What is the true cost of birth photography? - A Colorado Birth Photographer Answers

I have been wanting to write these words for a while now but it’s only been recently that I have the mind to articulate my feelings about this very topic. Here is the piece my heart and head wrote. . . 

One thing you can be sure about me, I don’t do it for the money. Sure money is nice, it gets you things and experiences you may not have otherwise been able to enjoy. Money allows for certain things in life, opens certain doors but it’s never been fulfilling in my life. Rather the opposite actually. It’s never the actual amount of money that fulfills me, but rather how I choose to save or spend it. 

Often when I tell someone what I charge for my services, I get an “Oh, wow! I am in the wrong business!”, or “Why are you so expensive?”. Every time I get a comment like this, it stings a little. Yes, hiring me isn’t cheap. It may take some months to save up for, or pay off. However, the families I serve would tell you time and time again….it was all worth every penny. 


"When I say yes to a new family, I am saying no to something else I hold dear in my life"


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When I say yes to a new family, I am saying no to something else I hold dear in my life. I say no to extra time with my kiddos that just won’t stop growing. I say no to extra time with my husband, my life partner. I say no to extra time nurturing the friendships I’ve worked hard to cultivate over the years. I say no to quiet time alone with a book, or to be real…binge watching Hulu. I say no to an extra glass of wine, or trips more than an hour away from home in case I need to make a mad dash to a birth. I said no to staying until the end of my daughters 3rd birthday because I needed to get to a birth. I also said no to letting the heartbreak in the morning my sister in law passed away and I was 2.5 hours away from my husband, at a birth. 

Those are the true costs of my business though I could go on and on in detail about all the actual costs and expenses that I have. The thousands of dollars in equipment I own and carry with me to each and every birth. The even more thousands I spend each year on software, editing tools, image hosting, prints, products, education, insurance, taxes, travel, childcare and so on and so forth. The list would burn your eyes to be honest, and in fact I almost quit doing what I love to do most because of said list earlier this year. 

But I didn’t.

Instead I priced myself in such a way that allows me to not just pay my costs and keep burning my candle at both ends to keep up. I decided I would price myself appropriately to allow me to not just survive my business, but to thrive. I prayed, and trusted the Lord that He would bring the right people into my life. The kinds of people that would not just look at my pricing and turn the page, but to see the true value in the way that I serve the world. I priced my self so that I can continue to say yes to my people, the families that I adore. But that I can also say yes to more time with my kids, and husband making memories of our own. I realized that telling my own story is just as important as the time I take to tell it for my clients.


"When I say yes to a new family, I say yes with my whole heart."


colorado birth photography

When I say yes to a new family, I say yes with my whole heart. I say yes to serving with the tools and talent the Lord has provided me. I say yes to sharing love and laughs with a whole new group of people in the most sacred space imaginable. I say yes to beautiful new memories of my own, while I capture memories they will cherish for a lifetime. I say yes to a wonderful passion of birth and community and joy. 

Money is just money. It is not the bread and butter of my business.

True connection to my families that I serve, is. Money is not the “why”, but only the “how” I do what I do. YOU are the why. People like you, that read my blogs, follow my story, value my work and see the love and intention behind everything that I produce. You are my people. You are my WHY. 

If I could, I would do each birth for free. If time was infinite, and money expendable. Only in a perfect world. However I always tell my clients even families that choose to not hire me to always choose wisely. Interview your birth team, ask for packages, or payment plans because this time you never get back. The time you spent away from home earning the money to hire your birth team, much less raising a new baby, you never get back. Be picky, be choosey, you deserve to be. And this year I finally realized, so do I. 

So, I no longer choose to fill my calendar with so many births and sessions that I am overflowing and quite frankly, overwhelmed. I save those precious spots in my calendar for my clients, my people. I not only prayed for the right people but also for the right attitude and knowledge to run my business in a different light. I now serve in a much different way than I did before. Saying yes to me means you say yes to the best person and photographer I know how to be in this moment. I’m not perfect, and never claim to be, but I do give my very best with each new family I encounter. I always want to walk away from births with new friends, and I do.

I hope that more birth photographers, can start to value themselves in this way. I hope more birth workers and families can start to see us this way too. Instead of being envious, or disgusted by our prices, I hope we can rejoice in the fact that a fellow woman and entrepreneur has found her worth. That she serves both her clients and her family in the best way that she knows how. And that we can gather around her and choose to love and support her. This is my hope. 


"You are my people. You are my WHY." 


Colorado birth photography

Birth photography in the O.R. - My thoughts on the increase in popularity - Colorado Springs Birth Photographer

2016 was a fantastic year for empowering birth choices. One of my favorites; photographers being allowing in the OR. This is still pretty widely unpopular for the majority of cesarean births across the country, however in Colorado it's becoming more popular and I am in love with the trend. 

Many of my colleagues have been allowed into more of them this year, it seems, than in past years. At my last cesarean I attended of 2016 I had the pleasure of speaking with the very kind anesthesiologist that played a huge role in allowing me to document the cesarean birth for my client. She said to me that she was happy to allow me in, and that she recognizes the fact that this is their birth story and not hers. Hers is an attitude I am excited to see spreading amongst others in her field. 

It truly is an exciting time to be a birth photographer. To be able to document births of all shapes and sizes. But it makes me wonder, what might be a drawback of this new trend? What is it about photographers in the OR that still makes the medical staff leary? And what can we do to avoid tarnishing this blessing of an opportunity for us and our clients, before it really begins? 

Get a grasp on the hospital policies..
I would have to say that Colorado is one of the most birth photographer friendly states. There isn't a hospital that I have walked into that hasn't allowed me to photograph almost every aspect of birth for my clients. I haven't been asked to leave a room yet. Though I have been asked not to photograph certain things by certain nurses/doctors. However it seems like for the most part, everyone is pretty on board with the family getting those precious pictures. So why is it that when a mother calls one of the most birth photographer friendly hospitals in the Springs to ask if I can be in the room, the answer is absolutely not? The answer is not as simple as we'd hope. To my knowledge, every hospital in the state's policy says they does not allow photography and recording. Then why when I show up to a hospital birth I am greeted with a warm welcome? I gathered from the nurses that photography in the rooms are ok, but not outside of the rooms/main lobby areas. It seems though, every time I ask about the policies, I get a different answer. However I've concluded all is safe as long as you are not photographing where other sensitive patient information can be recorded. Because the staff is trying to follow HIPPA guidelines for the safety of their patients, birth photography can fall in a grey area, and cesareans are even more challenging to categorize, but for different reasons. 

 

colorado springs birth photographer
colorado springs birth photographer


So what can we do, as photographers, to make sure we are following the rules?
Being friendly and professional, and steer clear of photographing in the lobbies, nurses stations, or other patients in the hospital, is a great start if you are new to the birth photography world. As a birth photographer, I am walking a fine line between policy and patient rights and care. The staff can get into trouble if a birth photographer is careless with where she is documenting. This is especially true in the OR, where doctors are still unsure about inviting photographers in. They are concerned for the safety and health of the patient, and making sure they minimize the risk of infection. Having an extra, untrained person, in the OR can be worrisome for this reason. So I make sure to ask questions about where I am allowed to be in the OR, or follow the instructions they do give once I am allowed in. If more and more doctors and medical professionals see that we can handle the task, this will only continue to open the door for our clients and their birth choices. And now that more hospitals are starting to make cesarean births more family centered with skin to skin, here in the Springs, I am also hopeful that photography in the OR will become more of a norm rather than an obstacle. 

colorado springs birth photographer

I want to send a big shout out and much gratitude to the hospitals that have allowed me into ORs last year. University in Denver, and Memorial North and St. Francis in Colorado Springs. You've made such an impact on the handful of families lives here in the Springs, but also on the community as a whole. Because of you, we are one step closer to being able to provide our clients with these wonderful memories they will cherish all their lives. You are making a difference in making these families feel heard, feel loved, and feel important. That truly means more than you know. Thank you.  

colorado springs birth photography
colorado springs birth photography - cesarean

My baby turned 6 today- My Birth Story - Colorado Springs Birth Photographer

I have a 6 year old, as of today. 
This was the 6th morning that I stood in my kitchen, whisking together eggs, flour, sugar, milk, and all the other pancake necessities, on November 29th. Birthday pancakes. A tradition we started with Jocelyn and continue with each of our daughter's birthdays. It's sort of now become expected of me, and I don't mind it one bit. 

My mind is blown just thinking at how fast the time has gone. I haven't actually written Jocelyn's birth story down, and I think it's about time. I realized just how much of her -and really my- birth story has escaped my memory as I was re-telling the tale this morning to her. She was so cute staring up at me, sitting cross legged on the kitchen floor while I flipped cakes, doe eyed and smiling listening to me tell it. But I stumbled through it, piecing things back together as they started coming back. It's funny the way memory works, or maybe it's just my memory. How I can remember things like they just happened, still hear them, smell them and taste them. Yet others will forever remain fuzzy no matter how many people tell me the details. Both of my births are like that. I have extremely vivid images of certain moments, and the others are just gone like they never happened even though I know intellectually they did. It's in these instances when I so regret not having a photographer at my births. I am thankful for the pictures that I do have. They are my treasures. 

November 28th, 2010 - Sometime around 11:30pm

I could have sworn that I heard my water break as I snuggled into my blankets that night. I closed my eyes, my face turned away from the small tv I left on with my favorite show at the time (That 70's Show). I was just about to drift off to the background noise when I heard and felt a muffled 'pop'. Immediately feeling like I was about to wet my bed, I did my best not to as I scooted off my bed and made my way to the bathroom. I remember thinking, "that's my water, I just know it". However it wasn't a huge gush, and I was able to somehow hold it until I arrived at the toilet, but only just so. If I were to have taken a deep breath I'm sure that wouldn't have been the case. So then I thought "well maybe that's just my bladder finally giving up on me." I mean, I was pretty huge.

When I was almost 100% sure that whatever it was, was coming from my uterus and not my bladder, I decided to call Ben. Who by the way is her father and my husband as of December 12, 2012. I remember calling him while sitting on my porcelain throne waiting for 'it' to stop, but was persistently trickling out. I think I called about 6-10 times before he picked up. Poor guy was so tired when he finally did answer I was greeted with a very groggy "hello?". 

Me: "Ummm, I think my water just broke."
Him: "What?"
Me: "Yea. I'm pretty sure my water broke."
Him: "Well....are you sure?"
Me: "I'm pretty sure."
Him: "Well, why don't we wait a little bit just to be sure."
Me: "No, I'm thinking you should probably head this way."

After some convincing that it was time, he hopped in his Honda Civic and was at my door within the hour. In the meantime, I alerted my mom who was frantically getting things together; snacks, Gatorade, waters, etc. I, feeling pretty good at this point and contraction free decided to go ahead and take a shower and shave my legs and things, because well...you know. Feeling fresh and clean I started getting dressed and ready when the contractions started to hit me. They started pretty slow and cramp like. I remember thinking that it didn't feel too bad, just like I was having some intense period cramps. This was going to be a breeze. 

Boy was I wrong. I don't think my 18 year old brain could have wrapped it's mind around the gravity of the situation quite yet. My plan was to labor at home for as long as I could, with my partner's and my mother's help. After reading the book "Birthing From Within" I knew for certain that I didn't want to have any interventions and I was going to try and go all natural. I got on my birth ball, turned the lights down and got to work. Ben read his labor partner book while I continued to labor. 

Somewhere between 2 and 2:30am, my contractions were becoming very intense and I decided that I needed to head to the hospital. I remember that long cold, painful walk to the passenger side of the car. This is where things start to become fuzzy and where I entered what they call labor land. Labor land is this fun place your mind takes you where all you can see, feel, think, and breathe, is contractions. Nothing matters in your immediate surroundings other than the enormous task you have been given; getting this baby out, and fast. Since I was still leaking fluids, I think Ben offered his coat as a sacrifice for me to sit on in the car. It was about a 15-ish minute drive to the hospital. While exiting my neighborhood on the snow packed streets, we came upon a couple of deer crossing the road. Probably wouldn't have been so scary if we weren't already stressed from the impending birth and the fact that we were trying to slow down on ice, in a Honda Civic, while working against the gravity of the hill we were on. Luckily, the deer survived.

We got to the hospital, and somehow the walk/trip into triage from the car isn't something I remember but I got there all the same. I remember feeling like the contractions were blending into one, just a constant non stop pain. And that irrefutable feeling to poop. I know now that those are pretty clear signs of transition and a baby will most likely be born very very soon, but I didn't know that then. I'm not exactly sure how I convinced the triage nurse to let me try and poop but I did. All I wanted to do was be in a small space, by myself, in my own clothes and maybe poop, or maybe push a baby out. Either way, I would have been happy. But triage felt like an eternity, and to compound the issue, my triage nurse wasn't the warmest person. One of those things that I do remember pretty vividly was grabbing Ben by the shirt and crying and begging for it to stop and pleading with him that I just couldn't do this anymore. His teary gaze met mine, and I had never seen him look so upset and helpless. 

In the midst of all of what seemed like hours of chaos, but I'm sure was only like 30 minutes to an hour,  I was already derailing from my birth plan. That made me feel so helpless. I know now after having two of these, that birth plans are a sweet idea, just not totally rooted in reality most of the time. Birth is it's own beautiful creature. Looking back with perfect vision, I shouldn't have taken that offer of that intravenous drug that would just "take the edge off". It ended up making me feel quite dizzy, sick, and well..drugged. I wasn't sure if it was really helping the pain, or just making me not care as much. It soon wore off, and I was back at square one. I think the nurse was all too happy to give this to me to make me be quieter. Another pretty vivid memory was her brushing my concerns to the side and making me feel like I was overreacting to the pain I was in. Yet another hit to the ego and I wasn't even in my birthing space. 

Once I was able to get a room, I believe I was right about 7-8 cms. The drug they gave me wasn't doing anything really that helpful and I was in a world of pain I had not properly prepared for. I'm pretty sure there is nothing you can really do to prepare for something like birth when it's your first time. The only thing that prepares you for birth is BIRTH. I was definitely more emotional and mentally equipped the second time around, resulting in a beautiful home birth. But I thank my hospital expierence for prepping me for it. You can't have the positive without the negative. I love my baby Jocelyn, and I wouldn't trade her or my expierence having her for anything though. 

It didn't take much convincing for me to go ahead with the epidural, me being in the mental state that I was in. Ben was so loving and supportive and just wanted what was best for me in the situation. Anything that I chose he would have been behind me 100% on. Now that I am always on the outside looking in at births, seeing an epidural being administered and actually having one is extremely different. And for obvious reasons. However there was an insane amount of fear that coursed through my body while I was listening to the anesthesiologist talk to me about what it was, what he was going to do, and what could potentially go wrong. The fact that I signed a waiver stating that I couldn't sue the hospital if I accidentally became paralyzed afterwards or something equally as awful, tells you something about the state I was in. It wasn't like I was 24 hours deep in the throes of natural labor, like some of the incredible women I've witnessed. I needed the relief, and I was only about 4 hours in and on the edge of birthing a baby.

I could tell the nurses were getting impatient with me, and so was the doctor. Somewhere in the middle of all of this they decided to put an internal monitor on my baby. Internal monitors are little wires that go just under the skin of the baby's scalp as to give a better representation of the baby's status. I'm not sure it was completely necessary, but as a first time mom, who am I to question it if they say it's for my baby's well being?

When it was time to push, I did it the good old fashioned way; on my back. I used to think this was a horrible position, now I think it's actually pretty great if you are choosing it and it's comfortable. But to be forced to be on your back because you were told that's your only choice now that you have had a catheter shoved into your spine by the world's longest needle to stop you from feeling not only pain but everything from the belly down...isn't fun. I ended up pushing for more than 2 hours, in front of my mom, Ben, and a few nurses that didn't quite give me the warm fuzzies. With the dead weight of my legs in their grasp, he and my mom helped me push. Cramming my legs as far back as they would go I worked, breathed, and listened to them count to 10 over and over and over again. It was exhausting...for everyone.

I remember at one point Ben trying to be supportive and coach me through the pushing phase saying, "See that clock over there? Just push and aim to shoot her out right at that clock." 

The nurse looked worried and confused saying, "Um, it doesn't quite work that way."

(duh..)

My doctor came in and I believe it was in their best interest that she was there to speed things along. The words "cut" and "forceps" were introduced and before I knew it I felt my body jolt by the near 8 pound baby sliding out of me in a hurry. One of the best parts of my birth was the fact that she was handed right to me after being born. I needed that. Even though I felt like I was holding a bomb, and I didn't quite know what I was supposed to do. An overwhelming feeling of confusion, and extreme exhaustion flooded over me. Going from nearly a year of pregnancy, and just over 9.5 hours of labor including more than 2 hours of pushing to now in an instant holding an extremely fragile human being, was quite an overwhelming expierence. I always thought that the moment I met her would be this magical moment, and well in a way it definitely was. I remember looking up and seeing tears welling up in Ben's eyes, gazing at her and I with such love. My mom of course bawling and frantically snapping the camera like I had requested of her. (Thank you mama.) People were asking me all kinds of questions I couldn't comprehend, and my body was agape on an uncomfortable bed and spotlighted for the world to see. Even though I didn't have tears of joy like I thought I would, I couldn't stop looking at her and examining her. It felt so instinctual, and at the same time so foreign. In the same breath all I wanted to do was pass her off to someone else as those intense hormonal shakes started setting in on top of my already numb and depleted body. I didn't want to drop her.

The cord was of course cut within moments of birth, and the placenta was rushed along as well. I remember them taking her to be washed and weighed while my 4th degree tear was stitched back together. The rest of what followed isn't apart of my memory. I believe I fell asleep next to a hospital jug of water and bags of snacks, waking up to be carted off to my recovery room. Most of my birth plan was set on fire, but a few pieces remained; she slept in my room next to me in her little bassinet, (but really for the most part on mine or Ben's chest), and I got to try and breastfeed her with their awesome help. She was quite healthy for the most part, aside from her high bilirubin levels resulting in weeks of jaundice. Which we cared for by the help of what we called, her little baby tanning bed. That was quite the journey as well. 

Despite all the bumps in the road, I couldn't deny her perfection. She was all I could have ever asked for and more. An intense love for her quickly developed in those first few hours after I came to and most of the grogginess wore off. Another memory burned in my brain is the humiliating adult diapers and the tremendous pain I felt from the episiotomy. Those weeks of recovery were quite possibly the worst weeks of my life. On top of having a newborn that kept me sleepless; all my waking hours were spent in pain, sitting, standing, and laying down. Formula was introduced at the hospital and my breastfeeding journey came to an end fairly soon after we arrived back home. Any breastfeeding I did do was supplemented and was almost purely for sentimental reasons, which I am glad I did anyway. 

The birth of Jocelyn was an extremely transformative moment for me, but not as much as the past 6 years have been. She's become one of my very best friends, and truly one of the two brightest stars in my sky. Mothering her and Elise is truly my greatest accomplishment. I love that I have this expierence to shed a light on the path that I knew I wanted to strive for the next time. Each of their births are so incredible, and though this was life altering my homebirth was one of the most empowering moments of my life. I can't wait to reflect and write on Elise's birth in February. She will be 3 and I can't hardly believe it. Her birth sparked my love for not just birth but for homebirth and for empowering birth choices! Thank you to those that have actually read this long winded story of mine, I hope you enjoy these non-professional images my sweet mother captured for us...

 

I want to thank you - Colorado Springs Birth Photographer

As I sit here this evening deep in thought about my own family and the children I am raising I can't help but think about the children and families that I come into contact with as a birth photographer. I mean, I really am there at the crux of it all; to witness and document people become parents as it unfolds. When a belly becomes a baby, and a couple becomes a family, even if for the second of third time. It's truly miraculous.

When I really stop to think about it, I don't feel at all fit for the job. To be apart of such a journey. Your journey. I feel deeply touched that so many families have allowed me to come and sit with them while they go through it all. Gratitude is all I have for each of you who have. I've walked away from each birth a better and stronger person and mother, and learned something new each time.

For every late night, and early morning phone call. Each rushed drive, and brisk walk into the hospital. Naps on couches and against doula shoulders. For all the snacks and warm coffee enjoyed waiting. Or those heart pounding moments I arrived just in the nick of time. Every grunt and yell, as you worked so hard. All those silent moments spent with your partner concentrating. Those that pushed for hours, or just a few moments. To those incredible mothers who birthed precious babies in the OR. Each little finger and toe you spent nearly a year making. All the tears that streamed from your face the moment you met your baby. All the tears I've choked back as to not to miss a single moment. And for every transformative moment you allowed me to witness..

I want to thank you. Thank you for all that you do for your families and your babies. The work you do as mothers and fathers is the most important work there is. And thank you for seeing value in me and the work that I do and inviting me to capture these moments. 

Baby Wearing, what is it? - Colorado Springs Birth Photography and Doula Services

Colorado Springs birth photographer, Denver birth photographer, colorado springs birth photography, colorado birth photography


Baby-wearing is when you wear your baby in some type of carrier such as a ring sling, wrap, or buckle carrier. 
There are so many benefits to baby-wearing. Baby-wearing has made being a mom of two boys so much easier. One benefit of baby-wearing is convenience. Wearing your baby allows you to keep your baby close to you while being completely hands free. In fact, you can nurse your baby in most carriers which then allows you to breastfeed your baby completely hands free. Baby-wearing parents also experience their babies crying less often and learning more. 
One common misconception is that only non-mobile babies can be worn. I think that wearing my baby now that he's walking is even more crucial than before because I can actually keep him with me when we are running errands. Each carrier will have a weight range and you can wear your baby as long as you want as long as your baby's weight falls within your carrier's limits. I mostly wear my baby in a Tula soft structured carrier. My standard Tula goes up to 45 pounds which is about ten pounds more than my 3 year old weighs. They even have a toddler Tula which goes up to 60 pounds! 
There are so many types of carriers. Choosing a carrier can be difficult because of how many there are to pick from. One piece of advice from me is to try on a few carriers before purchasing one. I love my Tula but just because I love it doesn't mean it's going to be the perfect fit for you. We all have different bodies, different babies, and different lifestyles. 
If you're local to Colorado Springs, we have a baby wearing international group that hosts meetings each month where you can try on different carriers, ask questions, and get help with your carrier. Members are even able to check out a different carrier each month so that you can really know what you like before spending the money on one. 
 
For more information on Babywearing International Colorado Springs visit:


-Zoe West
Rock Your Baby Birth Services
 

Videography FAQ's - Colorado Springs birth photographer and videographer

A little while ago I released a birth film of a beautiful friend and fellow birth photographer's birth. It was the first time I had been hired solely for video. In the months preceding the birth I honed my skills with every birth I went to. I think this went in my favor, as the final product gathered an unbelievable response from people across multiple states. It quite frankly, shocked the hell out of me that within 24 hrs of publishing this video it had been shared a couple hundred times and viewed over 11k times. I began to feel extremely nervous that so many people, people that have been doing this so much longer than I could have potentially watched my amateur film. Which in my opinion, has so much room for growth and lots of errors that I only saw later. However, artist are their own worst critics, and I was pleasantly surprised to see such an interest in video in the birth photography groups that frequent. I collected some questions from the group that I created, and decided that I would create a file in the group and a shareable blog post answering them so that maybe I might be able to help some aspiring birth videographers out there. 

:::*DISCLAIMER*:::
I am not a pro. I REPEAT, I AM NOT A PRO. I am still very much a beginner with my knowledge of the technical aspect of video, audio and video editing. However, I was and am happy to share my thoughts and things that I do know with you all. That being said, enjoy!

How to do you do both video and stills?
Brezi’s answer: I tend to shoot and get hired primarily for stills only. I have made it a point, however, to grab clips video here and there at every birth. I do this for a couple of reasons. 1: quite honestly, before Monet’s birth, I really wanted to make sure that I went into her birth fully prepared, skill wise. She is the first client to ever hire me for video instead of stills. So every birth I attended before her’s I would make it a point to practice my video skills by doing this. I shot different angles, different scenes, different exposures, all of it. I would do this without my clients really knowing that I was and create a fusion video for them to, again, continue to practice editing and such. This was something that I gifted to them in preparation for my one video client. Anyways, the point being; I would find lulls in the action to grab 5-20 even 30 seconds worth of video clips during labor and just after the birth. I would sometimes if I thought I had enough time, grab some during pushing, and then switch back to stills for the duration of the birth and into the first 15 or so minutes of postpartum. I slowly started getting my bearings, and started getting used to this whole switching back and forth thing, while keeping a steady hand, and I started switching almost immediately after grabbing those crowning/birth/first moments of stills. That way in post of a fusion video I would be able to put it together sort of seamlessly without having much of a break of video footage.

How do you edit your video (Color correct)?
Brezi’s answer: I edit my color and all of my video in Adobe Premiere Pro. It’s $15/mo I believe, at the moment. I use the “lumetri color” correction that comes built in. I do like this, however, it is not amazing. So what I like to do if make sure that my in camera footage is almost perfect before trying to edit. I believe that there is a setting on my camera (Nikon D800, full frame) in which I can change my video mode to neutral, which helps in post. That way when you are color correcting, you will have an easier time adding things to the video, like contrast, saturation, or even editing the white balance. I tend to stay away from editing the white balance and just stick with what my auto WB gives me in camera. I am sure once I get better I will be able to delve into all of that stuff. But for now, I stick with what I know.

How to market video?
Brezi’s answer: I am probably the worst person to ask advice about marketing anything. I honestly don’t know how I made it this far with Google, and Facebook and all the things. However I can say that Facebook is a powerful, powerful tool for marketing visuals, especially video. I would create a very intriguing piece of content, post to your FB biz page, and boost it. Share it, ask others to share too. I want to expand on this idea of calling something “intriguing”. We all love, or at least like to watch our own videos, and see our own posts or read our own thoughts, but other people might not. When you make something to be shared, like a birth video, keep it relatively short. I think 10 minutes for a birth video is a good length for sharing, others may say shorter. I would not go longer than that. People loose interest. Monet’s video was almost 10 mins, and I think that if I didn’t have so many things happening with angles, blurs, the music and clips keeping in sync and all of that, it probably would not have been as intriguing to watch for almost 10 whole minutes. I actually worried that it would be too long and that I would need to shorten in for sharing. Anyways, point being, when creating videos for clients, you must keep in mind also your audience if you intend to share. I think it is a good idea to create a shorter share worthy vide and a longer video for the parents. I know as a parent watching my birth video, I would have probably wanted to see every deleted scene and hear every word that was caught on tape. But FB land…..definitely doesn’t want that.

I take some video at births, but don’t know what I am doing or how to charge for it. Suggestions?
Brezi’s answer: That’s great that you do that! After my practice of taking video at each birth in preparation for my video only client, I continue to grab video at each birth as well. Here are somethings that I think you can do with this footage, and things I have done. I created a Father’s day video, and included some video clips from birth clients that did not pay me to do that. I always ask permission before just doing these things, obviously. Also, I have in the past and plan to continue writing clients personal handwritten thank you cards after the baby is born, and including a simple reminder that I did grab some video footage at their birth and that if in the future they would like to purchase a fusion video slideshow, they can do so. I charge $500 currently for these. Also, if you would like to start practicing editing, take those clips and some images, get yourself a song and start gifting your previous clients some videos. You get more practice, and your clients will most likely share the video, giving you more exposure. They will probably be so over the moon about this unexpected gift, that they will sing your praises to all of their expecting friends.

Doesn’t it take longer to edit?
Brezi’s answer: Yes, and no. It just depends on what you are doing really. I think in general if a birth of stills takes me about 2-3 hrs over all time to complete and send off, a video takes me at least twice that amount. A couple of reasons factor in for me: 1, I have kids, and hardly any time to myself lol. 2 my premiere shuts down on me like every 10 minutes and it drives me insane I could set flame to my computer. 3 I am an artist, and I like things perfect…perfection takes time. The of course it takes time finding music, culling clips (because premiere likes to show me my clips out of order…ARG) and then finally putting it all together, color correcting and applying a stabilization filter to some of them (this is my biggest pain).
So YES, for me it definitely takes longer. However, if you are just starting out and just getting a feel for video editing, you don't need to color correct, and stabilize right away. Cut those out until you get more comfortable with aligning your clips in a sequence that makes sense, and get comfortable with using transitions and making it flow nicely without needing to use every single clip captured while still telling the story.

How do you expose for low light situations? What settings do you sent your camera to?
Brezi’s answer: I read or saw somewhere that it was best to keep video SS between 1/30th and 1/60th of a second to get the most realistic look and motion blur. But I will let this guy explain further : https://vimeo.com/blog/post/frame-rate-vs-shutter-speed-setting-the-record-str
Keeping that in mind I expose accordingly. I like to keep my aperture around 2.4 - 4. However to keep my ISO low to avoid grain, I will go lower. But it is more difficult to grab focus, as you can imagine the wider you open your lens. Really just basic principals apply to video as they do to stills. However, If someone can expand upon this, please feel free to!


I am struggling with camera shake, what can I do to help that?
Brezi’s answer: Purchase yourself a good high quality monopod. I use mine periodically for panning and really still shots when mama is in labor. However I tend to leave it, and hand shoot these days. I find I have more control when I do this, but I do loose some quality due to hand and body shakiness that comes along with hand holding a camera. Some tips that might help you if you don’t have a monopod: use your neck strap and shorten it so you can hold it taut and act as your body is the monopod. I used to do this, and it works fairly well. You can also use a stabilizer in post processing while editing. In premiere pro, it’s called “Warp Stabilizer”. It usually does the trick, however there are some shots where there is a lot of movement in the foreground that causes the stabilizer to make the clip really warped, and for these I like to leave it off. I take shakiness over warped because I think that it looks better, and also I really love the feel of a handheld video clip. When done right, it looks very documentary, and that is what we are doing here.
 

What's in my bag? My gear and things I bring to a birth - Colorado Springs Birth Photographer

colorado springs birth photographer

Yep, there I am. Thinking I'm cool, taking a birth selfie. In this image, I am actually standing in a Denver hospital room, of one of my longest births (I didn't know that nifty little fact when I took this image) It was so exhausting, but sooo worth it. It was an incredible birth of first time parents to a sweet little girl. She was born via cesarean after many days of labor, and 4 hours of pushing, but you can read all about that amazing birth here

A little while ago, I posted an article asking how I may be able to help you all get started in the birth world. I thought that I would open it up today by answering a popular questions people ask me of what I use and take with me to a birth. 

I am holding in my hands, a Nikon D800 with a Sigma 35mm 1.4 Art attached. On top of this beast of a camera is a Nikon SB 700 speedlight. I am also holding a glass prism, because well....I was trying to get a cool prism shot, but I didn't because I am still trying to figure it out. But as you can see, I am just a body with a camera where my head should be. This set up is big, and it's heavy. It may not look that way, but after hours of reps bringing this thing up to your face, squatting, standing, tippy toe-ing...it gets pretty heavy. 

I like it that way. I love the build quality of this set up. Everything is solid, and made to last, which is why I made the investment into it (*cough* it was not cheap). These are my main tools, this is how I capture and create the images and videos that you see on my website here. I do have lots of other little things that I have invested in, things that I bring to births, and things that I use along side of this. These things I have built up over the past 2 years, and didn't just go out and buy. I started with cheaper used gear; a Nikon D300, and a kit lens and an older 50mm. 

I never go to a birth without a back up camera. You just never know if your main camera is going to poop out on you, you drop it, someone knock it out of your hand, or a million other horrific scenarios that could happen to your baby...I mean..gear. If something does happen, and I didn't have a back up camera, what would I do? Someone has paid me to be there and to capture this once in a lifetime memory for them, I cannot miss it if I can absolutely help it. So for those reasons I carry one of my older cameras as a back up. A little insurance policy, if you will. A nikon D7000 and an older Sigma 85mm 1.4 stay in my bag for that just in case moment. Sometimes however, I will pull them out for a few up close shots, if I am not wanting to get to close or I simply can't. The 85mm offers a new angle and crop that I don't normally get. 

Main Gear: (links embedded for you to check into these each individually on your own)

Nikon D800, Sigma Art 1.4 35mm as my main set up for images and video.

Nikon D7000, & Sigma 1.4 85mm as back up. 

Nikon SB 700, Amazon brand rechargeable batteries for it. 

Macbook Pro, 13" with retina display for editing. Equipped with Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop and Premiere Pro.

Other useful things in my bag:

Rode Mic of better audio quality. 

A glass prism, for maybe getting some artistic shots with, but have failed to do so yet. 

A collapsable step stool. I love this one, it's super light and easy to carry and it's taller than what I could find in stores. 

This awesome Sirui monopod.

Headphones, extra camera batteries, business cards, cash for parking or food, deodorant, gum, a phone charger, laptop charger, external hard drive and a wireless mouse for editing on the go. 

Also I think I neglected to mention my bag itself, which is from ONA. I love it, it's my favorite thing I own besides my camera. It holds all of the above and then some. It's a backpack, and really it's worthy of a whole post/review itself. You can check it out here

So there is it, pretty much everything I bring to a birth for the most part, aside from food, water, and feminine products. I'd love to hear your thoughts or answer questions from you in the comments below! 



 

 

Q & A - How can I help you get started in the beautiful field of birth photography? - Colorado Springs Birth Photographer

When I first began shooting births in 2014 was really the first time I had picked up a DSLR. I had only the experience of my high school film photography and video editing class, a few college credits towards a degree in graphic design, and a passion for all things birth and art. That was about it. I did not obtain a degree in photography (gasp!), nor graphic design, nor art like I had planned. Instead, I certified as a CNA, and only used what I learned from that to raise a baby (thank goodness, because babies are equally cute as they are dangers to themselves!).

No, when I decided to become a birth worker of some sort, it was probably a few hours after I had just had the most incredible birth of my second daughter, right in my bedroom, in a tub full of the hottest water I think I have ever bathed in. It was glorious. It was magical. I felt like a friggin goddess, and like I was the only woman to have ever birthed a baby without medication (obviously, you know, that's not true) but still, I was on cloud nine. I thought to myself as I was watching my wonderful birth team pack up and leave, that they were just the luckiest people to be able to work with women like that, all of the time. To witness all the magic, and the power and the strength, and I wanted in! 

I had always been in love with photography, and up until I was pregnant with my second daughter I had never even heard of a  birth photographer. I didn't even know what a doula really did, and I was a bit shocked at the fact that you even had the option to birth naturally AT HOME. I was on board with it all once I found out, except for one thing...birth photography. I just didn't like the idea of it, I thought it sounded gross to be honest. I had never seen birth photography and I only had one image in my mind about it. That all changed once I had only the memories of my homebirth and a few shots that my amazing midwife, doula, and mother took for me. I immediately regretted not hiring a photographer for either of my daughter's births. 

Once life settled down about 6 or 7 months after my homebirth, I decided I would pursue my newly found passion of birth photography. I researched and bought some used gear. A nikon D300, and some older lenses, and a little black thrift store bag to put it all in. I was set...so I thought. I shot my first birth October 5th, 2014. It was the most wonderful experience, and also the most tiring. I spent a totally of about 24 hours at this warrior mama's home, watching and documenting her and her team and family have a beautiful VBAC. I had a chance to meet many midwives as they all began to pile in and help with a bit of a difficult delivery. I learned what it was like to have to be up all night and all day and go home to kids and have to do that too. I took almost 1,000 images and only delivered about 200 or so. I learned that editing is more work than it seems, and so on and so forth. That first birth was a challenge, but the only part I found truly difficult was the fact that my gear was not up to par. How was I going to continue with a camera that has a bad time focusing in low light?! No, not the life of being on call or up all night, no that wasn't the bother at all. I was hooked from there, and all I wanted to do was book more births. 

I was just getting my foot in the door right around the same time as Monet Moutrie. I remember her reaching out and wanting to become each others back up, which I was all for. I quickly learned that was extremely necessary with this kind of work. I had a blast shooting a couple of Monet's portfolio builders with her and gaining more knowledge along the way. It was nice to have someone to bounce ideas off of and such, and still is. I love the friendships I made with her and some other photographers early on, I don't think I would be where I am today if I didn't have that support system in place. I feel it is just so important in this particular genre of photography to have that. 

As I approach my 2 year mark, I have now shot more than 25 births, and have learned and grown immensely. I have learned so much on my own and from many other photographers in this field. I believe that it is only the natural next step to now pass on that knowledge to others looking to get into this field. I am not necessarily an expert, but rather have made mistakes, and learned from them and gotten better because of them. So friends, I want to know...how can I help you?

Do you have any questions that you would want answered before you begin or as you continue in the beginning stages of building a birth photography business? I would like to spend some time over them next weeks or maybe months creating a series of videos and or blog posts just for you; the budding birth photographer. Now I still, myself, have a ways to go and am always learning and getting better. I believe that some of the best learning is in the conversations and the differences of the individual artists, and I would love to start some in the comments below or in the birth photographer Facebook group I created last year just for this very thing. 

Topics can include: Editing, shooting and settings, using flash, contracts, clients and consults, pricing, and more. The sky is the limit really, and I am an open book. So ask away! I look forward to hearing from you in the comment section right down there. . . 

(*Also, feel free to share with others that you may know looking to get into this birth photography*)
 

A beautiful gift from God Himself - Colorado Lifestyle and Birth Photography

Ezekiel literally means "God strengthens". And He did. Her entire pregnancy and birth He worked in their lives. You can read about her beautiful birth here and see some lovely bump photos of Amy here. Below are some darling newborn images of Mr. Ezekiel and a letter written to him from his loving parents...


Jeremiah 1:5

"Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I set you apart. "

Dear Ezekiel, 

It’s been obvious to us that God’s hand has been upon you since before you existed. God gave us your name before you were conceived and told us you would do great things in this life. When you were conceived, we had to trust God a lot. We had to trust him to keep you healthy and safe. When we couldn’t see or protect you, see you smile or hear you cry, He told us he was there watching over you. He’s taught us to trust His voice through chaos, confusion and trials, to expect miracles when we trust Him to carry us through. Most of all, he reminded us again and again of your name. Ezekiel, your name means God strengthens. He will always strengthen. When first we held you in our arms, we were overwhelmed not just by the pure joy that you arrived safely, but also because parenting is going to be the greatest challenge we’ve ever been faced with. You’re 10 days old now, and we’re already learning that we’ll make mistakes. But God will strengthen.We hope you know that we love you. You’re our precious son. We’ve hoped many things for you, prayed many prayers for you, and dreamed so many dreams for you as you danced around in the womb waiting to make your grand appearance in this world. Above all else though, we hope you realize someday that the very God who formed the universe formed you in all your intricacies. He found joy in forming your beautiful brown hair, your deep eyes, your little toes, and little hands… That God spent a lot of our time making you the precious little boy we get to call our son. He’s also spoken to your proud parents about the man you’ll become. Know that when God names you he means it. Your name – Ezekiel, God strengthens will serve as a reminder of your wonderful Creator who has set you apart to do great things and that he will strengthen you for the task.Son; dream big, pray Hard, love deeply. Know that we your parents, will always be on your side more importantly, so will the Lord.


Celebrating pregnancy with a first time mama - Colorado Springs birth and maternity photography

Amy has grown to become a good friend over the past months. We had plenty of time to get to know each other during her 90+ hour labor and birth. Before that, we chatted and laughed  while I snapped shots of her beautiful round belly. You can see more images of her stunning birth  and read all about her lovely, miracle of a birth. In the meantime enjoy these maternity pictures in all their gorgeous glory. Be sure to leave a kind word for her in the comments section below the images  for her and her husband to read and enjoy.