Things to consider before becoming a birth photographer…
Gear: How does your camera perform in very low light (think almost dark)? Do you have a fast lens (lens with a wide aperture 2.8, 1.8)? What about a backup camera body in case your main camera body malfunctions during a birth? Do you have plenty of extra batteries and memory cards? Do you know your camera well enough to feel confident operating it in less than ideal lighting conditions? If you answered no to any of these questions, you need to look into practicing and/or possibly upgrading your gear prior to offering this service.
Knowledge of the process of birth: If you do not currently know how the female body changes throughout labor and how the stages of labor differ, please educate yourself. You will need to know this so you know when you should arrive at the birthing facility, you will need to know how a laboring woman sounds/looks when in active labor and transition especially if she is not getting cervical checks. How contractions change and what they are like in the varying stages of labor.
Family Life: Do you have small children or older dependent children? Meaning ones that can not get themselves up and ready for school, can not stay home by themselves etc.? If so, do you have someone reliable that can be available anytime day or night to care for them/get them to and from school when you are called to a birth? Will your spouse/significant other be supportive, helpful and dependable? Are they willing to be without you and run the household for 12-24 hours straight? Are you willing to miss out on important life events like holidays, trips out of town, your kids birthday’s etc? What about having to schedule family vacations sometimes a year in advance? Can you manage being up all night at a birth and jumping back into the family routine when you get home without any sleep? Are you willing to put aside everything you have going on at any given moment when you get called in?
Business: Do you take other types of sessions? How will your clients feel if you have to reschedule their session last minute due to a birth? Do you have liability insurance (some hospitals require that you do)?
Backup Photographer: Do you have a good relationship with another photographer that would be willing to back you up at a birth in the event you can’t get there in time, are sick, have a sick child, no sitter, family emergency etc?
These are the big things to consider and I am sure other birth photographers have been in specific situations that would warrant adding to this list. If you are a birth photographer and would like to add anything, please comment or send me a message.