This is a public utility post. It has valuable information for both parents who are about to have babies, and photographers who want to shoot the deliveries of their customers.
Anyone who has tried to hire a photographer who does not belong to the “select” list of almost every hospital in the country knows very well what we are talking about. Tricky, controversial, stodgy subject which people normally avoid bringing it up.
One of my passions in photography are the births. I did no shoot a lot of them. I would love to have done more, but unfortunately the mafias of the hospitals has been an obstacle for me and my team of photographers. I think this is not just me complaining. It happens in every city in the country or at least the largest cities of our Brazil.
For the natural order, if I shoot a wedding and I serve my customers well, they probably will hire me for a session of pregnancy and after pregnancy will want me to record the height of its history, the birth of their child(ren), as the images below.
What are the hospitals mafias? It’s simple, it goes like this: The couple who will have the baby is required to hire a company that is “accredited” by the hospital and any other photographer who is not on the list (usually there is only one accredited company) is unable to make the record. Yes, several times I was prevented from shooting in the hospitals from the city of Belo Horizonte, where I live. They are cutting-edge Hospitals, the best, by the way.
When I talk about accreditation, I mean a company that pays a contribution to the hospital so that they can be inside. So far no problem. I would agree to pay the hospital, for the surgical clothes worn and a tax which the Hospital thought as convenient, provided that my client, the couple who hired me, was awaere of that. My first question is that couples do not know it. Why is that hospitals do not act transparently about the rates? The second question is, why more than one company can not work in the hospital? Some hospitals say it is risky because it involves health. I agree in gender, number and degree. However, why not create a course or training for other photographers who want to work too? Strange, isn’t it?
Well, to make matters worse, the hospitals, while forcing the couple to hire JOHN DOE PHOTOGRAPHY, violate the Code of Consumer Protection that says that this is “TIE-IN SALES”.
I have nothing against companies that provide photo and video service within such organizations,even though I have seen absurd things. I’ve seen photo and video company that hires students of the health area, deliver a camera in their hands and they, not knowing what to do, take care to do both at the same time at the same birth, photo and video. Yes, photo and video together. Easy? To make it even worse, these health professionals accept the “challenge” because those hours of photo and video in the hospital count as hours of compulsory training in their degree. To me this is a total disregard to the customer! A camera in hand does not make one a photographer. Obviously we can not charge a high quality result of nursing or physiotherapy students who never wanted to be photographers. Do you agree?
Let’s go to what matters? A couple who were clients, now friends, swindled the trappings of the Mafia of a “Mighty” hospital in Belo Horizonte and made a step by step guide for us, photographers and parents, to be able from now to demand our rights. It’s up only to us! The guide was only transcribed with the words of the couple, R and M, for security reasons I will not quote the names.
Step by Step to get your photographer to access your maternity and photograph
With my wife’s pregnancy and childbirth proximity I found out that there is a gentleman’s agreement (read mafia) between maternity hospitals and photography companies. The hospital forces that, in case the patient wishes to photograph the birth, the service must be provided by company X.
They argue that professionals in this company already have the practice of the delivery room and they will not put the patient (and consequently the hospital) at risk.
In this scenario I describe the strategy I used to achieve the photographer’s entry into Otaviano Neves MATERNITY in Belo Horizonte.
Step One: Document the illegal procedure of the Hospital
Send an email to the hospital asking for information on how to photograph the birth.
Certainly, to meet the gentlemen’s agreement, the hospital will indicate the company X.

Step Two: Ask for a quote on company X

Request a quote from Company X to document the wrongdoing. By asking the budget (preferably in writing) mention that it was an indication of the hospital. Ask the company to submit a written budget, so you can have it as an etched document.

Third step: Express your wish

Now that you have recorded that the hospital is a indicating a company and you have the company’s budget in hands, express your wish to haveyour photographer shooting the birth. Ask if there are any objections and if they can provide a written permission for the photographer to have access to the delivery room.

If the hospital really meet the gentlemen’s agreement, it will oppose to your wish at this moment. It is important that you have this opposition statment registered! Ask to have it by e-mail!

If the hospital informs you by phone, reply to the previously sent e-mail stating the position of the hospital: “according to the telephone calls received from the Hospital., I will not be able to have the birth photographed by my photographer, since, according to the Hospital’s orientation, only professionals from company X can perform the shooting of the delivery.

Step Four: Refute

For the situation get the due importance, go to the hospital / maternity personally and ask to speak with the person who kept in touch with you via e-mail.

Always be very, very, very polite – after all, your child will be born in this place, remember?!

Show the wish to photograph with your photographer and argue that they are a hospital and not a photography company. Use those jargon of  “tie-in sales” and, if so, say that you will enter an “injunction” so your right is respected.

What the hospital can say:

Argument: Company X photographers are trained in procedures for the delivery room, so it is not violation of Law 8078, 39th article, section I (“tie-in sale”), since the parameter of choice is technical, not business.

Counter-argument: praise the hospital’s concern with the reduction of risks that can lead to infections and so on, and affirm that, equally, your photographer has the necessary experience and knowledge to meet those procedures. (IF IT IS SO, OF COURSE). Force as much as possible to the hospital to give in, but do that in documented way.

.However: if the hospital said that “The photographers are trained in the procedures,” be wary, because in this case the hospital must offer a course that enables professionals. In this case, the course must have a widely disseminated at least within the hospital, otherwise it is just an excuse to force the sale.
Well, as we’re talking about a mafia, the chances of this occurring are small, but keep an eye open, because you can ask your photographer to do the course of the hospital and be also an accredited professional. Then everything gets easier…
Argument: according to the law, the hospital can only allow entry of the father in the delivery room.
Counter-argument: use the documentation that you received. With it you have the record that the hospital would allow access by the photographer of company X, beyond the father of the child. This will put them in a  damm tight spot!
For some thinking:
First of all, the photography in the delivery room is a rather risky procedure! Remember that regardless of the type of delivery, what occurs on site is a surgical procedure. If your photographer does not have equipment cleaned and especially a lot of experience, do not make pictures of the childbirth. After all, what  you want to register is a happy moment and not a tragedy.
For you to have an idea of the security procedures that I am mentioning, below are some examples:
  • in the delivery room the photographer can not touch anything! NOTHING! In tissues blue (or green) much less!
  • they can not uphold their equipment to any object in the operation room
  • they can not move freely, because there may be wires or hoses down the floor.
  • they can not put yourself in a position that disrupts the work of doctors and nurses.
  • In short, it must be a person who knows very well what they’re doing! Besides all these rules they have to take good pictures!
Asserts your rights:

As I said, documenting the procedure of the hospital is essential. If even so you still do not get a permission to your photographer to enter, search the forum of public advocacy

your town 
and enter an injunction. Generally, these warrants are issued by the judges within 24 hrs. This instrument can only be used before the baby is delievered!

If you have been surprised and had your photographer

denied just in time of delivery, do not hesitate, start an action for damages! Do this only if it is well documented (in writing), otherwise it will be waste of time.
What hospitals do by requiring the presence of particular photography company is illegal. I think acting the way I am suggesting is the best, because it’s the same way that customers who accept the “tie-in sale” act – what makes it difficult to the hospital to find legal loopholes to keep this mafia.
I hate fights, especially the court ones. As hospitals know that what they do is wrong, they will allow, as they  have allowed the couple R and M and as well as other couples that I photographed. It is noteworthy that another alternative is to ask the permission of your obstetrician. He has the power to insert and remove people from the delivery room.
Hospitals, while we do not take any action, will always do the wrong thing.
Fight for your rights. What’s the point to stay here appalled by “MENSALÕES” if the corruption is right under our noses?
Success to all and be always welcome back to my blog!
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