Information for Medical Professionals

Why Birth Photography?


There is something about being with someone when their world completely shifts. As much as a woman gives birth to a child, that child gives birth to a mom. This is what that shift is about, that realisation.

To witness that emotional connection and to touch someone’s life by capturing those raw and unreal moments is what birth photography is about. Birth photography is a calling that comes from your heart. It is not a job, but an honour.

Natural birth delivery at home with mom and dad

“SABPA is Africa’s most professional & medically respected association of its kind.”

birth baby cries for the first time

SABPA in a Nutshell

SABPA was developed in 2013 to establish birth photography as a professional service within the healthcare realm of South Africa. In 2020 it has grown into supporting Namibia as well as Lesotho – successfully integrating the profession into the healthcare community.

We continue to establish strong relationships with birth professionals and hospital groups providing them with confidence and knowledge of our presence. It is a trusted organisation and many hospitals only provide access to SABPA photographers for safety, privacy and ethical reasons.

Apart from established relationships, SABPA also provides its members with various networking and training platforms with a focus on marrying patient experience services (such as birth photography) with clinical excellence and teaching narrative competence within a health and wellness setting.

How SABPA provide support

Specialised birth photographers who qualify only after writing their exam which has been developed in partnership with our Advisory Board to protect the healthcare provider, the birth photographer and most importantly your patient and her baby, whilst bridging the gap between medicine and the humanities.

The SABPA photographers work in labour wards, theaters and neonatal units. We have a good relationship with many medical and maternal professionals and hospitals throughout South Africa, including but not limited to Netcares, Mediclinics and Life Hospitals.

They cover both C-Section and natural deliveries and have a good understanding of the incredible value of capturing those first moments whilst holding the birth space and protecting it for both the patient and the Doctors and staff.

head delivery of baby
First breath of baby after delivery

Advisory Board

SABPA has its own, independent advisory board consisting of selected South African medical professionals, nursing staff, gynecologists, anesthetists, private midwives, doulas, hospital client liaison managers, professional photographers and lawyers.

The aim of the board is to assist SABPA in the unbiased development of policies and decision making. The individuals serving on this board do so pro bono and as foregoers of birth photography in South Africa. They represent their different professional fields in relation to birth photography in South Africa and not their employers.

You can rest assured the following is strictly abided to at all times, it is a summary of what is included in the Oath of Conduct but not limited to the following:

Duty to our clients

  • We will act, at all times, in accordance with the highest standards of professional and personal integrity.
  • We provide photography services that are considerate of the needs of a birthing woman and which respect the dignity of our clients at all at all times.
  • We apply our best efforts towards providing exceptional birth photography services to our services to our clients.
  • We always ensure that we have a back-up photographer who is registered with
  • SABPA should we not be able to cover a birth.
Newborn baby meets granny in hospital
contractions during labour

Duty to other birth professionals

  • We treat all birth professionals with courtesy, respect, honesty and friendliness.
  • We show cooperation to all medical professionals and listen to instructions accordingly.
  • We understand that each hospital/medical professional may have their own merit requirements & permission procedures for allowing a birth photographer at a birth. We respect and familiarize ourselves with such requirements & procedures and make sure that we meet them before we ask for permission to be present at a birth or create expectations with a client.

Model Release & Publishing Rights

  • We honor our clients’ right to privacy. Every image is published with permission. A model release and client approval must be obtained before submitting images to SABPA or publishing them anywhere else.
  • We avoid explicit nudity unless the client has asked otherwise and those images remain for their private use.
  • We use discretion in releasing or publishing images that could compromise the client or the relevant health care providers or call them into question.
  • We use discretion in publishing graphic images (e.g. excessive blood) – avoiding platforms or sections that are not related to birth/pregnancy.
Big sister meets baby sister in hospital
Big sister meets newborn brother

Duty to other birth professionals

  • When attending a birth, we wear our business branded scrubs with clear identification and we at all times carry our SABPA license card ready to be produced if asked for by hospital staff.
  • We make sure that our client has the relevant permission forms available on file.
  • We only enter the ward/theater when well and not sick. If we are sick, we utilize the services of our SABPA back-up photographer.
  • We wash our hands, put up our hair and follow any other sanitation procedures a hospital may have e.g. wearing protective clothing or face masks or wiping down our cameras. We ensure we abide by all sanitation and infection control procedures.
  • We do not touch items designated to us as We ask and confirm what is sterile when unsure.

Images of medical personnel may only be published or released to the client with their permission, this means the client only gets images where the staff are unidentifiable or blurred out.

  • We never take additional equipment into the theater besides our camera and perhaps a back up lens or memory cards in our pockets.
  • We do not photograph staff or any of their identifying information without permission. Staff faces that are captured ‘collaterally’ will be faded out or blurred in the final product.
  • Should there be an emergency, we obey as directed and/or leave immediately if asked. We do not photograph life-threatening We lower our cameras and wait until the emergency has subsided to resume photographing that patient. If unsure its an appropriate time to resume, we quietly and discreetly ask a medical professional in the room who isn’t otherwise occupied with patient care.
  • No video will be captured of any medical procedures in theatre.
midwife umbilical cord with placenta
emergency c-section theatre with parents
  • We do not take photographs or video footage of the following medical procedures:
    • An epidural/spinal anesthesia
    • Making an incision
    • IV insertion
    • Water breaking/any vaginal checks
    • The use of forceps
    • Vacuum extraction
    • Suction to clear airways
    • CPR/resuscitation
    • The giving of oxygen to sustain life and not just for supporting purposes
  • It is our responsibility to communicate to our clients that permission for our presence must be obtained from the relevant health care professionals and hospitals.
  • We do not photograph other patients or their
  • We recognize that the experience of giving birth is private and Our goal is to not interrupt that, but document the story for the family’s memories.

Only unidentifiable images (such a back of the head or masked face) or blurred faces may be published without consent. We never release or publish the identifying image of a medical professional without their expressed consent.

  • We are not there to give opinions or medical advice or project our own feelings/experiences about birth before, during or after procedures.
  • We respect the choices our clients are making with their care providers.
  • We do not ask ANYONE to reenact a moment, pose a baby in any way without permission or ask any of the medical staff to move or act in a certain way. We are documenting not directing.
  • Our clients’ medical history and any interpretable medical recordings/ data/information during births remain private and confidential and may not be recorded or published.
  • Use of flash is prohibited in theatre.
c-section view of mom and dad saying hello to their baby
South African birth photographers association accredited logo

Member Accreditation

All SABPA members must pass a SABPA entry exam with a minimum of 85% (covering medical protocol and expected behaviours). We have a strict process in place whereby members receive training, guidance and support in order to be prepared and feel knowledgeable before going into the medical/birthing environment.

Our members can be clearly identified and hold themselves accountable in the birth environment.

It is important to also note: we are NOT a listing platform or a directory of any kind. We are here to provide a place for regulations and communication between birth photographers and the medical professionals in South Africa.