Why Newborn Photographers are so Expensive – CLJ Photography
(And I might add Maternity Photographers too…)
It’s time to discuss why Newborn and Maternity photographers are so expensive. I’ve thought a lot about posting this subject for a long time. And I also know many people understand why this is. But every day I see a post on facebook that goes something like “Recommendations for a good newborn photographer who is reasonably priced.”
First, I don’t know exactly what that means – what is “reasonably priced”? If I am buying a car for $5000, is it reasonably priced? Or is it a steal? Or could it be a waste of money? It all really depends on the car.
My “reasonably priced” could be $700 while someone else’s “reasonably priced” is $200 and another person’s $1000.
It all depends on the quality of the thing you are buying.
Which leads me to my main subject – why are some newborn and maternity photographers so “expensive”?
This is my story and why I charge what I do.
I began photographing people about 9 years ago. I was offering sessions for $50 and sometimes not even accepting payment. I was very unfamiliar with photoshop or what my style was. But honestly, Maternity and Newborn photography was just beginning to develop into what it is now.
Behold. One of my first maternity sessions.
I was really proud of these. I bought some blue swirly fabric and a black sheet and I pulled it off! I was so excited.
And one of my first newborn sessions.
I had no experience and no education. I was learning and I was charging for my level. Photographers who are building their portfolio are doing so because they are all starting out. They are learning. Which is an important step to getting better!!
(I will say, yes, from a photographer/artist standpoint, I can say these images are pretty bad. BUT, these images are still (I am sure) cherished by these families. WHY? Because they are their stories. Their lives. Their histories.)
For a long time I was priced under $300.
I was learning slowly on my own. I was “researching” newborn images and maternity images all. the. time. Breaking images down to understand exactly why the image was better than mine because I could clearly see I was not as good as many others. $300 was for everything too. I didn’t realize that I was spending 2 hours on a session and 5+ hours or more editing. And I was buying more and more props. And improving my equipment. I was fully booked but but working 50+ hours a week. (And I don’t even want to talk about fall family sessions or bluebonnets…)
Then a couple years back…
Then there was about a year when I wanted to get more props, better props. I found vendors selling beautiful items that there was no way I could afford. A knitted bonnet for $65? A gorgeous wool rug, called a Flokati, from New Zealand for $250+? If I am only charging $300 for a session, working 7 hours and not making a single dime, how is this possible?
Then there was a client who emailed me that she purchased prints of her newborn images but her baby was green. “Seriously, your baby is not green on my computer. Where did you print them?”
For all my work to give her beautiful images of her child, they were green. She didn’t know where else to go. I didn’t know what to tell her.
My last big frustration was I NEVER say my family. I was working so much, I missed my family every single weekend.
I was changing.
I was no longer a photographer. I was more concerned about the quality of my art. See, person with a camera can photograph most subjects. A party, a family, a baby, anything. But I was changing. Then I decided to spend some money (which I saved for a long time) and attended my first Newborn Photographer Convention. Top photographers around the world were teaching courses. I had been staring at a door as a photographer and it was opened.
I talked to vendors from around the world with gorgeous products to display portraits. Photographers who treated their images as art. Photographers who wanted to provide something special for these tender moments in our lives. I could see how I was changing into this as well. I found my fire. My passion. I needed to learn more – everything! I could learn to light my subjects better. To pose each client better. Offer a better service, be more efficient.
We aren’t just people with cameras for when other people need pictures.
Fast forward to now.
I have attended many workshops, conventions, I’ve mentored with photographers. There are online education courses and business books. I do everything I can to improve my services.
I do not photograph weddings – I am not trained to do that.
Photograph events? – I am no good.
Lifestyle photography? – I am really bad at it!
Everything has been focused on posing newborns and posing pregnant women. I have spent so. much. money on my maternity gowns. Like, way more than I should, lol! I have filled my studio PACKED FULL of beautiful quality props. I have photographer associations subscriptions, website subscriptions. CLJ Photography is a full LLC company, paying taxes and accountants and all that. We are insured – I was not insured as a newborn photographer for a long time.
But not just my overhead, which is higher than most.
This is my craft.
I am an image creator. I am a craftsman. This is my art and my vision.
Every single session, I cut down to 30-35 of the best images. Only images that I want others to see. Each image I closely, hand-edit. I clean up skin, adjust tones, contrast, light, fix stray hairs, tan lines and even take away those double chins nobody wants to remember. Panty lines are fixed, wrinkles, I smooth out a women’s back lines. Every image I show a client, I am proud to of it. I stand behind my work. If it sub-par, I will not show it. I will take all the time I need to make it perfect. If I have a newborn who doesn’t want to cooperate, my time DOES NOT matter. I will keep working until I get the images I want.
Long story short.
A single newborn or maternity session, on average takes 10+ hours. My taxes come out and my staff is paid whom I employ to be able to do what I do. I take my wage, my business takes a profit. I reinvest back into my business.
There are photographers who charge under $300 and honestly, I can’t say why they charge what they do. I know why I charged that.
For me, you aren’t paying for “just a couple good pictures” you are paying for my experience to create those couple good pictures. You aren’t paying for “just thirty minutes, maybe” you are paying for many hours of my time to design, construct, edit and take care of your needs. You are paying for an artist to create something special for your family. You are paying me to create something you will pass down to your children. Something that will be in your family generations, long after you and I are passed on.
Here is my most recent maternity session.
(I might brag on her for just a second – this is baby #5! and she is seriously stunning!)
And my one of my most recent newborn session.
(Floordrop $100+, Lambskin $80, Bowl $50, Wool Fluff $40, Wrap $20, Bonnet $30, Camera and Lighting and Overhead not accounting for.)
(Floordrop $150+, Jute Layer $20, Bucket $70, Wrap $20, Bonnet $40).
If you’ve read this entire post, thanks for doing so.
As a business owner, this is a lot of honestly and transparency. I do charge a lot. What I create is expensive. But my hope is that through posting this blog, I can help create a bit more understanding about why some photographers are “so expensive”.
The benefits of what I do and what I charge?
Your images will be gorgeous.
You will be pampered and feel beautiful.
Choose from almost a 100 maternity gowns.
Trust me to pose you perfectly.
Feel less stressed knowing your baby is not under a time constraint – babies never cooperate anyways. (How many sessions have I had where baby has cried for two hours? Sooo many…and it used to be a problem when I offered “a two hour session”.)
Take home something that will last.
We’ve spent the time and money to preserve what is MOST PRECIOUS to you.
If you are looking for custom portraits and are interested in what I offer – I would LOVE to chat with you. I would love to create something beautiful for your family, something at this beautiful moment in your life that you can have forever. Something you can sit with your grandkids and share. This is what I can do for you. Please contact my studio today and let’s sit down and chat.
1500 Starr Ct
Aubrey, TX 76227
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If you are located in the Dallas/Fort Worth Area or Texas Region, CLJ Photography can accommodate your maternity and newborn photography needs. Destination and Baby Moon photography can be discussed.