Anyone have experience in shooting in delivery rooms? My sister is due in early October and is asking me to come in and shoot during the delivery, and this would be an entirely new shooting location for me.
I have a small selction of lesser rangefinders, and my 35mm SLR outfit, but for a once in a lifetime event (child's life at least) I feel I would be most comfortable with my 4x5 speed graphic in hand and a bag full of grafmatics slung over my shoulder. Anyone with experience forsee any problems with this choice, or have any other advice?
I have experience taking pics in a delivery room during the birth of my son. I used my wife's point and shoot (a gift from me - a very nifty Nikon 28ti). I cannot imagine having a larger camera there. You absolutely do not have the time...believe you me everything is happening and you want to concentrate on taking instead of composing. Take a 35mm camera and enjoy the show. It is a sight to see. A miracle even!
For delivery room shooting, you need to expect low light and ugly flourescents. Some delivery room these days have windows, and others don't; I always turn off the overhead lights if there's a window available, even if it's a small one. I despise flash in delivery rooms, for a variety of reasons: first, it's less than kind to sensitive newborn eyes to pop a flash in his face; secondly, it puts too much of a "distance" in the images, turning a very intimate moment into a sort of clinical study. I much prefer to use fast film, up to 3200 if need be. I would advice shooting in B&W, since flourescents make for hideous color and, frankly, newborns and the soup they come out with are just a bit too graphic in color. Healthy newborns are always an alarming shade of purple.
Try to be kind to the mother, if you're photographing the delivery itself. Stand by her head in order to avoid really embarrassing angles that she would prefer not to share with posterity. Do be very mindful of your position, so you're clear of the doctors and nurses, machines and IV's, etc. It's important to steer clear of the critical path. Fast film is particularly good for making sure you don't need a tripod. Tripods in delivery rooms are best avoided.
As far as format and cameras, it's always good to use what you're comfortable with, provided it's up to the task. Personally, I prefer 35mm for births because things tend to move pretty quickly, and if you have to wait for people to stand still, you're going to miss shots. Likewise, if you're constantly having to reload your camera, you're likely to come up a day late and a dollar short. Some births are calm, predictable, and peaceful. Others are fast and furious. As there's no way to know which it's going to be, I'd bring anything you think you might need.
I highly suggest a 35mm. My hubby photographed my first one, we had time for it. The second was an emergency situation and no time to grab a camera of any kind. BIG word of wisdom. use a neck strap. even if you only wind it around your hand. Hubby drobbed the camera the first time and borke not only the camera, but the lens. He only had 5 shots out of 36 before he dropped it. something about him becoming really excited.
Also some rooms have more space than others. Forget the tripod, and bet something with auto focus, and auto wind. You will be hurridly snapping away, and by the time you realize you have hit the last frame, you only have second to change rolls and go again. This is one time to just snap away and worry about composition later.
Cheryl is right, remember your angle of shots. I know there are pictures I would rather not have exposed of me. After the child comes out, follow it to the table they do the clean up at. You will get some really great shots of the child, while the last of the birth process happens and needs not to be recorded.
I agree with Cheryl and Aggie. Having experienced 5,000 births (give or take a few) I have dealt with many different individuals trying to document the event. Some of the lighting is actually daylight quality but don't count on it. B&W is probably best but color nagative or digital will give you immediate results to send out. Electronic flash does not seem to adversely effect or even bother most newborns and may be the easiest way do get the pictures but not the most natural or "artistic". Be very careful to not get in the way or contaminate the "sterile" or clean areas. Ask the nursing personnel where to stand to get the picture and not be in the way. Try to get the infant right after delivery if you can or at least shortly after being placed in the warmer. Sometimes the infant is placed on the mother's abdomen prior to cutting the cord which is also a good opportunity. The best opportunity is probably after the infant is wrapped in a blanket and given to the mother. It is a beautiful moment even though she likely does not have any makeup and the hairdo is very "natural". After all, she has been working very hard (we call it LABOR) but this shows the end result beautifully.
Try to avoid recording the more unaesthetic details or the delivery as nobody really wants to see or remember those parts of the process.
In the event of a C/S it is still frequently possible to take pictures of the infant in the warmer and possibly of the infant being shown to the mother. It will be possible to also get the picture of the mother and her new infant when she is returned to room and the infant is brought to her.
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Thanks for the feedback so far. Tri-pod; Wasn't and wouldn't even consider it. Auto-fcous/wind; I don't own or beleive in such witchcraft! Flash: I'm sure the other P&S cameras in the room will have these going off, but those don't usually have the blinding potential of my huge vivitar. If the ceiling where low enough bouncing could be an option. My only concern is would be having it interfere with the doctors. Don't care much about the mother, she's done enough mean big-sister things to me in my life that a little flash in the eye would be a mild form of karma coming back.
I've had some decent shots in the past shooting 35mm tri-x@1000 in diafine without flash, and may go that route again. But I also am a fan of the full frontal flash that was described earlier as "clinical."
Remember too, that flash will be effecting doctors and nurses as well. You don't want their karma coming back on you. Both my deliveries were C-Sections. Maybe that is why hubby dropped the camera. He did admit once he was about to pass out. First time I had them knock me out. I had heard too many horror stories. Once I came too, I did manage to punch him out(hubby). Gave him a black eye that lasted over a week. It might have lasted longer if I had been fully awake and aimed. That would have made a great picture to put in a baby book. Second time we spent the time cracking jokes and laughing through the whole thing. Darn it he didn't have a camera that time.
We've had two kids in the past 30 months, both were c-sections (first emergency, 2nd planned). Both times I had my 35mm slr loaded with delta 3200, as well as a p&s with xp2. I ended up only using the P&S in the OR / Delivery room, and only took 5 or 6 shots each. Personally, I wasn't interested in "action" shots. I took mine of the dr's holding up the kids right after being born. But to tell you the truth the besat shots from both births were the ones I took with natural window light hours after the birth when we were back in the regular room settling in.
Ian 3 Days old
When Alec was born, the digital shots we got from the local vendor doing them in the hospital's nursery were hideous -- the equiv of a bad driver's license photo. There really is a market out there for fine art newborn photography. I'll bet, though, that 90% of parents can't afford the going rate. How do you draw the line between need and availability? Contract with the hospital? I'm sure Cheryl has some thinking on this because of the IGCP.
Maybe the key is to factor in a certain percentage of pro bono sessions & 8-inch prints into your pricing so that the 80-90% of your customers who pay full price fund the sessions and first prints of the other 10-20% who don't.
Last edited by kwmullet; 08-26-2004 at 08:34 AM. Click to view previous post history.
Reason: odd pre-caffine wording
Actually, the Speed Graphic and bunch 'o grafmatics isn't a bad idea. Put a fast 90 or 75mm on the Speed, load up the Graf's with Tri-X - you're cookin' with gas! If you really NEED a flash (you shouldn't), stick a Sto-Fen on a 283 or bounce it off the ceiling.
Regardless, I'd clear it with the doc first before using flash. Tri-X at 1000 in Diafine works real well...
Some people are like Slinkies. They're really good for nothing, but they still bring a smile to your face when you push them down a flight of stairs.