Get the photographs that capture your labour experience perfectly with these expert tips for natural (and flattering) picture opportunities
Giving birth really is an experience like no other. And while you’re going to be too busy to perfect a labour room selfie, that doesn’t mean you don’t have any control over how your birth is captured.
Getting pictures that are unique to you, as well as being ones you’ll want to treasure and share, is completely possible – just follow these steps.
Have a plan (of sorts)
While you can’t really strategise how your labour will go, if you know you want lots of photos taken then it’s still a good idea to loosely put a plan in place. For example, decide if you want photos once your baby is cleaned up and in your arms, or if you want some snaps of the actual birth itself.
‘Your partner/photographer needs to understand the main stages of labour and familiarise himself with your birth plan,’ says birth photographer Rebecca May Warwick. ‘Everything will happen very quickly – and not always as planned.'
So, make sure your partner knows what he has to photograph – retakes aren’t possible during labour and your baby won’t hang around for his dad to charge his iPhone.
Pack your glam essentials
As well as filling your hospital bag with clothes, nappies, deodorant and your other labour essentials, pack a compact mirror, hairbrush and your go-to beauty products for a quick pre-photo touch up.
Wash your hair
While we can’t all have a hair stylist on hand post-labour a la Kate Middleton, it’s a good idea to wash your hair as soon as your contractions start. It might be hours or, dare we say it, days before you can clean it again and it will help you feel photo ready. Plus, distraction is your friend in the first stage of labour.
Go black and white
Let’s face it, everything looks 10 times better in monochrome. It will cover up any flaws and imperfections (say goodbye to that post-contraction sweat glisten) and be more flattering overall. Opt for an Instagram effect or if you’re doing things properly set your camera's mode to black and white.
‘Black and white is definitely more artistic and directs you to look at the baby’s tiny fingers and toes – instead of the raw colours of birth’ says Rebecca. ‘I present images to my clients in an 80 per cent black and white, 20 per cent colour ratio.'
Get in position
If you’re planning on showing friends and family members your photos at a later date, you may want to make sure your partner doesn’t snap anything too intimate. So, standing at your head is the safest course of action. Or just make sure you edit or delete after the event.
And make sure he stands out of the way and respects the medical team’s space. ‘Your partner should aim to be discreet and move quietly,’ says Rebecca. ‘Encourage him to avoid unnessary discussion about "getting the right shot" or to "look this way" or even "smile", this will disturb you.’
Black and white is definitely more artistic
Know your camera
Make sure your partner understands how to use his camera well in advance of your due date. While a phone’s camera is inexpensive and easy, it does have a downside.
‘If you’re using a phone camera you may need the flash as the quality isn’t perfect,’ says Rebecca. ‘That said, it’s best not to use a flash during labour as it’s very distracting to both the mum and the medical team.’
If you have access to a more advanced camera, your photos will look much more professional and you can play around with the settings to get the best snaps possible. ‘If you own a Digital SLR, opt to use RAW settings to capture your images. You'll need to convert to the RAW or JPEG files in Photoshop, but it gives you greater control over correcting exposure (great if shooting in a low light water birth for instance),’ says Rebecca. ‘A high ISO (the camera's sensitivity to light) and a very wide-open aperture to let in lots of light and get away without using the flash all help get crisp shots under low lighting conditions,’ says Rebecca.
Give your partner some lens time
While the focus should be on you, obvs, your partner deserves a tiny look in. Once your baby’s arrived and your part is over, take control of the camera and capture that first time your partner holds his baby – trust us, it’s a moment he’ll want to look back on. And ask your midwife to take a few snaps of the three of you.
Not sure your man’s up to the task? Good news – you can hire a professional, such as Rebecca. A US trend of hiring a pro to document your labour is becoming increasingly popular in the UK and relieves your partner of the pressure.
Do you have any tips for taking brilliant photos? Let us know in the comments box below.