What’s beneath the surface?
Every now and then I see Facebook posts regarding photography and how expensive it is and last week I saw this question posted again;
‘Why is newborn photography so expensive?’
When I see these types of questions or remarks I always scroll past. I don’t involve myself in the conversations and I never let it bother me. Why? Because not everyone sees the value in professional photography and that’s OK. Theres things in life that I don’t see the value in.
For example, I never saw the value in mechanics. I would take my car in for a service or for a repair and, I when I got the invoice, I would always grumble and think to myself ‘what a rip off! You only fixed this or replaced that or had a look at the engine!’. But what you’re paying for isn’t just what you see on the surface. This mechanic owns his own business so he has expenses to pay for; rent, electricity, water, tools, wages and, let’s not forget about the tax man. Plus he has his own wage to consider; I’m sure that he has a mortgage to pay and food to put on the table for his family.
But, not just that, you are paying for his expertise, his time, equipment and his experience. These factors are why we would pay anyone for a professional service or product that they provide.
So, this Facebook status got me thinking about my job and putting it into perspective for anyone who doesn’t realise what’s beneath the surface in the profession of newborn photography.
Here’s what you’re paying for:
Newborn photography is a specialised field, there’s no doubt about it. Perfecting poses and handling newborns (and doing so safely) takes years of training, practice and hard work.
This is especially difficult to learn because there are no room for errors. We work with the most precious people on earth and we simply cannot make mistakes with newborn babies. Any professional newborn photographer will tell you that, above everything, safety is paramount.
We have spent so much time educating ourselves on newborns and newborn anatomy so we can be prepared for you, your baby and for whatever arises from a session.
You are paying for the knowledge that we know how to perform newborn sessions safely. Do not compromise on this.
For most of my jobs I travel to people’s homes and, because we live in Sydney, there’s going to be traffic; so it’s a two hour round trip per job. That’s time I do not get to spend with anyone else, clients or family. I do this because I want to provide convenient service for you.
I also spend a lot of time on my email and on the phone preparing for your shoot, organising times and dates and settling matters with supplies to get your products perfect and ready for you.
And, let’s not forget the shoot itself – newborn shoots can run up to four hours, depending on how the baby’s feeling. Because of this, I can only fit in one shoot a day. By doing only one job in day my income is limited. But, I want to do this – for you. I hate rushing through sessions, particularly with newborns because we never know what’s going to pop up during these sessions.
Post production is another major factor with time. Just because the shoot has ended doesn’t mean that it’s ended for me. I spend, on average, one hour working on one photograph; editing, retouching, processing, saving, backing up, converting, getting it print ready, etc. So, if you’ve bought 10 images off me, that’s another 10 hours of work that I put into your photographs so they’ll look perfect for you.
You are paying for the photographer’s time with everything that they do for you, in-front of and behind the scenes.
All photographers have invested tens of thousands of dollars in their equipment; camera bodies, specialised lenses, computers, software programs – all these things we need to get the images you want.
With newborn photography, there’s also all the props that we’ve bought. The amount that I have spent in newborn props runs into the thousands of dollars; beanbags, backdrop blankets, specially made outfits, tiebacks, baby shushers, special curtains, wraps, backdrops, props and so much more.
Newborn props are specially made for newborn photography. They’re expensive to buy because they’re not massed produced, they’re unique and they’re made by other small businesses. But, we want buy these props so your photos will be extra special. We want you to have beautiful and unique photographs that reflect your taste and personality (and that reflect our brand).
If you were to buy all this stuff on your own, you would spend more than ten times the amount on the equipment needed, then you would have if you’d simply came to us for photography session.
You are paying for the photographer and the use of their specialised equipment. Equipment that most people do not know how to use. (I don’t know how to use any of the equipment that fixes cars!)
With a photographer’s experience, you’ll book them with the confidence to know that your photos are going to be amazing and that you are getting what you pay for because they are experienced.
Photographers spend years working really hard on their art, just so they can provide you with a magnificent product and service. We have worked with countless families and suppliers, have attended many workshops/seminars/mentoring sessions, we have made many mistakes along the way (not with posing newborns) and we have agonised so many times at 3am over our work and our products. We are skilled in what we do.
All of my work that I produce today – that did not happen over night.
You are paying for the knowledge that your photographer has spent years perfecting their craft and has the knowledge and experience to carry out the job that you want them and pay them to do.
It’s up to you
As I said earlier, not everyone sees the value in professional photography and that’s OK. If you don’t agree with spending lots of money on your photographs then don’t.
There are lots of photographers out there that don’t charge a lot for their photos and that’s OK too. They may not have the expertise or experience that I have, they may not spend a lot of time on their work as I do and they may not have all the equipment that I have – their price probably reflects these important factors.
With any product or service, you are getting what you pay for. But, with newborn photography, please do not compromise on the safety of your precious baby.
After running my own business for a number of years now, I can easily see the hard work that goes into any business, including mechanics. I am now aware of all the hard work that my mechanic has done for me throughout the years and I am so grateful. Because of him I’m able to get to all of my jobs.
But most of all, my car is safe – for me and for other people on the road. Please make sure that your photographer is safe with handling your baby.