So many people who aren't familiar with birth photography here in Atlanta ask me what the general timeline of hiring a birth photographer is. So, I wrote this blog post specifically to address this. Please note that the way I run Lily Sophia Photography is not necessarily the way other birth photographers run their businesses!
Before we get started, let's think back to when you were planning your wedding. Hiring a birth photographer is not unlike hiring a wedding photographer: you are hiring someone to cover one of the most monumental events of your lives together as a couple. When you were looking for a wedding photographer, you probably spent lots of time online browsing through portfolios until you found a photographer whose style you absolutely loved.
When you are looking for a birth photographer, finding one or two whose style you love is important. This is then when you ask the following questions to help narrow down your final decision: Are their photos crisp? Is the photographer good at capturing the story?
Keep in mind that many photos may be missing from the stories on their website galleries in order to respect the wishes of client privacy. I have permission to share full births from some clients with potential clients at my consultations, but was asked not to share certain photos on the Internet for the whole world to see. I do not send the passwords to my galleries to potential clients I haven't met. When I show a full gallery, it is at my consultation on my iPad. This ensures that no screenshots would be taken and shared with Internet strangers.
That's another important question to ask: Will the birth photographer you are thinking of hiring respect your wishes for certain photos to not be shared? Does the photographer have several different births in their galleries? Does the photographer offer backup service in case of an emergency on their end? How many births a month does the photographer accept? If the answer is a high number, you may want to consider someone else, since high volume means the photographer will have less time to devote to each client and the chance of them missing your birth due to another client being in labor at the same time is increased.
Communication is also vital. Questions to ask: Is the photographer easily reachable? Does the photographer respond to you quickly? Does the photographer answer questions in a clear and concise way?
Are their photos something you would want to have in an album or displayed in your home? Do they offer high quality products such as albums, wall prints, etc?
The next step is to contact the photographer to find out if they have availability for your birth month. I have had clients contact me as early as the first trimester. I accept a small and limited number of births per month in order to give my clients the attention they deserve. The sooner a client contacts me, the better. If your photographer of choice is already booked for your month, they may be able to refer you to other birth photographers in your area that are similar in style. Booking early will guarantee you a spot with your chosen photographer. Unlike weddings, you only have 9 months to plan and you can't change the date to work with photographer availability!
Is all lost if you're due this month? Nope! Some clients contact me later in their pregnancies. I've had a client who contacted me the week before her due date, and I was able to work with her because I had availability in my schedule. However, please note that this is NOT the way to go if you know you definitely want a birth photographer to be there and available for you!
Before you book with your photographer, it's SO important to meet with them! If a photographer isn't willing to take the time to meet with you in person before booking, please find someone else. You are inviting someone to be with you during some of your most vulnerable, special, and important moments. Is this person going to be someone who respects you, your partner, and your space? Are you going to get along well with this person? Is your partner going to like this person? Personality fit is such a HUGE part of the birth photographer selection process. It is precisely why I meet with all potential clients considering booking me for a complimentary consultation.
At your meeting with the photographer, this is the time to ask questions and get to know each other! If your photographer walks in and can't engage in a conversation, they're probably not someone you want with you during labor. If the photographer is loud and overbearing, you probably won't want them in the room either.
During your meeting, ask yourself if you feel like this is a person you want in the room with you while you labor and give birth. At my consultations, I bring my camera equipment with me so that my clients can see exactly what I work with. I demonstrate how my equipment works and answer any questions they may have. I bring the price list for my different collections, and I also bring the different products offered with each collection. This enables my clients to see and touch everything and decide what the best fit is for them. I truly want my clients to feel comfortable with me, and for us to mesh well. After this initial consultation, if you and your partner know that this is the photographer you want, you will sign your birth photography contract.
My clients choose their birth collection at booking, and always have the option to upgrade later if they decide they want to. Every birth photographer will have different terms and conditions for their services. My terms and conditions are that nonrefundable retainer is due at the signing of the contract, and the rest of the balance is due by week 38 of pregnancy. Many choose to break up the payments rather than pay one lump sum. Some of my clients have also had family and friends want to contribute to their birth photography costs, and I do offer a complimentary gift registry!
Clients who book me will spend some time with me around their 34th week of pregnancy when I visit them for our their prenatal consult. All of my birth packages include this prenatal consult! I spend time with my clients going over their birth plan and any photography preferences they may have. I am also available via email and text at any point after they book me for any questions that come up, or if they just want to say hi. My clients can expect to hear from me several times before I come to their birth. I care deeply about those I work with, so I choose to invest my time in them so I can provide clients with excellent service and personal attention.
That's the general recommended timeline for hiring a birth photographer, and the way that Lily Sophia Photography works when it comes to birth photography services in Atlanta.
If you are considering reserving The Birth Session, contact me right away. I meet with all interested couples in my studio for a no obligation consultation for about an hour. Birth photography is a personal experience and an investment: be confident in your choice!
Lily Sophia Photography specializes in newborn, baby, maternity, and birth photography in Atlanta, Georgia and surrounding areas.