1. The first thing I would look for in an experienced, professional birth photographer is if I love their work. How many births have I seen from them? 1? 5? 20? What does an entire birth story look like?
2. Depending on the type of birth you plan to have (hospital hypnobirth, induction, cesarean, home birth, birth center) the photographer should be able to show you samples of previous similar births they have captured. Those proofs should be all of the same high quality and they should impact you emotionally.
3. Depending on when you are due, you should find out if your birth photographer has any prior commitments during that time. Do they already have 8 other birth clients or 10 photoshoots scheduled two weeks before and after your due date? Do they have an anniversary or a family or child's birthday during that time? Is there a major holiday (like Thanksgiving or Christmas) occurring during that time? It's okay if there is a schedule conflict. What matters is how your photographer approaches that conflict. Are they ok with missing their child's birthday party or Christmas with their family. Their answer to that is what's important.
4. Does your birth photographer work with a reliable back up? Emergencies do happen and if your photographer is unable to be present at your birth, you want to be sure they have a very talented and reliable photographer who serves as their back up. You also want to be sure your photographer defines the parameters of what constitutes an emergency worth missing your birth for.
5. How professional your birth photographer seems to you. If you're having a hospital birth, (or end up needing a transfer to the hospital during labor at home), are high risk or have any medical conditions that can result in extra medical intervention and even a cesarean birth, you want to know how your birth photographer will handle themselves around the most esteemed medical professionals in a hospital setting. If your photographer is inexperienced with working along side of medical professionals ranging from nurses to OBGYNS, NICU nurses, neonatologists and anesthesiologists, it can affect how much of your birth story they are allowed to photograph
6. How many births your photographer has been paid to photograph. Lets get real for a moment. I am proud of the work I did photographing my very first five paid births. I had older, less capable equipment to handle darkly lit rooms back then, and I had less experience, but the work was good. But to be real with you, as an artist, I don't think its as good as the work I capture now, four years later, over one hundred births later. The more births your photographer attends, the more experience they gain working with lighting, unexpected last minute changes, lack of room. You basically learn to expect more things not going your way at a birth as a birth photographer so you condition yourself to expect everything going wrong all at once and plan in advance how you will handle those situations.
7. Privacy. How much does your photographer honor your privacy and confidentiality? 70% of the births I have documented over four years will never be seen by the public eye Why? because 70% of the birth clients I have had over four years have asked me not to share their photos or films with anyone. I can completely empathize with this. I have a few cell phone pictures from my two births, of which maybe 3 have ever been shared publicly. I feel particularly guarded about my two complicated and emotional births and wish for these images to never be shared with anyone. Your photographer who value your privacy over their own publicity/brand awareness at all times.
8. Relationship. You should love your birth photographer. They should not feel like a stranger paparazzi the day of your birth but like an old friend who makes you feel safer and more supported because they are there for you. I don't believe in photographing births for families who don't feel comfortable having me in the labor room with them. So I go above and beyond to get to know my families better during their pregnancies by meeting with them in person and getting to know each member of the family before my clients ever go into labor.