Here's the thing about being a "certified" Birth Photographer- there's no such thing.
Photography isn't something that is regulated by the government requiring certification. If I didn't want to specialize in Birth I would never consider getting a certification for anything photography related.
One definition of Certification is "the action or process of providing someone or something with an official document attesting to a status or level of achievement." Which is exactly what I did. I trained with someone who has a very successful birth photography business and learned the ins and outs of the genre as well as learning from her experience gained through starting her business from scratch- when there were no trainings for birth photographers.
So why would I choose to be a "certified birth photographer" if I think there is no such thing?
Birth is unlike any other genre of photography. It's most often compared to weddings- a once-in-a-lifetime event filled with special moments, many hours are spent the day of documenting all of the things...
But that's pretty much where the similarities end.
Weddings have an itinerary, you know exactly what day it's going to happen and around what time things will be starting.
Weddings can be intimate but usually, everyone is fully clothed.
Tears that are shed are from happiness- never pain or fear or even a traumatic event.
Weddings are a time of celebration and while there is a celebration within birth there is also pain, intensity, vulnerability.
You likely didn't go get your hair and make-up done before you went into labor (but if you did you better have had a birth photographer!)
Because of the intimacy of birth, the complex nature of what's happening, and the unfavorable conditions for photographing (dim lighting, small spaces, no control over the timeline, etc, etc, etc) I knew I wanted to have training so that you can have confidence in having me in your birth space.
If I was hiring a birth photographer I would want to know what makes my photographer think she'll be able to give me a beautiful gallery. And yes, your work speaks for itself but sometimes it's not easy to get people to want you in their birth space before they know what you can do!
I also know that some providers are wary of having extra people in the room- especially ones with cameras. What if something goes wrong? What if she gets in the way? Many concerns can come up for the provider!
One of the awesome benefits of going through the certification process that I did is I got a Code of Conduct. Something that I have to live up to through my business in order to have my certification. I have copies if you feel your provider would be more comfortable but here it is!
BIRTH PHOTOGRAPHER'S CODE
OF ETHICS AND CONDUCT
A certified birth photographer (CBP) has
completed a 6 week training course on the
technical and emotional aspects of being a
birth photographer and agrees to adhere to the
following conduct standards.
The birth photographer (BP) should strive to become and remain proficient in both professional practice during birth and technical photography skills.
RESPONSIBILITY TO CLIENT
The birth photographer’s primary responsibility is to his/her clients. The birth photographer should respect the privacy of clients and keep all information obtained through the professional service private. The birth photographer should not share birth images without the explicit written consent of the client through a model release form. The birth photographer should not share birth images of anyone attending the birth without a completed model release form and explicit permission from each individual.
The birth photographer must clearly state his/her fees to the client, including when fees are due and what will be delivered after services are complete.
SOCIAL MEDIA VALUES
The birth photographer should extend respect and courtesy at all times on professional and personal social media accounts. This includes business pages, personal pages and groups.
The birth photographer should be aware that social media content is permanent and may reflect on The Beauty in Birth, the birth photographer, and the profession of Birth Photography as a whole.
Social Media content should reflect this code of conduct at all times.
RESPONSIBILITY TO PROVIDERS AND FACILITIES
The birth photographer’s primary goal is to maintain an open and healthy relationship with providers & hospitals to serve the client well. The birth photographer will stop taking photos in case of emergency. If in question, the birth photographer will ask the attending provider or staff if it’s acceptable to resume taking photos.
The birth photographer vows to maintain a respectful relationship with hospitals, birth centers, doctors and nurses and will cease taking photos when asked.
The birth photographer will not publicly share images of providers or staff without their permission, including name badges if faces are covered. In an operating room or delivery room, the birth photographer will stand where instructed and stop taking photos if asked by the provider or staff.
SCOPE OF WORK
The birth photographer will photograph labor, birth and after birth. The birth photographer will do everything possible to capture requested photographs, understanding birth is unpredictable and every image may not be possible.
Limits to Work:
The birth photographer does not provide emotional or physical support during labor, unless hired also as a doula.
The birth photographer will not give advice to the client during labor, but can direct client to resources if asked.
If the birth photographer is also a trained doula, the birth photographer must make it clear that these additional services (such as support in labor) are an additional service, outside of the birth photographer’s scope of work. The birth photographer does not speak for the client or advocate for the client during labor.
Photographers who are certified by TBIB will have completed all the requirements set forth in the requirements for Birth Photography Certification. A certified birth photographer (CBP) has completed a 6 week training course on the technical and emotional aspects of being a birth photographer.
"the moment a child is born, a mother is born also."