The Truth About Photographers

Being a photographer is a lot like being a doctor: most of our job is done behind the scenes and is not as glamorous as you think—okay, I am mostly kidding. Albeit, we do not have a life on the line, nor do we have the student loan bill of a doctor. But they are basically the same, right?! So what does it really take to be a professional birth photographer?

As a birth photographer, I am on call 100% of the time. The month of your due date, I am tied to you and your labor. All vacations, parties, and yes, even family events are put on hold. If I am at a movie when I get a labor call, I leave immediately. You are paying me to be there for you, so that's what I do. 

Let's not forget the time commitment of a birth shoot. I can be in your labor space anywhere between 2-10 hours waiting and photographing. I like to capture all aspects of your birth from laboring to your little one being measured. If that means I am by your side for an entire day, then I am happy to do so! It is your special moment and you are paying me to capture it all.

I always leave room for error when it comes to due dates, because our bodies are unpredictable, after all. For the two weeks before and after your due date, I am on call. If you go into labor any earlier or later, or have an emergency cesarean, I will do my best to be present. Because of emergency situations, my presence in this case is at the discretion of your doctor. In such a case, we can do a First 48 shoot, where I capture your new family in all of its rawness within the first 48 hours of your child's life. These are amazing and precious moments!

While it seems as though equipment would be the most consuming cost as a photographer, time is truly our greatest expenditure. As a model, your job is only to wait after stepping away from a photoshoot, while only half of my job is done. We spend hours behind a computer honing our editing skills, and working to establish a photography style representative of our brand. It can take years to become skilled enough to learn your camera in a way that expedites the editing process, and even longer to define your "look." Even so, a photographer’s style can change as you learn. It is part of the fun, and can be an exploration for the artistic. 

One element of ascertaining an editing style pertains to the equipment you are using. Someone who captures head shots for a living may not necessarily require the same camera or lenses as someone doing birth work. Because birth photography often occurs in less than stellar lighting conditions, it is essential to have a lens that allows as much light in as possible. It is the photographers job to learn which lenses do and do not work with their style and situations. 

Timing is everything when it comes to shoots such as newborn, as many parents eagerly await their photos to send out birth announcements.My current turnaround time for images is 6-8 weeks, with larger shoots such as birth and parties (shoots with more time intensive shooting) falling on the further end of the spectrum. I do my very best to post sneak peeks of your albums on my social media pages to lessen the anticipation, and I am ALWAYS willing to release a photo or two early for you to use for an announcement or invitation. 

I am always adding to my clients growing desire for props, maternity gowns, and clothing for styled shoots. Luckily I have friends at some amazing shops who provide us with beautiful clothing for children's styled shoots! Please shoot me an email if you would like to schedule a styled shoot of any kind. We can also include hair and makeup! Email me for a quote. 

I often am asked if I use photoshop when editing. Whether I am behind the lens, or in front of the computer, I pledge to only practice honesty in my photography and editing. Many people are afraid of looking overly retouched in their photographs, and for good reason; think of those laughably artificial backgrounds and overly smooth faces. Nothing ruins a spectacular set of photos like a botched editing job. Photoshop is a wonderful tool if used properly, and does so much more than remove blemishes and wrinkles. Personally, I do most of my work in Lightroom, and only use photoshop if part of the image is unusual. For instance, if there is a piece of trash in the background, or you have a breakout, I will use photoshop to reduce those distractions. I NEVER remove wrinkles, lines, or beauty marks, and I refuse to add artificial lens flares or light. To me, the natural qualities make each image unique and beautiful, and that includes a dark setting that may be void of natural light. I want your photographs to be honest and nature. After all, it is my job to capture a moment, not fabricate one.

At the end of the day, there are benefits of being your own boss, but the cost in time as well as finances can be great. Being an entrepreneur and business owner is a wild ride, but it is not for the faint of heart! 

You can find Ellie V Design on Instagram and Facebook in addition to www.ellievdesign.com.