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The Art Of Videotaping A Childbirth

   By: Debbie Jensen

From my experience of professionally videotaping women giving birth (including one cesarean), I learned the art of videotaping a childbirth. Most of the shoots I did were for the parent's personal use; but a few times, the footage was produced for training purposes, and one tape was produced for public television. Only in looking back and speaking as I an older person, I believe it is imperative to keep the mother's dignity a priority.

When I was shooting births, I had no model to work from. Other than what I shot, I never saw this type of footage until years later. Recently, I watched a few programs on television about this to see how other videographers approach the situation. From this, I learned my feelings about how to approach videotaping childbirths are basically along the same lines as what is on television today.

I suggest to those who are going to video the child birthing process is to approach it in the same way as shown on TV. Avoid shots that would embarrass the mother and her family and friends. Pretend like your video is for the world to see! This way, you will not take embarrassing angles. If the mother is showing too much skin, angle the camera in such a way that the visual footage is not too intense. Don't forget about your zoom lens too, use your zoom to crop out scenes that are too revealing and provide too much information. Be mindful too, DO NOT TALK and narrate the event as you are shooting it. It's difficult to not speak while shooting even for professionals. Be mindful of the audio content as you shoot, allow breathing room for personal privacy.

In videotaping childbirths, less is more! For the most part, keep the camera off. When the time comes to capture the birth itself and the few choicest minutes that follow, start taping! Be discreet and protect the mother's personal privacy (physically speaking). Don't tape ugly moments, and don't talk while videotaping (unless you absolutely have to).

Think of this as an heirloom for the child―videotape this special moment in such a way that the parents will be proud to show the raw, unedited footage to their family and friends. If you follow these guidelines, you will have a video that will bring joy, not embarrassment. (revised 2/15/2006)

Debbie Jensen, Graphic Designer and Photographer

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