The Art of Birth Photography: Tips, Tricks, and Essential Advice

We have a treat for you birth photographers or those who are interested in birth photography: I’m going to take you behind the scenes with some of our students inside of our coaching calls for The Beauty in Birth® Photography Course and Certification!

We’re going to talk about things like what to do if the midwife doesn’t make it to the birth and some tips for the “I did it” moment. And if you don’t know what that is, we’ll talk about it.

How often to check in with the mom when you’re on call?

How to find the right song for birth videos?

What to wear to births?

How to get your clients to share your images with proper permission tagging and watermarking? (That is applicable for any photographer, by the way)

I’m excited for this episode and for you to dig in. So let’s get to it!

What to do if the midwife doesn’t make it to the birth?

Q: Is there anything in the course about what to do if the midwife doesn’t show up?

I have had this happen one time where I was the first one to arrive. I walked into the room and I could hear her pushing and I looked around — the midwife, the midwife assistant, nobody was there.

And Courtney, maybe something similar happened to you. I just went into photographing mode because I knew that everybody was on their way.

Sometimes people can push for a really long time, so I didn’t panic. I just did my normal thing, taking photos, and then thankfully, the midwife assistant arrived and she ended up catching the baby, which is not something she’s trained to do as a midwife assistant, but she’s more qualified than me. Then the midwife arrived shortly after.

I would say it’s rare, depending on the midwives that you work with, how close they push it. Some midwives will send an assistant first before they get there. And then to me, now it’s on the assistant to handle whatever happens, and I’ll still capture it.

It wouldn’t hurt to put something in your contract that addresses that so that it removes the liability from you. Do talk to a lawyer, of course, about the wording of all of this.

If something happened and there wasn’t anybody there and all of that kind of stuff, that’s the only thing that I think I would do in that situation. It has only happened to me one time and the midwife assistant did make it.

Capturing the “I did it” moment

Q: “How do you know what image is the I did it moment?”

I do a burst of photos as soon as the baby is born and they’re all so different and I can’t really distinguish the specific moment. So I started calling that moment the “I did it” moment.

I noticed so many of my clients had this moment where they express relief or joy. To some people, it’s instantly the moment they put their hands on their baby. To other, it’s the first cry or it can also be a little bit more delayed.

The “I did it” moment happens so differently for everyone and at such different times for everyone.

I’ve had some clients who had an I did it moment, but it’s not what I consider an I did it moment or what I visually see from people, which is either joy or relief usually.

I had clients actually say to me, “I feel bad that I didn’t have that.” And after she told me that, I wanted to tread lightly with this expectation that you have to react a certain way when you see your baby for the first time. I never thought about it from her perspective.

I always saw it as just people having different reactions. Some people are just really tired. They don’t have a reaction.

And I definitely posted about it to just share with them,

It’s okay if you don’t have a reaction after your baby’s born.

It’s okay if you don’t have extreme joy or you know, shock, or relief.

However you’re feeling after your baby’s born is what I want to capture.

Sometimes there’s not one that I would traditionally say is their I did it moment because they might not outwardly express that. And a lot of moms have a lot of different reactions.

How often do you check in with a mom once you’re on call?

I really check in relatively infrequently, especially in the beginning, like 37 to 40 weeks. I’m not checking in a ton because we’ve already had the communication prior in their consultation for them to know when to contact.

I’m sure if you’ve given birth, you know what it’s like to be at the end where everybody is texting and calling you – I don’t want to be one of those people to my clients. So I really try to limit check-ins as much as humanly possible.

Also, I’m not their doula, so I’m not checking in on them in that way. And that’s why I like to have those conversations in the consultation to let them know like, “Hey, I don’t want to bug you with check-ins, so will you just do me a favor and let me know what you want me to know and that there’s no such thing as too much information.” And I say that like a broken record. There’s no such thing as too much information because I don’t ever want them to feel like they’re bugging me because they’re absolutely not.

Once they pass that the 40-week mark, I might casually check in on them with a friendly conversation. This is where getting a labor history is really helpful because I know if I’ve got somebody who normally goes into labor by 38 weeks and they’re 39 weeks, that’s a lot different than the person who normally goes in until they brought 42 weeks when they’re sort of on my radar and I’m thinking about checking in with them.

Also, this is why I always gave a discount working with specific doulas, because it was always really helpful for me to just text the doula and just be like, “Hey, have you heard from so-and-so, what’s the deal?” because I was friends with them. So getting buddy-buddy with the doula is helpful in that situation too.

How to find the right song for birth videos?

Some song sources that I could recommend would be Song Freedom and Triple Scoop Music. Soundstripe is another good one and I like that now you can filter by the type of music that you want and the tempo, and if you want with vocals or no vocals.

The thing when it comes to slideshow, whether it’s video or photos, if I want something that’s emotionally impactful, I am looking for chill in the beginning, and then a crescendo about halfway through, because that is where I want it to be like baby born sobbing emotion when that music hits.

What to wear during birth sessions?

I think I’ll always plan to wear my zip up tennis shoes, but does it matter much if I forget, then keep your toes covered. You never know what liquid you might step in.

As far as at birth, I wore sandals at births. I never had amniotic fluid on my feet, but as I’ve gotten older, I’m weirder about my feet and I want them to stay clean. And so I might actually be a weirdo that wears socks and sandals or tennis shoes, but I also like my feet to breathe. I think it’s personal preference. We’re getting into way too much about what Tavia needs to wear on her feet, and I think it really is personal preference. Like if you get amniotic fluid on your foot, you can wash off when you get home, or if you want to wear tennis shoes, wear tennis shoes.

Tips on making galleries look different

“I shoot births at the same birth center most of the time, about 80% of my clients. Are there any tips for making it look different each time?”

My question would be why does it need to look different? And here’s why I’m saying that. I found this particularly in my newborn sessions, I think as creatives, we want to be creative. And when we shoot at the same location more than once, whether it’s a family session or a birth, or we do the same pose with a newborn or use the same prop with a newborn, it’s kind of like, “I’ve already done this. What else can I do?”

The reason that I put such a huge emphasis on your galleries being consistent gallery to gallery is because I want your clients to know what to expect from you.

I want them to know the quality of work and the style of work that they’re going to get when they hire you, and so it can feel boring to us to photograph the same thing in the same location, and the same poses in the same bed, in the same tub from top down and bottom and side, and you’re like, “I’m doing all these angles. It still looks the same.” I kind of think that’s a good thing because that is showing your potential clients what to expect from you.

And they’re not looking at Sally Jane’s gallery and knowing that it looks the same on social media. Will it kind of look the same? Yeah. But to be honest, no matter where a birth tub is, it kind of looks the same anyway. If I’m at somebody’s home shooting a birth or at a birth center or a tub at home, they all kind of look the same, generally speaking.

And so you can do things, of course, like try a new lighting technique, use natural light instead of flash, or flash instead of natural. Change up your perspectives, change up your angles – there’s a lot of different things that you can do. But I would say, you kind of want your galleries to look similar.

How to get your clients to share your images with proper permission tagging and watermarking?

“I’m also a birth doula, and whenever clients repost my photos, they say their amazing doula took the photos instead of calling me their photographer tips to get them to advertise for me the right way?”

I would gently coach them on how to reshare your photos. So something that we do with all of our clients is they get a print folder and they get a web/share folder whenever we deliver their images. In the web/share folder, I give them a document that says, “Read me.”

It’s all about why there’s two folders where I recommend printing their images and why there’s a web folder. Why should there be a web folder when there’s a print folder? Shouldn’t I just share images from the print folder?

And so if you kindly say, “When you’re sharing these photos, here’s the folder to share them from and here’s why. Because they’re sized for web, they’re sharpened and they have a little watermark, which helps me get more clients and gives you a referral.” If you can want to talk about your referral program or whatever there, that’s fine.

“Also, when you’re sharing your images, if you wouldn’t mind referring to me as _____ photographer or tagging _____ photography account. That just helps people know that I am both a professional certified doula and a professional certified birth photographer.”

I think that’s reasonable. I think that if you gently guide them and tell them what to do, chances are they’re going to do it because I’ve had clients even come back to me and say, “Okay, which folder am I supposed to share it from? Did I share the right thing? Did I share it in the right way? Should I tag you? Should I tag your business page?” These clients are incredible. They really do care. They want to do things the right way. So if we just lightly nudge them in the right direction, they’re probably going to do that.

Be a Certified Birth Photographer!

We have such an incredible group of birth photographers, almost 400 of them now, inside of The Beauty in Birth® Photography Course and Certification. If you want more information on joining us inside, or you just want some extra tips to go a little bit deeper than this episode, I have a free training for you all about the 6 Things That You Need to Know to Confidently Photograph Birth (so that you can book more high paying birth photography clients and even go full-time with birth photography). If that’s what you desire, to watch that free training, head over to

You’ve made it to the end of another episode. Thank you so much for spending a little bit of your week with me. And I want to remind you if you have a passion, it is not an accident because not everyone loves birth photography, friend. With more birth photographers coming around, it might seem that way, but I promise you, not every photographer wants to do birth photography. So that passion lives inside of you for a reason, and I will hope that you will take the next step to pursue that passion and make it happen for yourself and your community. Have a great week!


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