Birth Photography FAQ

Why should I hire a birth photographer? My family can take the photos.

Outside the birth of your baby, your wedding was probably the biggest day of your life. You probably had a professional photographer, or even two, to cover that event. Why didn’t you have a family member take your wedding photos? I imagine because you needed to trust the final product and because you wanted all those important family and friends to be IN your photos and not behind the camera.

Having an experienced birth photographer there will ensure the *story* of your baby’s birth is told through photos. It will give you the details that you might miss. It allows your family and friends to support you and not to worry about taking pictures. It ensures the little details are captured that a friend might not think to photograph. It allows your partner to hold your hand and be in the photos. The hours of labor and delivery will pass just as quickly as the hours of your wedding day but your birth photographer will make sure you have the details of the day captured to relive for years to come.

Do I need to talk to my doctor to see if he/she will allow a photographer?

YES! It is your responsibility to make sure your doctor and hospital will allow photography during your labor and delivery. You may be limited to the number of “support” people allowed with you. Please verify the official policies with your doctor and hospital, which might differ. We will need to discuss this at the time of your booking. If you are scheduled to have a c-section, you will probably only be allowed 1 support person during the surgery but please talk to your doctor in advance to see if an exception can be made for 1 support person AND your photographer. It might not happen, but ask. We'll talk about this at our meeting. If I am not allowed in the OR, I will stay close by the doors to photograph your partner and baby being brought out and meeting family and will follow your baby to capture all of those firsts that you will miss from the OR and recovery.

If your doctor or facility restricts photography specifically during the actual delivery (pushing, crowning, delivery), verify with your doctor the ability for me to take photos before the actual delivery, as well as photos immediately after the baby is delivered. Even if the actual birth itself is restricted, I will still be able to get important shots of everything else that day.

Please note that if any unforeseen event occurs that requires treatment or urgent medical attention for you or your baby, or causes the planned delivery method to change (i.e., C-section), I might be required to leave the delivery room for the remaining duration of your labor and delivery. I will still be close by to capture photos of your family and friends waiting for your new arrival, and will return to shooting as the medical staff allows. Keep in mind that the most important thing is that you have a safe delivery, and ultimately your doctor and nurse’s job is more important than mine.

What if I go in to labor at 2 am? Will you be there?

YES, barring any unforeseen circumstance. Babies don’t work on a set schedule so neither do I. I fully anticipate middle-of-the-night phone calls. You do need to keep me updated as early as you think labor might be starting. You will let me know when you think labor is beginning at home (even if it ends up being false!), then again when you are heading to the hospital, and when your doctor confirms you are in active labor and they admit you. My goal is to get to the hospital when you are in active labor and have progressed to about 6-7cm dilated, day or night. Since it may take up to two hours to situate things at my own home and have time to travel to the hospital, it is important to keep in touch with me *EARLY* as labor begins and progresses so I get to you in time.

How long will you be at my birth?

There is no set time limit due to the unpredictable nature of births. I aim to get to the hospital when you are around 6-7cm dilated and will stay up to 2 hours after your baby arrives to capture many of the first moments.

What if I know I am having a c-section?

Regardless of how your baby enters the world, it is worth capturing. It is unlikely that the hospital staff will allow a photographer into the OR but ask your doctor. Even if a photographer is not allowed in the operating room, there are still many moments I will capture outside the operating room with your waiting family and friends. I’ll be there when your support person comes to share the good news and I’ll follow the baby, if allowed, and capture the firsts. Having me there for a c-section is even more important since you will be missing so much while in the OR and recovery. I’ll be your eyes to get the moments you miss.

What if my baby(ies) go to the NICU, what happens then?

Depending on the hospital’s policies, I will do everything in my power to capture all those memories as well. I will take as many photos in the delivery room before your baby(ies) are taken to NICU as long as it doesn’t interfere with the medical staff. If the hospital and medical staff allow, I will follow your partner to the NICU and take as many photos as I can. Of course, I will respect your wishes for NICU coverage. If there is a time that I can’t be near your baby(ies), I will still document the activities outside the NICU with your family and friends.

What is included in the birth photography package?

There are three easy packages to choose from. Please see the pricing section for more details.

What is the “Artbook”?

This is an amazing album that tells your story. Please see the link here to find out more about this fabulous book.

Do I receive every digital image?

I take many images during your session and only use those that truly show your story in the most authentic, yet beautiful way. Not every image is going to be beautiful. Not every image will even be considered for your book or slideshow. Since the slideshow will likely have more images than your book, you will get the high resolution edited versions of the images from your slideshow. That’s generally going to be around 60-75 images, but can be more or less.

How long will it take to receive the images?

I will email you 5 - 8 low-resolution, watermarked images within 24-48 hours of the birth so you can share them with family and friends through email or social media. With your permission, I would be happy to announce the birth on the Leona Darnell Photography Facebook page and start posting a few sneak peeks of the baby so you can share with family and friends awaiting the news. The gallery in which to choose your images for your Artbook will be up in 1-2 weeks. Once you select the images for your Artbook , I will send you page samples for your approval. Once approved you can choose the colors and patterns of your book and any text you would like on the front. The time this takes depends on the time it takes you to make these decisions. I will make it as quick and painless as possible and will give you ideas as I know your focus is on your new little family. Once your order is placed, expect 2 weeks for delivery of your Artbook, slideshow and high resolution images.

How much does this cost?

Please see the pricing page for details.

What forms of payment do you accept?

I use PayPal for credit cards or Debit cards. I also accept cash or checks.

What about payment plans?

I work with you to create a payment plan that works for you. There is an initial, non-refundable, “save-the-date” fee and the balance should be paid by 36 weeks in your pregnancy.

What if I lose the USB flash drive with my images or it is damaged?

Upon delivery of the USB flash drive, it is your responsibility to make additional back-up copies. I do not back-up your images or store them for any period of time. Because I generally do not retain the images after they are delivered to you and you confirm you can open the USB flash drive and see the images, I cannot stress enough the importance of copying/backing up the images upon receipt, and in multiple places!! Be sure to keep up with technology as it changes over the years as well.

I’m worried about “too much” being photographed.

Unless specifically requested by you, and with the approval of your doctor, I don’t take photos from the “doctor’s point-of-view” during the delivery. I usually photograph from near your shoulder or by your hip. We will spend a little time getting to know each other at our consultation and we’ll review what you want and don’t want and I’ll do my best to make that happen. Put your trust in me to take the photos that I feel you will love, but remember, it is always easy to delete a photo you don’t like. No one will see the photos unless you share it with them or give me permission to.

Can friends and family take photos too?

Your friends and family attending the birth are welcome to take pictures, but I ask that they give me priority so I can do what you’ve hired me to do. Please talk to guests beforehand so they are aware that you have asked me to be there. I cannot be responsible for missing shots because of family or friends interference.

I feel so fat and swollen now. Why would I want photographs of me in labor?

I completely understand! I have “been there, done that”. My feet were the size of dinner plates and my legs a hair smaller than tree trunks, BUT, this is another perfect reason to have a photographer who understands these concerns. I want you to love your photos and I do my best to photograph at angles that showcase everything beautiful of this day. I want you to look your best and love your photos. Also remember that your photos will focus on your baby and all the firsts. It will also highlight your support team and family and friends there with you. Pregnant women are beautiful by default! I promise you don’t look nearly as bad as you might feel.

Do you offer any other types of photography like newborn or maternity sessions?

I do! I offer both maternity and newborn. If you book either one of those sessions (or both) at the time you book and pay your “save the date” fee, you receive 50% off the newborn and/or maternity session/sitting fee. If this is something you would like more information about, let”s talk about it at your consultation.

Is there a chance you won’t make it to the birth?

Yes, there is a chance. I am the only photographer at Leona Darnell Photography. Since babies are unpredictable, I never know when a baby will arrive, there is always a chance that two babies could arrive at the same time at different hospitals and I cannot get to you in time. There is also a chance that I could be sick, or that your baby comes outside of the “on-call” time I am not in town. Because of the on-call nature of birth photography, I only book a limited number of births each month to minimize conflicts, but it could happen. In the event I cannot make your delivery for *whatever reason* that is not your fault, and you have kept me updated on your labor as it progressed, you will be given a full refund of any fees you paid to date. I, and Leona Darnell Photography, am only liable for the amount paid in fees for your session.

On the flip side, it is your responsibility to call me as soon as you think labor is starting, even if it ends up being false labor, and keep me posted of your progress. Since it may take up to two hours for me to situate things at home and travel to the hospital, I need a “heads up” as soon as possible. If you do not call to let me know you are in labor early on and I miss the actual birth, the session fee is non-refundable but I will still come to the hospital as soon as I can and have an extended “post-delivery” session to capture many of your baby’s “firsts” and family bonding. In this scenario, there may be less than 100 edited images in your gallery, Artbook and slideshow.

What if I change my mind at the last minute and don’t want pictures?

No problem at all. If you decide to forgo birth pictures for whatever reason, I completely understand; however, any fees paid to that point are non-refundable and non-transferable to another person or another session, since that date was held for you. However, you will not be liable for any more payments.

How far will you drive?

I will travel to any San Luis Obsipo, Paso Robles, Arroyo Grande and Santa Maria area hospitals. I may consider driving further for special circumstances or on a case by case basis which will just depend on how busy I am around your due date. For births outside of a 60-mile radius of San Luis Obispo, CA there will be a $.75/mile fee, each way. There is a better chance that I can photograph out of the Central Coast area if an induction is planned and I can schedule driving time.

How far in advance should we book our birth session with you?

Due to the ‘on call’ nature of birth photography, I take a limited number of births each month. If you choose Leona Darnell Photography to capture this day, please reserve your due date as early as you can. A non-refundable hold-the-date fee is required to be added to my calendar.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me!

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