Good quality newborn photography is an investment. As a mother who had a limited budget when I had my son’s newborn photos taken, I totally understand why people get frustrated for this seemingly expensive service. I am a member of several online mother’s groups online, and often see mum’s asking for recommendations for a “reasonably priced” newborn photographer and then read on in the comments about how ridiculous prices are or how they can easily go to so and so to have a full disk of edited images for 40$.
Well, I’m here to explain why good quality newborn photography should be “expensive” and hope to get people thinking twice next time they are hoping to capture these ONCE in a lifetime moments.
1. It’s expensive to run a professional photography studio! There is a lot of overhead in photography – and I’m not just referring to camera gear which can easily cost 5K per year. In newborn photography, there are so many elements that go into creating those timeless images. Safety is huge, keeping up on training, attending workshops and courses is vital to ensure baby is in safe hands and also costs thousands of dollars per year. Props, studio samples, rent, insurance website upkeep …just to name a few. A hobbyist “shoot and burn” photographer simply does not have this overhead, so of course they are able to charge less. However, trusting someone especially when posing a newborn who hasn’t been trained to do so is risky. You also will not end up with a beautifully finished professional quality product that can be passed down through generations. As a full service photography studio my goal is to ensure that my clients get the images they have invested in, into their lives. I think the mistake a lot of people make when going to a discounted photographer who does not offer quality products it that the images just end up sitting on their computer are are virtually worthless. Or they go print them at low cost at a local drug store, these prints will never match the screen nor stand the test of time. Ultimately a professional insured full time photographer like any registered business needs to make a salary and make not only their time but their money invested worthwhile.
2. Which brings me to my next point! Newborn photography takes a long time! I spend an enormous amount of time researching my craft, designing sets, and sourcing props from all over the world! Newborn sessions typically run between 2-3 hours. Not to mention prep time, clean up, gallery preparation product consultations, email and phone communication. Another thing that I believe the majority of people are unaware of, is all the time and effort that goes into retouching the images. Getting the image from point A to point B – the final result. Every photographer develops their own signature recipes in Photoshop – which can take years to develop. I spend anywhere from 10-20 minutes on each image and that’s even after spending countless hours creating my own recipes which help to speed up the process. Having that eye for what an image can become is a skill that takes time to develop. All in all I typically spend about 8-10 hours on each of my newborn clients.
3. You get what you pay for! Oh that classic line. Of course this also applies to the photography industry. Someone who has spent years perfecting their craft and has tons of experience under their belt is obviously going to cost more – and ultimately has more tools to deliver not only a better product but a better experience. I don’t want to be misunderstood here. Every photographer starts somewhere and not every client wants to invest a lot of money into newborn photography. There is someone out there for everyone. The only issue I have is when people expect a 5 star experience with a 1 star budget. Really what it comes down to is education. Once a person understands from a photographers point of view, what goes into creating these irreplaceable memories, pricing seems to make a little more sense. We are not just selling a product, we are providing an experience and an experience we have poured our heart and soul into! It’s not just about the technical side, it’s our Art.
4. It’s all about the experience. A photographer who values themselves, is confident in their art and ability and who listens and understands what their ideal client is looking for, is most definitely going to be able to provide their clients with a more personable and tailored experience. For my newborn photo session, I knew right away that I was not interested in going to a big commercial studio where I would follow a scheduled workflow and most likely feel like a number. I was looking for someone who would sit down educate me about the process. Being a new mum is scary enough! Being in the know and feeling comfortable in the environment is essential. I aim to provide my clients with that feeling from the day they contact me. I provide them with information about how the session will proceed beforehand and follow up with questionnaires to ensure nothing was missed. I become close with my clients and often catch myself smiling while sorting images and editing. These people have allowed me to capture an extremely important moment in their lives – and I don’t take that lightly. Their experience matters to me – their final product matters to me! I love my job. But it is at the end of the day i just that. My source of income, and the way I provide for my children. So next time you are looking for an “affordable photographer”, please take the above things into consideration. It’s a tough business – but after years of struggling to get to where I am, I am proud of the experience I provide and extremely grateful for the clients who hire be despite my higher end price tag because they value the experience and high end service I provide.