Why are newborn sessions so expensive?
The answer, and why you shouldn’t ask for someone who doesn’t charge an arm or a leg.
In my career as a newborn photographer, I have gotten a few moments of silence after explaining pricing to perspective clients. I see posts on Facebook groups asking “why do newborn sessions cost so much?” or “looking for a photographer that doesn’t charge an arm or a leg.” And the dreaded, “looking for a newborn photographer under $200”.
The bottom line is this. If a photographer is charging $200 for a newborn session, all inclusive, there is something wrong with that picture. Whether from the legal business perspective or the inexperience perspective, it is not somewhere you want to be.
The value of your photo session is not just the dollar amount that paying for something versus the number of images. You have to take into account the value of everything you are receiving, the service, the product, the quality, everything.
Safety first, always
When the cost of a newborn session is your priority, ask yourself, do you really want someone who has NO experience handling babies, to use your baby as their trial run? This is your most precious being. There are props and poses that ARE NOT SAFE. For someone to do newborn photography safely, they need to invest in workshops with professionals in the field. They need to learn how to handle your baby safely. There are poses I will simply not do for safety reasons. Even if they are requested, no matter how cute they are, or what other photographers do them.
At the very least, you deserve to know that your baby is safe. No baby should be hanging from anything, composite should be used when necessary, props should be adequately weighted when necessary to compensate for baby’s head position as this is the heaviest part of a baby’s body. And never, ever, ever, put them in anything GLASS.
I have seen many examples of what I’ve described above shared in groups, with baby awkwardly posed or positioned in ways not safe for them.
There are a lot of newborn safety resources available, including The Milky Way, & Accredited Newborn Photographers Association, and MyClickMagazine, where you can read corresponding articles on baby safety.
Ok, I get it… but why does the actual newborn session cost so much?
You want quality, not quantity.
Most people think that photography involves you, the photographer clicking a button, and voila! Show’s over, job is done. Why do I have to pay so much money, if you’re literally just pushing a button? It’s not like you have to develop film in a darkroom anymore right? Actually, that would probably be easier than what we do today.
A newborn session typically takes a few hours with baby ALONE. Add in parents and siblings, and you’re adding in time. We spend time soothing, feeding, changing the baby, altering poses, etc. The work doesn’t start when your session starts, it has started way before.
- At this point, we’ve already discussed your session over the phone, and you’ve expressed your desired outcome for this session. I have made notes of all the details that are important to you so I can factor this in to your final session.
- We’ve talked about wardrobe for parents and siblings, which you have access to my client closet for.
- We’ve planned the colors and any relevant props for your session ahead of time. I’ve crafted a session design questionnaire to target all of your needs and design your session.
- I often purchase things specific to your session, based on what you want to achieve.
- I ask for photos of your nursery and or home to make sure we are creating something cohesive and that make sense in your surrounding.
Think of the emails and other day-to-day things you have to do at your job, it’s the same. Time is money right? I have spent years training, honing my skills, and spending time away from my family (as do we all), to deliver a high quality service and experience to my clients.
No one wants to be that Beyonce meme…
After your session, the bulk of my work really begins. I don’t just pop a preset onto your images, blemishes and whatnot be dammed. I cull all your images, choosing the best ones to show you (i promise you, you don’t want to see the ones of you blinking, mouth open, weird facial expressions from yelling at your kids to behave. Remember this Beyonce meme? No one wants to be that Beyonce, family newborn sessions included.
I edit everything to perfection. Babies can have notoriously problematic skin; baby acne, peeling skin, bruises, jaundice, and very very red spots and uneven skin tone. This doesn’t just disappear with a click of a button, this is all hand edited. I make sure that parents look their best, I know we’re all running on the vapors of coffee and lack of sleep in this phase. I color correct, tone, re-color, and enhance all of the tiny details to make sure that these are images you will love forever.
After your session, I go over galleries personally with all of my clients to make sure you are comfortable with your choices and choose what you love. I am here to make that an easy process for you and help you make your choices. I am here to create your wall pieces and albums for you, this alone, takes another few hours. On average, depending on the session, I spend anywhere from ten to twenty or more hours with you as a client. And this is without factoring in ANY of the cost of what a session actually incurs.
Let me break down the actual cost of what goes into a newborn session for you. (Really, any session, but we’re talking newborns here.)
Trust me, you’ll appreciate this.
Let me keep this simple with a list.
- Camera -$4000
- Lenses – $6000
- Lighting – $3500
- Workshops to keep learning new techniques, I spend at least $4000 a year, this year I spend $6000 on continuing education!!!
- Variety of Backdrops – $7000
- Client Wardrobe – I probably have at LEAST 15-20K in wardrobe available to clients.
- Newborn headbands – can run up to $45
- Newborn outfits can run up to $100 or more.
- Hand felted props for babies. I’ve paid anywhere from $35 to over $100 for the hand felted animals and custom made props.
- Fabric backdrops for the babies- each runs around $35-$50, plus matching wraps. If they are handknit in fine yarns, they’re even more expensive than the fabrics sometimes.
- Props- each of those cute beds or baskets, can run anywhere from $85-$200 dollars
- Posing aids, $300
- PLUS sanitizing, cleaning, the wear and tear of items that have to get replaced and refreshed so I have new options for clients.
- PLUS rent, insurance, utilities, accounting, federal and state income taxes
- PLUS the software purchased for editing and plugins, the computer you work on, and anything else you might need to create your artwork.
- PLUS the lab costs to provide your clients with exquisite products and shipping.
See where I’m going? Before you’ve even taken a shot for your client, there’s already over $50,000 in investment that has been made for your session. You read that correctly. Imagine having to purchase all of that yourself to get the type of images you admire?
Also, not every photographer knows how to photograph babies!
Just because you have a camera, doesn’t mean you can photograph babies. This would be like going to a 5-star steakhouse, and asking for sushi. Or getting tacos from a Japanese restaurant. Yes, they may serve amazing food, but it wouldn’t be the specialty.
Parents who have attempted their own styled newborn sessions (especially during the pandemic), have told me many times how difficult it was. Those baby poses may look simple, but it takes a lot of finessing and flow to get them right!
Let’s put pricing into perspective
You can’t discuss how expensive something is, without understanding its value. Some people will never value photographs and that’s ok. My clients understand the value of the service they are receiving, and that their portraits only grow in value over time. Family photos will last several lifetimes, and yet we spend a lot more money on insignificant things that we replace in a year or two. Consider this:
- Latest iphone – $1000, replaced every year
- 70″ flat screen – $1000, replaced or upgraded when obsolete
- MacBook Pro 16″ – $2000&up, replaced or upgraded when obsolete
- Louis Vuitton Bag- On average $2000 &up, replaced when damaged or worn through.
The list can go on.
- Professional photos – last a lifetime, and then some. Passed through generations. Are never obsolete, and you will never regret having them.
You won’t regret investing in a high quality experience, but you will regret a poor quality one.
What’s that saying? “Buy cheap, or buy twice?” I think most of us have had that experience in something or the other. But newborn sessions have a timeframe, you won’t get that teeny tiny baby back. They grow WAY too fast for our liking. I want your photos to be memorable, and something that you treasure.
Most importantly, I want you to feel that your baby was in capable hands, and safe. This is an investment, for you, your family, and your baby. It will only grow in value over time. When they are independent and starting families of their own, you’ll look back on those precious images, and remember all of the little moments that came with them.
Want to know more about when to book a newborn session?
You can read all about the recommended timeframe and when to book, at this blog post.
Sofia Ribeiro Photography is a central NJ newborn photographer, north NJ newborn photographer, Union county newborn photographer, Essex county newborn photographer, Somerset county newborn photographer, Bergen county newborn photographer, Warren county newborn photographer, NJ newborn photographer.