This generous guest post is courtesy of Carolyn Spranger, a birth photographer who works in Cheyenne, WY and Northern Colorado. Thank you, Carolyn!
If you’re on my facebook page, or any birth photography facebook group, you’ve seen the recent realization that several photographers are lifting full word for word paragraphs from other photographer’s websites and using them as their own.
First, it’s illegal.
Second, it’s just WRONG! And LAZY.
Really, if you (not *you* specifically, I hope, just in general) cannot come up with your own answers to frequently asked birth photography questions, then what business do you have photographing births? Sounds harsh, but it’s true. You’re cheating your clients out of YOUR personality, YOUR honest answers, and GOOD BUSINESS PRACTICE. What would happen if you show up to the client meeting, they ask you many of those questions again, and you answer them all differently than what they read on your website; since you didn’t create the answers you probably don’t have them memorized. They may not even apply to your business at all!
Okay, lecture over. My point is that you should be writing your very own custom-to-your-business answers. A wise friend (yes Barb, that’s you!) mentioned that maybe it’d be a good idea to put some FAQ out there for photographers to use. I tend to be an incredibly OCD and thorough person, so before my first birth I spent a lot of time trying to cover every single question (and answer) that I thought someone would ask. Of course this meant browsing other photographer’s websites and seeing if I missed anything. However, I never copy/pasted answers and claimed them as my own. I wrote down questions in my own words, and came up with answers. I also surveyed many women to get new and different questions (I suggest you do the same if you want truly unique questions). A huge reason why finding my FAQ stolen made me so angry. I took the time to ask women what questions they had, so my questions were word-for-word from Moms that I surveyed. They didn’t just steal MY words, they stole my client’s and friend’s words. I also understand that many questions are going to be almost the same from photographer to photographer, but answers should vary depending on business practices. They may even be similar, but they should not line up word for word with someone else’s.
With all of that said, I created a list of generic questions for new photographers to use as a guide. Feel free to copy/paste these questions and come up with your OWN answers to them. I’d love for you to link back to this post so other photographers can use it too.
What is birth photography?
•Answer this in your own words, what does birth photography mean to you? How would you explain birth photography to a total stranger who’s never heard of it before?
Do you take pictures of the whole labor and birth?
•Do you? Sometimes people think birth photography means showing up at the hospital after baby is born, explain in more detail what you’re taking photos of.
Will you post the photos on the internet?
•Will you? What if they don’t want you to? How modest of photographs will you post publicly? Where do you draw the limit? This is something you have to decide for yourself. Some photographers post very little of the actual birth, others post more graphic photos.
Will we meet before the birth?
•Yes/No and explain your reasons
When do you show up?
•You need to think about this and come up with a good answer based on when you think you’ll come. Some say 5cm, some say later, and some women don’t get vaginal checks at all so make sure to think about all options
How long will you stay? What if I have a long labor?
•Again, the answers will vary a lot based on your business. It’s always good to set guidelines so that moms know what to expect. If they expect you to stay 4 hours but you leave after an hour, you’ll have some disappointed clients. Make sure they have clear expectations and know what determines when you’ll go home.
What if I have a short labor, will I get any of my money back?
•Decide for yourself and explain why
What if I have a c-section?
•You need to find out if your hospital will allow you in the OR, some have a limit on the # of people so they may not even want you in there.
Will I have to get approval from my hospital?
•Will they? Will you do that for them or will the be responsible for finding that information?
What if you miss the birth?
•You need to go through the options of WHY you would miss a birth and answer each according to how you plan on handling those situations
When should I book you?
•When should they?
Do you offer discounts or take payments?
•Do you? Payment plans are a great way to make birth photography affordable. Also a good time to mention when they should be paid in full.
Do you use a flash? What if I want my birth dark?
•This is something you need to decide for yourself, and explain your reasons. You may chose to use a flash because your camera isn’t equipped to handle low light situations, or visa versa.
How many photographs will I get?
•This varies greatly photographer to photographer. Make sure you’re clear so they know what to expect
How long will it take to get my photographs?
•Also varies photographer to photographer. Do you have a lot of other shoots to edit or will you begin working on theirs right away?
Will they be color or black and white?
•Pretty self explanatory ..
Do I get a CD of all my images? What if I want prints?
•You have to decide if you want to give them high resolution, low resolution, prints, or just have them order a la carte.
And what’s a post without a photo? A photo that mom wouldn’t have had if she had her doula taking photos for her!