If you’ve been around for a while, you know I love to talk about the power of niching down uncomfortably small. After 10 years in birth photography myself, I realized that Specializing in birth is a great genre to choose for a few reasons.
- Easier to stand out on social – Birth images naturally stand out because it is something not shared often!
- Birth is the “wedding” of the motherhood niche – Just like a wedding, it’s one big event that happens one time and
And yes, you can actually make good money specializing in birth photography – it doesn’t have to be hobby level income! One of our Marketing School students recently DM’d me to share that she hit 6-figures in 2021 specializing in birth.
Another student shared in our student group she hit her 1st $10k month specializing in birth. Others are frequently sharing how they’re booked months in advance – and all of them specialize in birth! It’s totally possible for you too!
First thing to prepare…
Please ditch this idea that you can’t get paid for your work because you’re new. I see it over and over again, photographers offering birth photography for free and then getting burned because the client changes their mind last minute.
Charge something, even if it’s only $50-$100, to ensure all parties are committed to this process. Also make sure they know they’re getting this discount so that you can share the images (and they need to sign a model release).
Check out Episode 81 where I talk about the Dos and Don’ts of Building Your Portfolio!
How to Take Amazing Birth Photos When You’re Brand New
What gear should you first invest in?
One of the questions I get all the time: “What kind of camera should I get for birth photography?”
My first answer is, the one you have.
I shot birth with a Canon Rebel for many years in my business, so an entry level DSLR is just fine. Of course, when you move up to full frame cameras you have the luxury of higher ISOs, which is very helpful in dark births.
The most important part of your gear, in my opinion, is your lens. If you’re shooting with a crop sensor, a wide angle lens is especially important. Births, especially in the hospital, can get crowded and you might be stuck in a small space. Definitely go for the prime wide angle lens above the kit lens that came with your camera if you can – but you can also make the kit lens work as you get experience.
When you come hang out on the 1 hour birth photography training, you’ll get my birth bag checklist for free when you hang out live until the end! Make sure to check out this training!
Importance of having a backup gear
Now that we’ve talked about your primary gear – let’s touch on backup gear.
You’re at a birth for several hours and mom finally starts pushing. All the sudden your camera won’t turn on. You change out the batteries, and still nothing. You hear the doctor say she can see the head and your camera literally will not turn on. Your heart starts beating fast as you scramble to think about what to do.
Whew! I felt anxious just saying all that out loud!!
The truth is, this DOES and CAN happen. It’s so important for photographers to be prepared.
Again, I don’t want to paralyze you into in action, but having some kind of backup camera is essential if you’re going to photograph birth.
Preparing a shot list
Before you photograph your first birth, you need to have a general understanding of what images you’ll get.
As you know, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for this family to have their birth photographed. While I don’t want you to be paralyzed by this into taking no action or over thinking things, it will be helpful to have a shot list of some kind going into the birth.
I like to think about the images in phases:
- Phase 1 is labor
- Phase 2 is birth
- Phase 3 is the 2 hours after birth or what they call Golden Hour
Chances are you have some ideas in your mind, but it’s super helpful to have a shot list as a general guideline.
I have a shot list for sale on our website that includes a birth settings cheat sheet and a video of me photographing a birth from beginning to end! You can get The Storytelling Guide for Birth Photographers here!
Setting up your pricing
The truth is, these first few clients likely won’t be your long term ideal clients, so it’s ok to charge a small amount. The amount you charge will depend on how quickly you want to book the births and what your hard costs are to attend the birth (like childcare or having to take the day off work).
The lower the price, the easier it will be to get experience and build your portfolio.
How to know hospital policies
We’ve covered the gear you need, backup gear and what to charge. But how do you find out hospital policies?
Are your hospitals even allowing birth photographers right now?
You can call the hospitals directly, but I actually recommend asking your local birth community. Ask some doulas or birth class instructors or midwives if they know the current hospital visitor policies – I’m willing to bet their information will be the most accurate!
Build your portfolio with a model call
Dozens of our students make at least $1000 with the Model Call Process (and many make more than that), so you don’t have to work for free.
One thing our students inside The Beauty in Birth Photography Certification Course have shared is that working towards their certification, even before their certified, helps build trust and credibility in their community.
Our certification at TBIB includes an assessment as well as a 3 gallery review to become certified. It’s a title our CBPs are proud of because they’ve worked hard to achieve it! And when your potential clients and your community know you’re working towards your certification, getting those first few births becomes even easier.
Getting certified also boosts YOUR confidence and your skills as a newer birth photographer.
If you want to learn more about the certification, check out the training I told you about earlier in this episode here!