Why is Newborn Photography So Expensive?
Hiring a professional newborn photographer to photograph your new baby is an investment – Something you could spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on. When you only see the photographer for a few hours at the time of the shoot, you might think that the price is expensive.
So why does newborn photography cost the amount it does? In this post I’ll explain the costs that go into providing professional newborn photography, and why the costs, hence prices and your investment may vary between different photographers.
Why The Costs of Newborn Photography Might Vary
Before I dive in to the costs of providing a newborn photography service, it might be helpful to look at some of the ways that costs and hence prices may vary. Similarly to other industries, you can find photographers providing newborn photography at many different levels. From a photographer who enjoys taking photographs as a hobby, but is not running a full-time business, to a photographer who has many years experience of exclusively photographing newborns, and provides a comprehensive service that includes helping you design albums or wall art after the shoot.
Here are some of the ways that their costs of doing business, and hence the prices you pay may vary:
The type of camera and lenses they use
Whether they use studio lighting or window light
How many different props and blankets they use
The photographer’s expertise and experience
How they edit and retouch the photographs from the shoot
Whether they have a studio or travel to your home for the photo shoot
How much time they spend helping you prepare for the shoot, on the shoot itself, editing your photographs and helping you display your images.
The quality of products they offer, if any
Whether they work with an assistant
Their costs of running their business
The type of service they provide
In compiling this list I’ve assumed that we’re only looking at photographers who take digital photographs (as opposed to film), and those who are the sole photographer in their business. Let’s have a look at each of these factors in more detail, and how they affect the costs of providing newborn photography.
Do You Want To Hire A Newborn Photographer But Don't Know Where To Start? Cameras and Lenses The first, perhaps most obvious cost of running a newborn photography business is photography equipment. At the most basic level, a newborn photographer needs a professional DSLR camera, memory cards and a lens. Most professional photographers will often have at least one of these cameras as a backup, in case the one they are using fails during a shoot. Cameras also need updating as technology advances – it’s realistic to expect to purchase a new camera every three years. Many newborn photographers will use two different lenses during a shoot. A standard lens, and a macro lens which they’ll use to capture close-ups of your baby’s features such as their toes, fingers, lips and eyelashes. Here’s an overview of how much these items could cost: 2 x Full Frame Cameras ($2000+ each) 35mm 2.8 Lens ($850) or 24-70mm 2.8 Lens ($1,700+) Macro Lens ($600+) Professional Level Memory Cards ($25+ each) Lighting Not all newborn photographers use lighting in their shoots. Some rely on natural light, some will use natural light during brighter days and studio lights on darker days. Others will use lighting every time. Depending on how many lights the photographer chooses to use, and the brand, this equipment can cost anything from $200 to in excess of $2,000.
Other shoot equipment Depending on the style of newborn photography your photographer offers they may also need other equipment. Lifestyle newborn photographers, who come to your home and take photographs of your baby and your family within your home environment will probably not need any props to bring with them. Photographers providing posed, studio photography will need other equipment:
Usually babies are posed on a large beanbag or cushioned table such as I do. The beanbag is covered with blankets which will be pulled tightly and secured with clips to a stand.
Most photographers have a variety of colors of blankets to offer parents a choice of colors used in their shoot.
Babies are often wrapped in soft fabric or wool wraps for the photographs. These can be as simple as a piece of stretch jersey, or may be custom made in soft wool such as angora.
They may also have small outfits, hats, headbands, and teddies to use in different photographs.
Photographers who offer a more natural style of posed photography will likely have fewer of these props than other photographers. But as you can see the costs for this equipment can quickly add up to hundreds or thousands. All of these blankets and props will need to be laundered between shoots too, and replaced when they become worn. Post production equipment After a newborn photo shoot your photographer will probably spend more time editing your photographs than they did taking them. As a minimum, they’ll need a computer, and editing software such as Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. Ideally, the computer should have at least 16GB RAM and a specialised graphics card to allow the software to run effectively. The more experienced your photographer is at editing, then they will also have invested in a large screen so that they can see all of the details in each picture, a device to calibrate their screen to make sure the colours are rendered correctly, and a retouching tablet to help them work with better precision. So how much does all of this cost? Computer $2,600 + Annual Subscription to Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop $120 Calibration Device $130+ Retouching Tablet $100+
Training and Expertise When you hire a newborn photographer you’re hiring them because of their expertise – they can expertly soothe, pose and position your baby to capture that perfect photograph. And importantly they can do this safely. When you are handing your new baby over to a photographer, that expertise is what gives you the confidence that they will take care of them. All of these skills take considerable training, practice and time to develop. It’s likely that your newborn photographer will have spent a considerable amount of time learning and then practising how to perfect each pose and take each shot. Learning from experienced professionals also costs money, and many photographers will continue to invest in courses, training and mentoring every year so that they can continually improve their work and stay up-to-date with trends.
Time Newborn photography takes time. Most shoots where the photographer specialises in posed photography will take somewhere between 2.5-4 hours, sometimes longer depending on the number of different poses and color schemes that the photographer works through. Add to this the time that the photographer takes to talk to you before the shoot, help you prepare and their time editing the photographs afterward and the hours can easily become a couple of days work. Some newborn photographers will also spend time showing you the photographs at a viewing appointment, and designing and ordering products for you if you wish. This all adds time to the process and may be reflected in the price.
Studio or Travel Costs If your photographer has their own studio, there will be costs for renting the space, fitting it out, and ongoing costs for utilities such as heat, light and power. Some photographers have studio spaces in their homes, in which case these costs may be lower. For photographers who travel to your home for the shoot they will have costs of their travel – whether it’s mileage or train fares, and the cost of their travel time to factor in. Product If your newborn photographer offers printed products it’s likely that the total cost of your shoot will be more than if you choose a photographer who emails you all of the digital files after your shoot. After all products cost the photographer money, and so this will be part of their business costs. You will also find that different photographers’ products cost different amounts: Professional prints can vary from C-type digital prints, to fine art Giclee prints; Albums can vary from mass-produced photo books to individually handmade albums printed on fine art paper; Framed prints can vary from a C-type print in a veneered frame, with a standard mount and glass, to a fine art print, in a hardwood frame, with a hand-cut mount and extra-thick, anti-reflective art glass. Depending on the specification of the products your photographer is offering, the cost to them and hence the price you pay may be higher or lower than others. Staffing Costs Some photographers prefer to work with a photography assistant on a newborn shoot. The assistant may help them to prepare the studio, pose the baby, move equipment and lighting around during the shoot or take care of other family members who are not being photographed in that moment. Other photographers prefer to work alone, prepare and move equipment themselves, and ask parents to help them when they need help to hold or soothe the baby. There’s no right or wrong here, but photographers who do have an assistant will have higher costs than those who don’t. Business costs As with any other business, the costs of running a business also apply to professional photographers. Some of the costs of running a photography business include:
Professional Indemnity and Public Liability Insurance
Accounting or Bookkeeping Costs
Advertising and Marketing
Postage and Shipping
All of these costs will vary depending on the size of the photographer’s business. The Type of Service The Photographer Provides Finally, the type of service that a photographer provides will also have an impact on their costs and how much you pay. At one end of the scale, you may find a photographer who will meet you for the shoot, take the photographs, do minimal post processing and email a set of digital images to you. At the other end of the scale you can work with photographers who will get to know each of their clients, find out what it is that each client is hoping for from the session, offer a great session experience, meet you in person to show you the photographs, help you choose and design the best ways to display or enjoy your photographs, create albums, prints or wall displays for you, and deliver your new photographs to your door. You’ll also find lots of variations in-between. The first photographer I described will obviously spend less time working on your shoot, than the second one and hence has the capacity to work with more clients in the same time-frame. The second photographer provides a more bespoke service, and is likely to work with fewer clients. It’s likely that a newborn photo shoot with them will cost more, as their cost of providing it to you will be higher. Over to You In summary, there are many different costs that go into providing a newborn photography service, and these costs will vary depending on which photographer you choose to work with and the exact service they are offering. I hope this article has helped to explain why newborn photography is priced the way it is. What other questions do you have about newborn photography? I’d love to hear - Send me an email to email@example.com, or let me know in the comments below.
- Jennifer Ubinas Photography
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