While portrait photographers can live life well planned with plenty of time to capture that perfect shot, the life of a birth photographer looks far different; it is paramount that we take care of ourselves and reduce stress. The world revolves around birth (it’s definitely not the other way around) and babies come when they do, not necessarily when they’re due. That is one of the most beautiful and glorious things about moving into labor and then delivery; spontaneity is its stomping grounds and bears little remorse for beginning when it’s time.
Because of the spontaneous nature of birth, we as photographers must live a little spontaneously as well. We can plan for a specific timeframe but upon curating an agreement with a birthing person, we must be ready to drop all things and move when the baby is ready for their earthly debut. For birth photographers, the feelings of being continuously on the edge of your seat, ready to move can lead to burnout and adrenal fatigue. With burnout and adrenal fatigue, stress may begin to spill out, over, and into all those around you; in turn, relationships may feel strained and resentment for your work may begin to arise. With the tips below, you can reduce stress.
You can prevent that though and here at IAPBP, we desire to help you break through difficult moments to create your best work yet while respecting and honoring those around you – including your family and your clients. Living life on call doesn’t have to be stressful and full of what if’s. The name of the game is preparation for the WHEN’s.
Here are 6 tips to help you live well and reduce stress while on call.
- Prenatal meeting.
Have a meeting with your client prenatally to discuss how and when to contact you as labor begins. Labor typically takes time. If your client calls you at the beginning of labor, this will give you time to secure childcare, plan for traffic and/or transportation, etc. This removes the urgency and replaces it with intentionality
- Be prepared.
Keep your equipment, props, etc., packed and ready to go so that way you aren’t looking for items last minute. You’ll also know without a shadow of a doubt that you have everything you need because you packed it in a calm, peaceful state.
- Communicate expectations with family and friends.
Communicate with your family and friends that while on call, you may have to leave dinner parties, cancel events, etc. When accepting an invitation, be sure to look at your calendar and express to the host/hostess that you are on call while also asking if it’s acceptable to them if you have to leave/cancel last minute. Communicating these expectations can drastically reduce frustrations and conflict.
- Have a backup/partner photographer.
Partner up with a local photographer in your field that you believe in as much as they in you. In having a backup/partner, you can breathe a bit easier when you have commitments that simply cannot be missed.
- Create a village.
If you are a parent who is a birth photographer, this one is definitely for you. Creating a village, or network, of people that you can call and rely on during these moments proactively changes everything. Keep a rotation of individuals that believe in what you’re doing and enjoy supporting you and your family. In keeping 2-3 people in your village that can provide spontaneous childcare when needed, you can help them from feeling fatigued as well.
- Create black-out dates.
Just because the nature of birth is spontaneous doesn’t mean that you have to miss out on everything. Communicate with your client that you have specific black out dates in advance (ie: birthdays, milestone moments, etc.) and assure them that you have an excellent back-up/partner photographer ready to step in and capture their birth.
Behind the scenes at IAPBP, our community of artists reduce stress by supporting one another and sharing resources to grow themselves and their businesses. Learn more about becoming a member here.
Feature image: Kimberlin Gray