What is Birth Photography?

The delivery room doctor handing a new mother her brand new baby at Crestwood Memorial Hospital in Huntsville Alabama

What Birth Photography is

Birth vs Weddings

I like to compare birth photography to wedding photography. I get some great expressions when I say that, but it’s true, there are so many commonalities! Both are events that can’t be re-shot. The photographer reserves a large span of time to dedicate to the session. They are memories that you never want to forget! Each have their own timelines/progressions and small details that need to be captured to tell the whole story.

A mother in labor in a hospital bed with her husband by her side in the delivery room
Delivery room at Crestwood Memorial Hospital in Huntsville, Alabama.

Documentary Style

Like all event photography, birth photography is documentary style as opposed to portraits. It’s the job of the photographer to document the event from start to finish, while capturing the people present and the emptions they are experiencing. Just like at a wedding, the photographer needs to be on her toes, because things can change quickly and they don’t want to miss any key moments or expressions. It’s important to capture the details that will help tell the whole birth story. Details such the room number sign, the marker board with mom and baby’s info, monitor screens, etc.

A Winnie the Pooh quote on the wall of the delivery room.
A sweet quote on the wall of the delivery room!

The Birthing Team

Just like at a wedding where the photographer is part of the wedding team, so is the photographer at a birth part of the birthing team. Obviously, the job of doctors, nurses, and doulas more important than the photographer- we want mom and baby safe above all else- but all team members work together to make sure they are safe AND mom and dad get the pictures they want. All members of the birthing team are there to support mom and help her have the birth she wants as much as they can, and that includes documenting with photos.

A computer monitor showing the results of the fetal heartbeat monitor.
It’s important to capture ALL the details of your birth story.

Graphic or Not?

I know what you’re probably wondering at this point. What all get’s photographed? What if there are certain things that I don’t want capture on camera? No big deal! Your photographer should meet with you well in advance of your due date to discuss what you do and don’t want photographed. Some moms want it all photographed, even the graphic stuff. Other moms want the photographer to take photos from beside the bed by her head, missing the graphic stuff. Just be honest with your photographer about what you do and don’t want!

Doctor delivering a baby and pulling the umbilical cord
Capturing baby’s very first moments!

The Timeline

When I photograph a birth, I focus on this timeline: Labor, delivery, first cuddles with mom, new baby care, nursing, first cuddles with dad/family/friends, fresh 48 photos. And of course all the little details in-between. The timeline is generally the same regardless of  type of birth, but don’t worry, if things unexpectedly change, I can roll with it!

A mother holding her newborn baby for the first time
You’ll never forget the exact moment you became a mother with this picture to look back on.

What Birth Photography Isn’t


Like I previously mentioned, birth photography is not like a portrait session. There is no posing and very little “Look at the camera and smile!” Documentary style means taking photos as things naturally unfold. So there is no stress for anyone to “preform.”

A new father holding his baby boy for the first time in the delivery room in Huntsville Alabama
Dad meeting his baby boy for the first time.


Once you realize that your photographer is part of the birthing team and that she’s only taking the pictures that YOU want, birth photography seems a little less intrusive. And don’t worry about her chatting you up during contractions. Her goal is to be a fly on the wall as she documents your birth story. Of course, if you feel like chatting, don’t hesitate to initiate conversation! She is there to serve and care for you and your baby.

New baby being checked by delivery room nurses at Crestwood Memorial Hospital
Baby’s first checkup!

Not Explicit

Ok, so that’s a double negative. I’m kind of cheating by adding this one in the “what birth photography isn’t” category, but it goes so well with my point on not being intrusive. Birth photography, if anything, is explicit. Capturing the raw emotion of contractions, first cries, and the famous “I did it” moment new moms have is what it’s all about. It’s why the photographer is there to begin with. We are there to show the explicit!

A new mothers big smile after delivering her baby at Crestwood Memorial Hospital in Huntsville Alabama
Never forget the overwhelming feeling of “I did it!”


Birth photography is a luxury service, and as such, it’s not a cheap service. And it shouldn’t be. Birth photographers must be on call for weeks at a time, have contingency plans for their own families, and adjust their own routines so they can be ready for you at a moment’s notice, because let’s face it, birth is unpredictable! Many are on-call for several weeks or even a month leading up to your due date. That’s a long time to change your family’ schedule! The good news is that most photographers are happy to offer a payment plan and you have roughly nine months to save for the expense. Find your birth photographer as soon as possible so you can begin planning based on their process and rates.

Hopefully this information helps you feel more comfortable about the thought of an additional person on your birthing team. Your photographer is there to serve you and document this incredible event. One that after a few weeks of sleepless nights, you may not remember many of the details. Your images become a priceless possession to help you remember your birth story.

A new mother cradling her new baby in Huntsville Alabama

What questions do you have about birth photography? We would love to answer them in upcoming blog posts.

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