As a birth photographer, you have to be prepared for anything. One birth might happen in an hour while another lasts 12 hours or more. It is my job to be there that whole time, so I have the equipment and the personal items to make it through the long hours of waiting for the newborn baby to make their arrival. This is a list of the items that I bring to make sure that I am prepared.

 

None of the links in this article are sponsored. These are all items owned by me that I would recommend to anyone.

Professional Equipment

Camera Bag

 

The first piece of equipment I have is my camera bag. It is an Ape Case, and holy cow, it is huge! I tried to show in the picture just how deep it is. It holds all of the equipment that I have listed in this section with more room to spare. I thought about going with a smaller bag because I didn’t want to be lugging around something so large, but when I went through all of the equipment that I wanted to have on me, the big bag was the only way to go.

Collapsible Stool

 

The next piece of equipment that I have is my handy stool. As you can see, I just strap it to the front of my backpack. (BTW, would you call that the front of the backpack or the back of the backpack? My husband and I have been arguing it for years.) It is collapsible which is obviously a necessity, and it is fairly tall, so it can give a good vantage point for a lot of interesting photos.

Camera Equipment

 

A good photographer should never be stuck without equipment. To make sure I never miss a moment, I always have two camera bodies and at least two lenses, so that if anything ceases to function, I can still operate. Wedding photographers often do the same thing. My first camera, my main camera, is a Nikon D810. My second camera is a Nikon D7100. I tend to prefer my Nikon 50mm f1.8 lens. It is incredibly sharp and I do not like “soft” photos. I want mine super crisp. My backup lenses are a Nikon 35mm f1.8 and a Tamron 28-75 f2.8. In addition, one of the most important pieces of equipment that I have is the ExpoDisc. It is a small disc that goes over the top of your lens so that you can set a custom white balance. I know it is possible to do it other ways, but I found them tedious. This is super easy and really accurate.

Flashes

 

Some birth photographers like to work without a flash. I, myself, also prefer shooting in natural light. Sometimes, however, it is just too dark to reasonably do so. Laboring women tend to prefer it dark, so a lot of the time a flash comes to the rescue. I have two Nissin Di700A flashes with extra battery cases. I also keep with me the “black foamy thing”. There is a video explaining it, along with other info about using flash photography at births, that you can watch here. Basically, it is a piece of black foam that you rubber band around the end of your flash in order to better direct the light to where you want it to go. I always pack plenty of extra rubber bands.

Miscellaneous

 

The rest of what I bring is basically all backup equipment for emergencies. I have two fully charged extra camera batteries, along with about fifty AAs for camera and flash battery backups. I also bring along my camera battery charger. The last backup item I bring is extra camera storage. I have two large SD cards ready to go. One of the most essential items in my bag is my shot list. It is a comprehensive list of all the shots I need to take, including any requests from the parents. If you are good enough to keep all of that in your head then kudos, but I am forgetful and need that little bit of extra help.

Personal Items

Canvas Bag

 

This kind of bag has been my go-to for years. It is so convenient. It is large enough to fit everything I need. The downside is that there are no pockets, and I do love pockets, but other than that it is a great bag.

Personal Effects

 

Here is the list of the personal items that I pack in my bag.

  • Comfy clothes and closed-toe shoes, along with extra socks. You might not be at home when you are called to a birth, so you want to make sure you have something to wear. The extra socks are because at home births, your socks could get wet if there is a birthing tub and you want to have a fresh pair.
  • A jacket. Birthing mothers like it cold! And for me, I’m always cold, so a jacket is a must.
  • Toiletries: deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, flossers, extra hair ties. You never know how long a birth is going to go, so you want to make sure you are ready to be there for the long haul.
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Extra contacts (or your glasses if you wear those)
  • Pain reliever
  • Water bottle
  • Snacks. I bring a variety of snacks and also meal replacement bars.
  • Book

  • Tablet or Laptop for work or play, depending on your preference and how long the birth is.
  • Charging cables for your phone, tablet, laptop, etc.
  • Cash. You might not think you need it because you’ll just bring your wallet, but when you are rushing out the door it is easy to forget. And you definitely want it for food at the hospital, or parking, or whatever else you might need.

It should be no surprise to you that I am an over-packer. But I figure that the little bit of extra effort to carry more stuff could prevent a really big problem in the future. So I overpack. I compiled all of this stuff together using lists from dozens of other photographers, bringing what I thought was important and leaving out the things that weren’t. I hope this list will be helpful for you as you fill up your birth photography bag. Or bags is probably more accurate.

 

What equipment do you find essential to take to your births? What is your must-have item? Leave a comment below.

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