Updated: Mar 26, 2020
When many women picture giving birth it usually is in a dark or dimly lit room. And for good reason, we want to feel safe and secure. We almost replicate the womb environment where it is quiet and calm. And the atmosphere is so important for the laboring mama especially if she is having a natural birth.
This darkness though makes capturing births a bit tricky. Cameras need light just like our eyes need light to see. If your photographer knows what they are doing and has the right gear they should be able to capture photos for you even when you keep the room fairly dark, but there will be more grain in the photos with less light. But is having flash at your birth worth it to you. The answer will be different for everyone so here are some things to consider when deciding your preferences.
1. The quality of the images-
Like I mentioned, cameras need light. Essentially everything I do as a photographer is based on the light on my subject. So when the subject is in a low light situation like a birth, we tell our camera to let in more light, similar to how your eye automatically does this in the dark. Without getting into all the details of how the camera works, changing the settings in this way also increases the grain. Grain is exactly what it sounds like. It looks like sand almost. It isn't necessarily a bad thing. Some people love grainy images and some photographers will actually add grain to a photo. So you don't need to be afraid of it however you need to know what it is and if you like it or not. When a photographer uses flash the clarity of the image is just a lot better. There is less grain if any at all. If you planned to print an image of the birth that print would look better overall.
2. Your Experience-
Obviously this is very important! What happens at your birth matters! Which means you feeling secure and comfortable are one of the top priorities. If you are unhappy or annoyed it can hinder your progress or your perception of the birth. This should be a monumental moment for you and I would hate to ruin it because you feel like the paparazzi is in your face! If at any time during your labor you feel like the flash is hindering you or you just plain don't like it you can absolutely tell your photographer to turn it off and you don't need to worry about saying it politely! Listen, I have had 5 home births I know what its like to not be able to speak in the way you normally would like to. Whoever your photographer is, they should understand that in labor you can't get offended so if you need to just say turn off the flash in the a grumpy voice do it! We totally understand!! On the flip side, you may not even notice it. From my personal experience I didn't notice the flash in the first photographed birth. That labor was so fast I wasn't paying attention to what was going on around me. The next birth was in the middle of the night and I did notice the flash but it didn't bother me at all. I had my eyes closed most of the time so I was in my own space anyways. I will say though that I have always disliked the flash after the baby is born and is trying to look around. And I have had clients say the same thing. Usually after baby is born it is a lot easier to turn up the lights so flash may not be needed in the same way or at all anyways.
Here is what a couple of clients have said about their experience with flash:
It bothered me a little. Just a sudden distraction that puled my mind away from relaxation. But it didn't take away from the experience as a whole. Still glad with how it all worked out.
I noticed the flash and it bugged me a little. But I think it was only annoying in transition. I don't remember noticing it when I was pushing. Maybe the first push..other than that I didn't mind.
I didn't bother me because I was expecting it. However I personally would rather have not used flash on baby as his reaction to it made me sad.
3. Flash allows you to have a darker space-
Because flash lights up the room for a second it can allow you to have the lights darker in general. If you prefer a really dark room or maybe you are good at going really deep inside yourself during labor you might not even notice the flash. But if you are having a videographer, this isn't as much an option since you need continuous light for video. ( Another topic for another day I suppose)
4. Flash helps the photographer to get more photos-
If the photographer can use a flash they are more likely to capture more moments because when the light is low it can take a bit more time to focus. The flash allows the camera to take a photo faster meaning we can click faster and make sure we capture that perfect moment. But I will say that the difference is probably hardly noticeable as far as amount of images.
5. It can be distracting to some but not to others-
Just because some find it distracting doesn't mean you will. You can always try it out and change your mind when the time comes. There are plenty of moms who don't mind it in the slightest and love the images it creates so it really comes down to you.
6. Alternatives to Flash-
If you choose to not have flash you can still have great images. You can turn on the overhead lights, maybe this won't bother you. Hang up twinkle lights, I like these anyways. Light some candles. Turn on hallway lights (If you are having a home birth) For a water birth you can get some glow sticks for the water. If it is daytime when giving birth, open the blinds/curtains, that natural light is beautiful and will make your photographer oh so happy!
So whether you use flash or not be sure to find a birth photographer that can accommodate your wishes. It is your choice and you can absolutely change your mind! If you are looking for a birth photographer in the Sacramento/Placer County area I would love for you to hire me, Justine Michelle Films for your home birth, birth center or hospital birth.
Click here for more information about Justine Michelle Films Birth Photography and Videography Services.
Justine is a birth videographer and photographer serving the Sacramento, Placer and El Dorado County. areas. Roseville, Rocklin, Lincoln, Granite Bay, Folsom, Sacramento, Orangevale, Placerville, Antelope, etc