To Flash or Not to Flash – Birth Photography Tips

A big debate between birth photographers a few years ago was whether or not they should use flash at births.

The whole idea of birth photography is to be a “fly on the wall”, and a flash kind of defeats that purpose.

For a long time it was kind of controversial to use flash.

Now more and more photographers are starting to realize the benefits of using flash at births.


I wanted to share with you guys some of the reasons that I almost exclusively use flash at births, how I handle it with clients, and why I choose to use flash at births.


Birth Photography Tips


  • One of the advantages to using flash at births is obviously the high quality images. The first time I was able to shoot a birth at ISO 100 it was a game changer. The clarity and the crispness of the photo compared to when I would shoot a birth at ISO 5000 or 6400 was amazing.


Here are some examples of images I shot with flash versus images I did not. You can tell such a huge difference, it’s just stunning. After I saw these images side by side, I was sold on only using flash at the rest of my births.


birth photography flash

should i use flash in birth photography


  • I talk to my clients about this in depth during the consultation. I ask whether or not they are okay with me using flash, and 9 times out of 10 they’re okay with it because they are hiring me for great quality images.
  • You have so much more control over the image whenever you are using a flash. You can tell where the light is coming from and where you want it to go, so you can direct the flash exactly where you want it.



Those are the reasons I decided to use flash. Now, there are also some cons.

  • You could potentially disrupt mom. Like I said, I talk about this in detail at the consultation, and I say, “If there’s ever a point when the flash becomes a problem and it’s interrupting you, just let me know and I’ll discontinue using the flash. I’ll figure out another way. You’re hiring me for great images and the flash provides really great quality images, and that’s why I choose to use it. But your comfort is the most important thing, so please let me know if it becomes an issue.” Most clients in that situation are like, “Oh yeah, we want you to use the flash.” I’d say most moms don’t even notice it, and just giving them that little bit of information up front helps.
  • Another con to using a flash is that it’s just another piece of equipment you’re dealing with. You need batteries for the flash, so you have to make sure those are charged. There is a potential that it won’t flash when you want it to if your batteries aren’t charged. So it’s really a matter of learning that extra piece of equipment, but once you do, I really think the benefits are going to outweigh the cons when you’re deciding whether you should use flash in birth sessions or not.


Use the Black Foam Thingy

Ingrid asked if I diffuse or use BFT, which I assume means “black foam thingy”, and yes, I am an avid black foam thingy user. For those of you who don’t know, a black foam thingy is literally just a piece of black foam that goes around the edge of your speed light. I have a video about it on my “Beauty in Birth” page.

I really like how it makes the light more directional instead of lighting up the whole room.

Go ahead and go back and watch that video if it’s something you’re interested in!


So Basically…

That’s why and how I decided to use flash during birth sessions, and now I’m really happy that I did because I’m used to my clients getting great quality images. Just make sure you talk to each client about it beforehand!


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