10 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Birth Photographer

As birth photography rapidly grows in popularity, many budding (and seasoned) photographers have a desire to throw their hat in the ring and offer this service to expecting mothers. I get it! Birth is exciting and having the opportunity to capture one is a special honor. When I first looked into birth photography for myself, and even when I started photographing births, I had not heard of anyone in Pensacola, Florida or the greater Gulf Coast area offering birth coverage. Now it seems that it is a genre that MANY new photographer want to break into. Particularly if they are already photographing maternity or newborns.

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So how can you, as an expectant mother, ensure you are hiring the right person for the job? It's important that you protect yourself by investing in a the services of a professional who has experience in birth work, availability to be on call, and can consistently produce quality images in poor lighting conditions. Here are a few questions to ask as you are considering hiring a birth photographer to capture those once in a lifetime moments. 

Does the photographer have a portfolio?

Every professional photographer should have a portfolio of work they can share with you. Honestly, you should be able to find it easily on their website. But don't stop there. A portfolio is a collection of the BEST work and may not be a true representation of a photographer's over all abilities. Ask to see an an entire birth gallery or a slideshow of a single birth so that you can see how the entire process is captured. If you are considering a photographer that has not photographed a birth, at the very least you should evaluate a session shot indoors, such as a newborn lifestyle session.

Are the images clear, in focus and consistent in style?

Can you see detail in each photo? Are the images crisp and clear? Are they too bright (overexposed) or too dark (underexposed)? Are the skin tones, color and editing style consistent across the whole gallery for a single session? If the images are blurry, not properly exposed, or don't have a consistent style, the photographer is probably not experienced enough to take on a birth. Just because a photographer can produce good portraits in daylight, does not mean she can turn out quality photos in a birth. Most births take place in low light. Even in the daytime, laboring mothers tend to like the light dim. Given these conditions, and the fast paced nature of birth, it is crucial that a photographer know how to maneuver their camera settings quickly to capture clear images. 


Does the photographer use pro equipment?

An entry level DSLR camera (or worse, a point-and-shoot' or iPhone) is not capable of producing professional quality images in the vast majority of birth spaces. A professional birth photographer will have a variety of professional equipment capable of handling any lighting situation - home, hospital, birthing center, etc. Your photographer should have at least two camera bodies in their kit (a main camera, plus a back-up in case of camera failure), multiple lenses, memory cards, batteries, and at least one flash that attaches to the camera. The pop-up flash integrated into the camera should NEVER be used in birth photography...or really at all by any professional.

Is the photographer available 24/7 in the weeks surrounding your due date?

If you are expecting a photographer to attend your birth, you need to be certain that they are available to be on-call for you in the weeks surrounding your due date. Even with a scheduled cesarean, a mom can go into spontaneous labor earlier than expected and surgeries can be postponed. Most professional photographers offer an on-call period of two weeks before your expected due date and 1-2 weeks after. This means she is available to come in around the clock (usually when you are around 6cm dilated) and stay for the duration. Middle of the night, holiday, the day of her kid's dance recital, everyday, every minute. Here's a big one...don't ask your wedding photographer to take on your birth. They may be an amazing photographer and truly want to meet all of your family's photography needs, however it is a conflict of interest. Their bread and butter is weddings and the wedding they are contracted to attend will always take precedence over your birth. 


Does the photographer have a reliable back-up?

Let's face it. Shit happens. Illnesses, accidents, and emergencies are an unavoidable part of life. Not an single person on this earth can 100% guarantee their presence at your birth. Not your doctor, not even your spouse! Nor should you want anyone to in your birth space if they are sick. A professional birth photographer will have a back-up plan in place for you. They will have at least one backup photographer to attend you if needed (preferably a whole network of people to call on). Their backups will also be professionals with birth experience, who will conduct themselves appropriately in the birth space and deliver images very similar to the style you're expecting. 

Is the photographer familiar with birth and respectful of the rules and process?

Birth photography isn't just about getting 'that shot'. It's about documenting the whole of your experience as you labor, deliver, and bond with your baby. This is YOUR birth and your birth photographer should be a supportive member of your birth team. You should feel confident that she will respond to your cues, be respectful of your birth space and plan, stay out of the way of medical personnel. Read reviews or ask for a reference from one of her previous clients. You should hear something like 'I didn't even know she was there' or 'she was very supportive of my needs'. It is important that a birth photographer be knowledgable about the process of birth, and the rules of the hospital or birth center as well. 


What is the photographer's personality?

If you are planning an unmedicated hospital birth or home birth, it is especially important for your photographer to be invested in protecting the sanctity of your birth environment. She should possess a calming presence and positive energy. Even if your plan is to have an epidural at the hospital, your birth photographer should not be perceived as anxious, stressed, or overbearing. I realize this can be hard to determine over written communication or even in a face-to-face consultation, but it is something to evaluate. 

Will the photographer respect your privacy?

Birth is an intimate event and the choice to share your images should be completely up to you. Many women interested in birth photography are naturally open to sharing images from their birth with the world. Some aren't and that is totally ok. Photographers who are just starting out in birth may offer special 'portfolio building' deals. Be aware that you are agreeing to allow the photographer to share your images by accepting these deals. Read all contracts and separate model releases carefully so that you know exactly what you are agreeing to.


Is the photographer running a legal business?

A professional photographer will have a business license, pay taxes, and have insurance for their equipment, business, and liability. Why should you care about that? You want the person you hire to capture your baby's birth to be a true professional who delivers everything as promised. Hiring a legit business owner protects you and ensures you receive what you've paid for. There are so many stories of photographers who took a client's money, went out of business and were never heard from again or who photographed an event and never delivered the images. Additionally,  supporting small businesses that are conducting themselves legally is just the right thing to do. Owning a business is not easy or cheap. Especially when that business takes them away from their family and other clients at a moment's notice and for hours on end. Supporting a law abiding business is truly what's best for everyone.

What does the photographer charge for her services?

Having a baby costs a lot of money! You may be tempted to choose a birth photographer with cheaper prices, but BEWARE! Inexpensive photographers tend to be less experienced, use equipment that isn't up for the technical demands of birth work, and may not be running a legitimate business. If you are using the justification that SOME pictures are better than NO pictures, you may want to consider asking a family friend to come and take photos for you rather than hiring an inferior or unlicensed photographer. Keep in mind that a birth photographer has to be on call for you 24/7 for 3-4 weeks straight. She has to maintain a lifestyle that will allow her to leave her family at the drop of a hat for an indeterminable length of time. It takes THOUSANDS of dollars of equipment and hundreds of dollars annually in licensing, insurance fees and countless other business expenses to run a business. Anyone who is not accounting for those expenses and charging appropriately to cover them, is probably not a professional and definitely isn't running a sustainable business. Photographers specializing in birth photography often offer payment plans and gift registries to help manage costs. 

Birth photography is a luxury service. As with any such luxury, the value is in the quality of the product and the reliability, competence, and experience of the provider. Make sure you are protecting your investment by hiring a legitimate and experienced professional. 

Organizing Your Family Photos

As mothers, we wear many hats: charge nurse, head chef, housekeeper, chief financial officer, manager, chauffeur...the list is endless. We're the keepers of everything and the historians of our families. I've found that having tools and systems in place to help keep me stay organized is key for managing my family (and business) life and memories, without loosing my mind. Not that things don't fall apart on me now and again, they do...usually when I slack on my planning and organizing. 

What I want to talk to you about today is my favorite tool for organizing family photos. It's actually my favorite editing software suite, which I use primarily for my photography business, but I have found it to be a powerful tool for organizing my family photos too (phone photos included!). It's Adobe Lightroom Creative Cloud (or CC). 


Lightroom is a software program that photographers have been using for years to catalogue and edit their images. We're not going to get into the editing side here. Instead, we're going to focus on the cataloging features and how you, as a mom, can harness the power of this feature to make it easy to find the photos you're looking for, sort your keepers from your rejects, and compile selections for albums/printing/sharing, AND easily get photos from you phone onto your computer. Sound amazing? It is! And there is so must more to learn than I am about to show you. 

Want to learn in all? Get on the waiting list for the next Mom Workshop: CLICK HERE

Now, If you've looked into getting Lightroom, you're probably pretty confused about all of the options. I'm going to help you understand them all and show you how to make the organization features of both Lightroom CC, Lightroom CC Mobile, and Lightroom Classic CC work for you. (Whether you are taking photos with a fancy camera, GoPro, or just your iPhone.) We'll cover all three over a couple of different posts.

The first piece of the suite I want to cover is Adobe Lightroom Classic CC. This is the desktop version of Lightroom, the most functional piece of the suite and my workhorse program. It is what I recommend you start with if you are shooting images on a DSLR or any dedicated camera - meaning you have to take the SD card out and stick it in your computer to transfer the images. Let's dive in...


Lightroom is composed of several modules that allow you to do different things with your images. We'll only be unpacking the Library module where you can import, view, filter, and organize a lifetime's worth of photos. I'm going to take you thru some of the most useful features. I've created (somewhat rambling and oft interrupted by children) videos walking you thru the features and how you can use them. 

Set up and Importing

The first the you need to do to get started is to set up your catalogue and import some photos. This is easier shown than verbally explained, so just watch the video walkthrough. 


The Library module offers several view modes that let you see your photos in different sizes and compare them. 

1) Grid: The grid view displays your photos as thumbnails and gives you an overview of the entire catalogue or specific groups of photos. You can also rotate, sort, organize, and manage images or several images at once.

2) Loupe: The loupe view displays a single photo. Here you can zoom in and out. From the grid view, you can double click a photo to see it in loupe view. 

3) Compare: The compare view allows you to display 2 photos side by side. This is helpful when deciding which photo(s) of a series to keep.

4) Survey: The survey view is like the compare view, but for more than 2 photos. It allows select and view a small group of images and take action on them.

5) People: The people view uses Lightroom's face recognition feature to allow you to tag the people in your photos and search for those people later. As you add names it will suggest names for you to tag. This is brilliant.

Selecting Photos

The left panel in the Library module displays all of the folders of images you have imported. These are mirrors of the folders you have your images stored in on your hard drive. You can use this panel to navigate your folders and easily view certain collections. You can also move images from one folder to another.

Clicking on any image in your photo grid or on the film strip below, makes it an active photo. You can select multiple images by clicking them while holding down the Ctrl key (PC) or Command key (Mac). From here you can set images as keepers or rejects and further label preferred images with star ratings or colors.

Finding and Filtering Photos

When you have hundreds or thousands of images, locating the image your looking for might not be as easy as selecting a folder. This is where the Library Filter bar at the top of the Grid view comes in handy. The filter bar allows you to find photos by various times of metadata: keywords, rating, color label, and more.

Photo Collections (THE BEST PART!) 

Collections are another way to organize photos in Lightroom. They allow you to group photos from anywhere in your catalog in one place for east viewing or performing different tasks. Photos in a collection can be reordered, assembled into a slideshow or used to create a photobook. Additionally, creating and utilizing collections in Lightroom Classic CC is the foundation for syncing images between Lightroom CC and Lightroom CC Mobile.  



Lightroom is a subscription based service. It's $9.99 per month and you can pay that monthly or yearly. Considering how easy it makes backing up and syncing images, attributes, and edits from your phone to your computer and back again, I think it's worth every penny. Especially if you're serious about printing your images or making yearly photobooks of your family photos. There is a 30-day trial available, but only for Lightroom CC (which I will show you next time). Lightroom CC has the same features and functionality of Lightroom Classic CC, but it is cloud based and has a very different looking user interface. 



This was a ton of information and it's just the tip of the iceberg. If you're interested in learning more, sign up to be notified when I host workshops. My workshops are limited to small groups and there is always plenty of time for questions and hands on help. Click here and be the first to know when the next workshop is.

Friday Photo Adventures | Pensacola Photographer

I am constantly trying to be more intentional about taking photos of my own kids. You know, with the fancy camera I use to take everyone else's pictures as opposed to just my iPhone. It's a struggle. I'd love to take it everywhere, but it's heavy and expensive. When there are other goals for the day, like having fun or making sure kids don't get lost/hurt (I'm a total helicopter mom), the last thing I want to do is lug around a piece of equipment and worry about it getting lost, stolen or damaged. 


I had this idea to start taking them on mini local adventures, with the singular goal of capturing them exploring and having fun. And keeping it short so I'm not committed to lugging a camera around for an extended period of time. 


For this first one, we stuck close to home. Our neighborhood is a new development and there are large pieces of land on either side also awaiting development. Every time I drive by, the glorious afternoon light catches my eye. Checking out my sun positioning app, I noticed that one of these properties had what must have been a driveway that extended much farther than it seemed from the road. So I grabbed the kids one beautiful Friday and dragged them out for a little hike. 


Isla was actually pretty dang unhappy about the whole thing. She hates having her picture taken and is at that age where there is just attitude about everything. This day was no different and there was a lot of sulking (and me telling her to suck it up and act happy for 10 minutes). But once I got her running and twirling the blanket all around, she started to have a little bit of fun and give me the carefree expressions I was hoping for. Whew!


Jack-Jack is always happy to ham it up for me though. He takes direction well and is never stingy with his smiles. He had such a great time chasing his sister around.


We only spent about 20 minutes walking around and exploring this great little spot. The light and texture of the underbrush yielded some pretty awesome images. I'm already looking forward to our next photo adventure. 

 Photo credit: Indie Pearl Photography

Natalie is a lifestyle family photographer serving Pensacola, FL and surrounding areas. With a passion for capturing candid family moments, she specializes in birth and newborn lifestyle photography. Natalie lives in Pensacola with her husband and two (very difficult to photograph) children. Besides photography, she has a passion for modern sewing projects and graphic design. 

Photo Credit: Indie Pearl Photography

Sweet Caroline | Milton Newborn Photographer

When a family books me for a newborn session, or any in home session, I always ask about their style and decor. It helps me to begin to visualize the session in advance and coordinate any wraps or blankets I might want to bring, just in case the family doesn't have something they want to use. 

When I received April's questionnaire back, she told me that they don't really have a style. They just decorate to their tastes and interests. She also told me about her cat Tugg, who is a treasured family member. April was excited to be having a girl and decorating the nursery with a cat theme. HOWEVER, some of the decor was being hand made by a grandmother and April hadn't seen it, wasn't even sure if it would be done before the newborn session. 

I'm sure you're probably thinking the same thing I was...a handmade-by-grandma cat themed nursery has the potential to veer into the realm of 'yikes'. 

Well hop on over here and have a slice of humble pie with me, because it was the most wonderfully fun and adorable nursery, with such a genuine feeling of warmth and sentimentality. Like an heirloom quilt that you just want to wrap yourself up in on a cold day. The custom felted wool cat mobile was my absolute favorite. 


April and Ray were just as genuine and warm as the nursery. April claimed they would probably be awkward in front of the camera, but NO. Everyone was perfectly natural and ultra snuggly, which is always the best. They were a complete joy to hang out with and photograph for the morning. 


Big brother Charlie was a ridiculous ham. We bonded over our shared love of avocado toast. And naturally, baby Caroline was perfectly sweet in her ruffle butt bloomers. Check them all out and, if you would, take a moment to leave a quick comment at the end. You will help April & Ray earn a free mounted 8x10 print from Caroline's newborn session. Fifty commenters are needed.


 Photo credit: Indie Pearl Photography

Natalie is a lifestyle family photographer serving Pensacola, FL and surrounding areas. With a passion for capturing candid family moments, she specializes in birth and newborn lifestyle photography. Natalie lives in Pensacola with her husband and two (very difficult to photograph) children. Besides photography, she has a passion for modern sewing projects and graphic design. 

Photo Credit: Indie Pearl Photography

Aislinn's Hypnobabies Birth | Baptist Hospital Pensacola

After all of these births, telling all of these beautiful stories, it finally hit me that I shouldn't be telling these stories at all. I should be collecting birth stories from my mamas. You, the reader, should be hearing it all from the mother's perspective before you see it from mine. I so often say that the mother experiences birth so differently from everyone else in the room, and I am kind of obsessed with hearing how women experienced their own birth. Now I am excited to be able to celebrate and share some of those stories with you here. I hope they will become a source of inspiration, reference, and direction for my expecting readers.

Kathryn has been kind enough to share, in her own words, her experience bringing baby Aislinn into the world at Baptist Hospital Pensacola, using Hypnobabies and with the support of Pensacola doula Amber Roman of Belly to Cradle. I have seen a lot of labors, and this one struck me as particularly long and difficult. The energy in the room was very subdued, and even after delivery things were very quiet and calm. It was eye-opening to hear Kathryn's side of the story...


Forty weeks and three days. That’s how long I had grown my baby, how long I had carried my miracle, when I was awoken at 1:30am. I thought I just had to go to the bathroom for the 100th time that night, like every other night in my third trimester, but this time was a little different. I felt like I wasn’t quite going to make it and when I sat down…gush! Water poured. Half asleep, and half in shock, I sat there talking to myself like any normal person- “Is this my water breaking? No, that doesn’t happen. I think this is my waters. My water broke. No, no it didn’t. It’s still going. This is it.” They say to remember that birth is nothing like what you see in the movies. The whole water breaking out of nowhere, then contractions starting, and rushing to the hospital isn’t a common reality. They say only 10% of women have their water break before labor begins. I guess I made the 10%. I climbed back into bed, woke my husband Luke, and then texted my doula. She called me and talked through what was going on with me, how the coming hours may play out and when we will need to head to the hospital. All things we had talked through in our meetings, but just a little different since my water broke first. I sent my husband to the guest room to get some sleep while I laid down to try and get any rest I could between contractions.


Let me pause to say, having a doula is the single best decision you can make for labor. Natural or medicated, vaginal or c-section, well trained doulas are life giving. My doula, Amber Roman of Belly to Cradle, is phenomenal. From birth education, to delivery, to postpartum, she was a rock for us and we are so grateful to her for her friendship and services. We decided that utilizing hypnobabies would be the best option for me and my personality when it came to labor techniques for birthing, especially considering my goal was to do this all natural. Hypnobabies trains the mind and body to remain extremely relaxed, yet allow the mind to also be highly aware and focused. The concept of self-hypnosis may sound super weird to you, but it was the best when it came to birth for me. I can’t talk about it highly enough.

Sometime mid morning, between 9 and 10 I think, Amber came over to help us get everything together and as always, present our options. Based on my contractions and the fact that my water broke, we went on to the hospital. This was it. We were going to meet our baby girl! From the second my water broke until the end of the transition phase, I was in my Hypnobabies zone. I was calm, using my breathing and mindset techniques during each contraction (or “birthing wave” if we use the lingo). I’m pretty sure my eyes were closed the entire birth and the concept of time was out the window. I labored in bed for while, with my husband and mom nearby providing great support. Amber helped me walk halls, massaged and applied counter pressure, cooled me with wet rags, let me smell peppermint oil for nausea, told me when I needed to change positions, reminded me of my options, made sure I was drinking water, let me know when I could get into the tub for pain relief, and prayed over me when it was the end and I was starting to lose my focus. I felt safe and secure. I was free to labor without worrying about anything else because I had my people.


I labored for 19 hours. It didn’t seem anywhere near that long to me. I listened to my Hypnobabies tracks and stayed in my own world it seemed. Towards the end things were getting intense and my body started to push by itself so they asked me if I was ready to push her out. I pushed for an hour and a half. It was the toughest part for me, not because of pain but because of the effort pushing took. I’d say it was because of her position. Even though it was the hardest part to me it still only felt more like 30 minutes. With my eyes still closed, I remember feeling my husband lift my head up for each push, giving me a sip of water and then holding the oxygen mask over my face until it was time to do it all again. He was amazing. I remember my mother’s sweet and soft voice telling me she could see her head and that I was doing so good. I can still feel her calming touch. Amber held my leg and encouraged me all the way.

Born with arms crossed, hands on either side of her face, announcing to the world she had arrived, our sassy and beautiful baby girl arrived on January 8, 2018, at 8:25pm. Aislinn Rhys was placed on my chest and I was in love.

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I know that my birth team and place of birth makes all the difference. I called them the dream team and that they certainly were. Doula: Amber Roman. Photographer: Natalie Zepp Weber. Midwife: Jenny Allen. OB: Dr. Allison. Birth: at Baptist Hospital. Basically, I tell everyone they need these incredible women for their birth, without question.

A final note, I’m so thankful we decided to spring for a birth photographer. Natalie was incredible and she captured moments I never would’ve seen or remembered. My eyes were closed, remember? Haha! These are images I will cherish for all my days. Thank you, Natalie

Are you considering Hypnobabies for your birth? Did you use it? We'd love to hear from you. Each person that comments helps Kathryn & Luke earn a free 8x10 mounted print from their birth session. They need 50 people, so leave a few words to get them there.

 Photo credit: Indie Pearl Photography

Natalie is a lifestyle family photographer serving Pensacola, FL and surrounding areas. With a passion for capturing candid family moments, she specializes in birth and newborn lifestyle photography. Natalie lives in Pensacola with her husband and two (very difficult to photograph) children. Besides photography, she has a passion for modern sewing projects and graphic design. 

Photo Credit: Indie Pearl Photography

February Tuesdays Together | The Rising Tide Society

The Rising Tide Society is a society of creative entrepreneurs who believe in community over competition and have a desire to lead with love. We meet monthly, usually on the second Tuesday, to fellowship and discuss business topics. These Tuesdays Together meet-ups are gatherings for small business owners who have a desire to share their knowledge, learn from their peers, and grow together. The meetings, coordinated by local industry leaders, are designed to be approachable, authentic, and uplifting.

Late last year I took over leadership of this group with my friend (and kick-ass girl boss) Devan Danielle. This group has been transformative for my business. I have connected with so many wonderful local creative business owners, and learned SO MUCH about how to serve my clients and grow my own business. Not to mention, it helps get me out from behind my computer and into the real world to invest in real relationships with like-minded locals.

If you are a Creative Entrepreneur or Small Business CEOs, including: Artists, Bloggers, Boutique Owners, Calligraphers, Designers, Event Planners, Florists, Makeup Artists, Photographers, Stylists, Wedding Pros, Writers...etc...we would absolutely love for you to join us next month. You can join our Facebook group to be notified of meetings and other community events.   

Yesterday was our February meet-up, where we dove into Growth, Scaling, and Collaboration. My biggest take away was the idea to create an Operations Manual my business. A document that outlines business processes, workflows, and other important functions that would allow you to begin outsourcing tasks, or even allow someone else to take over for you if needed. Later this month Devan plans to host a coworking date and walk us all thru creating one. But the small plastic baby inside our Mardi Gras king cake was this month's sponsor. We were incredibly blessed to be hosted by the phenomenal Cowork Annex in downtown Pensacola. Incidentally, a perfect venue for this month's discussion topic. 


The space is so modern and beautiful. I imagine it is an inspiring and energizing place to work. Everyone utilizing the space seemed to be very social and collaborative. Karen, the community director, told us that the dynamic is very much like a family...member have even taken to calling her 'Mom'.

The location on Palafox is extremely convenient to amenities like Pure Barre, coffee shops, lunch spots, bakeries, night life (for after work socializing!) the post office, parking...everything! Not that you need it, because most of those things are available right inside the annex. Rumor has it there will soon be a gym and showers on available to members as well!


There is a group kitchen space with free coffee and flavored water (flat OR SPARKLING!). Meeting rooms and a large event space are also available to members. Everything is so open and full of natural light.


If you are in search of a motivating and visually appealing place to work and connect with other local professionals, I highly recommend you check out Cowork Annex. Reach out to Karen to schedule a tour. I certainly look forward to the next time we are invited to use the space. 



Natalie is a lifestyle family photographer serving Pensacola, FL and surrounding areas. With a passion for capturing candid family moments, she specializes in birth and newborn lifestyle photography. Natalie lives in Pensacola with her husband and two (very difficult to photograph) children. Besides photography, she has a passion for modern sewing projects and graphic design.

Photo Credit: Natalie Franke Photography