“Giving birth should be your greatest achievement not your greatest fear.” ~ Jane Weideman
Some people say that ‘birth is just one day in your life’. But oh, what a day! What a spectacular, incredible, transformative day.
There is so much to celebrate, so many moments to treasure. From the first contraction, the first touch, the first look and the first breath, birth photography captures the stunning transformation of woman to mother, of man to father, and of a brand new family whose lives are changed forever.
Birth photography is not just about the birth itself – birth photography tells a story. A story of strength, love and support. A story of discovery – meeting the tiny person that has been growing within. A story of capturing all the ‘little details’ that you may not even notice or remember. Most of all, Birth Photography is a story of overwhelming LOVE.
As a birth photographer, I am there to document YOUR story, however it unfolds. As a mother myself, and having attended over 40 births, I understand the sacred birth space and my aim is be a positive, but unobtrusive, presence. It is an honour to watch these miracles unfold, and a greater honour to be able to provide you with memories of this day that will be treasured for generations.
I will photograph births anywhere, Australia-wide*, as my family explores our beautiful country in a caravan from August 2017….indefinitely!
So, your partner/wife/girlfriend wants a birth photographer?!?!
Some of you will be like, “Yeah cool, let’s do it, how do we book?!”
Some of you will be more reluctant, perhaps thinking, “Wait WHAT? Someone taking photos of THAT?! And she charges HOW MUCH?!?! No WAY!!”
If you are one of the former, high fives! Give me a call!
If you’re one of the latter, you may want to read on….
Your response is quite reasonable, I suppose, if you think birth photography is all about vaginas and nothing else (and if you think your photographer is someone who stopped in at Harvey Norman and bought a DSLR and decided to make a few dollars on the side, not a legitimate business with related expenses and thousands of dollars invested into equipment and education). As one friend has said to me, her husband described birth like watching your favourite pub burn down….and who would want photographic evidence of that?! I, on the other hand, like to say that it’s like watching a cottage transform into a magical castle… superpowers included 😉
It’s also about a lot more than the 30 seconds – 60 minutes or so of watching a baby come out of a vagina, or out of an incision (both options being something you might not want to witness yourself if you have a weak stomach)! It’s about the whole story, and all the stuff she will probably forget (like when she swears at you to never have sex with her again…..or, maybe the moment she tells you how much she loves you and how she would do this a million times over to have your babies…haha)!!
You are the protector of her space – and that is an important job. You worry about having extra people, you may worry about her modesty. But if she has mentioned birth photography, it’s obviously something she’s thought about and is important to her. Don’t worry, I won’t be ‘another stranger’ – a vital part of my role is meeting you both during the pregnancy and forming a relationship of trust, along with knowing what moments you do and don’t want documented. If she says no vagina, I will not take vagina photos – end of story!!
Speaking of sex and birth, here’s a little video you might have a laugh (or cringe) at! It IS important to feel like the birth space is private, dark and safe. I know that, and I respect that. I don’t take things personally, and I’m pretty good at figuring out when I might need to go on an extended ‘coffee break’ (even though I don’t drink coffee – I would happily get you one, though!!) or ‘just grab something to eat’, to give you privacy. Or if I don’t take the hint, I won’t ever be offended if you ask me to leave for a while and give you space. My aim is to be unobtrusive as possible, and I will NEVER tell you what to do/how to pose!! I will work with whatever lighting is there, and will discuss lighting options with you before the birth.
Once it’s all actually over, she will LOVE seeing herself in labour, and seeing how you were there by her side where she needed you to be, not fumbling behind a camera or a phone, praying that at least some of the photos you’re attempting to take will actually turn out to her standards (which can be really hard in a dark room, way better left to the professionals). She will love reliving the moment she first held her baby. She will love to relive watching YOU hold your baby for the first time…..and I think, maybe secretly, and maybe only down the track, you will too!
Moments like these….
You don’t even let HER take photos of you, except under extreme duress. Why on earth would you allow someone to post intimate photos on a public page??
The easy answer here is, you don’t have to allow me!! Model releases to post photos and video online are 100% optional, with no extra fee for privacy. This is first and foremost your story, and you get to decide if/where/how your images are shared. Some families are happy to share their precious moments with the world, others want them only for themselves. Some will happily agree to share a few select images, some will share their entire gallery, and some will share none. I’m cool with that, no pressure. You won’t end up on the internet or anywhere else without your written consent.
You want to know what you’re getting for your money – fair call! Doesn’t everyone? I’ll break it down for you just a little bit.
Initial Consultation (Free of Charge! And also Obligation Free) : 1-2 hours
Pre-Birth Consultation : 1-2 hours
On-Call from 37-42+ weeks: up to 840 (and once – so far – beyond!) hours on call. On call means not going on spontaneous weekends away to the coast to visit our friends (and really, being on call about 10 months of the year means a lot of not going away….at all!). It means not being able to unwind with a few wines after a hard day, or a few drinks with friends on a Sunday afternoon. It means not even being able to leave the house without my phone glued to me and my camera bag in the car. Sometimes it means taking two cars to the same place, in case I have to leave at a moment’s notice. It can mean leaving my children on Christmas, or Easter, or their birthdays, to be by your side capturing the most special day of your life. I have spent New Year’s Eve welcoming a baby into the world (very cool to hear the fireworks soon after the birth!), and I’ve missed my daughter’s first dance concert to be at another. It basically means that I am there for you, 24/7 – you are my number one priority, because your baby’s birth day will only happen once.
Time at the Labour and Birth: 3-24 hours, generally (I stay for 2-3 hours afterwards)
On-Call Childcare, Travel and Parking: I generally travel between 30-100km to births (each way), and let’s face it, we all know hospital parking is super exxy!!!
Editing Time: 3-6 hours
Cost of Goods Sold + Costs of Doing Business: Of course these need to be worked into my fee, or I wouldn’t really be a business! You don’t think that a $5 cup of coffee from a cafe costs any more than about $1-2 to make, do you?
Now, imagine a tradesperson (maybe you are one!!) being in this position.
I’ve paid a tradesperson $85+GST to come and do an initial quote, so I reckon that’s probably pretty average.
I would expect that a tradesperson’s ‘labour’ would be charged at least $100/hr, so for a 2 hour consultation I’d think my bill would be $200.
On-call rates in other professions (couldn’t find info for a tradie) is approximately $180/week. For 5 weeks, that would be $900.
If a tradesperson was called out a job at 2am, there would no doubt be an after-hours callout fee. From information I’ve found on the internet, an average call-out fee is $80-180 (+GST), including 30-60 minutes of their time and labour – and that’s for daylight, weekday hours!
A tradesperson will generally charge somewhere in the realm of $50-100/hour, plus parts. Let’s say time and a half applies after 8 hours. So for a 12 hour labour and birth, you’re looking at $1050 + parts (and that’s using $75 as the hourly rate).
A lot of tradespeople will charge extra travel fees, either flat rate, time-based or kilometre-based. The ATO cents per kilometre rate for car allowances is $0.66c/km, so add on $40-130 travel to your fee.
So far, you’re at roughly $2600 total….and that excludes cost of doing business (and yes, as much as I love it, I have bills to pay just like you!!) and cost of goods sold (you know, the custom USB, the beautiful handcrafted fine art album, the song that was written and recorded specifically for your birth film, etc etc).
What do I charge? Well, my birth collections start at $995, all inclusive of time + images. Sure, I offer a bells and whistles package too, which is $2995, and a mid-range package for $1995. But really, you can invest in birth photography for as little as $28/week (paying a $300 deposit + weekly payments from 12-37 weeks). That’s less than a carton of beer!!!!! It’s also most likely less than your TV, your smartphone, your couch…..you get the point. Those things will be replaced in 1, 2, 5, maaaaybe 10 years. The photos will be irreplaceable, AND will last forever.
The products you will receive are not cheap and crappy. They will last for generations. They are made with premium materials and carefully handcrafted. (Example: My canvas supplier offers an unconditional 75 year guarantee, including accidental breakage). Here’s a little look at the kind of products that you will be receiving – ready to display in your home!
Oh, and if you’ve read all this, and your wife wants photos, and you still don’t see why it’s important, read this too.
This is an investment into your family’s memories. Don’t make a decision based only on price. I understand that having babies is expensive, especially if you’re losing a second income. There are options – payment plans, gift registries, Take-Home Layby. I offer all of those things and am willing to sit down with you and figure out how we can make it work! Sometimes, if you offer something I need, I’ll even barter!
You only have one chance.
Birth Photography FAQ
When do you go on call? What if my baby comes outside that time?
I officially go on call from 37-42 weeks. This means that I am available to you 24/7 during this time, and whenever your baby decides to meet you! However, birth is unpredictable, and sometimes baby’s don’t follow a timeline! If your baby comes outside of the 37-42 week window, I will make every effort to still attend your birth (so please call!).
When do I call? How long do you stay?
I ask clients to communicate with me when things change – even if just a “heads up” that something might be happening. That way, I can ensure that I have a plan for my own children, and have everything ready to go on a moment’s notice. It also gives me a chance to reshuffle my schedule in case you need me. I come to your place of birth when you need me to. I don’t work on any particular figures – not at ‘x’ number of centimetres dilated, not at ‘x’ number of contractions lasting ‘y’ long. I trust a woman’s instincts, and also make a judgement based on their previous birthing history, and their own unique circumstances. Often, and particularly with subsequent births, I will come when you are heading to the hospital, or have called your midwife to attend you at home. I stay for the labour and birth as long as it takes – knowing that this is unpredictable. In the case of a very long labour, I may take breaks to eat and rest. I stay for 2-3 hours postpartum. If you wish for me to stay longer, or come back later (perhaps when the siblings arrive), this can be arranged for an extra fee.
What happens if you miss my birth?
Depending on the circumstances, there are a few different options, from capturing the hours immediately after birth, to transferring to a Fresh48 or newborn session, to partial or full refunds. This will be discussed in more detail at your in-person consultation.
What happens if I have a cesarean?
Your baby’s birthday is unique, no matter the circumstances. If you need a cesarean, either elective or emergency, I will do my best to tell your baby’s Birth Day story through photographs. There are many moments before and after the actual birth of your baby that are an important part of the day, and I will be there to capture them – from the nervous anticipation beforehand, to the skin to skin and bonding afterwards. As for the birth itself, there are no guarantees. I have been able to photograph numerous cesareans, including theatre, but there are still times that I will not have permission to accompany you, particularly in emergency situations. In this case, your partner or a staff member will have a crash course in using my camera to photograph in theatre, and I will edit and include these photographs in your final gallery. For elective cesareans, I am willing to work with you and your care providers during the pregnancy to seek permission to have a photographer in theatre with you, and have done so successfully in the past.
Do you photograph….”everything”?
That depends on if you WANT me to photograph “everything”. Those minutes of birth itself are just one part of the story of your baby’s Birth Day, and I will only photograph it if, and how, you are comfortable. For some, seeing the process of birth is an incredible thing to look back upon – I call it “the midwife view”. For others, it is something they may not want included, and that’s fine too – in that case, I will either photograph other moments and details (such as the look on your face, or your partner’s face, the clock, the way you are holding your partner’s hand, etc) or what I call the “mother view”, photographing from behind your shoulder to see what you would see as your baby emerges.
Can we keep our images private?
Absolutely! This is YOUR story. It is a private and intimate event. Some women love sharing their empowering, positive images with the world. For others, it is something intensely personal, for their own memories and perhaps to share with close friends and family only. Any kind of sharing at all is 100% optional, and there are no extra privacy fees. If you are happy to share, you will be provided with a model release, where you have control over what images are shared, and where they are shared. If not, your images will be kept 100% private.
Do you offer video documentaries of birth?
Yes, I do, and I LOVE it. There is nothing more powerful than hearing a mother’s “birth song” or a baby’s first cry, or to watch the tear roll down a daddy’s face as he sees his child for the first time. There are so many beautiful details and moments that make up a birth story, and video is a very powerful way to relive those moments – moments you may not even remember happening, yourself.
To find out more about documenting your baby’s Birth Day, please fill out the form below.
Alternatively, you can call me on 0423 004 946
*I am available for births Australia-wide, but this depends on your estimated time of birth and your location.
Jen is a travelling (Australia-wide) maternity, birth, baby and family photographer, specialising in all ages and stages of family photography with a special interest in documenting other travelling families.