Let's just get it out of the way:
Things you want to ask, but feel weird asking:
Have a question but don't see an answer? Don't be shy - ask away!
I offer my services in both packages and a la carte items.
You don't need to purchase a package in order to purchase anything a la carte.
|Belly Sessions||$75 | *Free with all birth coverage|
|Packages available||Save up to 15% with packages|
*Choice between a 1 hour belly session & the Growing Belly Saga
(Growing Baby Saga = One 10 minute session every month until the baby is born. Includes one digital image from each month)
Things you want to ask, but feel weird asking:
This is a great question, and I think after you hear my answer, you will have an even greater respect for birth photography. I promise you, I will be writing a blog entry about this very soon, and when I do - I'll link it here :)
Currently, I charge $600 to photograph a birth.
Think about your wedding day. Did you hire a photographer? I would be very surprised if you didn't. That's an event in life when a photographer is a no-brainer. You're hiring one. You set aside some of your wedding budget to take care of it.
I would argue that a birth is almost more important to photograph than a wedding. I love weddings. I love going to them, I love photographing them, I loved my own :) But if you miss something, like a close up of exchanging rings, you could technically recreate it to some extent before the day is over. That's hard to do with a birth ;) This will be the only time this baby will ever be born. EVER.
So let's just say you agree that you would probably hire someone to photograph a wedding. Let that be the standard of importance and allow me to compare it with a birth for a moment.
When I'm hired to photograph a wedding, I know what day it's going to happen. I know what time I need to be there and about what time I'll be home for the night. I know how long I'll be there and at what location. I will know exactly what kind of equipment (cameras, lenses, lighting, etc) I need to bring with me. If I don't have all the equipment I think I'll need, no worries - I can just rent what I need from a vendor. I can plan for exactly who will be watching my children and I'll have plenty of time to get them to their destination before my responsibilities start. I know how much I'll be paying the sitter, if it's not family.
When I cover a birth, it's a little more complicated. I am given a due date and that's it. I have no idea if you'll be two weeks early, on time, two weeks late or something in between. I am typically called to cover a birth in the middle of the night. I'm often asleep already when I'm woken by an incoming text. It's my goal to be out of my house within 10 minutes of that text. In order for this to work, I have to be on call for at least one week before the due date and remain on call until the baby arrives. Yes, that means I might be on call for 3 weeks total.
"On call" means that my bag is packed with my camera equipment, a fully charged battery, an empty memory card and is with me at all times. AT ALL TIMES. During on call, I don't go on vacation and I do my best to stay within about 1 hour of the birthing location. Once I'm called in for a birth, I could be there for two hours, but I could also be there for thirty hours. The longest birth I've ever photographed was 53 hours long. 53 hours. You just never know. Once I get to the birthing location, I do not leave.
I generally have the equipment I will need for a birth, but there really is no alternative. If I don't have an item I think I'll need, trying to rent it from a vendor is next to impossible unless I want to rent it for the entire 3 week on call time.
I have to be an expert in shooting in low light. Especially if a birth happens in the middle of the night, it will pose a challenge. If "mom" has a doula, the doula might insist on the mom laboring in incredibly low light. -Which is wonderful, by the way, and it's important to me that every mom has the best experience possible - But at the same time, I do need light to take pictures :).
I can pretty much only count on family to watch my children when I'm called in to a birth. What babysitter will be available last minute at 2 in the morning :) ? Can you imagine what they'd charge me? No, I have 2 family members on call when I'm on call. There's just no good way around that.
Once I'm home from the birth, then the editing begins.
It's completely normal that I might come home with 1,000 images or more - especially if I've been there for 30 hours. I have to go through all of the images and make sure the white balance is correct, the exposure is correct, nothing is distracting from the main subject matter, sift out the bad ones (blurry, weak composition, etc).
The 8.5x11 Photo Book ($100 additional) is one of the most popular choices. So once the images have been edited, then begins the work of putting an album together. Mom and dad get to be as involved in the process as they'd like, so there may be a lot of back and forth and several changes.
Throughout all of this, I have driven many miles and visited several times with the family. I've driven to and from the initial consultation, to and from the maternity session (which comes complimentary and is worth $150 alone), to and from the hospital (sometimes more than once if the hospital sends the family home), to and from a viewing and ordering session once everything is finished.
The Epic and Legendary collections include medium resolution images ($200 value) and each of those collections paid up front also includes a custom USB ($35 value) of those digital images.
We haven't even talked about working well with others and building relationships with doctors, nurses, anesthesiologists, etc. Or what it takes to market and execute a business focused on birth photography.
And did I mention all of the little surprises along the way? (Of course I didn't - because I want you to be surprised :) ! )
Are you starting to ask, "ANDREA - why aren't you charging $1000??" yet? :)
I'll end with this thought. It's unlikely that I'll ever be able to survive solely on birth photography. I do this work, because I'm passionate about it. There is nothing like being in the room when a miracle enters it. I wish I could photograph a birth every day, for free, but in order for me to continue this wonderful work, there is an investment. But I believe it's worth it.
(in other words ... Do you photograph crowning shots?)
Yes and no. I leave this completely up to each family.
Yes: If mom & dad want it, I shoot it.
No: If they don't want it, there's no reason for me to shoot it. I can't do anything with it. Some hospitals have a policy that no one can shoot that shot anyway (BUT I've found that this is ultimately up to each doctor and I have yet to meet a doctor who tells me no way).
This is a common comment. If we have never met, it's hard to imagine a complete stranger being in the labor and delivery room with you. Thankfully, by the time the baby's on the way, we won't be strangers anymore. In fact, many of the families whose births I have photographed have become good friends. We'll get together months ahead of time, usually, to talk about any questions you have and to make sure we're a good fit. Every birth comes with a complimentary maternity session. You're welcome to choose either the one hour session or the Growing Belly Saga (Growing Baby Saga = One 10 minute session every month until the baby is born. Includes one digital image from each month). So before the baby comes, we'll have seen each other 2-10 times.
As soon as you know you're pregnant! :) I will be so excited to congratulate you. The main reason it's better to book as soon as you can is that I am only able to photograph 2-5 births a month. The absolute worst case scenario would be that two moms go into labor at two different hospitals in two different cities (or even states, if one is in Michigan and one is Indiana). Even if you're not planning on me photographing your birth - if I have you on the calendar, then it affects the births that I am able to book, considering how many commitments there are. The earlier you book with me, the more likely there will be no conflicts between me and your due date. It's very important to me that I am able to honor all of the scheduled coverages and sessions that I commit to.
The best time to schedule your session is sometime within your 7th and 8th months. You will clearly be pregnant, but you won't be too uncomfortable.
Mom/Dad/Designated Caller will give me a text or a call when "Mom" is heading to the birthing location. This should give me enough time to get my small children to their sitter. Once I get to the sitter's, I wait. Mom/Dad/Designated Caller then texts or calls when "Mom" has reached either 5cm or her water has broken. Basically what I'm looking for are signs that we've reached the point of no return. That's when I head to the hospital.
No way :) ! I am happy to photograph a birth wherever a baby is being born. The three main types of locations are usually the hospital, at a birthing center, or at home. I've never photographed an outdoor birth - but I've seen pictures from the west coast :) !
The short answer is: all of Michiana. Michiana includes the counties of Berrien and Cass in Michigan, and St Joseph, Elkhart, La Porte, Marshall and Stark in Indiana.
The longer answer: During the months of November through the beginning of March, I am hesitant to book any births outside of a 30 mile radius. The concern is traveling safety and time. We live in a crazy, wintry area. Driving to a birth at 1 am in a snowstorm is just not ideal. Or safe. Wintry conditions cause longer traveling times. I want to make sure that every effort is made to photograph THE MOMENT your baby enters this world. There are no guarantees anyway, but it's definitely not something I can promise when it might take more than an hour to get to you. All that being said, it's not a hard and fast rule. If you're expecting your baby in the wintry months, start a conversation with me about it. There may be ways we can lessen the risks.
If we got together and had some coffee, you might feel differently. I wish every birth could be photographed. Every baby deserves to be celebrated. And this is just one way to do that. Every birth is unique, special, priceless, the only time it will ever happen for that particular child. It's worthy of preserving. If there's an ounce of consideration in your mind about it, start a conversation with me about it. I would hate for you to miss out without an understanding of what's really involved. But maybe you have considered it fully, and it's still not for you. Yes, I do have a suggestion if you are still looking for images for the very first day that baby is in this world. I call it a Fresh48.
A Fresh48 is a wonderful alternative to photographing a birth. This is when I come to wherever you are to photograph your baby and your family within the first 48 hours after your baby has entered this world. The earliest time of day for a session is 8 am.
Can you believe it, I do not shoot sleep baby poses. If you're looking for sleepy baby newborn poses, there are a hundred other newborn photographers in our area who would be a better fit. In fact, I would be happy to recommend a couple of newborn photographers who I believe are truly the best in the area at this type of photography.
My newborn session is a different flavor. It's more lifestyle photography. I am more interested in capturing those naturally sleepy first days in your home and the new, budding relationships between baby and the family. If your baby happens to be sleeping, wonderful :) !
I do not have a studio building. I would love to have one someday! But I just can't justify it. I don't know that I would ever be there :) ! Part of what sets me apart is that I do a lot of traveling. You are obvioulsy not going to give birth in my studio. When you're having the baby, I come to the birthing location. When you've chosen me for a Fresh48 session, again, I come to either your home or the birthing location. For the newborn lifestyle sessions, I come to your home. For belly sessions and the milestone saga sessions, I often times will come to your home or we'll shoot on location somewhere like a park.
That being said, I do have access to a studio that I share with photographers in the area. It's wonderful in the winter time and is located in downtown South Bend. There is a $30/hour additional fee to use the studio.
Yes and no. I am a bellies, births and babies photographer and that's the subject matter that I choose to specialize in. You really don't want me to photograph other types of photography. If I were a jack of all photography (and I used to be!), I would create good work, I'd like to think, but I don't believe I would ever be THE BEST at any of it. I want to be the best birth photographer in Michiana. I want to spend my time not just on the photography aspect, but also studying what makes a successful, peaceful, wonderful birth experience. I couldn't take the time to study and figure those things out if I were busy photographing everything else under the sun.
The yes comes in when it comes to my clients. I love the families I work with. If someone randomly asks me about 3 year old pictures or a family pictures, I will more than likely refer them to another photographer who I believe will be a great fit. But if it's one of my families who have children whose births I've photographed - what wouldn't I photograph for them? You want me to shoot your 5 year old pictures? Your senior portraits? Your wedding? What a blessing and an honor to photograph someone from the time they were born until the time I photograph their own babies being born :) (I have high hopes). At the same time, I always remind my families who approach me about another type of photography that I do not typically photograph anything outside of bellies, births and babies. I promise you that I will not be up to date on what the cool thing in senior portraits is these days. You might want to reconsider another amazing photographer in the area who is completely on top of senior portraits. I will still love you :) !!
I like to keep things simple. I focus on albums, wall art and digital images.
BUT I have access to just about anything. My favorite lab to work with is Miller's Lab, which is a sister lab to MPix Pro. I have access to any lab that sells to professional photographers, though. If you don't see something you're looking for, just ask :) !