I’m 36 weeks going on 37 weeks pregnant, and in less than 2 weeks our lives, as we know it, is going to get more eventful. To say that I am having mixed emotions of fear, anxiety and excitement would be an understatement, but I could not imagine our life any other way. If you have been following me from the start, you are likely to be familiar with Hudson’s birth story. Picture a 3 part episode, filled with what felt like scenes out of a movie. In short, my water broke in the early hours of the morning, rushed off to hospital. My gynaecologist decided to do an emergency c-section. While I was being prepped, my husband was wheeled off to the ER, and the Paediatrician on call ended up taking photos of Hudson’s birth.
These are the only photos I have of Hudson’s birth. He was rushed off to the NICU, and I only saw him again the next day. Hubby was also not allowed to hold him until the 4th day he was in hospital, because he had a viral infection. In 2017, Birth Photography had just started getting popular. It was not really something that I thought about doing, but after going through the experience of Hudson’s birth, I do wish that we had a birth photographer, that could have captured all the memories, that my husband missed. Things happened so fast; I was in tears because I went through his birth on my own. I look back and I have short flashes of what happened on 13 March 2017 and with the years passing by, all I have are the blurry photos above.
With baby number 2 on the way, having a birth photographer present is definitely on my list of must haves. Especially, if you want your birth story to be documented and treasured forever. I first came across Nouvelle Vie Birth Photography; I was instantly drawn to the real and raw images. When I look at some of the photos Leroné has taken, I am drawn into the moment the photo was taken. I can feel each and every emotion, and that is something I definitely missed out on in our birth story.
When choosing your Birth Photographer
I’ve put together a list of questions (and answers from Leroné) you should ask when looking into engaging with a birth photographer to suit YOU. I have said this before and I will say this again, “never underestimate the value of having a photographer you just connect with”. Your birth is story is an intimate experience. You have to be comfortable with your photographer, and most of all you have to trust your photographer. i always believe that your photos also reflect how comfortable you were with your photographer. Thus having a free-flowing connection is key.
Q and A with Nouvelle Vie Birth Photography
- How many births have you photographed?
To date I have photographed close to 20 births, varying from natural birth and c-section birth in hospital, to natural birth at home or in a birthing center. Sharing of birth photos is subject to the permission given to a birth photographer by parents, so you would not necessarily see photos of all births photographed on my social media platforms. This is such an important trust relationship between the photographer and parents and one that should be respected at all times.
- What makes you different to other Birth Photographers in the Cape town area?
What sets me apart as a birth photographer is the fact that I am registered with the South African Birth Photographers Association (SABPA). We have a strict Oath and code of conduct by which we abide in order to ensure that the process of allowing a photographer into the birthing space is done with the utmost respect for all role players.
SABPA is not a regulatory body, but rather a support system to empower parents, photographers, hospitals and healthcare providers by providing them with the necessary tools and resources to uphold the integrity, safety and privacy of the birth space and its role players. All the while allowing parents to have their birth stories captured in a professional manner
- Do you offer maternity and newborn sessions as well?
I have packages focusing solely on birth photography or maternity shoots and newborn shoots, but also offer the option of structuring a package that would include all of the services as mentioned above, at a discounted rate.
We also offer a fresh48 shoot in hospital as well as a “meet the family” shoot when baby is introduced to siblings and family.
My packages are affordable. This is a labour (pun intended) of LOVE and PASSION.
- When is the best time to book you during pregnancy?
As soon as you have your expected due date, it is advisable to contact your birth photographer to ensure that she has availability in her calendar. It is also important to discuss the type of birth you would be considering beforehand, because your birth photographer will need to plan for that. For example, should the client have a normal in-hospital birth booked, the photographer will book out time to be on stand-by at least two weeks prior and a week after the expected due date.
- Do you have a license to photograph births?
As a member of the South African Birth Photographers Association you receive a license card that has to be with you at all times when you are photographing a birth, especially in hospital.
SABPA works closely with hospital management, theatre managers and matrons in order to establish and maintain a professional trust relationship. Hospital staff is usually accommodating if they can verify your credentials and identity while you are in hospital.
- How far will you travel and what is your travelling policy?
I have travelled to Gauteng to photograph a birth, so travelling is always an option. Effective communication between myself and my clients are very important to ensure that I am able to arrive on time to capture special moments.
- Do you have a cancellation policy? How does it work?
With most packages and services and to protect my business, I have a requirement to pay a non-refundable deposit when booking your birth photography package with me. This is to ensure that I don’t have last minute cancellations and lose income.
Extenuating circumstances are however taken into consideration. Child birth and pregnancy can sometimes be unpredictable, and I take that into consideration.
I have a detailed contract that we use to protect both myself and the client. It is important that the parameters, responsibilities and liabilities are clear before finalising your booking.
- Do you offer different birth packages? What are they?
The two birth packages I offer are for:
A c-section in hospital (subject to consent by gynaecologist, ward matron, theatre manager and parents)
A natural birth in hospital (consent as above required for this procedure as well, except for theatre if a natural birth)
A home birth
As a SABPA registered photographer, we have various consent forms that requires completion by all role players in the birthing process. Certain hospitals can also require hospital specific forms to be completed.
- Do you offer payment plans?
You have the option of five, four- or three-monthly payments. You will also need to pay a non-refundable deposit to secure your expected delivery date.
- Do you offer gift vouchers?
Yes we have gift vouchers available to the value of R300, R500, R800, R1000 and R1500.
This is an excellent gift idea for a baby shower if the Mother-to-be has indicated that she is interested in my birth photography service.
The vouchers can also be used towards your maternity, newborn and fresh48 sessions.
- How long will it take to receive my final images?
Processing and editing of images takes approximately 10 working days. We usually release selected images to our clients on the same day or the next day, should they want to use the images to announce the arrival of their bundle of joy.
I also include a documentary video with the special moments of the day.
In general we send images via Google Drive for a digital download. We can make up a memory box package for our clients on request and at an additional fee.
- When do you arrive for the birth and how long will you stay?
For a c-section birth I arrive 1 and a half to 2 hours before your scheduled theatre time. My photography style is documenting in nature, so I aim to document each moment of the day in as much detail as possible.
I stay for the delivery and accompany Dad and baby to the nursery to be weighed, measured and to document the first skin-to-skin contact. I wait with Dad and baby until the nurse collect them and take baby to you for their first feed (breast or bottle).
For a natural birth it usually varies. I request that clients inform me when they are 6cm dilated at which point I will go to the hospital. Then I wait as long as the process takes and document the arrival of your baby. I remain with you while I document your baby’s weight and measurement process and capture their first feeding moments.
- What happens if you’re in attendance, but labour stalls?
It all depends on the scenario and information provided by the gynaecologist, but in general I will remain at the hospital. It is difficult to predict exactly how labour will take place from then onward and it is best for me to be there to avoid missing one of the most important moments of your life.
- What if I have a C-Section? Can I still have a birth photographer?
Yes you can. It is just important that all theatre and hospital permission forms are completed by the relevant role players well in advance.
You can also ask your gynaecologist to have a “dropped screen” c-section which makes for incredible photos. It is also an amazing experience for Mom and Dad.
- I am not comfortable with “private shots”; I don’t want graphic pictures, will it be possible to avoid this?
I always ask clients to specify photos that they are not comfortable with and I respect their choices in this regard.
- Have you been in a situation when things go wrong, what did you do and how did you cope?
I have yes. As SABPA affiliated photographers we have a strict code that we have to adhere to in such circumstances. We have been instructed to immediately stop documenting the birthing process and get out of the way of the theatre personnel, or leave when requested to do so.
It is traumatic, but thankfully in each birth, all was eventually well with mom and baby. That is all that matters.
As a photographer you have to remember that you are never to interfere with any process or procedure, never to offer advice or your opinion, unless the mother specifically asks you, and to be a shadow and quietly go about your work without getting in the way of the people who have such a big responsibility during the delivery process.
- Will my images appear online anywhere – website, social media, etc?
I only publish images where I have written consent from the client.
- Is there anything we can do that makes the photography easier for you?
Communication is the key to a successful photographer and client relationship and makes all the difference during the procedure as well.
- Can we arrange a time to meet in person to discuss my expectations?
I recommend a meeting prior to your expected due date to ensure that we are both on the same page of what our expectations are. That way both the client and I feel more comfortable on the day because we are prepared.
The above questions are just a few that I have on my list, and you are welcome to send Leroné any further questions that you may have firstname.lastname@example.org
Here are a few more images captured by the talented Leroné
I am already getting emotional just thinking about what lies ahead. Happy memories and tears for sure.