how to photograph your own birth

How to Photograph Your Own Birth {tips from a PROFESSIONAL family & birth photographer}

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Giving birth is a precious moment, one that happens once, yet we strive to relive it over and over again. One way to keep that memory vividly alive, is by taking birth photos! But what happens if you can’t afford a professional birth photographer OR get stuck giving birth in the middle of a pandemic?! (Ahem — like me!) Well, you learn HOW TO PHOTOGRAPH YOUR OWN BIRTH!

First things first, if you CAN afford a birth photographer and are contemplating whether to hire one, go read this post ALL about why you may want to considering hiring a birth photographer.

Now, if you’re like me, had all your plans lined up and then a worldwide pandemic strikes, forcing you to cancel your birth photography plans, then you’re in the right place.

I asked a friend of mine, Erinn Mae, who also happens to be an AMAZING family & birth photographer, if she could share some of her professional input to help teach us how to take the BEST DIY birth photographs. Ready to hear what she has to say?

DIY Birth Photo

How to Photograph Your Own Birth

Hi there! It’s Erinn — Let’s jump into those tips and tricks I have put together for (you) moms to still be able to capture the beautiful and breathtaking moment of your child first entering the world without having a professional photographer in the room due to good ol’ COVID.

Find out what your birth hospital’s policies are

With the ever changing rules going around day by day, it’s first important for you to check in with your hospital to see what restrictions (if any) apply.

For instance, I understand that different hospitals have different regulations on whether or not Dad or any additional person can be in the room, so the tips I share will help you take amazing birth photos with or without having a plus one!

What birth photography equipment will you need?

If you came here wondering what high-tech camera and manual settings you need — you came to the wrong place!

When I shoot births, I want my moms to focus on NOTHING but themselves and their babies; and I want the same for you!

Giving birth and being in the hospital can be stressful; and even more so now with COVID.

There is no reason to add additional stress to your child’s BIRTHDAY! Whether you want photos or video I will give you the best tips to get both…and at the same time!

So first up, the iPhone.

iPhone video has surprisingly high-quality recording capabilities and using a fairly recent model of an iPhone (8 and up) will be completely satisfactory for these DIY photos and videos!

Ready for a cool photo hack? Many individuals do not know that you can do screen grabs from your videos!

This means you can record the entire process and go back in post-shooting and pause and screenshot a specific image in the video to make it a still photo! This is how you will be able to have BOTH photo and video of your birth!

Next up, you’ll need a way to stabilize & position the iPhone of course, which is why I highly recommend this super affordable tripod (and it comes with a Bluetooth remote control compatible for iPhones/Androids for you to control the shutter).

Lastly, you’ll want to have a reliable charger to make sure your phone never runs out of life during this super special moment. I highly suggest this portable charger(but make sure you double-check it’s compatible with your smartphone before purchasing).

baby and mom

How do you film your birth (and take photos from the video)?

Ready to find out how easy it is to turn a video moment into a still photo?

  1. Record your video
  2. Play the video back on your phone
  3. Pause video on the image you want to be captured.
  4. Tap the photo (this will get rid of the pause screen and make the photo full screen)
  5. Screenshot — easy peezy!

Now that you have your videos and still photos- you are probably wondering..who will take the video for me? How will they know what to capture?

As I said before, I want all of you moms to experience little to NO stress on your child’s birthday.

I also want you to live in the MOMENT and not worry about lighting/positioning/etc.

Focus on your child and their first moments in life!

Plus, having a person doesn’t always guarantee a better outcome. For instance, my dad ended up recording my sister’s delivery with the lens cap on THE ENTIRE TIME, so all we got was some great audio, ha-ha! But that is okay because they were in the moment instead of living it behind a lens!

However, I don’t want you to worry as this will not be you!

The easiest way to get the best set up is with the tripod I mentioned earlier. From there, follow these next steps to set it up:

  • Set up your phone on the tripod on one side of the bed. 
  • Move the tripod away from the bed and center it in the middle of the bed (think of somewhere around your belly button).
    > This angle (if set far enough back) will be able to get a full-body shot. You will be able to capture what is going on with Mom and baby as he/she arrives!
  • Make sure that Dad or your plus one stands on the OPPOSITE shoulder of the side of the tripod (unless they’re going to be taking the photo/video).
    > This will prevent their backs from blocking you and baby from the shot.
  • If you have time to check the angle on the camera I would. Lie in bed (hit the remote button) and do a few test shots/videos to make sure what you want is within the frame.
  • BEFORE you hit the record button on the remote- check and make sure that your phone is set to VIDEO and NOT photo. Unfortunately, the remote can not choose between video or photo for you so you must manually select that on your phone prior to the remote. I don’t want you to hit the remote once and end up with only one photo!
  • If you do not have a plus one, I would suggest setting up the tripod and then ask your (female) nurse to check the screen and make sure it is on VIDEO and there is a wide framed shot! I specify female because let’s be real, the majority of us women are underground Instagram models (LOL) and they can check an angle much better than their men co-workers 😉 Sorry guys- it hurts but its true. 
  • The last step, make sure that your phone is FULLY CHARGED. Hence why I recommended using a portable charging battery for your phone. It would be devastating to go through this entire process just to have your phone die 2 minutes into your baby’s day of birth. Not happening on my watch, ok?

You’re now 100% ready to start recording your baby’s big debut!

But wait…how do I edit my own birth photos?

So, this is the hardest part; and what you pay us photographers the big bucks for – the editing. 

One little tip is that you can often post in a local Facebook group or reach out to a photographer that you may know and ask them to edit them for you!

Most photographers have fairly affordable edit rates—especially for brides and moms who were unable to have a professional photographer at their event due to COVID.

If you aren’t able to find anyone, you can reach me at www.erinnmaephotography.com and I would be more than willing to work with your budget for editing.

I know those first few months post-birth can be EXHAUSTING and the last thing you need to do is worry if your contrast is too bright or what photo editing app to use. Definitely doesn’t need to be an added stressor on your already hectic postpartum recovery list!

For all my DIYers, if you do not want to pay to have a professional edit them — my best advice for editing is to do so in black and white! If you search Instagram, you will see a large majority of birth photographers edit their birth photos to be black and white! This is for a few reasons:

1. Hospital room lighting is harsh. Nobody glows under fluorescent lighting. 

The black and white edit helps lessen the harshness of the bright lights and shadows.

2. Black and white photos creates such a sense of EMOTION!

I feel that when I truly want to bring out the emotion in a raw and candid moment- black and white do that best!

To edit your photos in black and white, any free editing app on your phone can make them black and white. In fact, I know the standard iPhone photos have the option to edit into black and white. I would, however, suggest upping the contrast with this to increase the captured emotion. 

I hope that all these tips and tricks help make your experience less stressful and I have no doubt you will capture memories of a lifetime!

newborn baby skin to skin

How to Photograph Your Own Birth – RECAP

Ok, did Erinn provide some EXCELLENT tips or what?! Let’s recap so you have all the fine details about capturing the photos/videos of baby’s day of birth:

  • You really only need 3 main pieces of equipment — a camera/phone, tripod, portable charger.
  • Recording a video and then grabbing screenshot photos is a great (and easy) way to record your ENTIRE birth and look back at those still shots.
  • Positioning your tripod to ensure you have a full-body shot of you and baby (and dad) is the best way to get a good video and some still shot photos.
  • Ask your nurse to double-check your setup before pressing play.
  • Make sure your phone is 100% charged before getting set up.
  • Feel free to contact Erinn to inquire about her photo editing services if it isn’t something you’re comfortable editing on your own & don’t forget to head over and check out her beautiful photos on Instagram!

To download a PDF copy of the tips in this post to pack inside your hospital bag, don’t forget you can grab a copy HERE!

We hope you have the most AMAZING birth experience with lots and lots of captured memories to look back at forever!

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how to photograph your own birth

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