What is something you know now that you wish you had known then, as you were just starting out?
That I would get busy and birth photography would be popular. I wish I had enjoyed my off call time a little more. Being on call is a very specific lifestyle.
How do you prepare for the different sessions you have?
The most important part of this work is to be ready to go at any moment, since this is on-call work! I have my phone charged and on all the time, my gas tank doesn’t go past half full and my camera bag is always packed and ready to go. I try to not stay up late or focus on what ‘could’ happen. If I stay in the moment then I don’t waste time getting worried about how I will pull it all off.
It is so hard to critique your own work so I asked everyone on my facebook page to tell me their thoughts. They said my work is bright, emotional, real, raw, compelling. I would say I have a clean documentary style with lots of heart, emotion and respect.
What’s your background in terms of photography?
In 2000 I graduated from the Professional Photography 2-year program at Langara College. I worked for a few photographers and then quickly settled into doing web design and enjoying motherhood. It wasn’t until I started shooting births 10 years later that I began to shoot professionally. I had to do a lot of self-learning and internet research to refresh my skills. All the years of critiquing and being critiqued in school really paid off; it was way easier to re-learn the trade I went to school for than to self-teach from scratch.
What camera do you use the most?
Nikon D600 with the 24-70mm f/2.8 for tight spaces, low light and quick changes!
What type of difficulties might you face on a normal session?
The lighting is always mixed and always changing. The subjects are fast moving and there are always lots of hands and people in the way. You have to be a documentator and be okay with what ever happens. It can be being sprayed by bodily fluids (yes, I have been puked on!), or getting snubbed by medical staff after not sleeping for 30+ hours. Most birth photographers don’t stay in the game. It is hard being on call all the time, you don’t get paid like many other photography industries and most people are still uncomfortable with the idea of birth photographers so you have to work to get clients. It may seem glorious when you see the photos but it is a lot of work and requires a lot of skill to do it well.
This weekend I watched a mom birth her sixth baby at home surrounded by her children who were wiping her face and bringing her food and water. They were all free to come and go as they pleased. To make it even more special she was the only birth photographer in my area when I started but she hasn’t gone back because during my three years of business she has had two babies. It was amazing to do this work for a fellow birth photographer.
What do you love the most about the work that you do?
When I finish editing the last photos of a birth, upload the files and send them off to my clients, I always take a deep breath. I know my clients are going to open their files with great excitement and anticipation and possibly a few tears. I get to give this new family a huge gift, and they don’t even know how special it will be to them until they open it. The files will walk them through the journey of the day they became parents and a family.