There has been a recent trend at weddings right now for the bride and groom to request that their ceremony and key events during the reception remain unplugged, meaning that guests don’t use their cameras, phones or tablets to take pictures. There are two main reasons for asking this of their guest, the first is that they have already hired a professional photographer and want to ensure that they can do their job uninhibited and the second reason is that they want their guest to be present and enjoy the day first hand, not through the back of their camera or phone.
I would love to see births go unplugged too, especially if the family has hired a birth photographer.
Birth photography is an investment in the memories of your birth the same way your wedding photographer preserved those memories for you. I want to provide my clients with the most amazing images of their birth and find that is easiest when there are not other people talking photos at the same time.
Professional birth photographers use camera gear with manual settings which help us control and preserve the mood of the light and the look of the image. When someone uses a camera phone or camera flash it interferes with the image we are trying to capture. Images can be lost because they were completely washed out and too bright by another well-meaning person taking pictures at the same time, were obstructed by another camera or arm, or have red focus beams on the subject matter.
Another issue with multiple people taking photos is the limited space. Births can get crowded fast! Birth photographers are constantly balancing being in a good position for great angles, staying out of everyone’s way and take pride in being as unobtrusive as possible. We have no interest in asking Grandma to move and cringe when a beautiful moment is lost to them because someone held a phone in front of us. Most families are unaware of what wasn’t captured because normally those photos all get deleted. Families trust us to tell their story and I get frustrated when I know what could have been captured and included in the service they paid for.
I totally understand the excitement surrounding the birth, I feel it at every birth. We have become so accustomed to documenting our life that we forget to be present in the moment. This is one the best reasons for hiring a birth photographer – you get professional images AND everyone gets to be fully present. Everyone you invite into your birth space is important to you, why else would they be there? Your partner, parents, siblings and doula get to be part of the story rather than watching it through a screen.
I would even take the unplugged recommendation one step further and say that families shouldn’t even pick up their phones for at least an hour after the baby is born. Your friends and family have waited about 40 weeks for the birth, one more hour won’t hurt. Use that time to take in your baby, enjoy those precious first moments, and be present with your baby. Take time to revel in your baby and what an amazing thing you just did. I would also suggest that any friends and family that are at the birth give the parents some time alone with their new baby to just be and take a breath and the moment all in. This concept ties nicely into my rules for social media at birth, which you can read here.
This is in no way a call to limit who the family wants at their birth or me being anti-technology. I love the idea that Dads serving our country can witness the birth of their child via Facetime or Skype when their job makes it impossible for them to be there. This is my call for parents to believe their birth photographers will do an amazing job; if you don’t trust them I suggest a different photographer. Trust that your birth photographer is there to capture that time of bonding and discovery.
Unplug and allow your family, friends and support to just enjoy the moments and above all be present.
To read a great articles on unplugged weddings I recommend Cory Ann Photography – Why You Should Have An UnPlugged Wedding.
A special thank you to the families that allowed me to share these images and their wonderful photographers- Ginessa Pierson of Little Wonders Photography , Colette Hoekstra at The First Moments By Coco Photography, and Cortney Fraleigh of Captured By Cortney Birth Photography.