's not there's, no clear shots, tio, any questionable areas, not all photographer's work that way. That's just how I choose to do it, um, and because in virginia, I have the law that I couldn't shoot anything magically. So, um, a small connection. So instead of photographing, uh, I've seen birth photographers like photograph only details that but there's, no context to it, so if you're going to photograph the wrist, bands have some context, so I'm going to shoot this detail because they were having a connection and then include in my composition that has the the band's armbands on it. But now the detail has meaning to it. Um, as much as the moms work hard, sometimes the dads or second moms are friends, they're not recognized for like the coach also works hard like, and I think, almost like they wish they could take that pain, but they can't so they'll do anything they can to like, um, he's in provide comfort to the woman in labor, um, so I'd try and show that as well again, strategic composition um, I'm really thinking hard about the pictures on making I'm not just making them to make them. And the advice I gave you yesterday about when things were crazy and there's a lot of activity, you need to slow down even more. This is a perfect situation where you could get nervous or you want to miss anything. Well, what you really do is quiet down your brain because the mom is always going to feed off of that energy. So you just want to kind of like tv, take a deep breath, make pictures deliberately and think about the story that you're telling. So this is a situation where, uh, she had been laboring for two and a half hours. Uh, they did use a kiwi because she was so exhausted pushing for two hours is a long time on dh. He came out and the cord was wrapped around to believe three times, so he had a lack of oxygen and was not breathing. Um, I looked at the dad because another thing that happens within beware this when mom's, uh, when the baby comes out, a lot of hormones released and so they might feel little bit at first, it might seem like they're a little bit out of it and that's just they're kind of like, in this euphoric high because all the all this um the adrenaline and toast it's all being released at once and for in this situation we were very lucky that that was the case because she wasn't sure what was going on like she a lot of emergency people ran in right away uh she had a birth plan that wasn't followed she wanted start nursing immediately and obviously that wasn't going to be possible and so I did keep shooting until I realized it was time to stop. Um I made one picture I made several pictures of this they showed him to her um but mike I turn this one specifically to black and white because in the color photos he's blue and I want them to remember this that at the end he's totally fine and I don't want them tio like be reminded of like that two hours where was questioned what was going on again telling the story what we talked about the other day like I just felt like the most important part is they have this beautiful baby and that he's totally fine so let's just just let's give him a slideshow that's it's beautiful and represents that this is when they uh they started to trying to oxygen just to give in to breathe on his own and he waas was very shallow but dad was with him the whole time once mom realized what was going on and she was confused like she was confused but realize something was wrong. Started crying, I put the camera down and went to be with her. I chose not to shoot any more, because, again, I'm grateful to be there, and I realize that I have I have a part in this, and I can either continue to shoot or an go comfort this mom who is desperately freaking out, and I just want to provide her with some ease that is going to be okay. They also trust me because I've been in these situations before, not this, but I've give. I've photographed burst before this was their first birth, so for me, my present means everything to them more than just taking pictures. Um, this is right before they have to take him to nick. You and, um, that gasp that you can almost feel it with dad, um, is when the nurse said he's going to be okay. We just have to do some tests, run some tests and give him some good oxygen. And he would. He breathed a sigh of relief, and I took that. Took the frame. S o two hours later, they finally got to meet finn. Um, it was perfectly healthy, and he was really beautiful baby, um, he's, still a beautiful kid, so when parents come in the grand parents come in to meet the children if you khun b there that's almost as special as when they meet their baby for the first time almost maur emotion it's pretty wonderful so think about that think about while you're making compositions what I told you the action and reaction is just is important when you're making storytelling pictures so this is her name is cathy and she I've never seen her cry before she's very, very strong woman and she just she met her grandson for the first time and just lost it and I thought it was beautiful and so I wanted to make pictures of that also I haven't talked about this yet you wantto switch from your point of reference a lot you say you can have the same frame and make two totally different pictures depending on who you're choosing the photograph and so you just want to make sure that you try focusing on the back as well as the front. Just the more of grandma yawns are great there's grandpa meaning his for the first time that's his first grandson um any sort of connection believe it or not even newborns there is a connection they're born with a personality, we're going to talk about that more um and here's that that ends that story telling part of the picture I did with the frame I was like a squirrel like I put that information like in my little pouch and I remembered that at some point they're going to pick the name finally and it happened that he wiped the name off all the other names off to select the name and so that's a pretty story telling like that was probably my strongest storytelling photo from the siri's was they have chosen the name finn and nothing is set up it just photograph the interaction so I do the three days I do the day that the baby is born I do the next day I come in for a couple of hours for family meeting greet day um I'll just come in for two hours when I think it's gonna be the busiest so that I can document friends and family coming and wishing their congratulations and meeting the baby and, um bringing gifts and made hats uh very proud grandparent's tired moms really tired the expressions on people's faces when they first see the baby is pretty amazing some of the easiest moments to get you can predict that is gonna happen making really nice uh frames of the baby by itself more grand parents always remember is to get close and then to back up because you might not even have a better frame and then wait for everyone interact with one another there's multiple things happening in that image footprints are great um trying to include all three people in the picture at once so now we're in day three this is the beginning of day three so I try and go when they bring the baby home so now it's just them getting ready this is out take of uh they always make sure the mom is okay there's no fever no infection I love that dad is totally enamored of his son he's like totally focused on his son well this is going on reflection in the glass again teeny tiny hand and big hand you can get that picture without forcing it happens all the time just to keep your eyes out for it um and then all the prep that goes into taking a brand new baby home especially if you're a first time parent don't quite know what you're doing and I go right to the house if I can I'll let myself in um before them second photograph the very first time the baby comes into the brand new home and meet the pets um in here there's that that closer frame which relates back teo while she was in labor and had the um the armband on then photographing the armband being cut off and it represents it their home and this is their new journey do you guys have any questions on that process? We do have a question up here it's a little bit more of a technical question if that's okay can you talk this from s fuller? Do you need? What type of permission do you need to get in advance from the hospital in orderto photograph of birth? I'm glad that they who s fuller s fuller thinks that's a good question, please, please keep asking questions because I think I teach best just responding. Sometimes I forget to mention some things that just don't be afraid to ask, um, it is important that you get you have to get permission from three people. You have to get permission from obvious or the invite from the parents. You then have to ask the parents to get permission from the hospital because some hospitals have different rules. So you have to make sure that the hospital says that it's okay, after the hospital gives you an ok, then you have to then get okayed by the doctor themselves. If you can get the permission from, uh, the invite and the permission from the hospital and then the doctor you're set, that is permission you don't need to get that is your client, or if you're doing it for free or whenever, either way, the couple has to get that permission, you don't take care of that, they just make sure that's okay, in most cases, doctors are pretty understanding this is becoming a more common shoot and so they're more used to it so it's not as difficult to get the permission but you still you do need to get permission from the hospital first and then the doctor yes no I just I mean there is no let you enter they are so I just tell them set it up ahead of time make sure that you have the access and that it's okay and like I said, if it's if it's a scheduled c section then it's three people because there's three there's the hospital and then the doctor fine but the doctors sometimes isn't the surgeon so you need to get the permission from all three of them the c sections are harder to get access into again that is really like the doctor can say fine the hospital say fine and the surgeon can say no so you have to make sure the surgeon is okay with that he's your final and yes or no yes and let's talk a little bit about the timing as faras are you there for the entire full good question thank you. So as far as timing goes I trot now every woman is different as faras when they go from two centimeters to ten centimetres it really varies and we'll ask jenna in a minute what? How she does her process I usually say let me know when you're about seven okay, seven centimeters to me now it could be an hour or five hours between seven and ten but I usually say, call me, call me when you go into labor, then I keep checking in and then let me know when you're a tte seven and then all start to head over. I'll start thinking about heading over so hee usually get there around eight centimeters, then it's just kind of a crap shoot really like it's either they could go really fast depends on if they have, they're on beto sin or if they're doing everything all natural like you just don't know if there's an epidural like every mom is different. If it's a second or third time birth, I always ask them, how fast is your first burst go like and usually it's going to go faster the second time so that I can help me gauge um and there's no guarantee you're going to make it like you hope that you can make that so I always say seven about seven centimeters and then I stay from then on and average, I'm there for about six hours that's about average five or six hours, and I'm I was very naive the first time I shot a birth, I thought it was like in the movies like you pushed three times in the baby comes out and for some women that is the case for the majority of women that I have photographed that is not the case and like women can push for like three hours which is crazy and it's so much work for them but you just you never know like I said, the pushing can go anywhere from three pushes too you know several hundred pushes the last birth I did is what I call the pilgrim birth where way were she almost had a baby in the coal are you ladies familiar with that so it's very rare they say it's very special if the placenta doesn't break the water doesn't break the baby can sometimes be born in the whole sack as it comes out is I would love to photograph one we didn't realize that was what was happening this is their first birth the nurses there she says your water hasn't broken. So as she's pushing it almost looks like and this I'm just letting people know like it almost looks like a balloon coming out and they'll ask you want us to break it or not? My mom was like, no, don't break it if it will do it and actually my body I'll do it naturally just wanted to win actually, uh again if you've never done a birth before you've not given birth a lot of the pushing is just down in the bed before your crowning and then once your crown then they'll drop the bed and that's when you know it's it's going to be go time, then the doctor will come in well, she was still just in the bad and we're waiting for the placenta to break, and the nurse said, you know, that's gonna have to break first, then the baby will start coming down and she said, push and then I just here stop, please stop and I looked in the head with three quarters away because we didn't realize that the baby was coming fully with the sack like she likes definitely was going to be born in this act, and the sack had broken, but that's because the head pushed up against it, and so we waited for the doctor. She said, hey, just the next contraction you're just gonna, like, blow out birthday candles and she's like, I'm sorry, what? And she's like just don't push while the body is going to do what it's going to dio, and so we're all just sitting there, waiting quietly for the next contraction, and my mom has such a funny sense of where she's like, why do I feel like I'm like a vcr and I've been put on pause when everyone's just waiting and when the contraction came the body doesn't actually push the baby out and she's like I'm sorry it's coming it's coming like a can opener and so the baby was actually born in the bed late there was no doctor there the nurse had to deliver the baby and s so like I say that it's unpredictable be prepared for anything inside to be prepared I was not prepared the baby's gonna come out right them so it's pretty amazing um feel like was there one other question? Yes yes we have one other question let's just kind of get this out of the way for today let's talk about these air all natural light in the hospital correct on dh go rear equipment very briefly what using for this same is with any other shoot I'm using my thirty five eighty five that's it two bodies with lower like here's a this is the one thing that is the disadvantage of the hospital it's it's really like flat light except for when the mom is pushing they're goingto put that spotlight overhead um it's a little bit difficult to meet her for but it is going to give you some decent light um I am doing everything in manual all natural light don't ever shoot a birth of flash I mean it's like one of most natural things that's happening like you do not you do not want to interfere with the integrity of a moment ever. And for me, that would be completely interfering with everything that's going on in. The last thing mom needs to worry about is a flash going off. I know how to use your camera, know how to use your light and had a handle low light.