I'm mad. I'm disappointed. And really, I'm hurt.
I love my job. I love what I do. And I love that birth photography is becoming mainstream and more photographers are opening themselves up to the difficult schedule that comes along with it. But among those photographers, there are some who don't take it seriously. They're booking with clients with zero forethought to what being on call and photographing a birth really entails. I cannot tell you how many stories I've heard from mothers who hired a birth photographer that never showed up. The tales range from photographers who go MIA to ones who just "can't make it" for whatever reason. I've gotten numerous inquiries that sound something like this:
"We hired a birth photographer but she's unavailable now. My due date is next week, we've already spent $xxx so our budget is small, are you available?"
I've compiled a list of questions to ask when considering a photographer, it isn't anything crazy, and any photographer you're considering should be able to answer all of the questions without hesitation. I understand all families have different preferences and different budgets and that's okay! If a new photographer is what you want, hire away. The most important thing is that you hire someone who will meet or exceed the expectations that they give you.
Questions for your birth photographer:
How long will you be on call?
What if I go into labor before you're on call period starts?
Birth is unpredictable, are you available 24/7?
Is there a time limit on how long you will stay with me if my labor is slow?
If you have children, how reliable is your child care?
How far are you from where I'm delivering?
How long will you stay after my baby is born?
Do you carry backup equipment? Including multiple camera bodies, multiple lenses, memory cards, batteries, and flashes.
Do you work with backup photographers? Who are they? Will I need to pay them if you're unavailable?
Do you have a contract?
What happens if you miss the birth?
How long do you take to deliver images?
Can I see full galleries of births similar to what mine will be? (I.e. Hospital/home/csection/etc)
New moms are going through a lot during pregnancy. It is my belief that the service and care providers you hire should be reliable and trustworthy. If someone you meet with seems fishy, or makes you feel "off" in anyway, keep looking until you find someone you love.