03 May Birth Photography
by Darian Ryan
My name is Darian Ryan. I am a mom to the most amazing human. Ok, I guess I’m being biased but don’t all moms think that their kids are the best? I come from a family of creatives and have been blessed to have had the chance to travel the world working as a photographer.
As a mom, birth photography makes perfect sense to me. I only wish that I could go back in time 23 years ago to when I was pregnant so that I could hire a birth photographer. Sadly, I cannot go back in time and even if I could, birth photography was not a genre back then. The first photo taken of my daughter was when I returned home with her from the hospital. With all that was going on, I didn’t even think to get a photo with myself or my partner in it.
A few years ago I came across birth photography for the first time. It evoked such emotion in me that I immediately knew that this was something that I wanted to do. It was not an option at that time because I was traveling around the world specializing in black and white portrait photography. When the pandemic hit, I found myself returning to SA unsure of when I would be able to return to work with the travel restrictions in place. I eventually decided to pursue my dream of becoming a birth photographer. In November 2020, after passing my exams with flying colours, I joined the South African Birth Photographers Association becoming the first birth photographer in Durban.
People are often confused as to what birth photography entails. So let’s address the most common questions.
What is Birth Photography?
Birth photography is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to document the birth story. It’s about the moments before your life changes forever. It’s about the expressions and emotions of seeing and holding your baby for the first time.
Why hire a Birth Photographer?
One of the biggest milestones in a parent’s life is the moment that their baby enters the world. With all that is going on, there are details that you forget. Babies change quickly in their first few hours. The father should be able to relax and give the mom support instead of having to worry about taking photos. A birth photographer will be capturing priceless expressions and emotions and the details that you miss.
What part of birth do you photograph?
I capture the birth story starting at active labour up until an hour or so after the baby is born.
What if I have a long labour?
I will stay for as long as I need to, even if it is overnight.
How graphic will the photos be?
That is up to you. I will only capture images that you are comfortable with. I can shoot from behind mom’s shoulder or from the doctor/midwife’s perspective. This will be discussed when finalizing the booking.
Do I need approval from my hospital?
Yes. I will provide the relevant permission forms for you to get signed by your care provider.
What if I am planning to have a C-Section?
Theatre access can be obtained for me to be present.
Are you on call 24/7? What if I go into labour at 3 am?
Absolutely. I will be on call for your birth 24/7 from 38 weeks through 42 weeks gestation.
Will you use any flashes or external lights during the shoot?
I work with whatever light is available so that the flash is not a distraction to the mom.
Do we meet before the birth?
I am available to meet personally or we can video chat.
Why is Birth Photography such an investment?
Birth can be very unpredictable. There is typically no predetermined time for when it will happen or how long it will last. It may be a few hours or it may be days. I am on call for you 24 hours a day, every day for sometimes up to a month. I am a highly-skilled photographer and will not do anything to put you or your baby at risk during the birth. I adhere to a strict code of conduct.
Will I be comfortable with a camera in my birth space?
I have enough experience to shoot with intention and blend into the background. I do not take rapid-fire shots.
Will any images be posted online?
Only with consent. As someone passionate about capturing the birth story, I want to be able to share these powerful images with those that are interested. I do not post any images that are graphic or private.
When should we book the shoot?
I only book 3 – 4 clients per month so please book as earlier as possible to ensure my availability.
How do we book a shoot?
Do you offer payment plans?
Yes. A 50% deposit is required to secure your booking. The balance is split into instalments. The total amount needs to be paid in full by 2 weeks before your due date.
How many photographs will I get?
I do not guarantee a certain number of images because birth is unpredictable. Quality is more important than quantity. My goal is to capture raw, authentic images that convey the full birth story.
When do I get my photos?
I provide 3 edited images on the day of the birth. The rest of the images are ready for viewing within a week. Delivery of print products can take up to 30 days.
I am also a mom so I know how sacred the birth space is and am totally respectful of that during a birth session. I understand the flow of birth so I know exactly how to position myself so that I am not in the way but still able to capture the important images. A birth session with me is not posed or staged and is totally non-invasive. As time goes by and memories start to fade, these photos will be treasured for a lifetime.