Photos that Cost an Arm and a Leg! Why is Newborn Photography So Expensive?

I see it on my FB feed all the time! “Searching for a photographer that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg!” “Need a cheap photographer! We only need, like, one photo!”. So, let’s do a little adventure behind the scenes to find out why your local photographer charges ‘an arm and a leg’… or why they might not.

In the world of newborn photography, there’s a lot of work that goes into those beautiful galleries, and much of it is done before the session even begins! The most important of all these is SAFETY. When you’re choosing your newborn photographer, the safety of your little one is of course the highest priority. How do you know if the photographer you are choosing has the training and background to ensure that the most precious thing you just created is completely safe? You ask! What training have they had specifically in newborn safety? (Yes, it is it’s own separate training) How many newborn sessions have they done? Have they done any one on one mentoring? Do they have a medical background? If so, what kind and how many years? Before price, these questions should be asked first. I have a paramedic background with 10 years in the medical field, have delivered multiple babies, have been CPR trained with emphasis on infants, and have received specific pediatric emergency training. I have also taken several newborn safety classes for photography and know how to composite (combine several images to become one) images safely so that hands never actually have to leave a baby depending on the pose. A photographer who has not done this in depth training may not know that the final images they are trying to recreate is a result of extensive photoshopping and could attempt these poses without safeguards in place.

Let’s talk quality next. I have taken my time and done research on multiple vendors ensuring the wraps and materials touching your newborns delicate skin will be some of the best quality and non-irritating. I have multiple (my hubs would say way too many) wraps, props, bowls, backdrops, headbands, tiebacks, dresses for my client wardrobe and so much more that are of the highest quality. When I started out and my prices were on the lower end, you could see the quality reflected back in the final images. Quality shows, and quality pieces can add up in price. Having multiple options for each client is an added luxury. This ensures that you’re not getting the same posing, the same set ups, the same color theme as every other gallery! Every session I do has it’s own unique combinations and set ups to deliver something you have not seen in my online gallery, something unique to display on your walls!

Then there’s the gear! The cameras, multiple lenses, the lighting, light stands, light diffusers and umbrellas, memory cards, etc- all of these things can add up in price, but is essential for a session! I can assure you, a decent camera and good glass is expensive!

Next up, we have even more training! Natural light, studio light, bean bag posing (and there are a LOT of different poses on a beanbag), in a bucket posing, all the different ways to wrap, editing, posing, maternity posing with the momma to be by herself, with her other children, with her partner, in studio/out of studio, boudoir maternity… and this is just what I can remember right now! As far as posing goes, pretty much every person I’ve ever photographed has said they feel super awkward in front of the camera and don’t know what to do. I have actual training on how to position you, to tell you how to position your legs, where to place your hands, your face, which way to look, where I should be, and so much more to make sure that I don’t just photograph you, but that I photograph you looking your absolute best! Every client I have had has also said how amazing the experience was and how great they look in their photos. Guess what guys? Not the camera, it’s the training behind the camera. And anyone who has ever taken college courses can attest, training and continuing education can get expensive real fast.

You still with me?!? Next up- legalities and monthly charges. Stick with me, this is important. Having a professional camera doesn’t make a professional photographer. I am licensed in my city limits with a permit to operate, a separate permit to own a studio, then monthly insurance fees, and my LLC. I also have to pay monthly for my editing software, the site that holds my client galleries and contracts, and lawyer fees to review said contracts. Last but not least, let’s not forget taxes!

Then we have what happens just before a session. I can’t speak for other photographers, but I have at length conversations with my clients discussing color ideas, what props they would love to see, what color schemes would complement the rest of the artwork already on their walls, and more. I then take that information and spend the time until their session sketching out different set ups and prop ideas, coordinating wraps, bonnets, tiebacks and more. The day before a session I spend hours setting up my studio so that each setup flows into the next with as few disruptions as possible to the baby, keeping things as smooth as they can be during the photoshoot. After the session, there are hours of culling, choosing the best images, editing and perfecting, and then doing a few fine art composites. All of this takes a lot of time and attention to details, and even more training.

These details and costs are taken into account when I create my pricing, and believe me, I’m actually on the low end in our area for what I offer. All of this may be the boring side that no one cares about, but it also leads into some important questions. If your photographer is charging significantly less, have they done the safety training? Will they know to how to safely hold your baby, or will they try something that could lead to horrific injuries due to lack of training and knowledge? Do they run a legal business? Do they have the editing software and skill to deliver the quality images that you want to display forever? We all start somewhere and I was that photographer that was just starting out, charging a lower price. Mainly because I didn’t realize all that I needed to invest into my business when I first started charging for newborns. Here’s a lovely before and after as an example!

Slide to see Before/After

I was so incredibly proud of this image when I first started, but you can see the difference after countless hours of training, quality props and lighting, and higher quality gear. I hope this answered some questions for you, and I hope that you can see the value and quality that goes into this luxury product!

Have you booked your newborn session yet? Message me to reserve your maternity and/or newborn spots today! Click the link for more info!
Kat Mellon is a Fresno, Clovis, Visalia newborn photographer
Mellon Patch Photography, LLC – All rights reserved – Licensed and Insured- San Joaquin Valley, Lemoore, Hanford, Fresno, Clovis, California

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